Life is made of moments – big, small, good, bad |

Life is made of moments – big, small, good, bad

Lorie Schaefer
For the Appeal

“Oh, if life were made of moments, even now and then a bad one!

But if life were only moments, then you’d never know you had one.”

– Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods

Ten or 15 years ago, when our children were young and their weddings were in the far-off, fairy tale realm of possibilities, my friends and I made an agreement. We would be the fairy godmothers for each other’s children and put together beautiful weddings without wedding planners or caterers. This was a gift we could give each other. Now, when our children have grown and scattered to the four winds, we realize the fairy tale was to believe that our children would marry here. Or let us plan anything.

Still, when our daughter Katie and her sweetheart Jared became engaged and set a date, an effort in triangulated logistics began. Triangulated because the engaged couple lived in Tucson, I was in Carson City and the wedding was to be in Omaha. The bridesmaids lived in four different states. Thank goodness for the Internet, cell phones, the big wedding planner binder Katie carried everywhere and a long engagement.

Katie and Jared were in charge of the planning and the details. They negotiated each decision, listed priorities, set a budget, assigned duties. They chose colors and flowers, picked the site, met with the caterer, the photographer, the DJ. My jobs were to make the centerpieces, put together the digital slideshow and (get this) make the wedding cake. And of course, everything would have to be transported to Omaha.

I started collecting the things I needed for centerpieces last fall. On clearance. I made samples and took pictures, e-mailing them to Katie and Jared for approval. They selected a design. Then I only had to make about 20 of them. Thanks to fairy godmother Karen for her help.

Thirty-five yards of shimmery cinnamon organza became overlays for the tables with the help of even more fairy godmothers, Kellie, Michele and Anne. Michele also served as floral and fashion consultant.

Because Katie and Jared wanted a wedding cake made of brownie, not cake, it took a good many tasty trials and edible errors to get it right. Early on we decided it would be covered in rolled fondant, not icing, so I learned a new skill – always a plus when the result could be such public disappointment. Remember, the cake had to travel from Carson City to Omaha. Fortunately, I learned I could bake, frost, wrap and freeze each of the four tiers at home before loading them into the freezer of our motorhome for the three-day cross-country trek last month. Another fairy godmother, Linda flew in from Idaho to advise and offer moral support as I successfully assembled and decorated the cake in the hours just before the wedding. Whew.

Details, details and more details added up to the fairy tale wedding Katie and Jared wanted – a simple outdoor ceremony followed by a celebration with good music, food, dancing, family and friends. And a few adult beverages.

Like births and deaths, weddings are profound milestones. They are an ancient tradition, marking the passage of time and signifying that it’s someone else’s turn to set up a home, raise a family. When we see milestones as markers on a timeline stretching to the past and the future, we honor them accordingly. There is poignancy, a clutch in the throat, at how fast time has passed. We are reminded not to blink or surely, we’ll miss something.

Nevertheless, a wedding is only one day. All the fantasizing, the time spent planning the big moment when the couple says, “I do,” does not acknowledge all the small, mundane, precious moments to come.

We rarely celebrate the time between the milestones, even though it is from these day-to-day kindnesses that our lives are built. Leftovers. Laundry. Laughter. Bad days. Pillow talk. Oil changes. Shopping. Dirty dishes. Disagreements. Forgiveness. TV. Checkbooks. Trust. Tenacity. Those are what fill the spaces between the milestones with meaning.

Like a pointillist painting, with its carefully arranged little dots of color, the details of daily life may seem trivial, almost meaningless when taken out of context or examined too closely. However, with a little perspective they can become something beautiful. Sometimes you have to step back to see what is important.

My hope is that Katie and Jared will step back now and then to appreciate the big picture, so that years from now, when it is their turn to be the parents of a bride or groom, they will be able to say, “I still do.” And that they live happily ever after.

• Fresh Ideas: Starting conversations by sharing personal perspectives on issues both timely and timeless. Lorie Schaefer and her Prince Charming are retired.