Other people’s lives are flashing before my eyes this week.
On the docket during a seven-day period: a double baby shower, bridal shower, memorial dedication, 5k race in honor of a friend’s disabled daughter, a bar mitzvah, a wedding and a memorial service. My college friend was here Sunday night, on her way to drop her only daughter at school.
Four items on this lifetime-spanning menu are scheduled for Saturday, evidence that God schedules in mysterious ways, too. This unexpected convergence of life and death has had me scrambling to make some untenable choices.
Two events have been on the books for a year, but they conflict. When I chose the race – on whose organizing committee I have sat for three years – the bar mitzvah’s organizer offered me a lovely compromise (attendance at the family dinner) that pushed the wedding into the “only if I can stay awake that long” category. The memorial service, a late entry that is a five-hour drive away, threw a flaming sword into my carefully orchestrated juggling act and raised some interesting questions.
Which is more important: To look back, and mourn the joy now lost, or to look ahead, and toast the joy yet to be? Or is that even the right yardstick? Maybe the critical criteria is what my attendance or lack thereof would mean to the friend who connects me to each event. Would my support at one supersede my absence at another?
That last answer was easy, and still leaves room for compromise, if my body allows. After Friday’s dedication, I’ll make the trip down to support my friend Robin at her husband’s 11 am memorial service – just after the runners have left the course and somewhere in the middle of the bar mitzvah. I can still make it to the dinner. And if, God willing, I have any energy left after starting my day in mourning over the untimely parting of one couple, it seems only fitting to end it with a raucous celebration of the joining of another.
I doubt if I ever have a week like this again, in which decades are folded and compressed in between two Sunday mornings, like photos between the pages of a scrapbook. From before life begins, on through death and, finally, into memory, these seven days are wrapped in hope and sorrow and tinged with regret, with a lifetime full of echoes thrown in for good measure. It is overwhelming and exhausting and humbling.
What a remarkable slice of life.