If you has asked me ten years ago if I would ever miss my best friend's wedding, I would have laughed at you. She's a constant light in my life, a beacon of joy, no matter how busy life gets, no matter how long it goes between our chats, it always feels the same; the trust and understanding we have built is unshakeable. I am being serious when I say she has saved my life... but I'm not going to her wedding.
Why? Because life has a way of snatching what you really want away from you; like so many people, I have been in dire financial straits for the last year, and though it sounds dramatic, I feel like the universe has been deliberately waiting for me to get on my feet again just to sweep them out from under me.
So this destination wedding, this milestone event that has been a bright spot on the horizon... well, it's still there. It's still flickering, and though I won't be there, this harder, rockier bottom that I have found myself at feels more bearable. And my friend? Is she angry?
No, she understands; she has said from the beginning, to everyone, that she understands how difficult destination weddings can be. She has taken the news, despite its sudden and last-minute nature, with the grace and kindness that makes her so loved by everyone around her. I am more grateful than ever for the deep well of love and generosity in her soul. She knows I would have done anything to be there, so much so that she looked me in the eye and said pointedly,
'I wouldn't want anyone to go into debt for this, it's just a day,'
Or something to that effect - I confess I remember the vibe more than the wording because during that conversation before the latest vet bills and the sudden need for car repairs popped out of the ground like poisoned daisies, I was already worried about how I would make it work. Perhaps she knew what I was thinking, or perhaps it was the fact that other people had been forced to bow out.
Things are ok, they will be ok - I am already planning a way to send a piece of myself to her. I will be there in any way I can... and that has brought a sense of peace. A sense of peace that opened the door to a question; how important are milestone moments?
Sowing and Reaping
There is a sense that the world, or at least our little private worlds, are pinned together with these 'milestones'. We are born, we go to school, we get a job, we meet people, if we are lucky we find someone we loved dearly and get married. We have children, or not, and we retire. We die. These are the markers in an average life, or so it seems. But we're social creatures, humans, and soon those people we are tied to by blood, and the people we meet by chance, become part of the fibers of our lives. Between the towers of our own milestones, there are others; your mothers' landmark birthdays, your fathers' retirement, your siblings and friends graduation days, engagements, children.
And so, I think our lives are not a line but a field, peppered with markers of every shape and size. Flowers and fruits bloom in that field when you nurture the friendships and relationships you make; in short, we reap what we sow.
And if that's true - how much do the big moments matter? And in what way? Does our face in a picture make our connection to a friends milestone more real? I don't know - I really don't.
But I know that when the day of the wedding arrives and I am thousands of miles away, I will get up early, shower and dress well. I will open a bottle of whatever I can afford, and I will send my friend a video of my family and I toasting her marriage, wishing her and her partner well, and that I will sit down at this computer and work with the make-up and jewellery still on after doing this. I know that I will have given her sister a letter to give to her at whatever time feels most appropriate and that I will send something blue for her to wear if she wants to. And I know that if she doesn't wear it, I won't care.
Because she will have the option, and that's all that matters. I'll water this seed any way I can, and in the grand scheme of a life it will be a blip. The flowers will grow in both of our fields, and there will be other milestone moments to share over a bottle of wine. To break between us like fresh bread.