We made it to Newman Center by 9:30 this morning. The wedding was at 10 and Doug wanted us there early. It was almost surreal when we walked into the church. We had not been to mass there since Jeanette's funeral and a flood of instant memories returned. There were definitely differences, however, from that August afternoon in 2014. Poinsettias decorated the church instead of peace lilies and a photographer was busy taking pictures.
We greeted Maury and Emey before taking a family photo. Pictures of the grandchildren were taken next as well as one of Carl and the boys. We met the priest and Brett practiced his readings. As we took our seats in the pews behind Carl the pianist started Cannon in D for the processional. I watched Marina walk down the aisle and then turned to Meg. It was at that time that I saw the tears rolling down Meg's cheeks. I soon joined her with tears of my own as did her Aunt and cousins. I thought of the two little girls running through the house last night looking for their beloved "football" poster. It dawned on me as we sat in that church watching their Grandpa get remarried, that they weren't really looking for their poster or crafts or even photographs. They were looking for their Grandma at least in spirit.
The girls had found her spirit in mass today and that was when the tears started. I couldn't blame them for crying as memories of my own beloved Grandfather came back to me and the tears I shed at his funeral. It was the shared conversations, the stories he told, the support that he showed me and my family, his love - that was what I was crying for. It was what the Heinisch grandchildren felt today even though they did not all show it with tears.
The wedding mass continued with the priest giving a nice homily talking about family and never forgetting the past. Carl talked of the spiritual connection that he felt with Marina and the hole in his heart that she helped fill. He also talked of joy and the commitment of marriage. Tears came down even harder at that point for some. As we headed to the luncheon afterward Doug, Cal and Cam talked about their favorite memories of Grandma Heinisch. Meg and I still had tears to dry before we were ready to join in. Brett had done such a wonderful job with the readings today, I finally asked him how he could stay composed through it all. He summed up the feelings of the day perfectly with "I am truly happy for Grandpa Heinisch. Until today, however, I did not realized how much I missed Grandma Heinisch." Being happy for one person while your own heart is breaking, that is the true definition of bittersweet.