My wife and I entered the wedding venue and were quickly ushered to our seats. Groom’s side. It was almost time to begin when I noticed something very unusual. Standing at the front of the wedding chapel and just to the right of center stood an easel…nothing on it.  Did the wedding coordinator forget something?

Turning my head, I noticed that everyone at the back seemed to be ready. The flower girl, ring bearer, groomsmen and bridesmaids were in their places, prepared to march down the aisle.   The grandparents and parents were already seated. The crowd suddenly became silent as Ty, the groom, together with his youngest brother Hayden, carried a large portrait to the front, carefully placing it on the easel. It was a stunning picture of their deceased brother, Coleman. He had died two years prior in a tragic accident. Coleman was dressed in a tux, complete with a boutonnière in the “Best Man” spot.  If Coleman could not be there in person, his family would make sure he would be included. He would be re-membered. After the picture was in place, we were ready to begin.

I reached for my handkerchief to wipe away the tears and noticed others around me doing the same; women and men alike.

The wedding ceremony was unforgettable as we felt a  Holy Presence in the room.  I nudged my wife and whispered, “I’m so glad they didn’t forget Coleman.  Surely God in heaven is pleased.”

As the bride and groom walked down the aisle and out of the room,I wondered if everyone else felt the same as my wife and i.

Across the years we have attended countless wedding ceremonies and graduations where a “loved one” was honored in some special way. Sometimes a special memory candle is lit while others honor their loved ones by including their names in the printed program.

However, there seems to be one in every crowd, a person who, “doesn’t get it” and whispers their disapproval to anyone who will listen.  “Why are they bringing in such sad memories at a time like this? Don’t they know this is supposed to be a ‘happy time’ for us?” People who say these things are usually the ones who have not lost anyone close to them or suffered the tragic loss of a child.

I officiated at the wedding ceremony of our son, Andrew and his bride, Amber. They both had people they wanted to honor. As we made our way through the ceremony, nearby was a special candle lit to honor the memory of her father and Andrew’s brother.  I would be less than truthful if I didn’t admit to strong emotions rising up inside of me as I glanced to the place where our son would have been standing. It was hard not having Denny there in person to stand beside his younger brother. However, it would have been even worse if we had not “re-membered” these special people.

Let me explain. We all know what it means to be a “member” of an organization, club, or more importantly, a family. It’s a place where we belong, a place of inclusion. We also know that the word, “Dismembered,” refers to being cut off.  When a “member” of a family dies and no one speaks their name or tells the stories about them, it often feels as though that person has been cut off from the family.  Again… “dismembered.”  On the other hand, when we “Re-Member” our loved ones in our special ceremonies, we continue to say, “you belong here because you are a part of our family.  We will never forget you.” 

In weddings, graduations, as well as other significant ceremonies, I hope we will continue to honor our “loved-ones” by always re-membering.

Note, if you are reading this blog and want to share your thoughts about other ways to, “remember” our loved ones at special ceremonies, please write and let me know.