Back in September, I went to my cousin’s wedding. Although I was happy to be there and see family that I had not seen it years it was painful, and I struggled with my emotions. Being a widow at a wedding is not something I ever expected to be but here I am about to do it again.
I am sitting in the Newark Airport waiting for my flight to Maine for my best friend’s wedding. The funny thing is both weddings happened to be in Maine and not far from each other just months apart. I am trying to stay in the moment to be positive. I am excited for my friend and glad she finally found someone to spend the rest of her life with. But I am going to this wedding alone because I am a widow going to a wedding.
Memories of my own wedding play in my head. How I thought I was getting my happy-ever-after, someone, to grow old with. The joy and happiness I felt that day. Now I struggle with not being able to feel him with me anymore. I hate being the widow at a wedding because there are so many mixed emotions with it.
If I could go back in time, I would make sure that we had that first dance to I Don’t Dance. I would make sure there was a photographer because I would love to have pictures of that day now. Last Sunday I went to my grandma’s house and picked up the garment bag with my wedding dress in it. Not that I am ever going to wear it again, but I needed to make sure it was safe. This seems crazy now, but it is something that ties me to him.
Sometimes I think that if I found the right person, I might be able to get married again. I try to picture it in my head, but I always go back to I had my dream wedding. Sure, I could imagine a small intimate wedding near Christmas but then I go to the place where this future husband better not be a grinch.
After landing in Maine around midnight and getting to my friend’s parent’s house around 1:30 am I could not sleep. This is not surprising to me because at times of stress I get insomnia. But I am at a wedding I should not be stressed but the widow in me is freaking out that I am going to get upset by something.
I wake up around 7:30 am and go have breakfast with her parents and just relax as we talk about things that have no real meaning. We had to pick up the cake and then go to the wedding venue to help set up for the next day. Arriving to the beautiful lake house around noon. I finally see my best friend and feel so happy for her.
Pulling off a wedding in 40 days is no easy task and she has done an amazing job. She is busy prepping the food and we start sharing ideas about where the ceremony will take place. Jokingly I say we can do it outside that way the pictures will have a view of the lake. It is November in Maine and frankly, it is F-ing cold outside. But it is quickly decided that is what we are going to do.
Eventually, I start to put together the flower arrangements and bouquets for the brides and bridesmaids. This was the landmine that I was concerned about. It took me back to prepping the same thing for my wedding. Staying in the moment I just focused at the task at hand and visited with the memories but did not live there long.
The rest of the wedding party arrived in the evening, and we all sat around for a bit talking and laughing. It was what I needed to snap back into the moment. Before they got there, I was curled up on the couch reading a book to keep my demons at bay.
Waking up early I head downstairs to start on the many tasks we must do that morning. Chelsea has made a list. She wants to do everything herself, but it is her day, and I am not going to allow that to happen. We need to get her dressed around 11 the wedding is supposed to start at 12 there is no way she can do everything like she wants alone.
I remember what it felt like the morning of my wedding when I kick into planning and control freak kicked in. I set out to put the ribbon on the bouquets. Force her to eat breakfast so her mom can set the last table. Then going through the task one by one we have everything almost done. Finally, it is time, and we start to do our makeup and hair. It dawns on me that she needs something borrowed, blue, and new. She has the blue and new taken care of and I give her my bracelet to wear.
The ceremony was beautiful but left me feeling a bit off. I head upstairs to check on the food and cut up some of the meat. Needing that time to reset. To have my sad moment when no one could see me. I am so happy for my best friend but the widow in me can’t help but think Love is forever it just doesn’t mean forever with that person next to you.
That is the sad part about a young widow at a wedding we know that until death does us part could mean sooner not old age. When I got married, I did not think eight years later he would be dead. The love I had for him still exists it will never leave me. But watching people pledge to love each other forever hits me in a way it doesn’t others.
In the end, I could not muster the strength of fighting my demons enough to give a toast to Chelsea it is something I regret hours later while we are cleaning up. Instead, I post a message on Facebook, but it is not what she wanted or deserved. It was a failure that I can’t remedy. Sometimes I must admit that being a widow does hold me back and it makes me a worse friend than I intend to be.
Early Monday morning
Reflexing back on my weekend I am happy I made this journey not only to Chelsea’s wedding but also to Kasey’s. I had to get out of my comfort zone. It was needed to move past the pain that comes with my memories. These weddings were different, but each brought me some healing that I needed. And I hope that their love stories are better than mine. I hope they don’t experience my pain until they are old and gray.
Looking for a way you can make a difference and give back this holiday season? Embrace the spirit of giving by participating in Hope for Widows Foundation’s third annual ‘Bring Hope’ virtual program that directly assists a widow’s family who cannot provide gifts for their children or other necessities during this holiday season. Some widows who are struggling to make ends meet during this time simply do not have the luxury of purchasing gifts when their finances require them to choose between keeping the lights on and food on the table or purchasing presents. Add in the factors of solo parenting, grief, and the emotional and physical toll it takes. If you would like more details on how you can support a widow and her family, please EMAIL US directly for questions at email@example.com or to sponsor, go here for details and to fill out the application: https://linktr.ee/hopeforwidows