From hearing my widow friends talk one of the hardest things to get through as a widow is attending a wedding. When I was shopping for a dress for the Epoch awards I finally had to cave and go to a David's Bridal. That was a really hard day. Walking in and seeing all of those excited girls trying on beautiful dresses was an extremely hard reminder of what I had lost. At that very store as I tried on my event dress I made a vow-I don't care when it is, or who it is, no weddings for me for a LONG while-if ever. It wasn't even a week later that I went to the mailbox and found a wedding invitation for my friend Megan. I've written about Megan before. She is my oldest friend (of 20 years) and certainly one of my dearest friends. She has been in my life through thick and thin and knows me better than just about anyone. I knew she was engaged but the last she told me her event would most likely be family only. While she still decided keep it small with mainly family there were a few exceptions and couple friends were now invited. It wasn't even a question in my mind. I was going to that wedding. Megan has experienced personal loss of her own and understands all too well what I'm walking through. She insisted over and over again that she didn't expect me to come and wouldn't be offended in the least if I didn't. She just loved me and wanted me to know I was thought of and welcome on her special day. That made my mind even more resolute that I was not going to miss this event. As the day drew closer I started to doubt myself. This would be my first major event I would attend solo something I do not in any way enjoy doing. This would also be my first wedding event since being widowed. Toss in the fact that Megan was a bridesmaid at my wedding 8 years ago and I was slightly worried this would be a recipe for disaster. Her family was so kind to me. Her Mom called and told me I could bring my Mom or a girlfriend with me to help me not feel so alone. Her sister asked if there was anywhere I preferred to sit at the dinner. They all went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable. Still I was hesitant. Not because I didn't want to be there. I wanted to be there more than anything. I was hesitant because as with anything these days I never know what's going to be a potential "trigger" that sends me into a state that can take me weeks to climb out of. Grief is unpredictable.
The morning of the wedding was finally upon me. I cried many times throughout that morning. I didn't know what to expect. I was so happy for my friend. I was worried for myself. Lots of mixed emotions all churning around inside of me. The venue was over an hour away and it gave me plenty of time to think. On the way there I was thinking about my wedding day almost 9 years ago. I thought about how she was by my side and such a calming force that day. I thought about being little girls and laying in bed during sleep overs and wondering what life had in store for us. I thought about all of the roads that we both had to travel to get to where we were this day. It wasn't easy individual roads for either of us but today I was seeing before my eyes beauty rising from the moments of ashes in her life. By the time I got to the venue it was no longer about me. It was about my friend and her day. I snuck down to give her a hug before her Daddy walked her down the aisle of a tiny little chapel to marry her love. She has never looked more beautiful in her life. I didn't cry as expected in the ceremony. I couldn't. I was smiling too big, ecstatic to see my friend so happy. She was radiant that night. Sure there were moments where I thought of Joel wishing that he was there. That's every day of my life. But more than my sadness was complete joy for my friend and complete excitement for what The Lord has in store her.
At the end of the night I hugged my girl to tell her goodbye. She hugged me tight and whispered in my ear that Joel was not forgotten that night. I know he wasn't by me or by her. That's just who she is. That's why I'm so blessed to call her friend. That's why, on this night, there was no where else in the world that I would rather be than at a wedding-her wedding-watching the most beautiful bride I've ever seen saying "I do".