dis·ap·point·ment – noun \ˌdis-ə-ˈpȯint-mənt\
: the state or feeling of being disappointed
: someone or something that disappoints people
: a disappointing person or thing
It’s been on the calendar for a year. One. Full. Year. And I had to miss it. My nephew got married last Saturday. A stellar occasion, according to those who were there. A two-day event in northern California, alongside the Russian River, a stone’s throw from a beautiful stand of redwood trees, a short drive from some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world. My son and his wife were there; my brother and his wife were there (of course!), but I?
I was right here.
Here at home, crying quietly and feeling deeply disappointed. Here’s why: I injured my foot about a year ago. And things got worse over the months between then and now, requiring two different kinds of surgical intervention and a long, LONG recovery period. We thought we had planned things well—we counted backwards from the wedding date the eight weeks the doctor told us recovery would take, and scheduled the surgery for that week.
He did not tell us that eight weeks was the minimum recovery time, that in real life, not a medical textbook, this recovery takes more like twelve to sixteen weeks. Though I am now able—just this week!—to do full weight-bearing, I am not yet able to walk without a boot or without a walker. And this wedding was outdoors, on rough terrain—not possible for me yet.
So, yes. I’m feeling disappointed.
And living with disappointment is a tough gig. Nobody chooses it. Yet somehow, we all experience it. Life is filled with disappointing moments and disappointing people. If we let it, disappointment can sometimes move to center stage and maybe even begin to define how we understand ourselves and how we experience life.
Disappointment can lead to discouragement. And discouragement can lead to what feels a lot like depression. Maybe not clinical depression, but that lingering ‘down’ feeling, that sense that nothing will ever be right, so why bother?
And yet . . .
What I’m trying to practice this week, on the other side of the disappointment, is this: finding small ways to be grateful and to celebrate. Dylan took a long time to find the right partner—now he has found her. Hooray! He and his mom got to use their considerable artistic skills to create a beautiful and memorable event. Thank you, God! They were surrounded by people who love them and wish them well—what a gift.
And suddenly, as I look at photos on Facebook and get a personal report from both my son and my brother, I can see it. I can feel it. I can celebrate from 400 miles away and a few days late. I can be thankful for family, for the commitment of married love, for the joy of partnership. Yes, I’m disappointed not to have been there. But I’m so glad it happened—even if it happened without me.
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Diana Trautwein is a retired-part-time-pastor-learning-to-be-a-spiritual-director with a family she adores sensing an increasingly urgent call to write-her-life-down, to preserve her sanity and create some space to breathe. She is a regular contributor to A Deeper Story‘s Family Channel. You can connect with her at her blog or on Facebook or Twitter.