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Thursday, December 08, 2005 | Eight-thirty a.m., Saturday, Dec. 3. An extraordinary morning after overnight showers. The wedding party was in place, on the patio against a backdrop of sunlight, clouds, sky and ocean. I knew my lines and had my game face on, ready to be the strong one if I needed to be.

Inside the house, the processional music started: “Roses from Tyrol,” track four on the Andre Rieu “Live in Tuscany” CD. From within the house, a sense of motion. Then Karen appeared in the open French doors and paused, on the arm of her son Bill, at the top of the step.

I saw her, and she saw me, and her face was all beauty, happiness and love. My game face may have resisted for an instant – I couldn’t say – but then it was gone in a flash, and tears were rising. In the same motion my heart left my chest and crossed the 15 feet to her. I had believed that I understood how much I loved her, but no: here was something new. She felt the same; she said she saw the tears in my eyes and surrendered instantly to a physical pull toward me, and toward us, in our commitment. We were at our convergence point, brought there by no easy highways, and the last 15 feet waiting to be closed were completely visible now, and spectacular.

I was able to wait as Bill brought her to me. I shook his hand and said, “Thank you.” Then I took her in my arms and kissed her. Embraced, tears in our eyes, a flurry of little kisses. I said to her, “How are we going to make it through this?” She said, “I don’t know.”

And so the ceremony of marriage between Karen Marie Werve and Michael Grant dissolved into a sustained embrace and numerous little kisses, interrupted by official statements of love, a reading from Gibran, a commitment to vows we had written two days before, the exchange of rings and the kiss – the ceremonial kiss – at the end. It was the first wedding I ever attended where the ceremony was worked into the experience, and not the other way around. There were only five people with us, but if it had been in a cathedral with thousands, the tears would have raised, the hearts leapt, and the embrace sustained, a universe of two people, with some number of witnesses looking on. I was not meant to be the strong one for Karen. Karen and I together were meant to be the strong ones, placing our loyalty to the lovely intimacy of love before our obligation to ceremony, for anyone wanting to see.

It was a stunning experience, and in the hours afterward and the days since, we have asked ourselves: What happened? What happened to us when she appeared in the French doors and tore my heart out of my chest, and she saw my tears?

I had believed that I could not love her more completely, but I was wrong. There was another 5 percent. It made sense. A couple of weeks before the wedding, when the preparations were picking up speed, I started to feel drawn to her in a different way. From our first dates, beginning in September 2004, we talked about an odd familiarity that we felt, as if we had met before. Maybe there was a tearing apart, and now a coming back together, and the closer we came, the stronger became our old experience of completion, until the actual moment arrived on Saturday morning.

But there is something else that is totally more measurable. We both have done the inner work people do when they want to understand who they are, and why they act and react the way they do. We both understand power and its relationship to freedom and happiness. With that power, anything is possible. We have agreed for a long time that there will always be more love between us. In our lives we will reach new destinations, that are already out there, but we won’t know them until we reach them, and then we will know more about love than we did before.

One of those new destinations was reached Saturday morning. Today we know things about love we couldn’t have known until the music started and she appeared in the French doors.

Journalist, author and educator Michael Grant has been putting his spin on San Diego, and the city putting its spin on him, since 1972. His Web site is at www.michaelgrant.com.

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