I hadn’t opened our wedding album for at least a half-dozen years. But our thirty-fourth anniversary is coming up in a few days, so I did that this morning.
And found myself suddenly overwhelmed.
On almost every page, I found people I’ll never see again this side of the Jordan. Dear ones I haven’t thought of in years. Great-aunts, sisters of my grandmother, who I never knew. Tanta Zada has her white-sweatered back to me, but I recognize that impeccable coil of white hair. Her hand reaches into the aisle to clasp mine as my new husband and I make my way out of the church after the ceremony. In the reception line, her sister, Tanta Maria, grasps Rick’s hand, smiling. I can almost smell the linament those old aunts used to calm their arthritis.
Aunt Lillian, my mother’s half-sister, is there too, I recognize her cheerful face, though the camera rudely chopped half of it off. Mrs. Chappell watches me toss my bouquet. We once spent an entire Sunday afternoon together in her attic, reading soppy poetry and bawling the ugly cry–wads of tissue, red eyes, the works. A little like I feel like doing right now, in fact.
Beloved Great Uncle Ben, my father’s uncle, hovers. All through my childhood, I never heard him speak an unkind word. Hannah Traub, my youth pastor’s wife is there too. I adored her–she treated me like a friend as a teenager. She died of cancer, far too soon.
I sit surrounded by memories of precious souls this morning. People God arranged as some of the kindly lights of my youth, some of my “great cloud of witnesses.” People who didn’t know I was watching, but by their lives helped me find the right paths through my own–and tried to make sure I stuck to them. Sometimes they succeeded.
When we’re young, most of us imagine the people we adore will be around us forever. It’s likely better that way–imagine living with a constant fear of their leaving. Nevertheless, leave they do.
I wish I’d told them thank you while I had a chance .
So just in case people read blogs in heaven…thank you all. Watch for me.