Perhaps you saw the internet the story of Sabrina Parker of North Carolina. You would have played the short home made video a few times. Once because you were too teary eyed to catch everything. Once again because the sound isn’t great. Once to study just her face through the whole thing. Once to study his, wondering if he was for real. And, perhaps, one last time because even though it’s incredibly sad, it’s also incredibly wonderful.
Sabrina was dying of ALS. That didn’t stop Matt Scozzari from asking her out. He mentioned how nervous he was about it, fearing rejection. It’s hard to tell from the video how long they dated. It got serious. We see Sabrina’s Grandparents talking about how Sabrina was too young at 15 to get married. But the young people decided to have a Friendship Ceremony. Theirs was a special relationship, and they wanted to make a public statement about it. Soon.
Sabrina got a new dress. Grandpa’s pole barn was cleaned up, lawn chairs set out. Family and friends got hair done, wore ties, and surrounded the couple. One woman thanked Sabrina for making Matt so happy.
Seated at one small table, with cloth covering and flowers, Matt thanked Sabrina for saying yes when he asked her out. In a voice stronger than most could have managed, he told her what she meant to him. He placed a ring on her right hand, which can’t be seen on camera. Matt puts on a traditional Irish Claddagh. The ring shows a heart with a crown on it, being caressed by two hands. The symbols stand for love, friendship and loyalty.
Ten days after the ceremony, Sabrina died quietly in her sleep, with Matt at her side.
There are so many lessons in this for all of us. Certainly, a reminder of the brevity and sacredness of life. How not a minute should be wasted on the negative. Not to keep feelings, praise, love to yourself. Never miss an opportunity to express love and appreciation.
Sabrina’s family had misgivings about the Friendship ceremony. Matt was probably warned by his family that a lot of pain would come from his relationship with Sabrina. They were certainly concerned whether their young man could handle so much. Not only was it handled, it showed the human spirit at its best. It was joyous, beautiful, heartwarming, healing.
It was holy.
Honor your loved ones, living or dead. Of course there will be raised eyebrows now and then. Never mind. Do what needs to be done for healing of the living. No regrets. If you are lucky enough to have your loved ones still, do that thing you’ve had in mind so long. At all costs, avoid dying with regrets. “I’m so glad we did that” will carry you through much. “I wish we had” will bring you to your knees.
Holidays seem to be a time to be most sensitive around this issue. Should you invite the grieving person to a celebration? ABSOLUTELY. And how wonderful if you had a small remembrance of the deceased at the party. Only you and your guest need know about it. If you are mourning you might question if going out is “proper”. You are mourning, you are not dead. Your loved one never asked you to sequester yourself, to give up your own life. Do only what you have the energy for, but do push just a little. Grieving is a lot of work. The road to recovery starts with that first step. Move toward Shalom.
Matthew said to Sabrina, “You changed me.”
Matt, you have changed all of us. Bless you.