Why is it that those last steps to the mountain summit are always the hardest? It’s the point you want to give up and turn back and say this is more than I can do. I’m out of air. I’m out of breath.

Well, that’s just about where I was in writing my memoir. I could see the summit but it remained as elusive as Mount Everest, a glacier to conquer, making these final months of writing and editing probably a lot more difficult than they need be.

Trying to stay optimistic under a daily bombardment of back-to-school family matters that come, I suppose, with raising teenagers, I lost my concentration. I lost my perspective.

So who comes along to offer me a very gentle nudge to keep going? None other than the Mother of the Bride – Japan’s pre-eminent bridal dress designer, an octogenarian who spends every moment of her life breathing love and life into the wedding ceremony. She is looking for a writer and I am looking for an angel. And somehow we find each other.

So here I am in the Mother of the Bride’s palatial headquarters commanding a seven floor view of Tokyo Midtown. We’re sitting across from each other in a French Provincial salon with bleached wood table and well-cushioned seating on elaborately carved legs.

Over the span of a few hours, we will discover we have much in common. The Mother of the Bride and the Wagamama Bride were both married in the Peacock room of the Imperial Hotel.  The Mother of the Bride and the Mother-in-Law of the Wagamama Bride both graduated from prestigeous Kyoritsu College. The Mother of the Bride has one eye trained on the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute. The Wagamama Bride did an internship fixing holes in 18th century Russian costumes of nobility at the Costume Institute.

At the end of our meeting she hands me a scarf decorated with a lovely long-necked black and white crane. And shock again. Another shock of awe and amazement when I see that this crane resembles those elegant long-necked birds of fortune that adorned the long-sleeved kimono I wore for my wedding.

Writing, like marriage itself, is a test of vows. The cranes. The scarf. The kimono remind me that writing a book is like marriage itself. First there’s the falling in love phase where you are so in love with the idea of writing a book that you’re positively giddy. Over time, the writing ripens into a routine of highs and lows, moments of doubts and reconciliation.

In Nitzavim, the Torah parsha that I read just days before meeting the Mother of the Bride, the haftarah begins by referring to the power of the oath that a bride and groom make by donning  gorgeous finery.

“I will rejoice greatly in God. My soul will be glad with my God, for He has clothed me in garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness: like a bridegroom who wears majestic clothing, and a bride who adorns herself with her jewelry. ..”

It never occurred to me until now, reading this passage, how the oaths that we make might even be elevated by the clothes worn:

When the Mother of the Bride handed me this auspicious crane scarf –symbolic of a happy married life–she gave me the strength to not give up on my dream. The mountain summit to finish this memoir just got a little closer. Wakabayashi wedding




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