Yesterday I had the privilege of attending my neice's school graduation. Way to go, Emma!
We started the day with photos in the park, and a lot of people came out to celebrate with Emma -- my sister, her husband, her twin sons, her ex-husband, one of her step-sons, Emma's boyfriend, my parents, my youngest daughter, myself and many family friends.
After pictures in the park, we headed to a different site for convocation. My daughter and I arrived first, and waited with Emma and her boyfriend, Lewis, for the rest to arrive. When they did, my sister came in first, hurrying to find us seats together, my mother and Carolyn's first husband, Kelly, followed, chatting away, and behind them, my father and Carolyn's husband, Scott, brought up the rear. I suspect they were talking football - they were missing a game. "This," I joked as I watched this unique precessional, "is truly a blended family."
At the grad dinner that evening, Kelly was joined by his new girlfriend, Laura, who was bravely meeting everyone at once. People finished their meals and left in a gradation of goodbyes, until the group remaining at the table was Emma and Lewis, Carolyn and Scott, and Kelly and Laura. I had to laugh to myself as I walked out the door at how bizarre life's moments can be. When children are involved, forever really does mean forever.
Later this summer, I will find myself in a similar situation. When my own marriage broke up, I became involved with and ultimately had a child with, Rick, whose daughter, Lyla, is getting married this July.
My first date with Rick happened at the ice rink, and at one point Lyla reached for my hand, and she and I skated together. She terrified me. That was the moment I realized if things didn't work out with her father and I, it would not just be adults who were hurt.
And i know that my invitation to her wedding happened due to my daughter's relationship with her rather than my own. Still, I find I am deeply honoured to be attending this event all these years later.
When you are in the moment living life and there are highs and lows in the relationships around you, it is hard, sometimes, to step back and remember that most things pass and heal in time. Recently I heard a radio announcer read an obituary a grown child had written to a deceased mom, in which the child stated, the mom had abandoned her. "You will not be missed, the world will be better without you." The radio announcers debated between themselves if this obituary was appropriate or not. "If it's the truth," one thought, "Why not?" The other thought it was terrible. "This is the last thing you will say about that person." My thought was, that kind of anger only robs your own joy. Let it go.
Life is a strange, beautiful, often messy, unpredictable ride. Forever may not always be what we imagined, but for all our relational forevers, may we seize each moment - the good and the bad - live them, learn from them, and then graduate into the release of them.