A Wedding And A Funeral

Last Saturday, I went to my niece’s wedding. It was an event our family has eagerly been waiting for all summer long. Kelly Dale, the bride, was gorgeous and Nick Giuni, the groom, looked smashing! The next Monday, though, I attended a funeral. A wedding and a funeral in three days…that’s a whole lot of emotion! Each gathering was filled with beautiful moments, but for different reasons. Allow me to explain…

Kelly and Nick were married at Calafia Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean in San Clemente, California. It was a warm, late-afternoon wedding. As you can see, Kelly wore a gorgeous wedding gown and she was walked down the aisle not by her father, but by her grandfather, Parker Dale. Kelly’s father, Michael Dale, died after a courageous battle with cancer eight years ago. I’m sure his view from heaven was crystal clear. Michael would have loved Nick as we all do. He’s a great guy and wonderful addition to our new family.

Like many weddings I’m sure you’ve attended, Kelly and Nick’s reception was filled with lots of friends, great food, wine, and dancing and laughter! Oh, both are so young (in their twenties) and filled with enthusiasm, passion, a great love for life and one another. Weddings bring so much joy and love and hope to this world. If we’re listening…

I don’t know about you, but I love weddings. Especially weddings of people close to my heart. They’re a fitting reminder of why I married my bride, Krista, twenty-two years ago. Weddings slow me down and tell me things that I often forget during the busyness of life. I’m reminded of my love for Krista, the vows I made, and the importance of choosing the way of love every day. I’m a bit dense…which is why I need weddings like Kelly’s and Nick’s.

The following Monday, I attended the funeral of a woman named Carol, who was a good friend and supporter of The Grove Center for the Arts & Media, the non-profit I run. Kelly’s and Nick’s wedding was a wonderful celebration of love, friendship and marriage. Carol’s funeral was another kind of reminder; the kind that taps us on the shoulder and says that it is our daily choices that make up one’s life. If we’re listening…

Carol’s memorial service was a beautiful tribute of a woman with a passion for God, her husband, her family, her friends, her church and the hurting people around her who needed her special touch. I bet you know someone just like Carol. Or you’ve been to a funeral of someone just like Carol. When you sit in a funeral service and you hear people give beautiful eulogies about a life well-lived, I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired. (I’m sorry…every funeral does not do this…quite a few tell how NOT to live.) For me, I want my life to count. I want love to be the signature theme that people read in my life story, which is why I need to become a better listener.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m a writer. I love fascinating stories and all the life lesson’s we learn when we go to weddings and funerals. It’s probably why I write books about life, God, marriage and helping grieving children. I write stories because I admire courageous people like Kelly, who as a teenager, lost her father to cancer. I think her story has something to tell us about our story…if we’re listening. Even after her father died, Kelly didn’t stop trusting God and she certainly didn’t stop loving others. She persevered (like the rest of her family) and kept loving…and then she met Nick…wow!

In the midst of battling pancreatic cancer, Carol too, kept loving her family, God and others. In the face of suffering, she kept persevering. She kept trusting that God would make something good out of all this! Get this: Carol was a woman of such powerful faith that she called her chemotherapy pills “her manna.” (i.e. her daily bread) Some people would call her delusional…I say she’s inspirational. Why?

Because when life throws you a handful of garbage, like Kelly’s dad getting cancer or Carol fighting the battle of her life, you and I have the choice to throw in the towel, give up and allow our hearts to shrivel in hopeless cynicism. Or, we can choose the way of faith, hope and love. When we choose this way to live and love, we will always find God is able and willing to give us the strength, hope and courage we need to keep pressing on. This strength, hope and courage is a choice and it is exactly what everyone needs who’s watching our life. It just may be the daily bread they’re starving for.

A wedding and a funeral can teach us a lot about life and how we choose to live.

If we’re listening…are you listening?

Questions: What has been the best wedding you’ve ever attended? Why? Tell me about the most inspirational funeral you’ve attended…whose life was celebrated and what was so remarkable about how they lived?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, snarky or off-topic.

  • Sissym Mascarenhas

    Joey, I’m a lucky person because I met you and now we are starting to friendship. It will continue, because I like to have the Opportunity to talk about matters of the heart.

    I agree that a wedding and a funeral can teach us a lot about life and how we choose to live.  You expressed very well the feelings, observations through the passages of life of each and you have made of them (so close).

    When you said that the strength, hope and courage is a choice, I realize that the world does not know how much that is valuable and that each is responsible for your happiness.

    Do you help grieving children?  How do you do that?  This is so amazing!

    I’m sowing the seeds of love and I want to leave to this world the good memories of what I am and what I did.  It is so wonderful receive beautiful eulogies about a life well-lived.

    My dear friend, I loved so much this text.  Thank you that you invited me to read it!

    • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

      Thank you Sissym for all your kind words. Yes, I do have another website for my book, Children and Grief. (www.helpinggrievingchildren.com) I have worked with individuals and families for over ten years in grief recovery…a lot of lessons learned there. Where did you learn English so well? Hope you’re doing well in Brazil!

      • Renee Garcia

        Joey… I need this web site so bad!  My sister’s husband died in May.
        He was a police officer for Hawthorne and died in the line of duty
        leaving two boys 7 & 12… I sent her your book on heaven…
        now I need to send this one too!  Keep up the great work…your friend Renee Garica

        • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

          Thanks for your encouraging words Renee. I hope my book was helpful to your sister. Blessings to your whole family!

  • Sissym Mascarenhas

    Joey, I think amazing to help others. After going through some critical situations in my life, I realized how strong I am and that I have the ability to help others with my words of motivation and joy. So I’ve been looking for ways to go further, I care about being different and make a difference.

    About the English language: I studied it. However I’m not fluent talking (I understand conversation associating words) cos I need more practice. I know know right and wrong, maybe cos I know the grammar very well in Portuguese. I am extremely detail oriented and not like to think that someone who read me find errors.

    Sometimes to be faster, I use Google Translate, but it is not reliable. After using it I read and correct. I learned to apply this tool to translating my poetries. It is necessary to make sense.

    Could you please write me the link to your other blog by email? I would like read it!

    Thanks !

    • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

      Hi Sssym, my other website is http://www.helpinggrievingchildren.com
      That’s wonderful how much you want to help others.
      This other site is not a blog…just a website. Thanks for writing!

  • http://twitter.com/MarcyPusey Marcy Pusey

    Wow! Great post! I always love those reminders to slow down and appreciate life- to make it meaningful, to celebrate life’s joys, embrace life’s sorrows, and become a better person for it all. I’ve been to too many funerals… even if they are few comparatively. Each one was super meaningful in its own right. But one of the most recent ones that stands out to me, stands out because of this: Every person who stood up to speak said, “She was my best friend.” It struck me how SO many people thought SHE was their best friend! And she probably was. I want to live that way too… in such a way that people who encounter me KNOW that I love them and would drop anything for them. It was a beautiful testimony of someone who made each moment count because she lived them for others. 

    • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

      That’s a great word Marcy and what a great story! To live in such a way to make others feel like you’re their best friend, what a gift. 

      Thanks for your kind words and encouragement. I’ll try to keep’em coming!

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