A word of advice: do not invite me to your wedding.
After Maggie's double wedding during the blizzard, I traveled to upstate New York with my family for my older brother's wedding. It snows daily in Rochester, New York, so I was afraid that we would experience a repeat of my Maryland adventure, but fortunately, the weather cooperated and the wedding went off without a hitch. I now have a sister-in-law. How exciting!
My whole extended family, from my mother's side and my father's side, stayed with us in the hotel. It was a huge and hugely fun family reunion, complete with 25+ cousins, snowball fights, ultra-competitive card games, lots of singing, a day of skiing, and inside jokes galore. My immediate family can be rather loud; it feels incredible to get together with the rest of the clan because they are just as loud and en masse, we are a veritable zoo of noise and laughter.
Like I said, the wedding happened perfectly. After the wedding though is a different story...
My sister, Polly, started vomiting just as we were getting ready to leave for the reception. We thought she was just overtired from very late nights with the cousins, so we sent her to bed. But 3 hours later, my brother, the groom, disappeared from his reception for about 10 minutes. When he reappeared, he confessed to me that he had just been sick to his stomach. We ended the reception early and sent all the guests home with orders to use a squirt of hand sanitizer on the way out.
When I arrived back at the hotel at 11pm, I discovered that my father was also sick. Suspicious. I found the rest of my relatives; 3 of my cousins and one of my aunts were all vomiting too. Very suspicious.
I am the family nurse, so we put my cell number on the hotel room door and I went to bed. 10 minutes later, my 19 year old cousin called: he was sick. I headed upstairs to his room and found the poor boy violently ill. He had broken his arm in a skiing accident earlier that week so he couldn't even hold the bucket himself. I settled in to spend the night taking care of him.
Caleb shared the hotel room with his older brother, 22 year old tough-guy Andrew. As he got ready to go to sleep, I told him that he should yell for me if he started getting sick too. "I'm fine," he grunted, in his manly way. He sat up. "Actually, Keziah, my stomach isn't sitting quite right." I thrust a bucket at him and he immediately joined the vomiting club.
I spent the night going back and forth from cousin to cousin, catching little 3 or 4 minute naps between episodes. They were very sick and by early morning, I was starting to feel pretty nauseated myself. I eventually got their sister to replace me at the bedside at 7am and I started to do the rounds to the rest of my family. I added up the names of all who were sick: 30 people!
By that evening, the total had reached 40 people, including most of my extended family, the entire bridal party and both the bride and groom! My next 2 days were spent fighting the illness myself (or just the overwhelming nausea that comes from caring for a few dozen vomiting people) and talking to the Board of Health about our epidemic. We first thought food poisoning, but as my family left Rochester and returned to their homes, we watched them carry the illness with them and infect others who had not even been at the wedding. When I left the US on Wednesday, 50 people had been sick, 3 had been hospitalized, and as far as I knew, the disease was still spreading. Currently, the Board of Health thinks that the culprit is norovirus, a potent bug that can be transmitted through food, skin-to-skin contact, saliva-to-skin contact, and even skin-to-object contact.
All in all, it was a great family reunion and a beautiful wedding. I wouldn't have chosen that particular ending to it all, but I can say that my cousins and I have bonded in a very new way. There's nothing like the intimacy of mopping up someone's vomit! And my advice to you is this: do not invite me to your wedding. I seem to be a very effective wedding jinxer.