Wedding Day!

Today is the day!

All the preparation and anticipation meet under a covered outdoor chapel as my daughter and her fiance exchange vows and become one.

By the end of the evening, we will have laughed (and cried!), danced and toasted our way through this very important event.

And they will leave changed in ways they can’t imagine nor fully understand.  It takes time to grow into lifelong commitment.

It takes years for singleness to be sanded down to a perfect fit one for the other.

Weddings are fun.  

Marriage is work.  

My parents have been married for 58 years.  My husband and I for nearly 35.  None of us has a magic formula for marital longevity.  Mostly it’s been leaning into the commitment we made at the altar so many years ago even when it seemed easier to give up and give in.

We’ve all faced so many challenges in our decades together.  Some we saw coming and some landed suddenly on top of us without warning.  Life, death, moving house, illness, accident, floods, hurricanes, and dozens of smaller crises have forced us to change course, adjust our sails and adapt to new and often unwelcome directions.   But we haven’t abandoned ship.

Sometimes it’s been pure grit and determination that see us through.  Other times it’s holding on to the good things we’ve shared together.  

I’m thankful we are celebrating today.  

I’ll be tucking this memory in a safe place where I can pull it out on days that aren’t so beautiful.  

It’s my prayer that Fiona and Brandon do the same.  

fiona and brandon at farm

When life gets hard (and it will!) may they remember the promises they made to one another and weather the storms together.

Now this is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother, and is united with his wife; and the two become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 VOICE

 

 

Ugly Crying

I haven’t had a good gut-wrenching, chest-thumping ugly cry in awhile.

I had one yesterday.  

Taking clothes off the line to bring indoors before nightfall, I was suddenly overcome with emotion.

I remembered Dominic’s graduation presentation in our back yard.  I thought about my daughter’s wedding and how he was missing another important event.  Then I pictured my grandson who would never know Uncle Dominic in three dimensions-only by flat photos and through our renderings of him.

Five years!

How can it possibly be five years since I last saw that face, hugged that neck, heard that voice?

And what has become of us in the meantime?  

We are more  

and less.

More compassionate, more deliberate in maintaining connection with one another, more focused on what really matters,  more likely to cry in movies, more willing to drive or fly or walk or swim to get to the people we love.  Five minutes of face-to-face makes it worthwhile.  

We are less tolerant of petty grievances, less sure that bad things don’t happen to “good” people, less likely to sweat the small stuff and less inclined to assume we know another heart’s story when we first meet her.  We don’t take anything for granted.  

Walking into wedding weekend is another giant challenge.  Full of beautiful things and special moments and wonderful friends.  

But we all carry Dominic-his life, light and death-with us everywhere we go.  

So I’m sure there will be moments when my heart shows up on my face.  

I’m bringing a hanky.  ❤

 

 

Worse For Wear, I Don’t Care

I have never been one of those women who lied about her age.

My weight…well, you will have to threaten me with something that matters to get THAT number out of my lips.

But I’ve noticed this year more than others since Dominic left us that the wear and tear of years and tears and life and loss are showing up on my face as well as my hips.

I am definitely the worse for wear.

My daughter is getting married in May and for the first time in my life I am religious about applying under eye cream and moisturizing lotion to my face each morning and night.

who wants to look young

I don’t want to be the sore thumb in the family pictures!

I’m not sure it’s working.  I’m not sure anything can erase or roll back the marks that life and love and loss have etched on my face.

I’m not sure I want to.

Because each wrinkle, each line, each saggy, baggy skin flap says, “I loved, I lived and I am surviving-even though it’s hard.”

Before Dom left I was camera shy.  I still am, a bit.  But I’m trying hard to suck up my pride and my insecurity and let those flashes pop.  Memories are made one day at a time and photos help preserve them.

engagement party group shot (2)

So whether I’m at my best, at my worst or somewhere in between, I won’t say no to a Kodak moment.

I wish I had more of them from “before”.

Dominic and family at PRSSA banquet

I wish I hadn’t’ been so darned particular about what I looked like, what I was wearing and whether or not my wrinkles or big butt showed.

Worse for wear?

Who cares?

This one wasn’t made to last.  

For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 MSG

I Don’t Have to Choose Between Sorrow and Celebration

Our family is looking forward to Spring and also dreading it.  

This year we will welcome a new baby (my first grandchild) and also celebrate my daughter’s wedding to a wonderful man. 

Our family is growing again!

brandon and fiona engagement

But we will also mark the fifth year anniversary of Dominic leaving for Heaven and another birthday that he won’t be here to greet.

dom on mountaintop

I’m pretty sure tears will be shed on each of these days and they will be salty-sweet, sad and happy, sorrowful and celebratory-all at once.  

There are no more hard lines in my life that separate events into distinct categories where only a single set of emotions is appropriate.  Instead my heart’s a watercolor mosaic where one feeling washes into another, darker colors make the lighter ones brighter.

My daughter recently wrote her own blog post, Guest Books & Memory Tables: A Sibling’s Perspective on Love and Loss.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Even Hobby Lobby reminds me that if I’m remembering anyone at my wedding it should be the family legends of generations past, not current. Somewhere in my carefully- packed boxes of wedding decorations, sits frames and mementos for mine and my fiance’s grandparents and my forever-frozen-in-time 23 year old brother.

I highly recommend you read the whole thing.  She’s done a beautiful job sharing from a sibling’s perspective.

Her wedding day will be full of great joy and celebration and also some sorrow as we take pictures of the whole family minus one.

 

you should be here

I might be laughing one minute and crying the next.  

And that’s OK.  

No need to fake it.  

It’s ALL part of life. 

sorrow and celebration can coexist authentically

Repost: Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!

Almost anyone you ask anticipates that Thanksgiving and Christmas, two family-centered holidays, are difficult days and seasons  for bereaved parents.

And they are.  

Especially for families that enjoyed special times around the table, unhurried visits reminiscing about years past and traditions that reinforce the unique heritage of their shared history.

But this time of year is also challenging for me and many other parents who have lost a child.

Read the rest here:  Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!

Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!

Almost anyone you ask anticipates that Thanksgiving and Christmas, two family-centered holidays, are difficult days and seasons  for bereaved parents.

And they are.  

Especially for families that enjoyed special times around the table, unhurried visits reminiscing about years past and traditions that reinforce the unique heritage of their shared history.

But this time of year is also challenging for me and many other parents who have lost a child.

The mailbox is flooded with graduation and wedding announcements. Social media newsfeeds are packed full of smiling parents surrounding relieved and grinning kids proudly displaying the culmination of their educational efforts.

Pretty soon photos will be rolling in as folks head to their personal “happy place” for family fun in the sun, mountains or amusement park.

Our own family participated in two graduations and a wedding within weeks of Dominic’s accident.

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My youngest child, Julian, graduated from UAB on April 26th-five days after we buried Dominic.

 

 

He walked the same stage where his brother had given the undergraduate commencement speech  a few years prior.

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Less than two more weeks and we were celebrating Dr. James Michael DeSimone as he graduated from Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Six weeks later-James Michael married his bride, Lillie, on June 21, two days shy of my thirtieth anniversary.

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Last May, Dominic’s University of Alabama School of Law class graduated.

Some of his friends graciously arranged for me to receive his Juris Doctorate degree posthumously.

I sat, both proud and stricken, as his name was announced at the end of the graduating class and his photo flashed on the giant screen above my head.

So please bear with me and all the other mamas whose children aren’t here.  

While I rejoice with those that rejoice, I am also reminded, again, of what I have lost.

If it takes a little longer for me to send a graduation card, if I don’t “like” your status or post a sweet comment-it’s really NOT you, it’s ME.

lifetime