About three weeks ago, I attended a funeral at the church where Tony and I were married. It was the first time I had been in that church since his passing.
The service that day was for one our close friend’s mother. So I was there in a supporting role versus a griever. As I turned the corner to see the large chapel that day, I took a deep breath. The church was both the same and different than it was 15 years ago. I briefly contemplated trying to walk down a side aisle instead of the main one, that once led me to being Tony’s wife. Worried that would create an awkward spectacle, I forged on.
After the service concluded, we moved into another space where condolences could be expressed to the family. As we made our way to the Friendship Hall, we passed nooks and crannies of the church that I remember more than the ceremony itself.
To the left was the bride’s room where I put on my wedding dress surrounded by my closest friends and family. To my right was the small chapel. This little chapel was where Tony and I had our ‘first look’ that day. I stood at the front of that little chapel and waited for him with just our photographer. I still remember the look of love and wonderment on his face, the way he popped his shoulder up and reached for my hands. All that flashed through like a highlight reel as we made our way down the hall. I quickly veered off to the bathroom to collect myself before greeting my friends.
Turns out, that funeral would be a rehearsal of sorts.
On Friday, I attended a second funeral at the same church. This time for my aunt. Once again, I found myself in the pews of the church where we exchanged our vows, walking down the aisle, passing the nooks and crannies, reliving the memories. I was a griever, but I had my parents and brother there to lean on. This time, as I walked down the hallway that passed the little chapel, I reached for my mom’s hand to hold as we teared up.
I don’t think I’ll ever be numb to that church and all the memories it holds from March 17, 2007.