I've been to a couple of weddings in the past month, the first wedding(s) for me since Brian died. I actually did okay both times, and I think it helps that neither was a traditional church ceremony and neither was anything like Brian's and my wedding.
The first wedding I attended was that of my good friends Erin & Chad. Erin is the one who worked with Brian at ING, became close to us through Wine Club, and who moved to Austin in May (she lived with me for a month before Chad was able to make the move). Erin & Chad got married in a beautiful, intimate ceremony outdoors, overlooking the hills, town, and Pacific coastline that make up Santa Barbara, CA. I could really do an entire post (or more) on this trip! I don't the time right now, though, so I'll just share some thoughts.
I did a reading at Erin & Chad's wedding that was about asking someone to be your partner and to stand by your side as your "camerado" (I remember that word especially, since I had to ask how to pronounce it!) for the rest of your life. I admit that I had a hard time choking out some of the words, especially the "rest of our lives" part at the end. I had this overwhelming feeling of love for Brian; love and happiness for my friends that they had found each other as camerados; pride that Brian and I had, in fact, held true to our vows and had made it 'til death did us part; bitterness that it happened so soon; happiness and gratitude that our union and bond had only gotten stronger and better through the years; and hope that the same would be true for my friends.
After I sat down, I cried. I am sorry to say they weren't tears of joy. I cried for myself, for what I had lost, for what would not be, for the tragic ending that followed my own fairy tale day six years ago. Kristine, seated next to me, patted me on the back, and started to cry too. I had actually thought about what I would do if I broke down, and had planned to make a quiet escape if needed. However, I stuck it out. For one, there were only about 30 people in the audience, so there was no way I could be discreet. Secondly, I was at least able to keep from making any audible sobs, so it's not like I was going to distract anyone. Leaving would actually be more distracting. Also, we had been in California long enough to know pretty much everyone at the ceremony and I knew that my situation was well-known and I truly felt like I had the support and love of everyone there, so I wasn't self-conscious about letting anyone see me cry.
Finally, my sorrow wasn't so overwhelming that it consumed me. Quite simply, I knew I could cry for a minute or two and then continue to enjoy what was before me -- a beautiful scene with palm trees, flowers, perfect fluffy clouds; friends who were ecstatic to have found true love and to celebrate that with family and friends; being on a trip to California with my best friend. Despite my personal tragedy, life continues to bring good things. Life IS good. I don't enjoy every moment, but there are times when I do stop and think: Life is good. I was able to do that at Erin & Chad's wedding, even with my pain. It really was a healing experience.
Last weekend, I went to a wedding reception in Kansas City for a childhood friend who married his partner in Iowa. There was a small, lighthearted, "unofficial" ceremony at the reception, as the two had already been married in Iowa. Everyone sat at their round tables; it wasn't like people were among strangers in pews, which I think is a terrifying thought to me. (I worry that if I break down in that setting, strangers will think I'm rude, family will resent me for distracting from the ceremony, or people will ask what's wrong with me, then give me looks of pity or try to talk to me about it.) Luckily, none of that at this marriage celebration either. On top of it,
the reception was great -- trendy locale, good food, open bar, DJ, and friends from high school and college were there. I really enjoyed myself that evening, and without any tears at all.