My most recent trip was to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend. It was a week of celebration culminating in the joyous union of two people who love each other and love others so well. I had a day to myself between the wedding events and my flight home, so I took advantage of the abnormal (in the loveliest way) weather and set out on a roadtrip from Portland to Mt. Hood, up to Hood River, along the Columbia River back to Portland, then through the Tillamook Forest to the coast, up the 101 to Seaside, then I finally decided I should head back to Portland and get ready for my trip home. It was a ~400 mile drive – and every single moment of it was beautiful. I squeezed in a short hike at Mt. Hood and a walk along the shore at Rockaway Beach. Any day that includes the mountains and the ocean is beyond perfection in my book.
Throughout the week, that Ben-shaped hole in my heart grew and grew. I knew I’d miss him extra while surrounded by wedding things and happy couples and all those good things. There were some tough moments when the missing him seemed overwhelming. And then there were moments when the universe knew exactly when I needed a little pick-me-up. As the reception came to a close and people emptied out, I helped tidy up as a good bridesmaid should. The last song that played before the DJ shut off his equipment was a favorite of Ben’s – AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” – one that always brings a smile to my face, because it’s the only one he’ll dance to…and let me tell you, the boy has moves. As that unmistakable opening riff came over the speakers, I couldn’t help but think that somehow the universe was trying to give me a little encouragement. Oh, how I miss that boy.
Weddings are a good reminder of what is most important in our lives – the ones we love and the way we treat them. As Claire and Kyle exchanged their vows, I was struck by the beauty of the promises they made to one another, the commitment that was being honored that day. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Benjamin, the years we’ve shared together, and how great a privilege and responsibility it is to live up to the promises we exchanged on our wedding day. It’s easy to say “I do” when asked if you vow to love someone for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in good times and bad – it’s a whole other thing to actually do it. Even in his absence, I’m learning more and more about what it means to be a good wife, to be a good friend.
“People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.” ~ Hilary T. Smith, Wild Awake
I read this quote at Claire’s wedding – it’s such a good reminder. When we are vulnerable, we give others the opportunity to extend us grace, to love us despite the unlovable things about us, to accept us without judgment. We risk feeling ashamed and embarrassed, we muster up the courage to confront those dark places we don’t want anyone else to see. Our offering of ourselves is our expression of trust, our desire to be loved. Our hope is that it won’t be mocked or dismissed. Our hope is that love will win. Choose love. Let it win.