Weddings & Funerals

Our life is shaped by certain events that leave marks on our hearts. Some events pass by, without even a nudge on your soul, but others turn into moments that you will remember for a long while, because they impact you.

My best friend since middle school, the girl I grew up with, cried with, laughed with, went through a ‘let’s puffy paint every item of clothing’ phase with, danced around the house with, obsessed over High School Musical with, shared headphones in the back of the bus and listened to every Taylor Swift song with, dreamed about “someday” with, got married. I stood next to her as she promised forever to a man she loves more than anyone.

In case you were wondering, yes, I was a hot mess. In fact, I woke up crying that cloudy, Saturday morning. You see, it was more than just Hannah getting married (which is already a huge deal). Her now husband is in the military, and is stationed in Nevada. So shortly after the wedding, both of them would pack up and move across the country.

That morning, and the whole day, I was filled with sentiment over the memories Hannah and I had made over the years. I was so happy but also so scared for the future, for losing her.

It was heavy on my heart knowing the truth of her wedding day means the start of a new chapter. But that new chapter meant the end of our childhood and our years of adolescent friendship. She’s moving on, both literally and figuratively. Hannah will begin her new, married life somewhere far away from me, and make new memories and develop new friendships, and I could not be happier for her.

But it’s still the end of some sweet times and years spent with her. And for that, I get emotional. Hugging her goodbye at the end of the reception was one of the most heart-felt moments I’ve experienced. We both cried in each other’s embrace, knowing what the moment meant for both of us.

That was a moment that did more than just nudge my heart.

I’m not sure how it will be as more time passes by, but right now, I find it difficult to watch her new life play out, to know the details of being a military wife, because I’m still grieving a past relationship in which that would have been me. I spent a while believing I would marry into the military, and move to where my husband was stationed, just like Hannah. We spent months talking on the phone, laughing and dreaming about what it would be like to both be married to military men, what a neat thing middle school best friends would have in common.

But, that relationship ended, leaving both mine and his heart broken, and Hannah still playing out her future the way it ought to be. I don’t know if I’m being bitter by not wanting to know the details of her life playing out. I think I just need more time.

Which brings me to my next impactful moment.

The day after Hannah was happily married and we had said our heart-felt goodbye, I drove to meet my parents for dinner before I flew back to Durham.

As I approached my mom, I waved and said hi, a smile on my face (I’m always excited to see my mom). My mother, however, was shockingly somber. If you know my mother, she is always bubbly and wearing a vibrant smile across her face. Strangers come up and talk to her frequently because she always looks friendly.

But not that day, at that time, as I approached her. I came nearer and saw her eyes well up with tears, her face crinkling with sadness, a look I am not used to seeing. I embraced her into a hug, and let her cry on my shoulder. I stroked her curled hair as tears streamed down her face. Then she tells me, in a soft, whimpered voice, that my grandfather (her father), has passed away.

What she would do for more time.

My mother is one of the strongest women I know. She is always the one to comfort those in need, to care for those who need cared for. She has been that person to me for my entire life.

But now, in this moment, the roles reverse. Now I am the one who has to be strong for her. As she breaks with emotion, I remain strong and hold myself together. I didn’t let myself feel anything, or show any emotion. All I knew was that my mom was not okay, and I needed to be what she has been to me countless times.

That night I boarded a plane feeling the sting of guilt in my soul, knowing I was leaving my hurting mother behind. I knew that she would never want me to feel that way, but it didn’t stop me from feeling it.

I flew back to Durham, and remained stoic. I listened to angsty music on the plane, but still, shed no tears.

Until Monday night at the dinner table. I was eating dinner with my brother and his wife (my awesome new sis), and he asked me if I was okay. I couldn’t answer. Then he asked if I was upset because Pop Pop died and I missed him. I then lost control of the strength I had been carrying the day before, and sobbed into my hands.

But I’m not sure what I was sobbing for. Whether it was my grandfather’s death, or seeing my mother sob in my arms. I think both had equally the amount of impact on me.

Well there ya have it, a wedding, and a soon-to-be funeral. Both events highly impactful on my life.

When friends ask me how I am and how I’ve been, I tell them all, I’m a hot mess, but you already knew that (and most of them do). But like I’ve said in past posts, being a hot mess isn’t a bad thing. I feel a lot because I experience a lot. I cry and laugh and hurt and dream, and those things bring many emotions that play out in different ways.

I’m thankful for all the high-impact moments in my life, because they have made me who I am today. And I find hope in the fact that I am constantly changing and growing into the woman I am meant to be.

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