Shoshana Lavan
Shoshana Lavan

Listless happiness

An unorthodox wedding; photo by Shoshana Lavan

Up until about a week ago I was pretty stressed out. I still tried to meet everyone with a smile, but sometimes it was really tough when I had been up half the night making lists in my head of all the things we have left to do, and more often than not getting out of bed to write them down.

I can’t really believe it. Last time I checked we had four months until our wedding, and then suddenly, there were just two weeks.  I had a small, short list on my desk and a longer one, asking myself to refer to the longer one on the shorter one, just in case I finished the shorter one. I also had one on my phone, and another typed up on my computer. This, as I have found out the hard way, is not an efficient use of lists. I was going list crazy. And yes, I am ashamed to admit it, but admit it I shall, I was even snapping at my fiancé when it seemed to me things were just not getting done.

Then two things happened which woke me up out of my self-obsessed, neurotic and over-zealous state.  One of our friends, who had not been in touch with us for around a month (unusual because he is on his own, and during Corona we often took him food) suddenly got in touch with us to say he was unsure exactly, but knew he had had ‘an accident’. Obviously we were very worried. He asked my fiancé to visit him on his own, so I waited that day to hear news. My fiancé called to explain how he’d had an infection, caused by his diabetes, and the only way they’d been able to save his life was to remove his leg. He was okay, my fiancé said, holding up, but struggling to see how the future could be a happy one.

I thought to myself: how would I cope if suddenly I had to lose a leg? The answer does not bear thinking about. I love my running. I love biking. I love being physically fit and healthy. Suddenly I wasn’t so worried about whether my wedding dress was going to look nice, or if there’d be enough food for our guests. Or, that our beautiful Masorti Jewish wedding would not be recognised by the state of Israel and that we needed to travel to England for it to be legal here.

The next time our friend asked us both to visit – I guess once he’d come to terms a little with how he looked. I was really surprised to see his positivity; he was talking about what he was going to do – definitely get a dog – and how he was going to cope. We could make him smile and laugh. I admire his strength and his resilience in the face of such trauma. And one thing which almost made me cry there and then – he told us how much he wanted to come to our wedding, and was it still possible? You bet it is, we said. And my fiancé has organised everything to ensure it really, truly is. How wonderful this country is, that it has an organisation called Yad Sarah, a charity made up mostly of volunteers who make it possible for disabled people to travel and visit the friends and places they want to see.

After that news, each time I started to worry about our wedding, I stopped myself a little, reminded myself what truly is important in life. Health. Friends. Love. Not invitations or the colour of flowers.

And then another blow struck, soon after. A good friend of mine, who I’ve made in the last year, a gentle, loving and beautiful soul, lost her father very suddenly. He lived in Australia. She hasn’t been able to go back for the funeral, because of Corona and quarantine. She’s sitting shiva with her sister over here, and celebrating his memory with her family and friends in Israel. She lost her mum ten years ago, so now both her parents are gone, and she is only my age. She’s not married yet, although she has a lovely boyfriend and perhaps it is on the cards. But her parents won’t be able to be there. Not even on zoom. Only in her heart.

Spending time with her, sharing her tears and listening to her stories, took all the rest of the worry for our wedding away from me. It doesn’t matter if the weather isn’t quite what we were hoping for, or if my parents can’t come to this wedding but can come to the one in England, or that my wish for individual picnic hampers hasn’t quite come true…

These are the facts: I’m getting married to the person I love, the person I want as father to my son and to our dog, cat and hamster.

We’re healthy and we’re happy. What more can I ask for?

At the end of our wedding ceremony, we will be saying a prayer for the sick, to remember those in need. These last few weeks I’ve been thinking of them a lot. I pray that I never stop, and that I am always able to share my happiness with others.

About the Author
Shoshana Lavan is a published author, high school teacher of English Literature and Language, teacher of English as a foreign language and most importantly, a very proud mother of her gorgeous toddler. She has recently made Aliyah, is an aspiring peace activist and a committed vegan. A keen runner, she is loving the mountains and glorious sunshine in this wonderful country.
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