It’s been a weekend filled with significant events, beginning with the Saturday memorial of our dear friend, Shirley, a woman whose presence enlivened all those with whom she came into contact. Among her many gifts, Shirley was an accomplished cake decorator. She provided the cake for our wedding 17 years ago — November 23, 1991. Prior to the reception, there had been a mixup and the cake ended up at the wrong location. Shirley took on the stress of it and sorted it out on her own. By the time we were ready to cut the beautiful masterpiece she’d created, all was in place. We didn’t even know about the mishap until later. I imagine her now, running around Fargo on our account in order to help our day be as special as possible. I wish I could thank her, but my thoughts from afar will have to suffice. Still, I smile at and am grateful for the memory.
Another memory I carry from that day is a visual of our wedding-party caravan traveling from the church to our new apartment for transitional time before the wedding dance. We led the pack driving west on 13th Avenue, our car decorated with shaving cream and pop cans on ropes trailing behind. Everyone was honking to herald our parade, so when we turned south and actually needed to use our horn to avoid a possible crash, the honk made no difference. The steady stream of noise that had accompanied our wedding brigade had nullified its effect. Thankfully, we arrived at our destination unscathed.
The third significant event this weekend was the birthday party for Child #4, who will turn six officially on Thanksgiving. I will never forget the processed turkey that was delivered to my hospital room that first Thanksgiving with our new bundle. Though it came simply presented on a plain plate under a silver dome cover with canned carrots and instant mashed potatoes, it was one of the best Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever eaten. I’d just delievered a beautiful, nine-pound-plus baby, our fourth child, second son, and life was wonderful, indeed.
This morning, our daughters took part in church services as altar server and singer in the children’s choir, and we rounded out the evening with an anniversary meal at Johnny Carino’s. It was a busy but fun-filled day.
These are the things that truly matter: new life, celebration of life, and life’s end. If only death were not part of the equation, but it is, and as the pastor reminded us at the memorial, the grieving we do at such events is a reminder of our longing for the place to which we are heading; a reminder, too, that this life is passing for all of us, and that each moment of our time here is a gift. It’s also a reminder that we can’t forget to embrace these signifcant moments, see them for what they are, and love while we can. I know Shirley would have wished we would do so with exhilaration. I hope that we have made good on that today.
The summer of our first meeting (1988):