Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tributes to Elaine

I haven't said anything in a while about how things have been with regards to the loss of Mr. O's mom. The answer is: mostly okay. Sometimes not, but mostly okay. I guess the thing I didn't know about, and wasn't prepared for, was the new reality that you have to negotiate after the horrible first few days and weeks are over. The random stuff you remember, or realize she won't be around for, or when I look at a photo and think, "FMIL Octopus was still alive then," or the sticky and sometimes weird new family dynamics that spring up after someone's gone. And, more immediately (and relevantly to this blog), the question that weighed on our minds a few months ago: what will the wedding be like now?

At this point, we've mostly figured out how we're going to include the memory of Mr. Octo's mom in our wedding day, and how to work through the traditions in which she'd normally be a participant.

First, the unity candle. Typically, the mothers of the bride and groom light the small side candles at the beginning of the ceremony, which the bride and groom then use to light the center candle. We're now using this tradition as our most significant tribute to Mr. Octo's mom. Mr. O has two half-sisters from his father's first marriage, who each have two young daughters. FMIL Octopus was very close to the kids, and had very much wanted them to have a special role of some kind in our wedding. So, we've decided that when my mom goes to the altar to light her candle, Mr. Octo's nieces will all join her there, carrying silk daffodils (FMIL Octo's favorite flower). They will put the daffodils in a vase behind the groom-side candle, and my mom will help Oldest Niece Octo (who's 10) to light the groom's candle. I'm also going to write a note in the programs mentioning that this gesture is specifically meant to honor and represent Mr. O's mom.

Second, my dad's speech. My dad is a great and heartfelt public speaker, and I am already anticipating his toast at the beginning of our reception, knowing how emotional it's going to be. Mr. Octo and I were home visiting my parents last month, and we all discussed whether or not my dad should reference Mr. Octo's mom in his toast. We decided, ultimately, that yes, he should. One of the things Mr. Octo has struggled with is worrying that his mother's memory won't be kept vibrant and alive; that it will start to seem or feel like she never existed in the first place. I think my father mentioning Mr. O's mom helps in that regard; yes, when my dad says "Elaine is with us in spirit tonight," more than a few people, including my groom and I, will probably be stricken with a moment or two of ugly-cry. But we are both of the opinion that ugly-crying is better than politely ignoring the fact that she's not there.

Third, the mother-son dance is being re-worked as a brother-sister dance. Originally, Mr. O had hoped to dance with his mother's mother, who is his only surviving grandparent, at our reception. However, she's really elderly and pretty unwell, and it seems pretty definitive at this point that she won't be attending the wedding (a whole other sadness, but there's enough sad in this post already). So, Mr. O will be dancing with the older of his aforementioned sisters, who was very close to FMIL Octopus. Suggestions for songs that are neither romantic nor clearly parent-child oriented would be VERY welcome, by the way.

I think the ideas we've come up with are lovely, really. I hope they're tasteful, and give a strong impression that we want to remember and draw attention to Mr. O's mom's memory, without being morbid. But on the other hand, I just hate them. I hate that we have to do this. I hate that we have to think about this. It sounds simplistic almost to the point of being silly or childish, but I can't count how many times I've said to Mr. Octopus, "I just wish so badly that your mom didn't die. I just wish she were alive."

A final note: I don't plan to ever discuss this in depth on the blog, but to say it briefly and tactfully, my relationship dynamic with Mr. Octo's mother was a work in progress. The guilt and regret I have surrounding that fact is mine to deal with, but as it relates to you all.....I don't know. I don't exactly have a direction I'm going in with this. Just.....I know that delicate and tough mother-in-law dynamics are very, very, very common in wedding planning and in life. I was there, and I know how it feels. But now I'm here, and now I know how this feels. And I would take the other side over this a thousand, a million times over. I would do nearly anything to have it back, in fact. I just want to say that.

Are you remembering someone important at your wedding? How are you choosing to incorporate their memory into your day?

1 comment:

  1. Octo, I think you guys are handling this situation with a grace and maturity that is impressive...I'm so sorry you have such sadness as part of your wedding planning, much love to you and Mr O!