I’ve written before about April 11th. For a lot of years, it’s a day that has marked the beginning of the end. A day when I found out that my husband-at-the-time had leased an apartment. He was leaving our marriage.
It was a devastating day. It was the day my marriage died. April 11 has always been the day when I spent helping others save their marriage before I went home to watch my own end.
As April 11th approaches, my body, instinctively and without invitation, remembers the day as the one that my marriage came to an official end. I had desperately hoped that whatever struggles Former Husband was facing, that he could somehow see his way through to stay with us. April 11 was the day that shattered the fragile and crumbling hope to which I had clung.
To be blunt, April 11 is always a day that leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
A few months ago, I heard that the health care provider from Husband’s Widower’s Club that I spoke about in my 2018 TEDx Winnipeg talk was to be wed–on April 11th!!
It was exciting to know that he would be getting married. I was super excited that it was on April 11th.
It was my opportunity to remember the significance of April 11th in a new way!
Then COVID-19 hit.
The government prohibited any gatherings of greater than 10. All 300 of us were uninvited to the wedding. In an email that was equal measure disappointment and gratitude, they let us know that there would be a reception in the future where we could celebrate with them.
I responded with an email of support to them. Being empathic with their disappointment. And then I added this line:
And selfishly, it was gonna transform April 11 into a fantastic day for me to watch the two of you be wed. April 11 hasn’t been a good day for me as it was a sad “crapiversary” of sorts—and I was so looking forward to it being a day that I could watch a couple in love get married!My email response to her
The bride responded with grace and such kindness:
We both understand “crapiversaries.” Can we help you still potentially redeem April 11? We are inviting some of our family and friends to a “car party” in the parking lot after we exit the church around 1:15pm!The bride
The generosity of her invitation took my breath away. Those parking spots were precious. She offered Husband and I one of the few spots available to congratulate the couple–valuable real estate!
On her wedding day, it was the bride that gave me the gift.
I responded back with one line:
Oh, I am SOOO there!Me
A few days ago, we got the seating plan for the parking lot:
And today was the wedding! We pulled into our parking spot, cracked open the windows in the stiff wind to say hello to the folks in the vehicles to the left and right. The loud speakers blared out the ceremony for all in the lot to hear.
When the minister said, “And I now pronounce you man and wife”, the horns blared a cacophany of celebration.
And then they emerged from the church and, always maintaining social distance, they wandered through the parking lot to signs and well wishers.
Both husband and wife have experienced tragedy in their lives. Each had their hearts broken. Both knew dark days. Life suddenly changed for each of them in ways neither had expected. And both had to figure out how to move forward when life gave them something unwanted, unplanned.
Sorta like all of us right now, in this day of COVID-19, eh?
We are all looking to figure out what to do with the sudden interruption of our lives, the financial implications, the fear of the future, the concern for the health of our loved ones.
We are all looking to understand what to do with the uncertainty, pain and stress that is now thrust upon us.
This couple had found ways of bringing beauty out of ashes in their lives. They turned their pain into joy. They composted their pain to create something where before nothing existed.
If the loss of their lifelong-loves couldn’t sink them, there was no way that COVID-19 virus could do much more than give them a wee wobble.
I love the idea of redemption.
Bride and groom gave the parking lot guests an opportunity to put on dress clothes and makeup. We took off our sweats and curled our hair. We emerged from our cocoons to celebrate.
Redemption: They gave us a reason to celebrate–as they celebrated their love. Guests gratefully received this gift of celebration after weeks of being homebound.
Redemption: This day could never have happened–the celebration could not have been possible if they had not been open to opportunity for new love.
Redemption: They gave me opportunity for transforming for me the way I remember April 11. Isn’t that stunning that a couple would be so generous as to gift us with one of the few spots available to congratulate them because of their compassion for me?
I suspect that in future years, April 11 will now stand out for me as the date we listened to a wedding through a loudspeaker in a church parking lot during the COVID-19 pandemic.