Yesterday, Wednesday the 23th April 2014, was my niece Charlotte’s wedding. Leah was to have been bridesmaid at this and she had been very excited about it. Leah had received the invitation to be bridesmaid while we were still in Bristol on Saturday 26th October 2013. We were busy packing our bags to fly home to Northern Ireland the next day, having spent 14 weeks there. I was with Leah when she was asked to be bridesmaid and I shared her excitement.
A few days before we left Bristol, my nephew, Leah’s cousin Daniel, had got married in Donegal in the same church as yesterday’s wedding.
Leah & I had looked forward very much to his wedding and it had been a focal point throughout Leah’s illness and treatment.
When Leah went to Bristol for her bone marrow transplant she had been assured that she would be home for Daniel’s wedding. There was hardly a day went by that we didn’t talk about this wedding and how much we were looking forward to being there and seeing all the family again.
However, due to complications of Leah’s transplant and the fact that she was very immune suppressed, Leah and I did not in fact attend Daniel & Jayne’s wedding in person. We were very disappointed about this. Instead we found a quiet corner in our Clic Sargent accommodation in Bristol and “attended” the wedding via FaceTime on Leah’s iPad.
For Leah, the thought of not only attending Charlotte and Jamie’s wedding in person, but also of being bridesmaid, was so amazing. Her only concern – would her hair have grown back? She didn’t want to have to wear her wig.
Charlotte and Jamie looked fantastic yesterday and my eldest daughter Rachel was stunningly beautiful as one of the three bridesmaids. The sun shone, the food was delicious and I was surrounded by friends and family.
It was also possibly the single most excruciatingly painful day that I have experienced since Leah’s death. My feelings of pain and loss seemed unrelenting and my tears felt like they were never going to end.
It wasn’t helped by the fact that yesterday was the anniversary of our first visit to Belfast City Hospital, the day when our haematologist told us all the awful stuff about Leah’s diagnosis and treatment. We were left reeling in shock and I remember thinking “It’s not just a bone marrow transplant my daughter needs – it’s a miracle.”
However, in my life of recent times I’m constantly aware of two threads running alongside each other. One is the almost overwhelming pain of my loss and grief for Leah. The other is God’s amazing and constant provision for me in my hour of need.
I feel sad but I also feel blessed – it’s kind of hard to explain……..
One of the hymns that was sung at the wedding service yesterday was the very same hymn that I posted on my Facebook page on that day one year ago when we were heading up to Belfast City Hospital – “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman
“The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name”