I have been to three wedding since Steve passed away. Each wedding has been different – with different moments of struggle and different moments of beauty. When I reflect on these events, there are a few things that stand out to me from my new perspective as a widow.
Life Goes On
It is hard to attend weddings because they bring back so many memories of the hopes and dreams that made up my special day. However, that doesn’t make me any less happy for the couple that is now starting their journey of a lifetime.
Pray for the Happiness of Others
When I see a happy couple, I pray that they will experience the type of relationship that Steve and I had. I also pray that they have the opportunity to live out their dreams together – for much longer than I was able to live mine.
Vows Are More than Words
Each word in a wedding service holds so much more meaning now. The wedding I went to this weekend had a beautiful sermon and I can honestly say that every word was true. When you lose the person that you shared these vows, hopes and dreams with, the words seem to be deeper, more poignant.
‘Til Death Do Us Part Is Real
Many couples will never experience the unconditional love that it takes to live out the vows said on their wedding day. I can honestly say that when I got married, I knew I was getting married “forever”. It scared me.
I knew Steve and I would never give up on each other, because we were not only in love with each other, we were also best friends. What I was scared of was the struggles that I knew came with time. Marriage is not easy – we had both seen our parents struggle through different periods of time in our lives.
Marriage isn’t something you do half way, but you don’t have control over half of it – it takes two. I pictured us 50 years from our wedding day together side by side. I pictured us old. I never in my wildest imagination pictured that “’til death do us part” would become my reality. However, I am thankful to have had the kind of love that some only dream of. Steve kept his promise.
Your Heart Will Hurt
It may be a phrase, a song or just the atmosphere. Every event is different, but something will likely sneak up on you and catch you off guard. And some moments might shatter you.
At the wedding this weekend there was a time when the DJ said, “I’m going to play a special song, so listen up kids. Girls, go and get your daddy and bring him out on the dance floor, and boys, go get your mommy.” Reanna looked at me like “What do I do?” and I broke.
The tears came and I reached for her hand. I said, “I’ll dance with you honey.” At that moment my sister stepped in and told Reanna to go get her Uncle Don. She did, so that left Kaelyn. Kaelyn had found a little boy to dance with and he preferred to keep dancing with Kaelyn instead of his mommy.
I stood on the sidelines and did everything possible to stop the flow of tears, but found that it was just impossible. I wanted to curl into a ball and cry – I wanted to run away, I wanted to do anything to “fix” the fact that my children had to look for someone to dance with. Had Steve been there I would have loved this dance and this idea.
Life doesn’t change just because there is a widow in the room. It shouldn’t. In fact, it never would have crossed my mind that something so simple could cause someone so much pain. At the same time, I was happy that so many children got to dance with a parent that may not have been out on the dance floor with them otherwise.
My dad came out about half way through the song and danced with me. We were the only adults dancing together, but I didn’t care. It was the same song we danced to for our father daughter dance at my wedding. We both had tears streaming down our faces – he knew I needed him at that moment.
Living through moments like this are part of living through loss. The moments that break your heart also remind you that you have a choice in every situation – you can run, or you can dance.
Every Wedding Is Different
The first wedding I went to was a destination wedding with a friend. I went only knowing one person. The sermon had some laughter which kept the tears that threatened my eyes from falling. I focused on taking pictures and doing what I could to keep my mind occupied and the tears from falling. That night I danced with my friend and many new friends, there was only a rare moment off the dance floor.
The second wedding I went to was for my cousin and my daughters were the flower girls. I cried seeing them look like little brides. I remember when Nina asked if the girls would be part of her wedding and how excited Steve and I both were to give them the “princess” treatment for the day. I made sure that dream we had came true.
There were many moments when I could feel their father with us that day and the pride he had in his two princesses. The toughest part about that wedding was the clear lack of a dance partner. At the first wedding, I danced with my friend and I didn’t feel alone. I’d had a partner for so many years with Steve that I honestly didn’t know what to do without anyone there. I’d walk outside during the slow songs and dance with my girls the rest of the time.
The wedding this past weekend is the first one that I was able to focus on the ceremony and the service. The words were beautiful, deep and true. There may come a day when I choose to spend my life with another person. When that day comes, every word will be held dear, every moment will be appreciated – and this time there will be no fear. I have known real love, real loss and survived.
Participation In “Single” Activities
You know the ones – the garter and bouquet toss. But as a widow, are you single? By law, yes. In my heart, absolutely not.
Do I participate? So far, I haven’t. I think this is a completely personal decision and at the same time one that doesn’t have to mean much. I may choose to participate someday or maybe I won’t.
Weddings as a widow can be uncomfortable. Bouquets and garters are not worth the worry though – your decision does not affect anyone, do whatever feels right to you in that moment.
Attending and Celebrating Life Events Is Good for the Soul
Weddings remind me of how much I was loved. They remind me of my hopes and dreams. They remind me that the world still dreams even while I am trying to piece together new dreams for myself and my girls.
Weddings remind me to hope and pray that others get the opportunity to grow together for many many years. They also remind me that there are no guarantees in life, so we must love as much as we can with the time that we have.
Fellow widows, what would you add to this list? Divorcees, are your feelings and perceptions different than mine?