Photos my own
This is – and will continue to be – a weekend full of experiments.
A lot of my life is still versions of experimentation, if not in the ways it was immediately post-loss(es) when even just venturing out of the front door and heading to the shops felt like an experiment.
This weekend is a wedding celebration for a family member.
A first in so many ways.
The first of the “next generation” in my immediate family getting married.
The first family wedding I am attending without Mike (the last being just a couple of months after Julia’s birth).
The first family wedding I attend with my own kids as adults – and that one is not there feels very stark.
The first family wedding at which Edward is also not present, even if his elder daughter has made it.
The first family wedding I attend with Medjool as my “plus one”. (In fairness he was invited by his actual name, not as my “plus one” which suggests he’s somewhat embedded in the family’s awareness.
And the first time I see many people since Julia’s funeral almost four years ago.
It’s all very hard. Inevitably.
A whole basket of “firsts”.
I wonder who else senses them as I do?
I am sure some must do, surely?
It’s not the first wedding I have been invited to since all the deaths – but rather my first family wedding. I have been to a couple of weddings since Mike died, though to none since Julia died. I just need to read this piece to remember what it was like. Pretty tough. Skin still so sensitive. Pain still so raw. Seeing others get married so memory-provoking. http://www.widowingemptynests.com/2018/03/29/hello-world/
All the additional family dynamics layered into and over the inevitable pain.
The many people I haven’t seen, or had a live conversation with, since all the deaths.
It’s clunky and awkward to be asked “Emmahhhh! How are you?” over and over.
What is with that question? I know people want either to hear, “Oh – fine and dandy – never better”. Or else get some deep scoop into my life, a fast track ride through the last 4+, 6+ 7+ years without having done the (in my view) requisite relational work to be privileged with an honest, rich, unvarnished answer.
So I short-circuit the question, and answer it with a prickly, “Erm, I don’t answer that question”, or a slightly softer, “In this moment, good enough, because it’s nice to see you”.
I will hang in there. I am sure I will cry. I already have, and the weird thing was that it wasn’t about Mike or Julia, or even Edward or Don. It wasn’t about a dead person. Instead it was because of sweet memories of my childhood bestie, Nathalie, and the Cyndi Lauper song, “Time After Time” being played by a live guitarist at yesterday’s venue.
That song – whose lyrics both of us spoke or sang at the other’s wedding, as part of our “best woman speech” – honouring our friendship, our love for each other, that we would just “be there”, even if we didn’t know the range and depth of challenges that would be thrown at both of us some decades down the line.
I apologised for deserting whoever I was speaking with, and headed over to listen to and watch the musician. I got out my phone and started to record the music for Nathalie on WhatsApp, then sang the chorus lyrics that were, and still are, so meaningful for us both – that we still send one another on a fairly regular basis. I can’t sing them, I can’t even listen to them, without crying. Which I did, yesterday, when I sent it through to Nathalie.
“If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you call, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after time”
Evidently the song is written about someone whose love relationship is a bit dicky, a bit tumultuous. It hasn’t ended. There’s no divorce or death. It’s just a bit tricky.
But those chorus lines – they have held such meaning for two straight girls’ friendship over decades.
I was expecting to miss Mike. To miss Julia. To miss Ed. And of course I do. Always. And all the more so at a family wedding.
But that it was missing my bestie, remembering our own “vows” at each other’s weddings –
That wasn’t lost on me.
I love you, precious girlfriend.
Thank you for being the most constant of friends.