And then we had to throw flying to Rochester and back into the mix. So, we got back from Rochester late on a Monday night (11th). And 18 hours later, we were in the car headed south towards HHI. 7 of those 18 hours, mind you, included Sophia duty. So, as you can image, I was running around even MORE like a chicken with my head cut off than usual that Tuesday. But we made it, safe and sound, to our dear friends' condo on the island.
The Wagners became friends with us when we had the privileged of spending time with their daughter at Forest Hill Church in our youth ministry days. We've kept in close touch, even as they've moved to Atlanta. Their condo is AWESOME there in HH and we were fortunate enough to spend time there nearly two years ago, when Mom was gearing up for her biochemo treatments. Mom, Dad, Justin, Scott and I all vacationed together. It was the last trip I went on with Mom feeling herself.
As you can imagine, being in that space brought a lot of memories back. I think back to that time, and - had you told me then that I would have given birth to twins, lost one of them, and lost Mom by summer of 2008 - I would have assumed you had confused me with someone else. Geez, even just reading that last sentence out loud is strange. It's hard to explain how I was present in every single moment of that pain and sorrow and grief (and still am) - and yet it does not seem like MY life contained all that.
It was an interesting set of memories which came back to me. But the trip was certainly different enough to not feel too melancholy, NAMELY having a bouncing bundle of nearly-1-year-old joy cruising around the condo, putting beach sand in his mouth, and curling down his bottom lip in the lamest pouting session whenever the ocean water approached his toes (such a sissy!). Jackson was a hoot to vacation with, that's for sure. He was especially a champ when it came to sleeping in a different setting (our previous trip to NC did NOT provide the same results) and dealing with strangers (lots of new family faces from Scott's side revolving around wedding events, not to mention three random strangers we assigned to his care while we were busy going to receptions and boat cruises and dinners out - they were highly recommended sitters so we felt safe). Cousin Steve flew in from Chicago and stayed with us the majority of the time we were there, so he and Jackson developed quite the comradery.
Before I go into the wedding low-down. Let me just say how much I LOVE... LOVE... LOVE... nice people. Now I know there's nothing particularly bold or complicated about that statement. I mean, who really doesn't like nice people. But I believe I have a particularly strong preference for them.
That fact is exactly why this past Saturday's wedding left such an impression on me; almost everyone there was genuinely nice. John Arthur is Scott's dad's brother's son. He is an identical twin. His brother's name is Matt Arthur, and the two are closer than I have ever seen two people be. Best friends. John married a woman I believe I could be BFF with if she only lived closer to either Ohio OR Minnesota than Seattle -which is where both she and John live now. Megan is her name.
So the wedding begins... on the beach... on the most beautiful evening you can imagine. And after Megan comes down the sandy isle, there's a bit of shuffling underneath the beautiful arch adorned with pink roses. No one is saying anything, but it seems like there's a bit of stalling before the service begins. Come to find out, John's wedding band accidentally got dropped in the sand. Some folks drop to their knees. But no band. The officiant suggested they move forward with the ceremony, then come back to sift the area. And that's when Matt, John's twin, whose wedding Scott and I attended three years ago (his wife, Annie, I could be BFF with too) stepped forward and started tugging at his own left ring finger. Sure enough, Matt's wedding ring was wrenched off his hand and lent to John for the service.
The very next part of the service involved a very sweet passage about the reality of love... it was about then that I just lost it. I didn't put up much of a fight to hold back the tears- heck, it was a very natural setting, so I let my salty tears blend with the salty surroundings. I gave up trying to decide what was the root of my emotions - The sweet words about love reminding me how grateful I am for my husband? The beauty of the crashing waves, golden sun, and squawking seagulls putting me in touch with that which is bigger than myself? Or was it what I feared could be the cause of my gushing - that watching identical twin brothers so tenderly behave towards one another made me think of what could have been for my boys. The moment of my tearfulness passed. And the service concluded. Megan and John became a couple! It was such a fantastic thing.
Then we paraded over to the tent, where the reception was held - walking distance from the beach. When it became time for the best man's toast, I wasn't prepared for a whole other wave. Matt spoke of the respect he has for his twin, about their connection, about their support of one another... Had I been perceptive enough to think of anything than the moment I personally was in, I would have noticed that there probably wasn't a dry eye in the place - regardless of twin history. It was just sweet to watch two grown men love each other so dearly.
And so I couldn't hold it together then either.
I KNEW I was going to a wedding where twins would be in the spotlight... but I surely wasn't prepared for the moments I described above. I mean, I've been around a lot of twin situations since Duncan died. I am very comfortable talking about other women's twin children. And even holding twin babies. It was the fact that these twins were grown men that got me. And the fact that Jackson (and Duncan) has a built-in best friend missing who will not be toasting him at his wedding - that thought rang through my insides for that short portion of the night.
And then - JUST LIKE THAT - I was done. The sadness passed. And I moved on to fried green tomatoes that were to DIE for and boiled shrimp mixed with delicious creole seasoned sausage. That's my life. Rare moments of heartache pop up unexpectedly amidst a myriad of life's joyful blessings. I would rather the rare aching moments to surface among a vast sea of pleasant ones, than it to be the other way around.
The only other big highlight to share is that upon entering Columbus (at 1:30am today), both Scott and I felt this enormous sense of relief - We're HOME. Driving through the dark, but familiar streets of Clintonville, I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort (of course, that could have been exclusively due to craving the comfort of my bed after a 12 hours road trip!). And it felt good. Until. I realized. It's not going to be home anymore. But I was too tired to deal with that whole can of worms. So I went to bed. One of these days I'm going to deal with moving. But for now I'm holding out.
Enjoy fun pics of J-man...
(Steve nicknames Jackson "Jacksonian")