I have a good friend named Amy, whom I met through an online brain cancer caregivers support group when our moms were sick. Though we were states apart and talked via phone and computer, we became fast friends, unfortunately due to the fact that we both acutely understood what the other was going through.
While I wouldn't wish the experience on anyone, having someone who understood as much as she did was part of what saved my life that year. Friends, family - they all try to understand, and we love them for it. But in each other, we found that missing link of losing our mother before we were married, had kids, etc. - and that allowed us to keep breathing and carry on with life. The simple sharing of a certain sadness.
I got married without my mother, so in turn, I understand what she is going through, preparing for her wedding next year without her mother’s help. It is a heartbreaking thing to do. While all your friends are getting married and preparing with their mothers; picking out their dresses and planning the seating chart, picking out flowers and getting ready that day; she, like me, will put a smile on her face and make the best of it (because it is a wonderful, wonderful occasion, and we are truly blessed and happy to have found someone to love!), but behind every smile will be that twinge of sadness, reminding us that we don’t have our moms there with us.
We both have had amazing family and friends to help with the preparations and the day – and we are both beyond grateful for that. Yet all the friends and family in the world cannot make up for that small percentage of us that, regardless of all the great people we do have, misses having our moms there.
When it came time for my wedding, I wondered what my mom would have said to me that day, what she would have wished for me. The happiness and good times are obvious, but I wondered what other wisdom she’d impart. Now that I have children of my own, I often think about what I want for them in life. I think about my own daughter’s wedding someday, and what I’d want her to know if, for some reason, I wasn’t there like my own mom.
Well Amy, I'm going to give to you this letter, which I wrote and tucked away for my own daughter, worried that maybe someday I won't be there for her wedding - because I know Carolyn would tell you the exact same things. Maybe this is her way of telling you.
First and foremost, you look beautiful. I might not be there physically to see it, but I know from the many minutes, hours, days I spent staring at you and absorbing every freckle and eyelash. You were radiant the moment I held you in my arms for the first time, and that's never changed. I can only imagine that today, on your wedding day, all dolled up for the hundreds of people out there waiting for you (and one very special one) that you are the most beautiful woman to ever walk the earth. I'm sure your glow is doubled by the fact that you have found someone who loves you so much.
On your wedding day, and every day from here on out, I wish for you to have a life filled with happiness. A daughter brings to life a part of your heart that lies hidden away until that little princess is laid in our arms. The part that dreams of pink and ballet classes, sports games and homework help. A little girl who is born and needs us so much, who then grows to a woman that, while becoming adult and responsible, still needs us – and even though we might be eager for you to be out on your own someday, the same part of our heart that lit up when you cried for us as babies lights up again each time you ask us a question as an adult. The happiness that a daughter brings to every inch of our souls is exactly what I wish for you – a feeling of happiness and contentment from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
I wish for you to have courage and strength, because you’ll need it in marriage. It’s not a fairytale or a walk in the park. At times it’s a never-ending parade of fun, and at times it is that job you wanted to quit because you only wanted to punch your coworker right in the nose. But you’ve been through hard times, and you’ve seen them through, which is why you are who you are today – a strong, smart, intelligent woman who doesn’t settle. Always keep in mind compromise, and keep the fire in your heart, and learn to take and give and play fair. It won’t be easy, but it is well worth it to wake up each day with the person you love.
I wish for your heart to let go of the sadness or regret from your past, and open up to new experiences. It won’t be easy, that’s for sure, but the past is behind you, and what lies ahead are some pretty great things. You’ll be amazed at all you can overcome in life if you continue putting your mind to it. Don’t let the past drag you down, and don’t let it keep you sad. We might not have had all the times we wanted to have together, but the truth is that I am always, always with you, because you came from me, and you are a part of me. Your smile is my smile, your adventures are mine. You are a part of me that keeps on living, keeps on moving, and keeps on loving. And someday, when you stare into the eyes of your own children, they are a part of me too, because they came from you. People are always alive, as long as you remember them.
I wish for you smiles and tears, because without either, you wouldn't understand and appreciate the other as much. Life is filled with good times and bad times, but you'll survive them all and become a better person. Celebrate the good, let the bad slide, and smile every morning like it's the best day of your life.
If a problem isn't going to matter in 10 years, it's not worth worrying about today. Sage advice, and very true. No sense in working yourself up or worrying if, in the grand scheme of things, this is just a blip on the radar.
Dance every opportunity you have. In the car, in the kitchen, while you're washing clothes. It brings a smile to your face instantly, and will make every day a better one.
And finally, enjoy your wedding day. The world keeps turning, and people come and go, but we're never far. You might be looking for a sign or a symbol that I'm here, but all you need to do is look in the mirror - as long as you see your beautiful face smiling back, you'll know I'm standing behind you, my arm around your back and my cheek resting against yours.
Well, except tonight after the reception. I'll totally leave you alone for that ;)
Happy wedding day. I love you forever and forever and for always. Nothing could ever change that.