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They say that weddings and funerals bring family and friends together like no other event in our lives. Based upon my experiences, I'd say that is an accurate statement.

One of the best things about my daughter's recent wedding was the coming together of people who would not normally be in the same place at the same time. Friends, for example, may not ever have the chance to meet extended family members. Friends from one state - and a former life - may have heard of friends from another state, but only a wedding or funeral could bring them together in one day and in one space.

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And so it was that we had friends from various chapters of our lives together in Westminster. Loved ones from various parts of our extended family came together to celebrate a joyous occasion filled with love and laughter.

It was beautiful and wonderful and a little strange all at the same time.

"These are the boys we hosted from Russia," I told family members, introducing the boys I had talked about for years but had never had the opportunity to introduce to extended family and friends living in another state.

"This is my friend Linda. We worked together in Minnesota," I told family and friends from Maryland, introducing a dear and close friend to other dear and close friends from a different chapter in my life.

Suddenly, all the chapters of our lives were being placed within one book for all to read and for us to enjoy; but just for this one special day and time. Then, everyone would return to their individual chapters, neatly referenced by place and time.

There was a lot of laughter at my daughter's wedding. And there is nothing like seeing family and friends laughing together.

And just days after celebrating my daughter's wedding we remembered my father-in-law's death on Memorial Day 2006, seven years ago. He and my dad, also gone, would have loved seeing their granddaughter getting married. Wherever they may be, my hope is that they enjoyed the occasion as much as we did.

The circle of life brings us both highs and lows. Both remind us of what is really important. But nothing reminds us more of the importance of family and friends as a fun-filled wedding or beautiful funeral or memorial.

Giving birth to a child, of course, changes one's life forever. And my friends tell me that the birth of a grandchild is unique in the measures of life's joys.

For now, however, I'll soak in the joy of knowing that my daughter will spend the rest of her life with a man whom I admire and love, and who loves her in return.

I wish them much love and happiness. And may their book of life be filled with many chapters of family and friends and happy occasions to bring them all together.

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