Jason and I were married on September 5th. All the emotions were present that day. I spent the first morning hour doing what I did the first few months after Simon passed. I sat on my front porch steps with a hot cup of coffee watching the sun rise. I let the tears flow. I miss Simon. I always will. We created a home and family. I can never get back or recreate that life, only cling to memories. But in the same breath, I am so overwhelmed by God’s mercy, a second gift of love, and the community that has surrounded our family. In this crazy year of loss, decisions, and change, marrying Jason was an easy choice. We know we have our work cut out for us, but we know we are supposed to do life together.
Family and friends gathered at my parents’ house for an evening of celebration, remembrance, tacos, craft beer, and impromptu dancing. The temperamental California summer weather, which had been swaying between rainy, humid, and scorching, was nearly perfect for the 24 hours surrounding the ceremony. We eschewed most wedding traditions. There was no bridal party beyond our kids. My son stood beside Jason and was, in his words, the “best right hand man”. My daughters were the “girls of honor”, proudly carrying mini bouquets down the grassy aisle. Cupcakes and ice pops were plentiful in lieu of cake. There were no slideshows, no toasts, no photobooths. We wanted to spend our time and energy enjoying the company of who we love most. And those who attended will tell you it was one of the best weddings ever. Even though it was a beautiful setting, the people made it a beautiful night to remember.
The ceremony was intentionally short and meaningful. We didn’t want out guests to tune out over trite commentary and cliche wedding wishes. None of that was an issue because we had the perfect officiant: Shawn Small. Shawn spent his post-college years as a youth pastor and has known Jason since he was 12. Shawn began the non-profit travel organization that Simon interned for and Jason still works with. Shawn conducted premarital counseling for Simon and I. Shawn was the man that Simon told his deepest hurts and wildest dreams to. Shawn and Jason have traveled all over the world together, forging a brotherlike bond. Now Shawn is our biggest supporter because he has personally watched this story unfold and witnessed God’s provision weave through the decisions and events that brought us to where we are today. As a storyteller, Shawn captured the audience as he painted the picture of Jason and I building the foundation of our friendship that ultimately became love at the right time. And with our blessing, Shawn delicately and appropriately honored Simon during the ceremony, acknowledging the role Simon will hold as Jason and I honor his legacy while building our new life together. We recited private vows with the kids to reaffirm their importance and value in our new family.
Jason and I escaped to a nearby beach resort for our first honeymoon (our second, dream honeymoon is happening later this fall). That getaway made me realize that I haven’t really relaxed in about nine years! It took almost two days for me to accept that I shouldn’t be checking emails, planning my calendar, worrying about the kids, or doing anything else except being Jason’s wife and enjoying our surroundings. Our travel agent worked with the hotel to make sure all sorts of treats and perks came our way to make it memorable. The only glitch was that everything was booked under my name, so Jason was addressed with my last name by all the hotel waitstaff and attendants during the week. He was a great sport and was confidently introducing him with the incorrect name by the end of the stay. At least he got a little taste of what most of us married gals have to go through when we change our names!
To my blog readers, I want to thank you. Thank you for reading and hearing this story. In one sense, my time as a widow is over. In another sense, life is just beginning. We are rebuilding our family. Jason had to become a husband and father at the same time, a challenge that requires so much patience, resilience, and humility. Relationships are already complex, and for us, it’s on another level of complicated! But we have faith that God will guide our steps, we have Simon’s blessing, we have love to diffuse the dark times, and we have supportive families that stand with us no matter what.