Honeymoon (Almost 5 Years Later)
How Hamilton tickets turned into the honeymoon we never took.
Looking back, it's amazing to see God's hand guiding the events surrounding our wedding. It was saturated with joy and ended up being the perfect day. However, of all the things that you hope and pray for when it comes to your wedding, a death in the family is not one of them.
It was at our rehearsal that my father-in-law received the call that Doug's grandma had passed away. She had been struggling for awhile. I remember going to visit her before we drove to Michigan for the wedding as she was too weak to make the trip. She was happy to see all of us, but you could feel that she was tired and longing for home...her real home.
When that call came I remember laying my head down on the pew in front of me and bursting into tears. It was mostly grief, but also my reaction to being completely overwhelmed. I have felt shame over that reaction in the years since as it feels so selfish...to be thinking of myself and my emotions seems shallow.
Our minister Bryan was understandably confused. I have thought what that chain of events was like from his perspective: we were in the middle of rehearsing how we would all walk out at the end of the ceremony. Some people had already exited, Doug's dad was on his phone, others had sat down because they were aware of the situation, and now we have a crying bride. God sent so much wisdom and grace to Bryan in that moment. He quietly gathered everyone so our family could have some time together. They would tell me later that they all joined hands in the back of the church and prayed over our family. To say we are blessed and held up by the people in our life is a significant understatement.
We talked about Doug's grandma...how she so desperately missed his grandpa, how she told us during our visit that she just wanted to be with Jesus. We mourned the loss of her life and rejoiced in the fact that she was now whole and with her husband in the presence of God. Eventually, Bryan came in and shared the sweetest words with us. He prayed for the loss, our marriage, and asked that God would send grace to get through the next few days.
After some time, the rehearsal somewhat resumed and faded into dinner. I got to watch my nephews play with the gifts we had gotten them for being a part of the wedding. I sat and chatted with my beautiful aunts who had kept everything moving during the rehearsal. We shared stories about Doug's grandma. We all laughed and found joy in the face of questions and grief.
Here were my favorite people in the world doing what you do for each other when things are tough; showing up. They all offered kind words, funny stories, hugs, and endless “how can we helps”. We rested in the embrace and power of community at it’s very best.
God did send grace. A bunch of it. Our wedding day was beautiful and will remain one of the most treasured memories in my life.
Selfishly, you could look at a death in the family as one of the most "unfortunate" things to happen the right before your wedding. But, as the days have turned into years we have been able to see how God's divine grace and timing were woven throughout that weekend.
Doug's two siblings and their families live in Wisconsin and Idaho. We would have exchanged phone calls when his Grandma passed instead of being able to sit together and remember her. Not the circumstances you want, but it gave us more time together before they all went home.
Other than Doug's grandma, all of our other grandparents had passed by the time of our wedding. It saddens me that none of mine were able to meet Dougie here on earth...I know they would have been so charmed by his sweet spirit and quick wit. We wanted to honor their lives and presence at our wedding, so we had a grandparents table right when you walked in to the church. Candlelight glowed around various photos of each of them. This table became even more meaningful and special to us.
Doug was starting a new job about a week after our wedding. Thinking about this, we decided to do a big honeymoon down the road and just go to Traverse City for few days. We both wanted him to have an opportunity to pause and mentally relax before starting his new venture. Instead of having to cancel flights and change reservations, we could just make a call to the place we were staying and change our reservation to another time.
The staycation honeymoon was exactly what we needed. I have suggested it to many engaged friends when they ask what we learned from wedding planning. Instead of having to catch a couple hours of sleep and rush to a flight, you can take your time. Enjoy the family/friends that are in town. We decompressed. We went to late dinners. We watched movies. We set up our place and shopped for adult house items. I will always be thankful for that week together and how it gently introduced us to the real-life-we-doin-this-fairlytale-everyday-normal-magic that is marriage.
I think life is a lot like our wedding weekend: sometimes stressful, not immune from pain, but so very joyful. It can be transformed by your community and renewed through the love of the ones that know you best. Most importantly, it was life...it was real. It showed us how to face trying times holding hands. We were about to make vows that we would do life together during the best and most painful periods of life. You aren't always given an opportunity to tangibly put that into practice the day before you make that promise.
So, jump ahead five years to me getting Hamilton tickets. We decided we would make our trip to New York the honeymoon we never took. We had gone on other trips together, but we never named it in this way. It was everything. We wandered through the park, ate decadent desserts in the middle of the day, drank tea while talking about life, and did some solid touristy activities.
Our wedding and the years following have educated me in the most life-giving way. I have found that you can't choose how life goes, but you can have the character to respond well. You can trust in God's plan for you even when you want to grab the reigns or direct the ship. And, you can intentionally choose who you experience it with; I would be nothing without Doug's love, our families support, or our friends' presence.