On Saturday we attended Selah's high school graduation, several graduation parties, and on Sunday we went to Emma's wedding in Walla Walla, two and a half hours south.
There were so many events crammed together over the weekend, that we had to miss some of the festivities leading up to the wedding. That I regretted. But we had to weigh it all and thankfully the graduations, graduation parties didn't overlap with the actual wedding...it just made for a very busy (but fulfilling) weekend.
I met Emma when she was four at the playground at Paul Ecke Elementary School in Leucadia, California. Her dad, John Northrop, was picking her up at school and I was taken with how he held her and talked to her. I introduced myself, and we began dating, became engaged, and broke up not long after, but Emma, thanks to her mother, Linda Byerley, kept in touch with us after we moved to Selah and they had moved to Walla Walla. I lost track of her for awhile when she moved back to California with her dad in 9th grade, but when she was 14 Jared and I attended her mom's wedding to Scott. I went to Emma's baby shower when she was pregnant with Piper, her almost four year old. Ben and I went to Piper's third birthday party last summer, and then Emma and Linda brought Piper, when she was just a baby, to our wedding reception at the Howies four summers ago.
And yesterday we were witness to Emma's beautiful wedding to Brandon.
Linda calls me a second mother to Emma. I believe I was that for a season in Emma's life. I feel as if she is a daughter of my heart, and a place is reserved for her always. But she is a grown woman with a family with many people in her life. I am one of many who love and celebrate her. That is good enough.
John and I hadn't seen each other for 20 years, and he didn't recognize me when he first saw me. The greeting was warm and we enjoyed talking to each other. I also renewed a connection with John's sister, Helen, and we will be talking about our respective writing projects.
John and I talked about Barbara, his mother, She was always kind and gracious to me and Jared. She passed away in 2002. But John said Barbara was present at the wedding, and was responsible for the clear weather after a 3 p.m. rain an hour before the ceremony.
We talked about his dad, Jack, who died last year. We talked about his two other daughters, his orchards, and sailing.
At one point Linda told a friend that she was going to get a photo of her "ex-husband with his ex-girlfriend, and the ex-girlfriend's husband." What was important is that we were there--along with about 250 other people, celebrating the union of two special people, Emma and Brandon, and their two children, Piper and Ciara. I was grateful to be there.
Emma with her two dads, John and Scott.
And Emma with her new hubby, Brandon.
And Emma with her new hubby, Brandon.
Emma is also mom to Piper, left, and Ciara, right, two four-year-olds.
The events that took precedence over the pre-wedding activities were essential. Jacob has been in my life since he was five months old when Jared and I moved to Washington to live with his family. He is the middle son of Mary McCracken, my long-time friend and neighbor. He has six siblings, all of whom we love. When Ben arrived into my life they not only insisted he was the man for me, but quickly adopted him into the family. Ben became Jacob's tutor in physics and math and his mentor and male role model.
Ben, Me, John (Sarah's boyfriend), Sarah, Jacob, Mary, Kate, Sean, Taylor (Sean's gal pal), Joy, and Molly.
Ben, Jacob, Martha.
Unfortunately, I don't have photos of Monica and Preston Heinz, the two children of long-time friend Vicki Heinz, whose two graduation parties we attended. The one on Sunday, prior to Emma's wedding, was the official party, with family and friends. I have been to many family celebrations over the years. Monica and Preston's dad has not been in their lives (although he was at graduation) and Vicki is a single mom. I have tried to be one of those people who shows up to celebrate them...concerts, birthday parties, barbeques... throughout their lives. Vicki called today and said she was experiencing the post-party/graduation-family-leaving fall-out. Then she thanked me for being such a good friend over the years and for being there for her children.
It's all worthwhile.