Tag Archives: death

Weddings and Families

The point of our road trip was to go to my cousin Janet’s wedding. To understand what made this wedding so special, you will have to understand some things about my family.

First, when I post about family gatherings and hanging out with cousins and stopping in to see an aunt or a grandmother, I am almost always speaking of my Dad’s side of the family, the Smuckers. The Yoders, on my Mom’s side, are quite different. Managing to gather a group of Yoders in one place is rare, but oh so special.

Second of all, six years ago the Yoder family was rocked to the core when my cousin Leonard committed suicide. Leonard has two sisters: Annette, who was married at the time of his death but was unable to have children, and Janet, his little sister who looked up to him more than anything.

This summer, God has been redeeming and blessing the Yoder family in a way that is amazing to behold. First of all, after seven years of frustration and tears, Annette and her husband Jay were able to adopt a breathtaking baby boy named Justice Creed. Secondly, Janet is getting married. The family that lost a son is gaining a son-in-law. The girl who lost the man who she looked up to now has a man to look after her and care for her the rest of her life.

There is our cast of characters: Janet the bride. Marcus and Anna, the parents of the bride. Annette and Jay, the sister and brother-in-law of the bride. And Justice, the adorable loveable nephew of the bride.

My Aunt Anna with her grandson, Justice Creed.

Rounding out the cast list are me, my parents, and my siblings Matt, Amy, and Jenny. Also, my uncle Fred and my Aunt Rebecca. Fred, Rebecca, Mom, and Marcus are all siblings.

And now, for pictures.

Amy, Jenny and I dressed in wedding finery. I had to stand just so on that dock so my stupid spindly heels didn’t go down the cracks. I just knew that if there were any handsome single men at that wedding they were going to think, “oooh, she’s the kind of girl who buys shoes she can’t walk in. So¬†not interested.”

My real excuse is that I’m too cheap to buy myself nice white sandals, and instead borrow my sister’s and wobble.

Apparently I tried to delicately punch uncle Fred while we walked into the church. This picture just cracks me up.

The only camera I have access to right now is my Mom’s, which doesn’t have good pictures of the ceremony. However, I decided to post one blurry one, with notes telling you who is who.

Finally, a good picture of the cute-handsome-nice-funny-amazing-affable-benevolent couple.

Uncle Fred takes a picture of bridesmaid Annette in her beautiful wedding finery.

The bridal table. Janet the bride looks intently at her chair. Annette and Jay look intently at baby Justice. The two random members of the bridal party also look at their chairs, which leads me to believe that the whole lot of them wanted to sit down.

After the wedding was over, and Janet and Mark were safely off on their honeymoon, mom and aunt Rebecca went over to the place where Annette was staying so they could hold beautiful baby Justice for the first time.

Aunt Rebecca holding/loving Justice.

If only I had brought my own camera, or charged my droid and dragged it around with me, I could have brought you pictures of the summits I climbed, the lakes I canoed across, and the sunsets I observed during my short two days in beautiful Canada. But I didn’t. So I can’t.

I can, however, post a few more pictures of the good family times we had this afternoon.

Dad holds Justice.

Marcus, me, Jay, and Annette sit around a table, intending to talk to each other. However, we just cannot keep ourselves from staring at Justice instead.

Now, here is a twist in the good old plot. Jay, Annette, and Justice were planning to fly back to Pennsylvania tomorrow, while the rest of the Yoders (minus Janet, obviously) went back to Minnesota for a bit of family time with Grandpa and Grandma.

However, this morning, the day after Janet’s wedding, Janet’s Grandma on her Mom’s side died. Which means that Annette and Justice are coming to Minnesota as well, and Janet is cutting her honeymoon short and coming down for the funeral.

Although they’ve been expecting her death for a while now, it strikes¬† me as such a bizarre turn of events. A wedding, and then a funeral, all in one trip. Granted, I didn’t know the woman who died, and therefore probably won’t go to the funeral. But for Marcus, Anna, Annette, and Janet it will be. A birth, a marriage, and a death, all in one summer.

I must get to bed, as I am road-tripping to Minnesota tomorrow. Prepare for more styles and miles coming your way.

All Seventy Years

I was at the computer. Jenny sat at the piano, playing “Seek Ye First” over and over again, always messing up at the end.

“Emily,” she said with a sigh, “do you think I will ever be able to play this song perfectly?”

“Of course,” I said.

“But how do you know? I always mess up at the end!”

“Jenny,” I said. “You are thirteen. That means you have seventy more years to live. If you play that song over and over again for seventy years, of course you will be able to play it perfectly.”

“Good point,” said Jenny. Then, “so you think I’m gonna die when I’m eighty-three?”


“Well if I don’t, then I’ll go laugh to your grave.”

“My grave!” I said. “But I’m going to live longer than you. I’m going to live until I’m eighty-nine.”

“Ha ha ha!” Jenny pointed her finger at me and laughed. “When you’re eighty-nine I’ll be eighty so you’ll still die before I do!”

“Fine. I’ll live to be ninety-three. And you’ll die before me.” I paused. “No wait! I don’t want to watch you die! I’ll die first!”

“I don’t want to watch you to die either!” Jenny exclaimed. Maybe we can die at the same time.

“Okay, as long as it’s not double suicide,” I said. “Maybe we can be in the same house at the same time and be taken up in a tornado.”

“We can both die of old age at the exact same moment,” said Jenny.

“That’s impossible, and kind of creepy.” I thought for a moment. “This is how it will be. One day I will say to you, ‘Hey Jenny, I’m ninety-two, and you’re eighty-three, and we’ve never sailed around the world!’ And you will say, ‘Well then by all means let’s sail around the world! Nevermind that we don’t know how to sail a sailboat, I’m sure we can just paddle it like a canoe.’ And so we will get in a sailboat and paddle into the ocean and capsize and die, but we’ll go out with a bang.”

Jenny and I laughed.

A day or two later, we were at the supper table, when Grandma stopped in for something or other and told us that Kristi’s best friend in Idaho had died. Kristi is my second cousin, and also my friend. She lives in Idaho, but was in Oregon for the summer working.

I hurried down to the place where Kristi was staying. There she was with our friend Anna, who also knew the girl who died. They were crying, standing around listlessly and crying, like they didn’t know which was was up.

Both of them wanted to go back for the funeral, but weren’t sure how to get there. The verse came to my head, Esther 4:14, when Mordecai says to her, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Only I was thinking, “And who knows but that you haven’t been able to get a job this summer for such a time as this?” I told them that, if they wanted me too, I would drive them out to the funeral.

Janna Mong was sixteen when she died. She didn’t get to live her last seventy years.

I didn’t know her. The entire trip, the funeral, everything, was somewhat bizarre because of this. They were all mourning her, and I couldn’t identify, because I didn’t know her.

Yet all the same, I mourned. I mourned the sadness in the faces of my friends. I mourned because it doesn’t seem right that a girl should have to miss the last seventy years on this earth. All the things she could have accomplished, all she could have done, from learning to play “Seek Ye First” perfectly to sailing around the world. Gone.

When I got home, Jenny said to me, “I didn’t need to use my 70 years.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I learned to play the song perfectly.”

I’ll end with a cliche: Time is precious. Life is precious. Use it wisely.