One of the most precious gifts from my marriage to Mike is that I have, for the rest of my life, two beautiful stepdaughters. They were grown when I married him, but still very young, 18 and 22. Now, one is mother to three beautiful children and the other just got married this past weekend here in Kona. Let me tell you - I am deeply grateful I was able to be here for that. Caring for my dad the past five weeks in Virginia, with the unexpected turn of events in his condition, had me think I might not be able to leave. I never would have left had we not been able to settle things there so they were manageable, but somehow, his care got arranged, kind of at the last minute.
My aunt, my mom's sister, flew out to be with mom as my brother and I left to return to our homes to tend to our families and find some much needed rest. I traveled on Thanksgiving and hit the ground running when I got back with wedding preparations.
And it was a truly wonderful wedding. Plenty of jitters for the beautiful bride, but everything went off as planned. The groom wore one of Mike's kilts...that got the tears started, and I cried, watching the bride come down the aisle with her mom...cried that Mike wasn't there to witness this, and cried at memories of my own wedding to him.
Over the years the girls' mother and I have become friends, which is also something I am deeply grateful for. I have been welcomed into the clan as part of the family, included, treated with love...that doesn't always happen in step families and extended relationships. But these are all truly special, dear people...people who were there for me after his death in a massive show of support and love. People who are still here for me, people who walk the walk in terms of compassion and forgiveness. I am so fortunate, so blessed.
I know Mike would have been so happy and proud of this special couple and their commitment to each other. Life is not easy...we are thrown curveballs, we are faced with devastating circumstances, we are forced to move forward without some of the people we love. But somehow we survive, and in the wake of it all, there can be beauty, and love. In the wake of it all can come unexpected blessings and new and wonderful things to look forward to.