Years ago, after my husband and I got engaged, his mom started calling me Bubbles because I was so bubbling over with happiness when I’d call to talk with her on the phone about wedding plans.
When the big weekend arrived, my husband’s parents and family came down to mid-Missouri from northeast Nebraska. During our wedding rehearsal dinner, his mom started to feel ill.
She died later that night.
The night before our wedding.
All those bubbles of happiness burst in the middle of an emergency room as the doctor delivered his news: “We did everything we could… I’m so sorry.”
In the midst of all the grief and raw emotions, Rich looked at me and said, “My mom would just DIE if she thought she was the reason we weren’t getting married. We’re getting married tomorrow like we planned.”
Gallows humor at its finest.
So we did. We carried on. We got married. We had one of the most surreal receiving lines ever as people said, “Congratulations!” And in the next breath, “You have my deepest sympathy.” Our honeymoon included a funeral.
I would not wish the experience on anyone.
In the midst of all the platitudes and condolences, one comment written in a sympathy / congratulations card spoke to all my conflicting emotions:
And there was truth.
It took a long time to process all the conflicting emotions. Grief and anger and endings existed alongside happiness, joy, and beginnings.
We wondered what we’d done so wrong that something like this had happened to us. We wondered what we’d done so right that people showed such kindness to us.
One event changing and deepening the meaning of another, and we saw the gift of the experience along with the difficulties.
Right now there are several kids in my life who are graduating high school seniors this year. I’ve watched them bubble over with excitement all year long — taking senior pictures, skating in ice shows, trying out for school plays, buying prom dresses.
Now their plans are vanishing before their eyes because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
They’ve looked forward to this season of fun and celebrating accomplishments with friends and family, and it’s all being pushed aside, much of it cancelled entirely.
And it’s not fair. And it’s going to take a while to process all these complicated emotions.
And some of the hurts will always be there.
So show them all the patience and love and grace you can muster. Even though it’s been decades, sometimes weddings are still hard for me.
There are a lot of challenges ahead–for all of us. But there are a lot of opportunities for good.
In this time of uncertainty, there’s one thing I can assure you: