March 14, 2014 at 2:21 PM
I let out a big sigh as I began to write this. Perhaps that's because this was a long time coming; perhaps it's because I am not quite sure how to gracefully explain what I'm about to say.
As little girls, we dream of our weddings. We fantastize about Prince Charming knocking on our quaint, cottage home in a mystical woods (well, in my fantasy, I'm pretty sure it was an extravagant mansion, but you get the idea) and leading us off into the sunset, where we would live forever...
But then we realized that was a fantasy. Like many of us, I realized that scenario wasn't likely when I turned fourteen and began high school. Some of us learned it the hard way, through heartbreak and sorrow, and others naturally came to realize what love truly is and why it is so cherished.
For me, I did it the hard way. Breakup after breakup, I wept and wept. The only comfort I found was in my mother's uplifting words and loving arms. She had a knack of knowing the right thing to say to me, especially when I needed to hear it. She was always there, and she always believed in love, even when I doubted it. She taught me the most important lesson of all: how to love, and be loved, unconditionally.
On September 6, 2011, my mother died suddenly from a pulmonary aneurysm. I was 21-years-old. I couldn't believe it, and I remained in that disbelief for many months. Reality hit me suddenly at one of my bride's first appointments to try on gowns. Her mom was there, as she always had been. As my bride walked out in this absolutely stunning gown, I looked over at her mom. I saw the tears in her eyes, and I missed my mom -- I missed her, past tense. I had finally realized that she was gone and she wasn't coming back. At first, I felt selfish for thinking of myself at a moment like this, but then I felt relieved. For the first time in a long time, I felt present and alive.
Up until that moment, I had lived in the past. It was only once I accepted that she was really gone that I began to think about the future, a future in which she would not be there to comfort me, a future in which she would be forever absent...
I thought about if I ever met "the one", and if I ever got married, and if I ever had children...she would never be there to celebrate, to cry, to laugh, to be with me. It was heartbreaking, worse than any heartbreak I had ever felt, partly because it was inevitable and partly because I had yet to experience it.
Now, it's been two and a half years since she passed away; and I was wrong. She is not absent; she will always be here. Her words, her encouragement, her unconditional love lives on in my head and in my heart. Her spirit fuels everything I do and has made me so passionate about my work. I don't know if I could have ever understood love the way I do now had she lived. I didn't even know I could love that much. There is some deep truth to the saying, "You never know what you have until it's gone".
Planning a wedding without your mother by your side will never be as you imagined nor will it be easy, but it doesn't mean that she isn't there. She exists in that little voice inside your head saying those bridesmaids' dresses might be too short, and maybe you'd look better in a pale ivory instead of white, and why don't we just try on that other dress just in case. She's there every step of the way.
And it's okay to miss her, to be angry, to cry, to laugh, to smile, and to forget, even for a moment. Allow yourself all of those moments. They're important. They may not happen as you'd always imagined, but they happen just as they are supposed to.
Love exists even when we cease to; it is eternal. Once it has been, it always will be.