From planning to wedding day, parents play an integral role and their absence can make the process even more emotionally charged than it already is. Given both my parents are dead, this year’s experience has been full of joy and sorrow and my wedding day will be bittersweet.
This is the third in a three-part series where I share what it’s been like for me to plan our wedding and ultimately marry the love of my life. Catch up on Part I: Daddy’s Little Girl and Part II: A Mother’s Voice.
Part III: ‘Ohana (Family)
The BIG DAY!
We did it! I’m officially a married woman! I’m thrilled to call Eric my husband and be a stepmom to his four children. What a fantastic ride it’s been over the last year! It’s such a blur: all those weekends scouring wedding websites, reading blogs, designing invitations, choosing flowers, making favors, emailing with vendors, and getting our house in out-of-town-guests-will-be-coming-to-stay-with-us shape. Whew! And ahhh! I’m exhausted and exhilarated. (Not sure what I’ll do with all my spare time now.)
The snowball has come to a stop and we all survived the tumble and have become a bigger, very blessed family of quirky and interesting people. My parents would’ve probably been a bit dumbfounded by it all. To say the least, I’m quite different in personality and interests than the parents who raised me. But, they would have been thrilled to see me so happy and see my brother Sam and my nephew Sammy celebrate this beautiful day with me. Our family has grown exponentially in just one day!
My brother and I understand each other. We’ve been here before. We “get it.” I’m so glad he traveled here all the way from Pennsylvania to walk me down the aisle to my new husband. He’s always been protective of me, like a big brother, although he’s actually 2 ½ years younger. Quite sweet. It was fitting it was him since it couldn’t be our dad. Our parents would’ve wanted it that way. They always told us to love each other, be kind to each other: “You never know when you’ll only have each other to lean on.” They were right. With my arm looped through my brother’s, I started on the next big journey of my life, a life without them in person, but in my heart.
So, on our Big Day, armed with as much water proof makeup and tissues as possible, Eric and I officially joined our hands, hearts, lives, and families into one. It was beautiful. Eric looked so handsome in his silver grey suit standing under a bamboo canopy made by his own hand. He loves all things Hawaiian and to honor that, we had a Hawaiian ceremony. The symbolism isn’t lost on me. In Hawaiian culture, there is so much importance placed on ancestry and history. It was an honor to incorporate the Hawaiian Aloha and love for ‘Ohana (family) in our most special day.
Every decision I painstakingly made over the previous year was worth it. I believe I captured some of the beauty of Hawaii, the sparkle of a time gone by, and the warmth of friends and family in our day. Thank you, Mom, for helping focus my mind’s eye!
My ‘Ohana has gotten wonderfully bigger over the years. After losing my parents, I regained my biological family and was thrilled my brother John and sister Nancy were here to share in our special day too. I’ve also gained Eric’s family. They’re a funny, interesting, and warm group of people. I think my parents would’ve really liked them. They’ve welcomed me with open arms and hearts since day one. I am lucky.
Though my parents weren’t there physically, I know they didn’t miss a second of it. They witnessed it through the eyes and hearts of all of us and our loved ones—old and new, near and far—who surrounded us that day. It was truly a celebration of life, love, friends, and above all family. Mom and Dad, you’d be proud. I love you and miss you always. I’ve finally “grown up,” and, yes, Sammy gives Eric two thumbs up!
Life is a twisting journey full of ups and downs, joy and heartache. It’s the single most wonderful and terrible experience we’ll ever go through. It’s a blessing even with the pain. While of course, I truly wish my parents had been here to witness my marriage to a most wonderful and loving man (they’d both be very proud and pleased), I know this journey has made me who I am today, tears and all.
Many people react with sympathy when they hear my parents are dead. I get it. What they might not understand is it’s my life. My life, while vastly different than I had ever expected, is wholly my own. My parents may have died, but I know through the many milestones and twists and turns I’ve encountered since then, they’ve always been there guiding me—through the lessons they taught me while they were alive, and the lessons they taught me in their dying: life is short and life is about those you love.
Celebrate both as often and as fully as you can. You never know when forever will end and loved ones won’t be there to hold your hand and share the next step of your special journey.