It was one of the happiest days of my life. The only other ones that comes close are the days when my first and second grandchildren were born.
The last ten years have been full of things that I was in no way prepared for. I do not think there is a way to prepare a couple for life—not even the best marriage prep. The only thing I feel that can make an impact on married couples are couples who have been married and through difficult things. In this age, advice of elders is often dismissed as old people not knowing what they are talking about or being busybodies who stick their nose in the business of others.
At 43 years old, being a grandmother and now marking a decade of marriage I can say for sure that listening to older people could have helped me avoid a lot of pain and suffering. But I do not know if I would know that if I had avoided it. And maybe that is the lesson, that we must face our own pain and suffering to grow in wisdom.
Nobody in marriage prep ever talked about how to cope with the loss of a child to suicide. Or PTSD from being in a warzone. Or dealing with the PTSD of childhood trauma. Even if they had though, I would not have listened. I would have been so sure that none of those things would ever happen to us. I feel like I have been enrolled in a crash course on how those things can indeed happen to me.
I think that the advice I would give to myself ten years ago on my wedding day would be to enjoy the day. There hasn’t been another day in my life with all the people I love the most in the same room like that, unless it was a funeral. Eat more of my Tio’s brisket. It would be the last time I had any and I did not see that coming at all. On my wedding day I thought there would be plenty more days of my Tio smoking briskets ahead of me. He was gone 5 ½ years after that day.
More advice I would give myself is to hold on when the bad days come because on the other side of the fire is a place of peace that surpasses all understanding and you really cannot be taught that. You can only get there.
People often say they are praying for me to have peace when I lament, as if lamenting is not part of peace, but it is. I would say lamenting is at the center of peace because only peaceful people can come to the feet of God and let Him know how they are hurting with trust that He cares.
Walking towards my husband in the chapel, I had no idea that a few years down the road my son would die by suicide months after losing my Tio and Tia who stood up as our parents on our wedding day. I had no idea that my husband would suffer the loss of his father and that we would have to learn how to survive grief together and on our own. We had no idea that we would laugh as much as we have and there was no way to prepare for the little lives that brought rays of sunshine into our family in the form of two grandbabies.
There was so much we were not prepared for, both good and bad. But that unpreparedness is what left us open to the blessings in all of it. Because even in the worst of it, there have always been blessings. Thank God for that.
Leticia Ochoa Adams writes from Texas, on life, death, grief, suicide, faith, motherhood, doubts and whatever (else) happens to be on her mind.
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