I had a meltdown at Rite-Aid this week. I walked over to the pharmacy to pay for my purchase and Ben’s song came on. I was in line and really needed the items in hand. I couldn’t move. I started to choke and sputter like a car running out of gas, as I tried to keep myself from making a scene. I gasped for air redirecting my thoughts: read the back of a label, focus on work. Nothing helped. By the time it was my turn, I had obliterated any chance of looking like a normal tax paying citizen.
I ran out of the store after I made payment and hid in my car. I don’t think I’ve felt so small in quite some time. I stared at my hands and looked at the ring on my left finger and thought of Brad. He knows. He knows this feeling. I see it wash over him when we walk into Fred Meyer, when we drive past old memories, visit them at the cemetery, when we walk past their bedrooms every day.
Brad and I are getting married two weeks from today. In two weeks, so much will change and so much will stay the same. In these two weeks I know I’ll be busy stressing and focusing on all the silly details that nobody cares about and smiling and telling everyone, “yes, I am. I’m really looking forward to it…yes, it’s going to be great,” whenever they ask if I’m getting excited.
I will smile. I will answer. I will change the subject.
I am over the moon to be starting a wonderful life in marriage, to be with an incredible, honest and caring man who loves me (like…REALLY LOVES ME!!) for me (this a very uncommon phenomena for me). We are two peas in a pod and I am smitten. If you know Brad, you know how amazing he is and rest assured, I loved him wholly and fully the moment we met.
If you know me you’re probably thinking, “Well it’s about damn time, Kelly.”
But, the truth is…I’m not excited about the wedding.
I have A LOT of emotions flowing through my being at varying points throughout the day. I finally came clean with a very cool friend of mine, about how I’ve been feeling. She said it so well:
It’s arguably the happiest time in your life, but it’s marred by grief so you [might] need help to see the excitement and happy in it…It’s an [internal] crisis, almost.
Yes, my friend. Yes. Exactly that.
I flip and flop and flip and flop with the internal crisis of emotions.
When I find myself starting to jump up and down, and getting giddy and making happy noises, I’m by myself. Usually in the bathroom, staring in the mirror. Or in my car. And then I think of them and I flip.
I think of the kids and how before the fire I couldn’t count the times we said, “we don’t need to rush, we have all the time in the world.” I think of how Brad and I would most definitely be moving forward in our relationship and making plans for the future, but we wouldn’t have had any sense of urgency.
We had a false sense of security instead.
Then I flop back to being happy because I deserve to be happy. And I flip and think of them and I want them here to be happy with us. And I flop and want them to be a part of the ceremony with me, with him.
And then the quiet comes and I’m not jumping up and down or getting giddy and making happy noises anymore. Usually I’m just staring at myself in the mirror and thinking,
“I wish you were here,”
I wish all of you were here with us. I wish it so bad my chest aches and I forget to breathe. I squeeze my body so hard and wish as hard as I can. I hold your dad every night and I hold him especially close when he weeps quietly into the pillow next to me.
I wish I could trade places with you three. I love your dad so much and I can do nothing to fix this. If it meant never seeing him again but knowing he would be eternally happy, I would trade with you in a heartbeat.
For each of you, for him.
I wish you were here with us and celebrating our marriage.
I still don’t know what’s worse: the shock of what happened or the burning ache of what never will.
In two weeks from today, I know I will be smiling and laughing and celebrating, but I wonder if the marring will subside…or will it always be there; reminding us what could have been?