When I was a little girl, there was a big window with white lace curtains at the bottom of the stairs of my childhood home. I remember my sister and I taking turns standing behind those curtains, lifting them from one another’s faces playfully, pretending that the curtains were a veil and we were brides on our wedding days. It was a fun and silly game, representative of childhood in it’s most innocent form. While neither of us were stereotypical ‘wedding day dreamers’ in our every day life, this was the one way in which I remember fantasizing about my future happily-ever-after.
Since then, I’ve grown up and in the past several years in particular, dreaming of that day has becoming so much more real, and exciting than my little-girl mind could have ever imagined.
The word ‘bliss’ doesn’t even begin to describe how happy I am that today,
I am living out my happily-ever-after.
I couldn’t be more grateful for it.
In less than 3 months, I will walk down the aisle where my very best friend and the man of my dreams will be waiting for me, and I literally can not wait to say ‘I do.” We will be surrounded by friends and family, and I am so excited to share in the revelry of the day with our loved ones.
Of course, there is someone incomparably important who will not be there. In spite of all the joy surrounding the occasion, there will still be a part of my heart that is irreparably broken, even on the happiest day of my life.
That person who will not be there, is one of the people who belongs the most. That person is my mom.
When it comes to weddings, I don’t know if there is anyone (with the exception of the bride and groom, of course) who is as irreplaceable as the ‘Mother-of-the-Bride.’ Even in my ‘what will be, will be’ heart, I entirely believe that she was supposed to be with me every single step of the way. This isn’t how things were meant to be. A daughter should have her mama on her wedding day, and a mama should get to be a part of it. When I let these thoughts take hold of my mind, I have to admit there is a big part of me that wants to stomp my feet and declare ‘IT’S NOT FAIR!’
And it isn’t fair. Although, I’ve had incredible love and support through the planning process from some amazing people (shout-out to my incredible in-laws in particular!!), there is absolutely no one who can fill the void of my own Mama Cita. That’s just the way it is, and is precisely the definition of bittersweet.
One of the hardest parts of her absence is knowing how much she would have loved to be a part of every single moment. My mom was not someone who would support me out of parental obligation. She would absolutely embrace and love everything to do with the process. Just like me, she was a girl’s girl through and through, and she would have simply loved all of the pinteresting, planning, and primping that goes into putting together a wedding. If there was anyone who might have had more fun than me in the process, it would have been her, and there is an ache in my soul knowing that she was deprived of this experience.
As I look back on our engagement, from the proposal to the big day, there are key moments that I know she was meant to be a part of.
I missed out on the opportunity to call my mom and tell her that I was engaged. I am sure she would have been one of the few people Mac told in advance, and I know that keeping the secret would have been a true feat for her. But she would have done it, and she would have been so incredibly proud. I can only imagine her facebook statuses celebrating our happiness, and how she would have droned on and on to the girls at work all about our proposal story.
My mom missed out on the opportunity to help me pick out my wedding dress. While my aunts, grandmother, cousins, and bridesmaids joined me for the shopping venture (and we had so much fun!), I didn’t get to hear my mom’s opinion. The truth is, I expected that I would get through the shopping trip without any tears – after all, I’m not really big on that type of showy sentimentality, But, towards the end of the day when my grandmother got teary-eyed, I did too. It breaks my heart that my mom wasn’t there to shed her own tears, to laugh it off, and to raise her glass in a toast at dinner afterward.
I couldn’t ask my mom her opinion when picking out a venue, or ceremony readings, or flowers, or bridesmaids dresses or anything else. Every detail of the wedding has been carefully selected with attention to the most finite detail. I’ve had so much fun along the way. I love to plan and organize – it’s just in my nature as a human being – but she did too, and I know she would have been enthralled to be a part of the process.
My mom won’t be here to throw me a bridal shower, a task I know she would have taken on with every ounce of Pinterest glory she could muster. When I close my eyes, I can picture picture the way she would have set up the living room of our house, welcoming guests with pleasure and warmth. She would have popped the bubbly, and served up some tasty treats, and told everyone her favourite ‘Heather Stories’ from years gone by. She would have been so excited to have ‘all the girls’ together to share in the joy, and it would have been such a special moment for not just me – but her too.
And on the big day itself, my mom won’t be there in the morning as we get ready for the wedding. She won’t help me get into my dress, and she won’t adjust my hair. She won’t hug me tight, and she won’t tell me she’s proud of me, or that she loves me. She won’t be there, and as I enter into this phase that feels a lot like the official symbol of ‘adulthood,’ I won’t feel like I’m leaving girlhood behind. Because the truth is, I left it a long time ago, on the day my mama died.
Friends, I don’t write this for sympathy. I promise. I write this because it’s cathartic for me to be real and honest about my experience with grief. I try my very best to be an upbeat, positive, and silver-lining kind of person. And most of the time, I am. But sometimes, it just gets to me.
I’ll be honest, despite the cloudy moments, I have absolutely loved wedding planning. I’m a complete dreamer and a total ‘Type A’, so putting together all the tiny details and managing all the moving pieces of what will arguably be the biggest event of my life is actually a lot of fun for me. But the thing is, those are traits I’ve inherited from my mom. And knowing this, I know how much she would have loved the process too. My heart aches for her, knowing how much it would have hurt her if she knew she wouldn’t be here for this. My heart hurts for me, in my unflattering moments of self-pity when I just desperately wish I could run every single detail by her. After all, it’s not that I’d necessarily listen to her opinion, but the conversation with her in and of itself would be everything I’d need.
I’m going to end this with one final thought. I have learned that one of the most beautiful parts of grief and loss is that death doesn’t end a relationship. Just because my mom is not here with me right now, doesn’t mean she isn’t a part of my life every single day. I carry her spirit with me in everything I do, and for that I am grateful. However, the double-edge of this sword is that this also means I find myself missing the earthly relationship we’d have and the way we’d navigate this phase together, if she were here today. I grieve every day the moments we should still be sharing and the big ones that are yet to come. While I absolutely love my life, I also carry an ache with me because she is unable to share in it.