I took two weeks off for the wedding. The first to get ready. And, the second to recover and spend some down time with my friend, LaDonna, who had come from Washington to help with the wedding.
The weeks weren't at all what I had expected. There was the typical frenzy in finalizing details for the wedding. But the days were layered with grief and crisis. The week before the wedding our daughter and son-in-law, Amber and Paul, lost their friend, Brian, in a car accident. Brian was Paul's best friend and best man in their wedding. Amber and Paul flew home early. Paul was pall bearer at the funeral.
My brother, Lars, was critically ill in the hospital. His condition worsened when he moved to the ICU. At several points we didn't think he'd make it and took turns saying our goodbyes.
I was so tremendously thankful that LaDonna was here. She held me together during intermittent meltdowns. She cooked, made cupcakes, ran errands, scanned pictures for the PowerPoint, and decorated at the reception.
The entire extended family resolved that the events leading up to the wedding would not diminish Matt and Paige's day. Their day came, and it was beautiful from beginning to end. And, contrary to our wedding nightmares, it went off without a hitch. The few things that went wrong were so minuscule they are hardly worth mentioning. (Wedding tip: if you're planning on using tea lights, don't buy the cheap ones from Walmart.)
By today's standards, Paige, at 20, is young to be married. Several people told Matt and Paige they should wait to get married until they were through college and established. At first, we thought that would be wise too, but then it was apparent they were more than ready.
Matt and Paige have survived losses in their lives that most people twice their age haven't experienced. In the last few years, Matt has lost two brothers and one of his closest friends. Paige has helped him through the grief as well as that of close friends who have lost a parent or a sibling.
Matt and Paige have learned to trust God in all circumstances. They have an eternal perspective.
I sat for a moment with Paige during the Friday night rehearsal. I told her I was happy and proud that she and Matt hadn't lived together and were getting married. Paige said, "Mom, none of us knows how long we're going to live. Why wait and lose the chance to marry the person you love?"
The next day, Lars' family came to the hospital dressed for the wedding before heading to the church. Lars said to let the good times roll. He'd be dancing at the wedding in his head.
As Paige came down the aisle on her father's arm, it felt triumphant. All the things that had transpired in the weeks and year before made the celebration all the more meaningful. It was time to celebrate God's goodness and grace. It was a time to laugh and a time to dance.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance.