As a widow, I regularly experience a place where extreme joy and extreme pain live in the same moment side by side. Where the same tears streaming down my face contain molecules of tears of happiness and molecules of tears of sadness.
I went to another wedding this weekend. This may have been my hardest one to date. The man who was getting married has been such a good friend to me for so many years. I call him “Broth.” He calls me “Sis.” I had prayed for this day to come for him for over a decade.
When Sawan died, there were so few phone calls that I would take in those first hours, but someone handed me the phone and said, “It’s Rick.” So I answered it. I don’t remember much about the conversation except the emotion in his voice and him promising, “I’ll be right there.” And then he was.
When I spoke at Sawan’s funeral, there are a few faces that I remember focusing on in the crowd. Rick’s was one of them. So there was some weirdo juxtaposition for me, seeing him up front this time, but happy. Praying that it would never be reversed for him, that he wouldn’t be up there speaking at his bride’s funeral. These are the dark thoughts that live in my head every day.
When they speak their vows, I know, more than almost everyone in that room, what they’re really promising. That one of them is vowing to do this, what I’ve been doing for the last three years, for the other. I spend most of the ceremony praying that they’re very old when that happens.
I think that when there are people that you love so much, you want them to experience a life without pain. So there is an incredible amount of fear for me in these situations. Fear that they will have to live with what I’m living with. But I remind myself that while I wouldn’t choose this, amazing things are happening, and struggle is good. Struggle will be good for them, too, in whatever form it comes.
And so, I joyfully look forward with them to all of the struggle that marriage will bring, in every form, and have great hope that they will have the strength to face it. What an adventure they are on.
|My friend Sara and me with the Bride and Groom, Rebecca and Rick!|
I see great beauty in this place inside me. Its like a mountainside after a forest fire, where the charred earth finds a way to grow new baby evergreen trees, and the wildflowers make a multicolored blanket, that’s the joy and the pain that live side by side.