[L]ast 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 (a San Clemente City Lifeguard) 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?