When you suddenly become “single” again, it’s difficult to go to special celebrations including weddings, graduations, parties and get togethers. It’s a no-win situation. If you look happy, some people will inevitably judge you. If you look sad, they feel obligated to lecture to you that you need to “get over it”. How do you get over losing the love of your life? And why would you want to “get over it”? As if that is any of their business in the first place.
I avoided going to anything resembling parties initially. When I finally mustered up the courage to attend a party at our congregation where there was dancing and merriment, a very kind gentleman commented to me that I looked happy. I responded affirmatively to his observation and his next comment was “have you forgotten him?” Dumbfounded, I could barely answer him. I finally told him that if I looked happier today than yesterday, it was because I had one less day to live until I saw AJ again. Which of course sounds terribly morbid. I think what upset me most is that I knew he had absolutely no malicious intent at all and was honestly just concerned about my well-being. But it made me uncomfortable thinking that people seeing me happy equaled to “forgetting”. Unfortunately, my reaction was to avoid going to any celebrations that I didn’t have to attend.
There are some events that cannot and should not be missed. AJ’s niece’s wedding was one of those events. AJ was supposed to be the MC at that wedding and in his absence, our oldest daughter was given that honour. Although she looks and sounds like me, she has AJ’s stage presence and humor. And she did her father and the rest of the family proud. As expected, the bride gave a tribute to her favorite uncle in the most memorable way, and we all had a difficult time holding back our tears. But, by far, the toughest part was that whilst everyone else was being congratulated, attendees were seeking me out to give me their condolences. People need to understand that there is a difference between paying a tribute versus giving sympathies. There should be a rule book about the etiquette of greeting people you haven’t seen for a while. Simple rules like “Weddings are happy occasions. Not a time to give condolences.”
I have to be honest and say that I was apprehensive about going to Toronto this weekend for AJ’s nephew’s wedding. Although I knew it was necessary to attend, I was nervous of the number of distant relatives who would be lining up to express their sympathies. I can truly say that it does not get easier with time, but somehow it does get better. You find the right words and responses. The emotions are not as raw, and although just one intense memory can bring you to your knees, overall it becomes bearable.
I am so glad that I attended the wedding. To see the wonderful man that his nephew has become was such a pleasure. And to think that I was contemplating not going and thereby missing out on meeting his delightful new bride and her family. Not to mention meeting close family members and friends- both new and old. Were there tears? Yes, most definitely. His nephew surprised us all by honoring his beloved uncle in his heartfelt and emotional speech. And amidst the joy and dancing, I could feel AJ’s glorious presence.
I believe is was Babe Ruth who said “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”. That saying goes in all that we do in life.