I don’t know that I have ever understood the term “The Speed of Life.” I think I thought it was something that people older and wiser than me would said as they looked back on their lives and wonder where it all went. Or maybe its something that country artists write songs about, or maybe its even something black and white photos tell stories about. Since I last blogged, I think I have come to some sort of conclusion as to what moving at the speed of life looks like: Its when life keeps happening. For better or for worse.
On February 29th, I was on the phone with my best friend, Katelyn, wishing her a happy birthday. She doesn’t get many of them because she’s a leap year baby. This year she had a three week old baby boy, a beautiful two year old girl and a sweet husband to celebrate with her on her “actual” birthday. I remember we hopped off the phone so that she could go get ready for dinner….
The next day, I received word that she had suffered a massive hemorrhage in the night.
By Thursday, her sister called and told me I needed to sit down, which was followed up by… “Kate has cancer.”
By the next Monday, she was in her first round of chemo therapy.
Ten days later, they could not make the hemorrhaging stop and so they performed a hysterectomy.
Over the next nineteen weeks, there were “Kick Cancer Kate” signs popping up everywhere. Shirts were made and worn by friends and family members all over the country. Thousands upon thousands of prayers were said. And every single week for almost four months, Katelyn went to chemo therapy. We called it waging war. She is the fiercest warrior I have ever known.
And then one day, the best phone call came. She was finally cancer free. It did not come easy. It did not come without several scares and set backs. But it came. So much life happened. I don’t think I could ever express to you what it was like to watch her and her family go through this experience. She was so authentic about what was happening and what she was going through, but she was the first to tell you where she saw the Lord blessing her. Even on the days when she couldn’t be with her sweet kiddos, she made sure that they knew every minute they weren’t with her that she loved them and that they were so special. I hope that I live even a portion of my life with the kind of love and passion that their family shows to each other and to those they meet every day, but especially on the days when the worst comes.
There are so many moments I could share with you that have marked me forever that I got to witness during the months of her battle with cancer. If you ever want to hear them, grab a cup of coffee and bring me a box of tissues and I’ll be glad to share. Its actually really hard for me to sum up so much of what happened in the paragraphs above, but like I said… life just kept happening. Some of it, I would really like to revisit before we totally move forward. This did not happen to me. Hear me say that. Katelyn is the warrior. Her husband, her Mom and Dad, her kids, her siblings…they were in the day in and day out trenches. But I was very blessed to be a part of her warrior team on the sidelines. And you can’t live through that kind of experience without being marked for life. There is so much that I learned…
I learned about compassion. When Katelyn was first diagnosed, we were in full prep for wedding season to begin. I will never be able to say thank you enough to our clients and to the vendors who were so wonderful to work with during this time. Every single one of you were honest about what you needed from me as a planner, and we worked hard together to bring beautiful events into fruition, but then you also gave me so much grace when you could tell I was having a hard time holding it together. You let me know that you knew life didn’t stop, but you also let me know when you needed me in the moment. That kind of communication and honesty, was life giving to me and really helped me keep my head on straight. Each of you asked me about her, prayed for her, and sometimes even cried with me for her. Thank you for helping me continue to be good at my job, but also still be a good friend. Thank you for being a blessing to work with.
I learned about friendship. I learned about this from so many different angles. Whether it was through observing the way people loved on my friend, or whether it was the way people loved on me. I was overwhelmed by the sense of how much we need each other. We’d like to think we operate pretty independently. And in theory, we do. But then I ask you, why do we have Bridesmaids? You need someone to stand with you. Sometimes that’s really hard to receive. But when you finally are willing to drop your guard and be vulnerable, the reward is so great. The hope that a friend can give through a quick email, a text, a call, a care package, a hug, a car ride, or a good hand holding… its life giving. Thank you, sweet friends for the way you loved on her. Thank you to those of you who reached out to me even if you didn’t know her and wanted to be there for her, and for me. Thank you for the friends who let me know it was OK to need help too. Thank you, my precious Kate, for letting me be your friend. “I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart.”
I learned about the beauty of faith. Faith is such a hard thing for us to talk about sometimes because its not always something we can put our finger on or wrap our brains around. Faith is also not an emotion. Faith is something that you have to CHOOSE no matter how you feel. There were days when I thought the army of people that were coming out of the woodwork to love on Katelyn and her family just could not be stopped. Then, there were days I thought I was going to lose her. Sometimes in a physical sense, sometimes in spirit. Sometimes I thought I was going to lose myself. But then, I would sit in the hospital with her and listen to her recount all the miracles she felt like had taken place since she had been sick. I would watch her encourage nurses that would come in to care for her and find themselves sharing their stories with her. I saw so many people from all around me come out of nowhere to care for her and her family. I know now, more than ever, that there is a God who makes beautiful things out of such horrible messes. That is something we can cling to on the best days and the worst. Thank you to each of you who constantly reminded me that no matter what happened in the end, He makes everything beautiful.
I learned about marriage. It makes me weep to try and explain what its like to be in love with a man who chooses to love you back even when you make horrible choices in the midst of your pain. Again, this wasn’t happening to me, but there were times when I couldn’t sleep because I knew she couldn’t sleep either. She is that friend to me who always knows what’s wrong before I call. Sometimes I can hear her when she’s upset. And no one else saw me have a broken heart for her like my husband. He was honest about being unsure of how to be there for me because there was nothing he could do to help her or me. We had hard conversations about the realities of the way Satan tries to attack us when we are down, and what happens when we give in. But no matter what, he never gave up. He did so much praying for her, for “the boos” as we call them, when he didn’t know what to say, he prayed. No matter what kind of mess I made, he loved me anyway. Thank you for letting me love you and for wanting to love me.
And then… I learned the craziest lesson I think I’ll ever learn… the Lord, in His miraculous mercy, gives us beautiful gifts…
The day I received the news that Katelyn was for sure, 100% cancer free, was also the day that I received the news from our doctor that we are pregnant with our first child. I have never been more excited, scared, overwhelmed, amazed, and awed by a moment in life after all that we have seen these last months. We have seen so many couples begin their lives together as husband and wife, we have seen the truest example of living out the vow “for better or for worse” in our friends as they have battled and beaten cancer together as a family, and now, we are looking at this picture and wondering, how much faster is life going to go now? Are we ready? Well… is anyone ever ready? Life keeps happening. And praise God that the most beautiful, fierce Mother I have ever known is still here to show me how to do this.
Thank you for indulging me a bit. I have sat down at my computer so many times these last months and tried to blog. We have so many things to share with you. Amazing images of gorgeous weddings, photoshoots, announcements of the some of the crazy things that have happened to us as a business (good things!) in 2012.. and so much more! But my heart… my heart has struggled to move forward without sharing with you exactly where we have been, what we have witnessed, and what is coming. We are so excited for this new chapter in our lives. The response from our Brides and their families has been so encouraging and sweet. The fact that you guys continue to trust us with this precious time in your lives amazes me. I am so grateful that this is what I get to do every day. But the fact that we are now going to do this as a growing family, and your support and desire to work with us remains unchanged… that means more than I can possibly say.
Now… back to life as we know it.
*The quote I mentioned in the friendship paragraph was from a poem called “I Carry Your Heart” by E.E. Cummings.