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I met my matron of honor two days before my wedding, and it was magical
Jessica and Nancy.jpg
Jessica Taylor and Matron of Honor Nancy Shurkoff Nov. 3, 2018. - photo by For the Dawson County News

Saturday couldn’t have been a more perfect day for a wedding. Surrounded by my family and close friends, I walked down the aisle to marry the love of my life, and was cheered on by my Matron of Honor who I had only met two days before the big day.

Our story is rather unconventional and begins three years ago when upon mourning the loss of my golden retriever Bailey, I joined a Facebook group for dog owners and dog lovers where I happened to meet Nancy.

From the first time I saw her photos of her golden retriever Sawyer, I fell in love with her dog. Sawyer was absolutely beautiful. I followed his story as a therapy dog where he and Nancy would read with kids at the library, visit hospitals and cuddle up at assisted living facilities.

There was just something about this duo that was magical.

A few months later, my family adopted Ruger, a loving little Boykin Spaniel puppy with a laundry list of health issues we didn’t prepare for. With five major operations in the first year and a half of his life, our little miracle pup regained his eyesight and ability to walk and run. Through it all Nancy was there as a shoulder to cry on, a staunch supporter as we worked to raise funds for his complicated leg surgeries and someone who truly connected with my family and I during one of the most difficult times in our lives.

Then the time came to return that love and support last year when Sawyer was diagnosed with cancer. Through his treatment, my family and I were shoulders to cry on, raising money for his chemotherapy and praying for his recovery. When he passed away in the summer of 2018, we were there to offer comfort and love – to a woman in Pennsylvania we had never met.

When Nancy told me she would be able to hop on a plane and come down to the Peach State for my wedding, without hesitation I asked her to be my Matron of Honor. Over the past two years we had traversed some of the difficult situations life had thrown at us and there was no doubt that this woman, who I’d only talked to on the phone once, was the absolute best person to be by my side.

Early Thursday morning, my dad and I hopped in the car and trekked to the airport, both excited and nervous to meet Nancy for the first time.

“What if we don’t look like our photos online? Maybe she won’t recognize us,” we thought.

As soon as I saw her walking towards the baggage claim I waved her down with tears in my eyes, and we hugged the longest and warmest hug while people brushed by us.

In that moment it didn’t matter that it was the first time meeting. It felt like a reunion of two kindred spirits who had known each other for centuries.

We drove back to my parents’ house, showing Nancy a brief tour of Georgia before she met Ruger, my mom and my grandparents. She fit right in with the crazy little Brown family, and truthfully I think they might be working on the adoption papers to make it official.

Over the next couple days, we talked about love and life, the good and the bad – talking and laughing so much I lost my voice on Sunday. And she was there Saturday morning, helping me get ready for the big day and cleverly hiding tissues inside our bouquets for the tears we knew would ensue.

Saturday was the perfect day for a north Georgia wedding. The leaves were beautiful colors, the sky was blue and the temperature wasn’t too cold nor too hot, but most importantly my husband and I were surrounded by love from our friends and family.

Of course when Nancy gave her Matron of Honor speech, those in attendance who didn’t know our story asked her to tell more stories about the bride and groom.

She froze for a second and said “Oh I have some stories, but I don’t think I can tell them.”

But I can.

I haven’t been to many weddings. I don’t know if it’s customary for the bride to say a few words, but I did anyway.

I wanted to thank Nancy for not only supporting and loving my family and I from afar in Pennsylvania but for facing her fears of flying and meeting people who are essentially strangers in a state she’d only driven through before.

“Today is Nancy and I’s two year friendship anniversary according to Facebook, and this is the first time we’ve actually met. We met in person for the first time two days ago,” I said proudly.

Heads turned and eyes widened.

I briefly explained our story, but people were still a little shocked at the unconventional tale.

We hear so many bad things about the internet and social media – people catfishing one another, people using it to lie and scheme, people hurting one another – that sometimes it’s easy to forget the good that social media can foster.

Without the internet, we would have never met Nancy. We would have never sparked friendships across the country with wonderful and loving people of all ages and all paths of life. Without the internet, my life would feel a little empty without the friends I’ve made over the past couple years. I can’t imagine my life without my dear friend Nancy who has meant so much to us for what feels like an eternity.

Thank you Nancy for sharing in my wedding day and offering me your love, kindness and friendship over the past couple years and for helping me navigate life with your wit and wisdom. You were the best Matron of Honor a bride could ask for.