If anyone was looking for me this past weekend, sorry for the disappearing act. My cousin Chad married his long-time sweetheart Rachel on Sunday, and I was honored to be a groomsman.
Getting things ready and taking part in the rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception took up much of the weekend. And that doesn't even include the 1 a.m. Halo (video game) tournament we held for Chad on Saturday night.
All the commotion reminded me of a couple of years ago when I was running around to get everything ready for my wedding. Thank goodness I was on the fringe this time instead of being the center of the storm.
But speaking of things that I remember from then, the joy of this wedding was tempered by a bit of sorrow. It will be two years ago tomorrow that Chad's 16-year-old sister Christen was killed in a car accident on her way to school.
Long-time Ridin' the Pine readers will remember several columns I wrote sharing my family's anguish at the loss as well as the happiness that we knew she was worshiping at the feet of Jesus.
I had my doubts about the timing and arrangements of the wedding. Being so close to the anniversary of Christen's home-going, I thought it would be difficult to celebrate while being reminded that she wasn't there to witness the event.
Add the fact that only blood relatives were invited to the ceremony, and we feared hurt feelings, too. I have to admit, looking back at the ceremony, I understand Chad and Rachel's point.
Halfway through, they threw us for a loop. Rachel left her spot beside Chad to take a white rose to her grandparents. It was in memory of her uncle that had also passed away during the month of January some time ago.
As she sniffled through a few words about her uncle, I knew I was in trouble. I saw another white rose and two candles on the stage waiting to be lit. One of each was for Christen.
"Be tough," I thought. "You can make it through this. I know you can."
Well, I was wrong.
Chad picked up the rose, gave it to his mother and thanked them for raising Christen the way they did, for teaching her about God.
"Stick a fork in me. I'm done."
Apparently so was Rachel's brother, another groomsman who was a close friend of Christen.
After the ceremony, the couple took flowers up to Christen's grave. I stood there at the top of the church steps with Will, Chad's little brother and best man. We couldn't help but watch in sadness.
So yes, it was a long difficult weekend. But it was one made even more special by the recognition of those who have gone on before us.
Unfortunately, they made the old expectation of someone crying at a wedding come true. What's even more unfortunate is that it was me.