I first came upon this quote a number of years ago while working my way through a contemplative reflective book by one of my favorite spiritual authors, Macrina Wiederkehr. It has helped shape, form and hold me grounded as my continued life journey unfolds.
On May 22, 2012 I held 2 very juxtaposed life experiences of deep joy and incredibly deep sorrow and suffering. I celebrated with great joy and thankfulness my marriage of 25 years with my husband, Dave and mourned the passing of my dear friends, Rich and Rose Swetmans, young son Ben.
Ben Swetman died after a 7 month battle with cancer. He leaves behind his wife Hyemin, their 3 year old son, Daniel, and an 8 week old baby daughter, Adelyn. With many tears and deep sorrow, Dave, Nathan and I sat with Ben’s family and friends and remembered his life. Wonderful memories were shared by his family and friends through letters, memories, photos, songs and tears. My heart grieves and aches for my dear friends and for Ben’s wife and children.
How does one hold this deep sorrow and hold the journey of 25 years of marriage all in the same time and day? I asked this to myself as Dave and I traveled through the day together. My hearts response: By going deeply into both emotional spaces. By remembering the above quote and by seeking and desiring to live authentically with what is. By not running away from the celebration and laughter of good and dear memories held by the 2 of us, and by crying and shedding many tears as we journeyed with each other and the shared community of Ben’s family and friends.
So we journeyed through the day by enjoying lunch out together, attending the memorial and reception, and then heading downtown for a night away and celebratory dinner at Altura. It was a day full of tears and laughter, good and difficult memories and a celebration of life.
We laughed together as we looked through some photos from our wedding day: We were so little! Well, not little in stature, but little in age. We were 23 and 22. If you’d told me that 30 plus years after first meeting each other that I’d be living life, parenting, learning and growing in friendship, with Dave – I wouldn’t have believed you. We didn’t like each other when we first met. It was a mutual tolerance of each other as he was a year younger (and everyone knows that one school year in teeange- dom makes a lot of difference – and I’m the oldest!). My perception of him was that he was far too serious and reserved and he perceived me as being far too loud and obnoxious. Funny how life unfolds when we give room in our hearts to expand and not go with ‘first impressions’. I love Dave: his laugh, his sense of humor, his diligence and perseverance, his deep sincerity and hope for a more just world for those living their lives in poverty. His depth of love for our children and his continual desire to grow in parenting and honoring them and who they have been created to be is a testimony to his character and soul. His character, and soul, is what I fell in love with. We’ve navigated some difficult times together and had wonderful times of joy, harmony and celebration. He continues to be my biggest champion, more often than not encouraging me to try new things, meet new people, and try new adventures. I am profoundly thankful and grateful for the journey so far and hope for many more years to come.