I found out today – through the wonders of the facebook newsfeed – that not one but two young men I knew as children got married this Saturday. They are both several years younger than Sam and although of course it is lovely for them and their friends and families and I wish them nothing but blessings and happiness, the news has hit me hard. I feel both shocked and sad! That doesn’t seem very appropriate, does it? I must be getting old when I can’t even believe they could have reached the age to be allowed to marry! Having not seen them for years it is hard to picture – I am still living with memories of them at age 9, passing on Sam’s old clothes and playing family board games and football. Come to think of it, I even remember when they were both born: time is obviously moving faster than I think.
The first lad, Matthew, I had actually heard about: he’d got engaged to his university sweetheart about a year ago. He’s the only son of my oldest friend, a widow who died of breast cancer a few years back, so of course I am delighted for him, finding happiness, love and a new home and family. The photos he’s posted are beautiful: he looks just like his mother. I remember a school concert in that same venue when we sat on the grass to listen to him play with his proud mother and some of her family… come to think of it a number of them are also now dead. Perhaps I’m feeling sad that we weren’t invited back there – but he wasn’t my friend, she was, and I haven’t kept in contact with him since her funeral except for the occasional fb comment, so why should he invite us to the party? We all go in different directions in life and priorities change: it is always time for a new generation to move on. Anyway, get real! I don’t even like weddings!
But then, the second young man really did come as a surprise, right out of the blue! How can that little scoundrel ‘Jarvis’ possibly be old enough to wed? It was strange enough when his brother got hitched last year and he’s about 5 years older. Surely they are all still children? And why is it fair that my old friends have all 3 of their children blissfully married and my own 2 are still alone?
Ah – we come to the nub of it. I wonder if this is why I don’t like weddings?
For years I have been saying I don’t care that my kids aren’t hitched and I don’t want grandchildren, thank you, we’re quite happy to have a breather for some considerable time. But have I been deceiving myself, perhaps? I don’t think so… I really don’t have any great desire to be ‘the mother of the bride’ nor am I broody for a new addition to this crazy family – which is a good thing because at this present time it is unlikely that I ever will be! There are zero prospective partners in sight for either of them, and even if there were, they certainly wouldn’t be doing the traditional marriage thing.
I am sure I have accepted that. Really. I am not yearning for some fairy tale ending – and I truly am glad for my friends and their sons. And contrary to what one of my neighbours thought the other day, I am very glad Sam didn’t marry Jessica in the end too… It would have been a nightmare. Better not to marry than marry the wrong person!
No – this surely comes back again to simply wanting your kids to be happy… It’s about being really weary of the long journey, the struggles of the years, the continued legacy of what they’ve both been through and still feeling trapped by our situation. When will redemption come – how long, O Lord? When will there be good news for my kids – love, happiness and a future?
Now that too is silly. Becca has moved into a new flat, is doing well in her part-time management job, has taken up skate-boarding(!) and has a part-share in a sailing boat on the sea at Brighton: she is no longer in the grip of depression and is even having fun. And Sam himself really does remain well. He is just a bit stuck… stuck, stuck, stuck – as always, existing month to month, up and down, with his 2 cats in his little house in Loughborough, scraping by on benefits, still full of great plans to set up businesses that never come to anything – well not yet anyway. Longing to escape, but he doesn’t even know where or what to. But it could all be so much worse! And we are grateful for all of this, for having made it this far – for all we have. Really.
I suppose it all depends who you are comparing your situation with, doesn’t it? There is so much suffering in the world and always those who are worse off… it’s no good getting bitter over someone else’s good fortune. My children are not the same as other children – different gifts, different destinies. I have to keep coming back to what Jesus said, “Don’t worry about him, you follow Me” John 21v22
Jesus said this other thing, too: “Suffer the little children” Mark 10v14. It doesn’t mean that, it means let or allow the little children to come to Me, suffer is a pretty old fashioned way of saying that – the King James translation of course, the one I memorised as a girl. But even so, the little children do suffer don’t they? As in the modern meaning of the word – they go through stuff, painful stuff, bad stuff. Just look around the world and see it, watch Comic Relief or the news… how can I possibly complain about our lot (in both senses of the word)?
SO – how to respond to all this? WELL – we are going to deliberately focus on some suffering children for a while, to take our minds off our minuscule problems and get some perspective. Yes – it’s true. For some years my husband Martin has had an inner pull to go over and help in Haiti – the poorest country in the western hemisphere with the most AIDS orphans per head of population and an atrocious infant mortality rate. This sense of call happened way before the 2010 earthquake and before Sam got ill… So my news is that finally this November we are both going there for 2 weeks as part of a reconciliation expedition and to have a look and see what that might entail for our future.
Rather an extreme reaction, you might say… maybe even a bridge too far. But when did we ever do things by halves?
Please follow this journey on my other blog and please consider sponsoring my fundraising headshave – which is a big personal sacrifice for old Redhead to make.
Yes, it turns out I will be wearing a hat after all – but not to a family wedding.