Awhile back, I wrote about perception. Before that, I had explored the concept of “love goggles“. Recently, I went off island (I’m starting to sound more like a native already, aren’t I?) to attend a wedding of a dear, old friend to a dear new one, and found myself pondering both of these subjects again.
The wedding, between individuals of my age group, both gave me hope that I may still find another great love some day, and saddened me that their lives together were just starting, whereas my life with A was forever stuck at having spent 25 years, 10 months, and 9 days as man and wife. The counting for me had stopped whereas their clock had just started.
Adding to the bittersweetness of the day was the fact that it took place one day before what should have been our 27th anniversary. So while I’m certain I wasn’t the only one who cried tears of happiness at their beautiful (and somewhat lighthearted due to the brother of the groom officiating) union, I’m quite possibly the only one who cried tears of grief and loss, as well.
I had been planning for the event for months, and looking forward to catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. I probably spent as much time deciding on my wardrobe as nearly everyone except the bride herself, although why I put so much effort into it, I’m not entirely sure.
Part of it may have stemmed from the fact that I am still so self-conscious of all the grief weight I gained during The Great Time of Numbness when I binge-watched Netflix and did my best to become part of the furniture. Another part of it was probably due my desire to honor my late husband by looking my best, something he always encouraged whenever the kids and I went out.
In fact, as I got ready with a friend at the hotel pre-wedding, I turned to her and asked “hair up or hair down?” as I demonstrated both options. She immediately said “down!” so quickly that I turned in her direction and said, “OK, honey… I hear you!” because for a moment I felt she was channeling A, who always preferred my hair down.
After a lovely lakeside service, as we sat around our table at the reception and waited for the happy couple to make their appearance, someone gave me a compliment that I quickly brushed aside with a dig about my weight which only seemed to rile her up. She adamantly and animatedly insisted that I had “the most beautiful face”, going on to say that it doesn’t matter what the rest of a person looks like if their face isn’t pretty – again seeming to echo something my husband told me on an almost daily basis.
Later in the evening, as I was walking from the dance floor to my table, a woman stopped me. It was someone I had never seen before, but she felt compelled to say, “I just have to tell you, you look stunning! When I first saw you outside, your glasses matching your dress and the red lipstick, I thought to myself ‘this woman is so well put together’. The whole outfit suits you. You look fantastic!”
I thanked her and returned to my seat, shaking my head. “Put together” is not how I would describe myself, and certainly not how I feel. And truth be told, while I had gone shopping earlier in the day for a new strapless bra to replace the one that had recently called it quits, I ended up wearing a black bra under a red dress because I didn’t like the strapless one after all. So while the black under the gold chain matched part of the dress and my shoes, having my bra straps visible shouldn’t have resulted in seeming “put together”. In fact, I probably should have ended up in one of those “what not to wear” articles with the black bar hiding my eyes!
Several more compliments during the night from a variety of sources, including the mother of the groom, had me believing my husband had a big hand in making sure my night tipped the scales more on the sweet side than the bitter.
The following evening (my anniversary), I gathered with a small group of women with
whom I graduated. We sat outside on the deck, ate and drank, and talked about life, then and now, and laughed like crazy when we attempted a group photo and the selfie stick almost got the better of us.
The hostess, a woman who years ago lost her fiancé in a motorcycle accident that left her hospitalized, shared her story of finding love again when she never thought it possible. She spoke of the guilt she had initially in moving forward, but also of how it is possible to love more than one man. I have heard it said that the heart expands to allow more love in – just ask any parent with more than one child – and she is living proof of it.
During part of the evening, we were talking about classmates and friends with whom we have lost touch, and someone asked about one of my closest high school friends who no longer speaks to me. I really can’t say when or why we had grown apart, but there are no hard feelings on my end, just confusion.
But thinking of her reminded me of the time in junior high when she announced that she was trying to befriend the “popular kids”. She had told me in no uncertain terms that if she was successful in her mission, she couldn’t be my friend anymore because, well… I wasn’t cool. The hostess seemed somewhat shocked by this and said, “but you were one of the cool kids!” which made me laugh because I was many things in high school, but popular and cool wasn’t one of them.
We ended the evening with our hostess again reminding me to not lose hope – true love has a way of finding itself to you after loss even when you aren’t looking (and another fit of laughter at the likelihood – virtually nil – of that love coming in the form of the same sex).
The next day, B dropped me off at the ferry after we had spent some time together having lunch and browsing a few shops in a quaint, little New England town. As I drifted across the water, I looked back at some of the photos from the weekend and thought about everything that had transpired. It amazed me how I am viewed by others, and how A’s voice seemed to come through the mouths of both friends and strangers.
I was reminded that I essentially have two options for the remainder of my life, however long that may be; I can spend the rest of it anchored in the past, regretting everything that will never be in my life, or I can hoist the sails and head out into open waters seeking adventure.
While one is the “safer” choice, it is not the way life is meant to be lived. So, I will raise my anchor, seek the wind, and leave the harbor, knowing that A will forever be with me.
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