Monday, April 11, 2011

For Those that Can't Be There

So many Bees have blogged about loss in the past, and I think its so important. A wedding is a happy occasion, but sometimes it seems impossible to be happy about everything involved. That fact of the matter is, most people have experienced loss at some point, and coping with the feelings of that loss and your wedding day is not easy. I think it's good to be honest about something like this because, no surprise here, so many of us are going through the same thing.

My grandma on my mom's side was like no one else, you guys. I challenge you to find another 70 year old woman that gets blonde highlights in her gray hair, wears gold pumps, and shops at Charlotte Russe and WetSeal. My grandma was awesome. Sure I went to college for graphic design, but she learned Photoshop way before I ever did, and even taught me how to burn my first CD when I was ten. It's a good memory, I promise. We were super close, and as Mr.G says, "I swear, you and your grandma were literally the same person." She had a great sense of humor, for sure.
Her getting sick was a surprise. My grandpa just got over cancer when we found out she had it. Fastforward a bit and both she and grandpa had beat cancer. Life was good. Then, unexpectedly, she complained about back pain and went to the doctor to get it checked out. Turns out the cancer was back, and within two weeks she was gone.

Her death was unexpected, and it was a very dark time for this Giraffe. I remember sitting on the tiled floor of the hospital just sobbing on the phone to Mr. Giraffe. (Mr. G had called off work as soon as he got off the phone with me and drove four hours to meet me and support me while I was a mess.) I spent the summer after that trying hard not to leave my apartment and watching Elizabethtown like 100 times. Thank goodness for Mr. G, Bridesmaid Marie, and Best Man Nick, because if it had been up to me, I would've spent those months in a dark apartment not talking to anyone.

When my grandma first got sick, Mr. G and I first started talking seriously about getting married. I remember saying, "Can we get married young? So she can be there?" And we thought she would.

I resented my older sister for a long time, because I was grieving and it hurt so bad that our grandma was able to attend her college graduation, and not mine. And now? It's so hard to picture my wedding day without my grandma there. It hurts to think about, and, even though its been 2.5 years, still makes me so sad.

When I first heard about the idea of a Generation Dance (where couples dance on the floor with the bride and groom, and the couple that's married the longest is the last on the dance floor), I think my heart broke a little. As wonderful as the idea is, my grandma was buried on what would have been her & grandpa's 55th wedding anniversary. It just doesn't seem fair to do that dance at my wedding when the last couple on the floor would be married some 20 years less than that. It doesn't seem right if it couldn't be my grandparents.

So how will I be remember my grandma on my big day? I've thought about the flower on the chair, and things like that, but I know my grandpa is still mourning this loss, and a visible thing like that would just upset him, I'm sure. I've decided to include a small line in our program in memory of her (As well as a line for my grandpa on my dad's side). I know it's not much, but it means a lot to me. I know our guests who knew her will see it, and I think they'll appreciate it too.

Sure, I'm struggling with the idea that my grandma won't be at our wedding, but I think it'll be all right. It's hard to believe that such a joyous occasion could bring such up such sadness within me, and that's why I'm choosing to keep a good attitude about it. Instead of thinking about how my grandma won't be physically present on our big day, I'm thinking about how she'll be watching over Mr. G and I. She'll be with us, and I'm 100% sure of it.

Oh, and want to see the most wonderful photo of all time? I found it when cleaning out my grandma's stuff. She got married at 16, and in the photo she's 17 and pregnant with my aunt. My grandpa said that in this picture, "She was so proud."

How are dealing with those that can't attend your big day?