“As long as you live, keep learning how to live” ~ Seneca
November is a lot. A whole lot.
It is the month of my husband’s birthday. That’s a few days after my brother’s birthday (he just missed the magic month). It’s also the month of my sister in law’s wedding anniversary; my brother in law’s birthday (not the one married to the sister aforementioned. His wedding anniversary is 2 days into December. Close enough right?); my sister’s birthday; my mother’s birthday and my mother’s death.
This year, it also marks the end of my first quarter of a year as a married woman.
What an intense 3 months it has been. My wedding was on the 20th of August and it was nothing short of magical. I didn’t cry. Strangely enough (maybe not strange at all), I think I laughed and giggled through most of the day. I was really and truly happy. As with every other wedding, I noticed the odd thing that didn’t go exactly as I wanted but even those imperfections were insignificant on that day. My lover was mine and I was his and it was all imperfect perfection. God’s day to flex… and He did.
The wedding planning was not difficult or stressful. Planning doesn’t stress me out. It is a simple movement of chess pieces to achieve the desired outcome. What I found difficult was processing the fact that I was getting married without my mother to hold my hand. Like graduating from university, a wedding is something that had never happened in my family before.
While I had never fantasised about my own wedding until a couple of years into dating my lover, my mum certainly had. She spoke about it a lot. What she would do about my lobola process. How she would deal with absent-father drama if he dared to show up. How she would cry when I walked down the aisle. I was in high school when she made that particular declaration. I was at home on holiday and she said it out of the blue. I was busy with some mundane chore but I stopped to look at her after she said that. Genuinely perplexed, I asked, “why?” “How can I not cry? It’s monumental. Someone will be taking you away from me,” she said as she smiled into the distance at whatever her imagination was conjuring up. I didn’t answer for a simple reason…I couldn’t understand it. Even if I was getting married, she would forever be my mum. What was there to cry about 🙂 In hindsight, I realise that my cool, pragmatic, minimal-emotion approach to life has been around for some time. The only difference is now I am developing the emotional maturity to realise that it’s not an easy thing for emotionally expressive people to understand. That’s a discussion for another day. Today’s discussion is that my wedding was my mother’s dream.
Choosing not to attend my graduation was easy. Passing my exams was for me. I love law. Walking across the stage was for her. It didn’t mean much to me outside of making her happy. In her absence, it was immediately unnecessary therefore I didn’t do it.
A wedding is an entirely different story. I wanted to get married. I also wanted her to be there when I did. The only way was through it. My biggest struggle in the run up to the wedding was accepting her absence. It was accepting that I was doing something she had keenly wanted and imagined in her absence. It was not having the definitive voice of a mum to cut through the mountains of advice from all corners and focus me on what mattered. What I really needed to know. It was accepting that this is something one can not really talk to friends about because hearing how sorry they are about your situation and making everyone sad is entirely unhelpful. It was letting people misinterpret my long silences and general withdrawal in the run up to the wedding as wedding stress. It allowed me to contemplate how keenly I felt alone without the interruption of well-meaning voices. I didn’t know how I would react to my wedding day. My biggest fear was that I would start crying and never stop. Full disclosure – I am an ugly crier. There is nothing cute or sexy about me crying. Not. One. Thing.
My saving grace was an email out of the blue from one of my bridesmaids, Edith.
Sidenote – My bridesmaids were my own personal miracle. Each one of them came through for me in unexpected ways but always on time. Gorgeous set of humans arent they?!
Now back to Edith…
She is an amazing, gentle soul and I am sure she watched my increased intensity with grave concern. Well, that and a few lectures on wedding stress which I dutifully listened to. In a bid to get through to me, she sent me a link to a blogpost. I think she sent me it to me because she feared I would turn into a bridezilla and cast a cloud over the wedding *chuckles.* Whatever her reasons, that post pulled me out of the darkness. Couched in the long description of two weddings the writer had attended, was a simple truth. The bride owns the wedding day and her mood sets the tone for the wedding. What you allow to take you over, will.
The simple truth is that my mum is dead. She has been for some time. No amount of depression or tears or wishing things had been different will or would have brought her back. Truth be told, if she had turned up at the wedding, I might have been a bit freaked out.
Instead, I saw what Edith wanted me to see. I could choose to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event. I could choose to laugh; to smile; to dance. I could choose to love love. To celebrate that I had met an amazing human and I loved him and he loved me. To paint a beautiful potrait in the prettiest colours with my spirit. I could choose happiness. I could choose to be a glowing bride and to infect others with my glow. I could choose. What a magical realisation. And so I did.
May my wedding be a toast to you mum. Every perfect moment, a tribute from the child you birthed and raised alone. Every smile on every guest’s face, anacknowledgement of the amazing job you did creating and moulding. The deluge of notes from guests and staff at the venue to say what an amazing wedding it was, evidence of your success. That every staff member at the venue when we went to pick up the trinkets we left behind on our way to the honeymoon came out to greet and hug us when they heard we were there still blows my mind. Cheers to you mum. Life without you is tough but you did a damn good job before you had to leave. I love you.