On Saturday evening, I was the coordinator for a wedding. This half hour ceremony and two hour reception were the culmination of several months of planning, changing plans, organizing, making phone calls, running errands, shopping, cooking, sewing and a lot of just plain hard work. The difference in this wedding and most others I do, was that it was for my niece, my brother's daughter. It was a wedding with a tight budget, so a lot of things had to be done by us, instead of paying someone to do them.
I enlisted my best friends to help. My sister of the heart was by my side almost constantly, taking charge of the flowers and helping with the cooking, darling husband was the main pack mule and three of my very close friends helped with the food part of the reception, making it all run smoothly.
My brothers and sister in law were also a huge help. When they arrived after traveling considerable distances, they kicked in gear with the last minute things, like picking up some of the food I had ordered, shopping for extra candles and other sundries and my younger brother even stayed up with me until about 1:30 am, the morning of the wedding, helping me cook the chicken wings that had been requested by the bride.
It was a beautiful ceremony and a fun reception. It was what my sweet niece wanted and she was radiant on her special day. And I loved it. A lot. But besides that, the second best thing, which is a very close second, is the way my family and friends joined me (allowed me to rope them in) to help make this thing happen. There was no way I could have pulled it all off by myself. But these beloved people just came in, saw what needed to be done and handled it. I am certain that this is exactly what God intended when He established family and later, the church. He knew that in big things and small it would be imperative to have people in our lives that we can count on to show up and walk with us; to help us get through all the things life throws our way, large and small, good and bad.
I learned the importance of showing up a long time ago. Darling husband and I are the parents of three daughters and a son. We started with our son and a daughter and then, through no planning of our own, acquired two other daughters. Our family and friends joined us in welcoming each of these children and when we found out that our son was very ill with a terminal disease, they showed up at our house with food, offers of child care, money, and anything they could think of to make the journey we were going to have to take with our son a little easier to bear. They kept us covered in their thoughts and prayers, they encouraged us with kind words and those things sustained us; not for a few months but for the fifteen years that he lived after his diagnosis. They were there during every hospital stay either with us or at our house taking care of our daughters, or they were bringing food. The night before our son died, there were four people sleeping in our living room, so that we would not be by ourselves, in case the end came in the wee hours of the morning. And even though I can't remember every act of kindness that was done for us or every sweet word that was said, I remember that there were people with us. They were present.
It is easier to show up for the celebrations in life. But I promise, it will mean so much more to the people we love when we can show up for the hard stuff as well. When family and friends are going through stuff, showing up may mean just listening and handing over tissues. It may mean sharing our money or our homes. It might mean giving freely of our talents to make someone's day better. When the hard times or the times of celebrations come, showing up is what matters. It's the way of love.