Today, as I have a few times over the past four years serving a church with many elders, I assisted with a funeral. This one was different though. It was a celebration of life, a beautiful tribute of 65 years of loving marriage, a touching reminder of the fleeting nature of life, yes. It was also the first time I witnessed someone memorialize a spouse, as a spouse myself. I have a great capacity for empathy. Today, I empathized even more.

Tonight I posted an Instagram of a candid of Andrew studying, and Reese, our cat “helping” him. While on my Instagram page, I caught some of our wedding photos. As I’ve done countless times in the past few weeks, I looked through them again, reliving the joy of one of my favorite days: how good I felt about myself with the froth of tulle trailing behind me – a beautiful veil that my sister gifted to me; how pretty I felt in my dress, how special it was to be able to honor the late wife of one of our church members by weaving a necklace of hers that her husband gave to me a few years ago into my bouquet. Our first look. The letters we exchanged before the ceremony. Being pronounced husband and wife. I scrolled through pictures of the life we are creating together: adventures in vegetarianism: i.e. eggplant bacon, 15 bean soup and corn pancakes, our pets becoming buddies (miracle of miracles!), and concoctions we have made together in shiny new kitchen things from our beloved community.

Our dear friend and brother’s beloved community gathered around him today to support him, to hear him eulogize his wife eloquently, beautifully, and lovingly. He regaled us with story after story of his beautiful bride, a lifetime of love and memories pouring forth. A gift to those of us in attendance. These two were/are gems. True gifts of love and grace in the world they inhabited together.

As we paid our respects to him at the reception, he gave Andrew and me a blessing that he hoped we would be as happy as he and his wife were. They are and will always be blessings that keep on giving.

Tonight I give thanks to God for love and memories.

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