We now come to the heartbreaking part of the pre-wedding festivities. I’m posting today, because just one week ago I heard that a dear friend was dealt a severe blow with a heavy diagnosis.
There is a story. Always a story.
Twenty-four years ago this August I was a bridesmaid in the wedding of my BFF. It was a difficult time for me, wanting to be married to the love of MY life and all, but the timing was not right, yet. We were celebrating her and her love.
The groom was ten years her senior, which made quite a difference in the makeup of the bridal party. My husband joked that there were all of these young-looking city girls matched up with older mountain men.
One of these older men was David Shank, and we conversed at the rehearsal dinner, our first real conversation. Our parents knew each other, and we may have met as children, but this was our first adult connection. He was excited about the date he had for the wedding, a Heather Snitko.
Sure enough, I met Heather the next day at the wedding, and thus began the Fusaro-Shank-McClay triumvirate. From that time on, children with one of those last names born into those families would never know a day when they weren’t friends. . .or at least acquaintances becoming reaquainted at church or a picnic or event.
Dave and Heather’s wedding took place months later, and by January 4, 1992, they were a young couple expecting their first child, attending our wedding. Their firstborn son was born that spring, and our daughter was born in the fall.
We moved to Virginia when our baby was 11 months old and settled in the Shenandoah Valley. That was 21 years ago, and while no one walks exactly the same path, our paths have been about as close as you can get. Large families, small church, a season of working together, a cross-country move thinking we wouldn’t see each other again, a return and reaquainting and readjusting, growing our children together.
Among the three families, there are 21 children, not including spouses and grandchildren. That’s a lot of people.
Last spring, we were excited to share in the wedding of a Shank son to a Fusaro daughter. There was much joy and celebration. They broke us in easily and paved the way for what was to follow in our life this year as we prepared for the wedding of our firstborn.
The Saturday before Katie’s wedding was a graduation party for one of the Shank daughters. There is always something to celebrate! While we were in an incredibly busy time and could have gotten a free pass to miss, I really wanted to go hang out with friends and celebrate with them the weekend before the last week of school and wedding.
We arrived, and Heather said that Dave was sick and was going to stay in bed. This was unusual but understandable, and we commented that we just wanted him to get better for the wedding. This was our turn to host our friends, and we wanted everyone there to celebrate!
Steve grilled the food that evening. That night my Facebook status was about being thankful for real-life friends in the midst of crazy chaos.
Then the real chaos began.
Dave was admitted to the hospital, because he was getting worse, tests were run, and on Wednesday afternoon, as I was trying up loose ends in my back office at school, Steve came and sat down.
He had his bad news face on. Dave had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and was to begin treatment immediately. My first thought was but then he can’t come to the wedding!
Then I cried.
So there you have it. In the midst of incredible joy came incredible sorrow, and there you have living in the brokenness of this world. Both Dave’s daughter and daughter-in-law were in the wedding, and my precious friend Heather attended, but Dave was sorely missed, as he lay in a hospital battling an aggressive form of cancer.
Friends, there no guarantees. Seize the moment and live life today with those you love.
Those who wish to know more about his journey can follow a group praying for him on Facebook. And even without knowing all of the details, you can pray for him, because the spirit knows.
Bonus points if you can locate me and Dave in the picture!