I spent last evening making a wedding album out of wedding cards, photos, a hole punch, a little ingenuity and a couple pieces of pink ribbon. It was a crafty, hopeful task.
One that reminded me our wedding was only 4 months ago today. We married on Cannon Beach, spending 2 ½ weeks traveling around Oregon enjoying wedding festivities, family, and honeymoon.
It was an utter time of love and grace, and I remember sitting on the porch of a tiny cabin we rented on the banks of the soothing McKenzie River, watching that chuckling stream flow by one last morning, trying to soak in the peace of the moment for all it was worth. Knowing that returning to life in Anchorage and the holiday season and work life and the dark of winter solstice, was returning to a fray I didn’t want to go back to.
It is strange to me that the two times I have spoken in some sort of public setting over the last few months were the vows at my November wedding and the eulogy at Brent’s memorial. Both words infused with all the love I have for two people I love- in very different ways, One belonging to my past, one belonging to my future.
My husband and I decided to keep our wedding small and simple. Sincere and thoughtful. Happy and humble. Like us.
Closest friends and family gathered in Cannon Beach for the weekend, though the first winter storm of the season, complete with 7 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 30mph, threw a bit of a wrench into the plans, resulting in all beach planned festivities being moved indoors.
I never expected to be shopping at Rite Aid in a flash flood at 5pm the day before the ceremony, buying all the white candles and tiny white lights I could get my hands on. Or sending friends to the florist at Safeway the morning of, in pursuit of dozens of rainbow colored flowers to strew about.
Or that the combination of flexibility, teamwork, and my parent’s beautiful oceanfront cottage feel suite, would result in an impromptu, magical indoor wedding that felt like we had always planned on gathering in this twinkly, rainbowy, intimate living room for our ceremony, instead of on the beach as planned.
Even in its simplicity, I packed the wedding with as many personal touches as I could. All invitations were hand written on cards I made. I picked a rainbow tie and a rainbow dress for my husband and I to wear in a nod to my love for everything rainbow and his love of the Grateful Dead.
We each wrote personal, thoughtful vows. I wrote a wedding poem and a wedding blessing. And I found a charming little pizzeria who served us pizza and cheesecake in an upstairs dining room for the reception.
But most of all I wrapped the whole thing in love. Invisible strings of love.
Prayer for me is simply a conversation with Life, and I have conversations all the time, especially on my morning trail runs. So two weeks before the wedding I simply started asking Life that anyone in attendance on the day would feel blessed with grace and love. That the ceremony be a gift of love for all who came.
That seeds be planted for them to take with them so love to grow in their lives however they need.
I also asked Life for a rainbow during the ceremony as a sign of luck and blessing for our marriage, and though it gave me raindrops and a giant windstorm for the vows, when we took a walk on the beach at sunset a brilliant rainbow was hanging in the sky. The next day, when we took a walk on the beach at sunrise, another dazzling rainbow was stretched out across the coast, shining down with promise.
Sometimes Life just has its own timing when it comes to these things.
And somehow Life’s timing followed our wedding with my brother’s funeral scant months later.
I woke up that morning shaking. It is a problem I’ve had since. Involuntarily shaking, trembling hands, shivers in my knees, when I start to feel overwhelmed. And I was absolutely overwhelmed by the tasks that day held, even as I knew I had what it would take to do them.
Strength doesn’t mean that your knees don’t shake, your heart doesn’t flounder, and you don’t despair at a task, it just means that you choose to show up anyways.
This time instead of donning my rainbow fringed dress, my husband his suit and rainbow tie, then sitting around waiting anxiously until it was time for the ceremony to start; I donned a white skirt and tasteful Star Wars shirt, my husband his suit and equally tasteful Star Wars shirt, then we sat around waiting anxiously until it was time to head to the service.
I’ve said so much about his service already that this morning all I have to say is my reflection on how utterly odd Life can be. Those were two very different aisles I walked to get to the front of a room, two very different kinds of words I spoke in love, two very different kinds of loves I hold.
And yet, if not for the love of my husband, I would be lost in the grief of my brother. And if not for being lost in the grief of my brother, I would not feel even further banded in love and unity with my husband then I did on our wedding day.
The biggest truths in Life never are black in white. They are found in holding the sum of two opposing truths side by side and acknowledging they both have a place in the whole of our hearts.
My heart griefs. And it loves.