Friday, October 15, 2010
For the past week I've wanted to write about my wedding, but I've had such an assortment of intense emotions I haven't been able to figure out where to begin. So I'll start at the beginning and if my thoughts are scattered and incoherent, I apologize. It's just not fair to keep you waiting any longer.
When Ken and I decided to get married, we chose the date October 10th - 10/10/10 - for a number of reasons. We thought a fall wedding would be nice, we were able to find available venues for both our wedding and reception even though we planned everything very last-minute, and it's just a cool date - and certainly an easy one to remember. I have to tell you, it really was the perfect day!
The weather was incredible; sunny and warm with a light breeze. The park where we had our ceremony was full of beautiful flowers as well as brightly colored trees and all of our plans came together without a hitch.
We chose to have our ceremony in the Walled Garden in Mellon Park. The Garden has recently been restored as part of a memorial project. The family and friends of Annie Katharine Seamans, a young woman who died in a car accident in 1999, worked with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to complete this project. Annie used to love to spend time in Mellon park, especially to look at the stars at night.
In addition to restoring the Garden's natural charm, the project included an art installation which is indescribably beautiful. Lights have been embedded in the lawn of the garden in the exact pattern of the stars over Pittsburgh on the date Annie was born. You can click on this link to read more about the Garden's restoration. If you live in Pittsburgh I strongly encourage you to check it out.
Ken and I were lucky enough to attend the Walled Garden's reopening and dedication back in June. It was then that we decided we'd like to get married there.
We did a number of things to honor Kate and Peter throughout the day, some of them thanks to suggestions from all of you.
First we included a reading from a book I used to read with the two of them. My good friend, Cindy, who is also Kate's godmother, read "I Love You Because You're You" by Liza Baker. It's basically a cute picture book about the unconditional love between a parent and child, but I think it was quite appropriate for our wedding.
About two weeks before the wedding my friend Jen surprised me with some flowers she had made out of a shirt of Peter's. (Her son is a little bit younger than Peter so she had a few hand-me-downs.) She used the shirt that Peter is wearing in this picture:
I love those flowers (!!!) and our florist, who did an amazing job with only a week's notice, was able to beautifully work the flowers into my bouquet:
Jen was also going to make flowers out of something of Kate's, but instead I asked the florist to wrap the bouquet in some material from a dress Kate wore when she was a flower girl in a wedding 4 years ago. Here's a picture of Kate in that dress:
I loved being able to work something that belonged to each of my kids into my bouquet, which I literally carried around all day. I didn't want to put it down at all... seriously.
I wanted to use butterflies in the wedding somehow, but I wasn't sure about releasing live ones. Instead, my friend Chad, who made our wedding cake, created and placed two butterflies on the cake. He did an amazing job (and I have to add that not only was the cake beautiful, but it was seriously yummy!). It was red velvet with cream cheese frosting - Peter would have been all over that!!
At the last minute I decided I needed to have a picture of my kids somewhere at the wedding, but I wasn't exactly sure where. That morning as I was leaving my house I took one of their pictures off the wall and brought it with me. The catering staff placed it on the table next to the cake. Another friend of mine ran out to a store that morning and found two candles to put next to their picture:
So now that I've given you the overall run-down of the day and how we made my kids a part of it, how do I begin to describe how it felt? That's the hard part.
Honestly, I couldn't let myself feel everything that day. If I was gonna make it through the day with some semblance of composure, I had to disconnect a little. I did my best to be in the moment and take it all in - especially when it came to feeling the love between Ken and me and the love and support of our families and friends - but I couldn't think about how much I wished my kids were there or how sad I was that they weren't.
I wish I had some incredible story about how I felt them with me all day or that there had been a rainbow or something, but I don't. I did my best to be present and I'm sure they were with me in spirit, but unfortunately I didn't really "feel"them.
I did have one moment where I stepped into a room by myself and asked them to give me something - anything - some kind of sign or wisdom or assurance that they were there. At that point the words "this is a new beginning, Mama" popped into my head.
It's so hard to explain the feelings I had that day without writing an entire book (this is the longest blog post ever!). On the one hand I felt so incredibly happy and in love and excited to be marrying Ken, who I love with all my heart. For days afterward I walked around with my head in the clouds, feeling like I was on a honeymoon even though we didn't go anywhere.
On the other hand, however, I felt a sadness that I now realize will never lessen or go away. I have had nightmares about my kids almost every night since, including my wedding night. I dream they're missing or severely injured or that they don't know who I am. It's awful. It's almost like my happiness during the day has to be balanced out by sadness and horror at night. I guess that's just how it is and how it will be.
This picture, taken by our photographer, sums it up - the bittersweetness of it all:
What I just realized is that even though the picture is both happy and sad, it's truly all about love. And as far as I'm concerned love is far stronger than death.