My mother completed her second round of treatment for Esophageal Cancer in January 2009. In celebration, she wanted to go dress shopping for my cousin's upcoming February wedding. I indulged her because even though she had six perfectly beautiful formal dresses to wear in her closet, I understood her love of fancy clothes. I would wear formal wear every day if I could.
So, one day when we were having lunch with my best friend, we decided to stop in a little bridal boutique in North Charleston called Bridals by Jodi. I had driven by the shop probably a hundred times, but I had never gone in. They had racks of wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, so we set about the store to see if we could find something. My mom got tired very quickly and took a seat in the parlor area of the store. Then, my best friend found a dress that she thought I could try on. I was a bit fussy about the whole thing because I already had a dress for my cousin's wedding and I really wasn't into trying on wedding dresses. Maybe it was superstition or something, but I didn't think it was appropriate for me to try on a wedding dress when I wasn't even dating anyone (much less engaged!).
My best friend gently reminded that my mother might not get to join me on my special day and insisted I try on the dress. It was one of the few times in all the years I've known her that she dug in her heels, and she was right. I didn't know what was going to happen, and here we were in this great shop with a beautiful dress that might actually fit me.
The dress was strapless and not really my style at all, but the big girl sizes were limited. My best friend helped me get into the dress and then she brought my mother in to see me. I don't think my mom knew what we were up to because when she saw me, she started crying. My mother loathed crying and making any kind of a scene, so it was a really big deal that she was so moved. It was a perfect moment and one I will never have the chance to repeat.
My mother passed away less than two months later and when she did, my life was changed forever. Every plan I'd sort of half-made for my future included her. I didn't know if I'd ever find the right guy, but if I did and we got married, she would help me plan it all. Then, if we had children, she would share all of her baby prowess with me so I could actually raise decent kids instead of hooligans. There wasn't any path that she wasn't a part of, and all of a sudden those paths went up in smoke.
Now, I live 3000 miles away and have an amazing job, but every single day I wish I could share this life with her. It isn't the life I dreamed of or crafted in my mind as a child, but it's a life I think she'd be proud of. I don't know if I'll ever find the guy that lights up my heart after it has been through so much hurt, but at least I had that moment with her.
Sometimes, I watch bridal shows with my best friend like "Say Yes to the Dress", and I cannot picture how that day will be for me. Any dreams I'd started to create about marriage and children were hazy at best before she died, and now they have faded from view. Does that mean it won't happen? I don't know. I don't know a lot these days. It's amazing how much I have realized I don't know since she died, and how different life is without her. With the loss comes an immense appreciation for what was and what will never be again.
I sometimes see a picture in a magazine or on Pinterest, and I think it could be a shadow of what my wedding day will look like. But then I realize she is never going to be there smiling back at me as she tries so hard not to cry, and I think if I ever find that right man for me, we might have to elope.
I do hope for more, to not live this life all on my own until its end, but I also don't know how to deal with any other possibility than being alone after losing someone I loved so much. I was 29 when she died, and really a bit of a late bloomer in the relationship arena. Now, I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever bloom at all...