Honeymoons are made for fun. Planning and executing a wedding can be an extremely stressful time. People are usually moving out of their current place and into another. Even getting ready for the trip and packing your bags can turn into quite the adventure. If we’re being honest, getting married is like picking all of the most stressful moments of your life, and saying, “let’s cram them all together in one week and see who’s still standing at the end of it.” So it would make a lot of sense that after it, you plan a giant trip to get away, take a breath, and relax with the person you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with.
For our honeymoon, Emily and I decided to go on an Alaskan cruise. We aren’t really lay on the beach for days on end kind of people, and we really enjoy seeing mountains and wearing sweatshirts, so we thought it would be right up our alley. I’m also not against the idea of there being an all you can eat buffet open and available 24 hours a day either 🙂 So, the morning after our wedding, we got up at 4AM (having spent the night before washing my clothes in a bathtub, since the shampoo had opened in my suitcase) and hopped on a shuttle to the airport. We flew to Vancouver, and boarded our ship, bound north towards the Alaskan coast.
It really was a beautiful trip. We saw more mountains than we knew existed. We stayed up until 2 in the morning and sat on the deck of the ship while it was still light out (summer solstice). We ate Halibut that had been caught less than six hours before it hit our tongue. We just spent time together reflecting on what had just happened in our lives, and what was about to come. We were young, (kinda) dumb, and in love – and we had plans to take the world by storm when we returned. Everything, was going to be great.
I believe it was on a Sunday, we landed back in Minneapolis, grabbed our luggage and headed outside where Emily’s mom was waiting to pick us up and bring us to our new apartment. My mind was filled with the curiosity of what it would be like to live with a woman that wasn’t my mom, and what might our friends have done to our new house while we gone – when suddenly life as I knew it, came to a screeching halt.
“My cancer’s back.”
Three simple words. They aren’t even that long. If you didn’t know what they meant, you wouldn’t think that stringing them together to shift a story the way that they can – but we knew, and they did. Three small, simple, stupid words – and everything changed.
Within months I was driving my mother in law to her doctors appointments in between interviews as I looked for a new job. She had tumors on her stomach that filled up with fluid and made this tiny woman in her 50’s look like she was pregnant. We’d go to the hospital and have them drained, and then stop for whatever fast food she thought she could stomach on the way home. Fast forward a few more, and we weren’t headed to the doctor anymore because she could barely get off the couch, so we’d watch daytime television together while I worked, and she dozed in and out. We really did fall into quite a rhythm she and I.
Then came Memorial Day 2007. Emily called and woke me from my sleep. Her dad wanted me to call the Pastor, and get to their place as quickly as I could. The panicked fear I heard in her voice, was something completely foreign to me, and something I was in no way prepared for. Within a few short hours, I had read a Psalm at Jill’s bedside, held Em and Neil in the moments following her last breath, and called the coroner to come, because it was time. The 11 months that passed between Alaska and that day felt both like one long week, and an eternity at the same time. I wasn’t sure where they had gone, but one thing was for sure – the honeymoon was over.
The Saturday of Holy Week is one that often gets glossed over. Even if church’s have Good Friday services (which many new ones don’t), Saturday is spent planning and preparing for Easter Sunday. After all it’s the Super Bowl of the Christian faith. So Saturday, understandably, gets overlooked. But we should make no mistake about the fact that for those who walked and talked with, and lived and loved with Jesus – this was the hardest day of their week, and the worst one of their lives.
The three years leading up to it (or whenever they hopped on the train), have been a honeymoon of sorts. A trip across the countryside with lots of friends and a man performing miracles. Everywhere they went, Jesus either was or became a celebrity of sorts, and they got to see Him in His prime. He taught, performed miracles, healed the sick and raised the dead. There was always plenty of food, lots of laughs, and incredible things to see along the way. Even when things got difficult or weird, Jesus always knew the right thing to say, and the situation settled down, and they got back to having fun. Sure this week had been challenging and weird, but they assumed – as they always had – that this was just another small bump on the road bound for eternal glory. Because that’s what He had promised.
Then came yesterday.
He is dead.
Three simple words. They aren’t even that long. Three tiny, tense, terrifying words – and everything has changed. The parade on Sunday had been for nothing. The miracles no longer matter. The Kingdom He had promised, isn’t coming. This man they had believed was the Messiah, now lay bloodied and broken, bound with bandages inside that terrible tomb. Their heads were spinning. Their hearts are broken. They can barely even breathe. No one knows what will happen next, but they know it won’t be good.
Turn out the lights. Send everybody home.
The honeymoon, is over.