Funerals and weddings knit the people attending them together for a lifetime through shared tears and laughter - and people certainly laugh and cry at both occasions.
We simultaneously laughed and cried at Marguerite's funeral when people reminisced about a beautiful, extroverted woman who, in her active, loving life, touched so many, including her children and grand-children.
We laughed and cried at Bryan and Wendy's wedding when Groom Bryan, youngest son, danced tenderly with his Mom Judy, and at Martin and Mary Jayne's wedding when Groom Martin swept Mary Jayne (youngest daughter) into a romantic dip for their first kiss as husband and wife.
Of course my husband's public comments about the two young grooms was "I hope they learn, memorize, and always use the two most important words: 'Yes, Dear.'" All the men at our table nodded their heads soberly.
One of the reasons we "older married couples" love to attend weddings is because these young peoples' passionate idealism gives our marriages new impetus, new life. I think of Mary Jayne and Martin using a reading from Romans that contains the words " I urge you...to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God your spiritual worship." How beautiful these words are - and how challenging. A kaleidoscope of memories flash through my mind of couples' loving, willing sacrificial faithfulness to each other and their families.
Elderly Marguerite, too ill to come to Church because of breathing problems, and her husband Eddie, who later predeceased her, quietly receiving a pyx containing the Eucharist to take Jesus home to her.... Numerous young parents pale with fatigue from getting up during the night to feed their babies... Overtired parents of school-age children willingly driving them to and from Little League, hockey, and play practice.... a couple we know who took on the responsibility of raising their granddaughters after their daughter died....
We never know, never ever know in advance, what physical and emotional and spiritual stresses we will go through in a marriage. That's why a young couple's vow to live together "in sickness and in health till Death do us part" is so awesome, so inspirational, to the family and friends gathered together to witness their vow and pledge to support them. It is the purposeful, day to day offering of one's whole life in sacrificial love for others that makes life so rich and full and joyful and life-giving!
That's why it's equally awesome to go to a wake and funeral and see someone like Bill Boneberg's wife Sue, who has lost a spouse, grieve from the heart, and to know it is because of a committed lifetime of shared love and sacrifice. Though they're parted by Death, Sue lives in deep thankfulness for her life with Bill and in fervent hope for a joyful reunion with her much-loved husband in eternity.
As the happy crowds blew bubbles at both couples as they came beaming into the sunshine as "Mr. and Mrs.," I felt all of our prayers for them, their hopes and dreams, rising to Heaven with those colorful and luminous orbs. As grieving friends and relatives gathered around Marguerite's and Bill's caskets, I also felt everyone's prayers bearing their souls to Heaven with a shared love and thankfulness for these lives which were so rich and full and joyful.
Paul and I quietly held hands through both weddings and funerals, both the laughter and tears. Both the sacred sadness and the sacred joy helped us recommit to our marriage, be thankful for what we've had and have, and be ready for whatever God's plan is for us tomorrow. Truly, God has a time for everything in all our lives, so that we can discover the heights and depths of sacrificial, joyful, peaceful Love which resonates from generation to generation.