Amazing. An entire week has gone by without a word from me on this page. What have I been doing with myself?
Kind of you to ask.
I've just returned from a weekend jaunt to Columbus, Ohio, to attend the wedding one of my former students. When I started working with high school students in 1993, I never imagined that my involvement in their lives would one day extend to attending events like their weddings. (And funerals, too, but that's another story.)
But it has.
Laura was one of those girls who had it all together in high school, and now, 11 years post graduation, she hasn't changed one bit. Her wedding was picture perfect, every last detail (right down to the hand packed goodie bags waiting at the hotel for her guests) was perfectly orchestrated. She even managed to keep threatened rain showers at bay long enough for all the guests to get to the reception...and than have the rain end just at 11 p.m. when the festivities began to wind down.
I love weddings, with their bright shiny hope and promise, their tradition and ceremony. This one was a nice balance of style and taste, without being ostentatious or overdone. It was a bit subdued by modern standards, and my friend and I were discussing this on the way home.
"Well," I remarked to Pat (who has been separated from her husband for almost 20 years), "it doesn't take a million dollar wedding to make a million dollar marriage."
"That's for sure," she agreed.
I'm sure we were both thinking about the young man who had ridden with us to the wedding, a classmate of Laura's (in fact, her first love) who just three weeks ago had signed divorce papers. Pat and I attended his wedding too, back in 2004. We watched he and his lovely bride exchange vows under a gazebo in the warm glow of a Florida sunset, enjoyed seeing them dancing the night away, gleeful and full of hope. In fact, that wedding was the last time we saw Jeff, another of their classmates, a brilliant man who took his life in January of 2006.
Young people, none of them yet 30 years of age, and they've already experienced some of life's most tumultuous moments - marriage, divorce, death - it doesn't get more elemental than that.
It makes me thankful for the relatively slow trajectory I've traveled on life's pathway. For the past three decades, I've lived in the same home with the same man, where we raised a healthy child who now has a successful life of his own.
And given all the uncertainty in this world, that's worth about a million dollars to me.