Tom and I went to Wisconsin last weekend to attend my late husband’s nephew’s wedding. Besides my brother-in-law’s family, my Texas family was there also; our daughter and her husband; our two beautiful granddaughters and my best friend. We all shared Racine with Tom. We visited the little flat that Archie and I first lived in on Lake Michigan, gave the girls their first glimpse of “a Great Lake”, and introduced Tom to Archie’s brother and his family. They, of course, embraced Tom and made him feel welcome and accepted as part of the “Szymandera family”. Tom was equally gracious and expressed his gratitude and pleasure in being a part of the event. It was truly a gift to be able to share this part of my life with Tom. The young lovers were beautiful and the wedding ceremony and reception were perfect. The love shared by all filled my heart and it was a very lovely experience until . . . I stepped up to the wedding party table and told the groom, “Archie would have been so proud of you today, Dayne.” That was the beginning of the melt down. I had no idea what was happening to me, but I told Tom it was time to go as soon as the desert had been served. I had to get out of there!
As we drove back to the hotel I struggled to find words for what I was feeling. There was such a flood of mixed emotions that I couldn’t sort them out. I was raw, heavy hearted, and just terribly, terribly sad. It didn’t make sense. I wept most of the night with feelings of guilt for not including my Texas family in my own upcoming wedding; I toyed with the idea of changing the date so that everyone could attend but quickly realized that I was not physically, mentally, emotionally or financially able to create an event that should have included those special people; feeling like a total failure at life because I was not able to do that; feeling remorse for letting these people down, my family who loves me unconditionally, (they had all expressed their own disappointment that they were not able to attend), I was lost in a sea of sadness.
Through the dark hours Tom was there. He just held me and let me weep. He never tried to fix the problem or tell me it wasn’t important, or try to make me feel better – he just held me. His love was like a container for the pain and I knew then I didn’t have to carry it alone. I finally gave it all to Christ about four in the morning. Trusting that God’s love would forgive the sins and heal the loss, I fell into an exhausted sleep. When I woke up I still felt raw but not as sad. I recognized, in the light of day, that I had been hit with a tidal wave of grief over the loss of Archie one more time. Being in the town we started out in, sharing the special places Archie and I loved, having Archie’s daughter and her family there brought up the sadness that he was no longer part of my life.
As I begin a new life with Tom, that grief was difficult to recognize and it made me a little crazy trying to “figure out” what was going on. Letting go of the self-flagellation and accepting the sadness for what it was, Tom and I went to meet my step-daughter’s mother, my best friend, for breakfast at the hotel restaurant. I shared a bit of my “melt down” with her, as we always share that kind of stuff, and she let me know that she understood what had happened to me. We spoke of the speed of life today and how things transpire so fast that it takes time for the emotional responses to life’s circumstances to catch up. And then she dropped the bomb! She and our granddaughters would be attending our wedding in October! Though my daughter and her husband would be unable to attend due to a prior engagement, Patti was bringing the girls! Suddenly I had two lovely bridesmaids and a maid of honor. I didn’t think I had any tears left, but there they were.
Since we have been home, the wedding plans have expanded to include more flowers, getting the house ready for out of town guests, looking at who will be the groomsmen, etc., and, Tom and I are expanding to be able to include it all. We are growing our marriage one baby step at a time. What a wonderful process!