Dh & I will be attending a wedding in a couple of weekends' time. The bride is one of his cousin's three daughters, the middle one. We first met her in the hospital shortly after she was born, in the early years of our marriage. (You know you're getting old when...)
I have mixed feelings. On the one level, I love weddings -- remembering the excitement and hope of my own wedding day, seeing what everyone is wearing, getting dressed up (we do it so seldom these days!), having a nice dinner (albeit keeping my eyes open for lurking tomatos...), dancing with dh (also a rare event) & sometimes FIL or dh's uncle, catching up with the relatives that we only seem to see at these kinds of events (weddings, funerals...) these days.
On the other hand, weddings these days (beyond being damned expensive to attend -- if you're an Italian-Canadian living in the GTA, or married to one, you will know exactly what I mean...) are another sad reminder for me of the little girl who will never grow up to be a bride. :( (Especially since so many of the weddings we are attending now are starting to be for the children of our peers.)(!!)
In the years immediately after we lost Katie, weddings were painful because I would see other people there with their babies & children and pregnant bellies, admiring each others' families, talking about their kids, making jokes about future pregnancies & babies in the wedding toasts. And of course, there's always an adorable and adorably dressed flower girl for everyone to oooh & ahhhh over. I could clearly picture Katie being there, wearing an adorable dress of her own, dancing and running around excitedly with her cousins (just as my cousins & I used to do at weddings when I was a kid).
(The first wedding I remember attending was my uncle's, when I was about 3. It was a traditional Ukrainian wedding, with a dinner/dance reception at a tiny country hall, packed with hundreds of people. "Country Hoedown!" my mother tells me I exclaimed in delight upon hearing the fiddle music, referring to a popular TV variety show of the time. I remember being in the kitchen with my grandmother,snitching sweets. And I remember the handsome groom picking me up in his arms & dancing with me. I was thrilled.)
Katie would be 13 years old right now -- way too young to get married, of course. But these days, whenever I go to weddings, I find myself thinking not so much of the flower girl but of the bride she might have been.
This new phase kicked in when we attended the wedding of the next bride's sister, almost exactly five years ago. She was the first cousin of her generation (dh's cousins' children) to get married -- Katie's generation, although she is 14 years older than Katie would have been. Even though Katie's stillbirth was 9 years before this wedding, it hit both dh & I like a ton of
bricks that day, watching her beaming parents (who are younger than we are!!)
escorting her down the aisle of the church & standing beside her in the
receiving line at the reception, watching her dance with her father that night --
that this was yet another life experience that most people take for granted,
& that we would never get to share with our daughter -- that we didn't just lose a baby -- that this loss was going to follow us, our family
& friends, & their families, through the rest of our lives.
To make it worse, BIL & SIL were kidding each other at the reception
that, because they had two boys, BIL would never get to dance with a daughter at
her wedding -- but, as SIL triumphantly pointed out to him, she would get to dance with her sons at their weddings. Twice. All I could think was, "Oh, cry me a friggin' river!!" as dh squeezed my hand tightly under the table. I adore both BIL & SIL,
& I know they would rather die than hurt us -- but it obviously didn't occur
to them that dh & I might be having a hard time that day.
So it's five years later -- the bride from that wedding is now pregnant with baby #2 -- baby #1 will be the flower girl at this wedding (of course).
One of my high school girlfriends just announced on Facebook this week that her daughter is engaged. And my 30-year-old boss is getting married within a few weeks' time. (I'm not invited to that one.) I give her six months before she announces her pregnancy. She is my third boss in as many years (after the same one for the better part of 16 years) -- I'm not looking forward to having to adjust to ANOTHER new boss when she's off on maternity leave (a year long here in Canada).
And, oh yes -- the day after the wedding (Sunday) is what I started calling Voldemort Day last year (The Day Which Shall Not Be Named). Having spent the previous day surrounded by family and reminders of youth and fertility, I think avoidance will (as always) be the best strategy. We'll probably hide out at a movie or something.