Since I’ve lost my mother, there’s been one thing that’s been difficult to vocalize: I don’t want to get married without my mom.
If I could just sign a marriage certificate while sitting on my olive green couch eating a steaming hot pizza from Domino’s and consider myself a wife, I’d opt for that any day of the week. People think that because I don’t want to get married that it means I don’t want to be married.
I want to be a wife. I want to do wifely things. I want to embark on our journey together at high speeds. I want to wear a ring that symbolizes my partnership with my best friend. I want to be introduced as Mrs. Clements. I want to introduce him as my husband.
But I don’t want to get married.
I shouldn’t feel this enormous weight and pain and guilt for not wanting to, either. I’ve got enough on my plate as is.
I’m constantly caught in this middle ground, where what I am able to handle out of this doesn’t fit into the image of what my groom, or his family, and all of our friends, collectively want. I can’t include my dad in this because he gets it. He’s the only one out there, existing as broken as I am. When I talk about eloping, my father urges me to do it and all he asks is to get a picture so he can see.
You’re probably reading this thinking to yourself, “My god, what an inconsiderate father you have! How could he not want to be there for your big day?” But, the opposite is true. My father is the only one in my life who is going through this grieving process with me. Not to say, other people don’t miss my mom – they do. Her absence is noted on certain days of the week, perhaps the spontaneous Tuesday when her brother may feel like picking up the phone to call her.
But my dad and I feel it every day. We feel the anguish from the time we wake up, him in a recliner because he hasn’t slept in their bed in over a year. He gets his own cup of dollar store coffee in a Beatles mug that was my mom’s. He lists on eBay and stopped working on remodeling the house because he only ever did things for her. He put a chair on the outside deck she died one week before he finished, and it sits, empty every morning next to his office where we all imagined us sitting on drinking morning coffee.
I wake up to a black screen. Maybe some text messages about the wedding, maybe about an inside joke or gossip. But, I stopped waking up to the text messages my mom sent me every morning – a good morning text and a pink heart emoji. Every single morning. And every single morning, since February 28, 2017, I’ve had to adapt to life without it.
It’s not a pity party, but grief is a real thing; it’s tangible. It not only exists in my heart where I’m mangled, torn trying to stitch myself back up, but it’s on my phone where I stopped receiving those perky messages. It’s tangible when my dad sits across from me at the diner and the seat next to him is empty. It’s tangible on Christmas morning. It’s tangible when I sat down to write my wedding invitations and had to write, “Mr. Al Dercqu” on a single, manilla colored envelope.
Grief is tangible. Just like that empty seat at our favorite diner, or wedding invitations, or Christmas morning, my mom’s absence is found getting dressed the morning of my wedding. It’s tangible when her hands won’t be able to zip up my dress. It’s tangible when I walk down and see an empty seat to my left. It’s tangible in the “family” photos. It’s tangible when she’s not there to talk to.
If you haven’t lost a parent, it’s a concept that’s difficult to understand. People try, and I can’t fault them for doing so. They want to understand but it’s outside their realm of capability. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something they can’t comprehend. People often get offended when you tell them that they can’t understand the way you feel, but it’s nothing to get offended over. You should be happy that you can’t understand. I wish I could go back to that time of innocence and not understand it, too.
I don’t want a rehearsal, nor do I want a rehearsal dinner. I don’t want the traditions. I don’t want to sit down and subject myself to these things that are inscrutably hard and painful. I’m caught in the middle between wanting to give something to people I love, but wanting to avoid them because they’re hard for me.
My mom’s passing has affected everyone at this wedding. It’s affected my friends who grew up with my mom and feel helpless trying to remove my hurt. It’s affected my relatives who want to say something but can’t find the right words to say. It’s affected my groom, who has to be the one to witness my pain firsthand, behind closed doors, before everyone else. It’s affected my groom because he’s caught in between of wanting a traditional wedding, but not wanting to subject me to one, either. It’s affected my dad, who is going to his daughter’s wedding stag – alone – something that breaks him apart every day. It’s affected my soon-to-be-mother-in-law who pictured this day and these wedding details so differently. It’s affected me, most of all, because I’m getting married only a year and a half after burying my beautiful mother. This isn’t how I envisioned my wedding day – or this process. This isn’t what I planned, what I wanted.
I am a grieving woman before I am a bride. They aren’t interchangeable. They aren’t able to be swapped out for a Sunday afternoon. I’m a grieving woman who buried her mom a year and a half ago – and had to look at bridal gowns only 6 weeks after picking out my mom’s casket. This isn’t easy for me. This is hard. This is painful. I cry every single day, not because my mom won’t be at my wedding, but because every single day, all I want to do is talk to her. All I want is for her to be here. The knowledge that she’s looking down and in a place more serene and peaceful than I could even imagine does nothing to bring me solace. It bears pain. And that pain…is tangible.