The sermon at our wedding was beautiful, unforgettable and strangely ominous.
The wonderful priest who married us began with a story. He was assigned overseas and found he had to move suddenly, he would be on a plane in 24 hours. He had grown close with so many people and knew he likely wouldn’t see them again. At first, he resigned himself to spending the last of his time there packing and organizing to go.
Then, he thought better of it. He decided to forego packing and organizing because good-byes were more important. He chose the people and never regretted it. Because, he said, “What you have in the morning, you might not have in the evening.”
He wanted to impress on us not to take each other for granted. Not to take this life for granted. To remember it is all a gift.
I remember reflecting that I loved this message, but it made me uncomfortable too. Was it a sign? Did it mean I was going to lose someone I loved before I was ready? Was it God trying to tell me to buckle down, storms were coming? So I tried to tuck this message safely away where it couldn’t hurt me. We would be different, there was all the time in the world.
But of course the message is true and inescapable. Storms come for all of us. This young bride was focused on the happily ever after, and yet all those things I was afraid of that day will happen to me as they happen to all of us. It is part of being human, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. God doesn’t promise us that life will not hold sorrow, just that he will carry us through it when it comes.
You are never ready to lose what you have in the morning, those you love. There are never enough moments. There is never enough conversation or celebration or things to look forward to. There is never enough time, we will always want more. My grandma died in her 90’s, I still think wistfully it would have been amazing to celebrate her 100th birthday with her (her 90th was a pretty fun party). Because we greedily hold onto every moment.
I cannot think of a scenario where I would be ready to lose my husband, a child, a parent, a sister, a friend. And yet it will happen. There will be those days, those terrible days, where what I have in the morning I will not have in the evening.
This week a friend, who I have been lucky to share my parenting journey with through our daughters, died very suddenly. She was theirs in the morning and by evening she was gone. It was exactly as our priest said all those years before.
This woman was a dear mother, wife, daughter, and friend. There was no warning for her departure from us. It is one of those moments where you stop dead in your tracks. You can think of little else but how? And why?
She was a woman who was so grateful for her life. So grateful for her family and her kids and her experiences. She always turned our conversations to how lucky we were to be moms. How lucky we were to have these kids. She put her heart and soul into her mothering in a way that was a light for me. A light that helped me remember we need to live like what we have in the morning could be gone by evening. I will always be grateful for the lessons of her friendship.
It is moments like these that remind me I cannot hide from the fact that what we have in the morning we might not have in the evening. I now know that acknowledging this to be true won’t bring loss to my life. Instead, remembering this truth will help me live so my focus will be on living and loving my people well.
If I remember this, I will live today to cherish my people. To choose them over things. To be present and grateful and forgiving. To keep trying, even in the face of dirty dishes and lost shoes and an over-packed schedule. I can do my best to remember that each day is a gift.
If we remember this, we can be patient and grateful we are here to worry about what to cook these people for dinner. We can remember that our houses are filled with people which is why they’re also filled with mismatched socks. We can remember we are chronically exhausted because we are blessed with being able to drive our kids to practices and plays. We can find the joy and gratitude in this life and the people we get to be with. Those that live in our homes and those that do not. We can live like we know we are not guaranteed more than this very moment, without letting this thought paralyze us with fear.
The sermon at my wedding, the beauty of my friend’s life, the suddenness of her death, and so many other moments are lessons. They teach and remind us we need to love well while we are here and know that God will take care of the rest.
Because the best part is that there is a plan. Psalm 30:5 tells us while there may be loss in the evening, “joy will come in the morning”. God’s love is a promise that he will comfort those left behind and when we leave this temporary world joy awaits us. Those we lose are simply waiting for us in the morning that will come for us all someday. The morning of heaven will be all joy. This is the sustaining truth.
So we can live here knowing there is so much more to come. We can cherish those we love the best we can, knowing that when they leave us they don’t leave us forever. And we can have faith knowing our God is there with us. Always.