Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Always" Isn't Always Going To Be Perfect...

My best friend got married this past weekend!
She was stunning!
Her hair, her makeup, and her dress - perfect!
The bridesmaids wore coral and the groomsmen wore Converses!
The flowers, the music, and the ceremony - perfect!
Despite the brief early evening thunderstorm everything turned out beautiful
and God allowed mother nature to shine a striking rainbow overhead!
It was almost magical...and I've been told that seeing a rainbow on your wedding day is good luck!
True or not - I consider it a sign of great happiness from above!
...And Saturday was definitely a day full of happy hearts!
Professional Photography By:  Bow Tie Collaborative
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. . .

The reception was a celebration to remember!
Lots of laughs, smiles everywhere, and the dance floor was packed!
Just like the ceremony - everything was perfect!
My handsome husband even had on a matching tie!
Did I mention that I was Matron of Honor?!
...And, an honor it was!
It meant the world to me that I got to stand beside my best friend as she said, "I do!"
I tried my best to calm her nerves.
I tried to be with her every step of the way.
Making sure her makeup was flawless. 
Every hair was in place.
Her dress fluffed.
I wanted to make sure everything was PERFECT!

I had spent several hours preparing my toast to the bride and groom!
I wrote, erased, and rewrote at least ten times!
I read it over and over.
Rehearsed it - out loud - in front of the mirror.
It was going to be short and sweet and PERFECT!
Because, the last thing I wanted to do was this...
I had nerves of steel the entire day.
That is, until it came time for the bride and groom to cut the cake!
I could feel my temperature rising.
My hands were getting clammy.
My heart felt like it was about to beat out of my chest.
"Pull it together," I told myself.
"Calm down and just will be prefect," my pep talk continued.
The DJ handed me the microphone.
With a shaky voice, I introduced myself and greeted everyone.
...And then - my mind went blank.
My carefully written speech was in my hand.
...But I remember I suddenly felt too embarrassed to read it out loud.
The lump in my throat felt massive.
I starred at my best friend and her new husband, and proceeded with my toast the best that I could.
I have no idea what I said! 
However, I do know for a fact that I didn't say half of what I had planned to say.
Another fact - it was short and (hopefully) sweet! 
Needless to say, my toast was less than perfect...or the way I'd hoped it would be.
Some may be wondering why I shared my mishap...
Wasn't this about your best friend getting married?!
It is - and I promise that there is a point to be made!
. . .
The Best Man finished his toast and the music started to play again.
I quickly found my way back to the table, my husband, and my glass of wine!
I sat down and once again read that wrinkly, crumpled up piece of paper.
...And my own words, written for a different reason, hit home.
Good Evening -
For those of you who don't know me, I'm Judith, one of Melissa's best friends and her Matron of Honor.  I'd like to take this opportunity to once again congratulate the new Mr. and Mrs. Bowers!  You both look incredible - and happy!  ...And that makes me happy!  I've thought about this moment for a while and pondered over what exactly I wanted to say.  I thought about how I could elaborate on the fact that Missy and I have been friends for the past eleven years and how I love her dearly - like a sister.  But, that isn't what today is about...  Today is about the two of you!  The two of you beginning your lives together!  ...And even though I myself have only been married a short time - I've learned a lot and have some advice to share!
Remember that today and tonight is just the beginning of always!  ...And if I'm being completely honest - "always" isn't always going to be easy.  It isn't always going to be perfect.  Life can be hard.  Marriage can be hard. ...But both are so worth it!
Love each other.  Support each other.  Respect each other.  Believe in and encourage each other.  ...And communicate, communicate, communicate!  Being married doesn't mean you'll live a fairytale life.  Being married is two people facing life - and all the ups and downs - together.  Someone wise told Girard and I that we have to "give a little and take a little!"  ...And I truly believe if you do that - you'll be okay!
I'm so honored that you both allowed me to be a part of your special day!  I wish you both only the best - forever and always!
To Missy & Josh!
I love you both!     

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dear Critics...

The way time marches on after a loss is stunning at first...
It's a slap in the face - to log into Facebook, to watch the news, to go to the grocery store... Everything else carries on as it was before, except for you.
You are changed...  Your life is changed... 
The reality is that no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn't stop for your grief.
Time heals all wounds.  Isn't that what they say?
I've often wondered about the origin of such an empty promise.
"All wounds" - those are pretty good statistics...
Statistics that I don't agree with...and a much-overused phrase that I've grown to despise.
Sure, time is a big factor in healing physical wounds.
The body has an amazing ability (along with time) - to heal a scrapped knee, a bruised arm, or a twisted ankle...
But, obviously those aren't the type of wounds I'm talking about...
I'm talking about emotional wounds. 
Wounds that can't be fixed with Neosporin, a Band-Aid, and a little TLC.
Wounds that are most certainly still felt day after day after day.
In my opinion and from my experience - it's not that time heals all emotional wounds...
but, that with time you learn how to cope.
That "time frame" is different for everybody.
Maybe it takes a few weeks.  Maybe it takes a few months.
Maybe it takes a few years.
Maybe it takes a lifetime.
It has been brought to my attention that some people don't understand why I still grieve over Jordan's death.  They don't understand why "I'm not over it yet." 
"He was your ex-boyfriend when he died."
"It has been four years."
"You're married now."
How insensitive?  How simple-minded?  How hurtful?
Do I think of Jordan / his accident / and his death often?  Yes.
Do I sit around and cry about it every single day?  No.
When certain dates roll around does it bring back memories, feelings, and emotions?  Yes.
His death was unexpected and tragic.
I wasn't prepared for it.  No one was.
It was the first time in my life that I'd lost someone I loved and cared about in that manner.
I'll be the first to admit that Jordan and I had a love-hate relationship, that at times could have given any daytime soap opera a run for its money!
Ex-boyfriend or not - he was still my friend.  One of my best.
Yes, it has been four years.  2014 will be five years.  2019 will be ten years.
I didn't realize that there was some kind of set-in-stone countdown as to when and for how long it's considered "okay" to grieve, or cry, or reflect, etc., etc., etc. - over the loss of a loved one - whether it's a parent, a friend, a pet, or an ex-boyfriend...
Yes, I am married now.  I'm married to a man who is understanding and compassionate.
A man who knows my past, my deepest hurts, and my biggest fears.
A man who will wipe my tears away after a bad day.
A man who loves and accepts me - every part of me.
A man that I am beyond thankful for and that I love very much.
But, it still confuses me...and downright ticks me off that people would be so shallow to think that somehow four passed years and a marriage certificate are supposed to (apparently) erase the past...or ease the pain...or make me magically "get over it."
I wish it were that easy...
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions...
There are billions of people in this world, and no two are exactly alike.
Everyone feels, thinks, copes, reacts, and handles life (and death) differently.
Sure, it's human nature (for whatever reason) to sometimes question the way someone else is living, or the decisions they make, or the way they handle a situation...
And, I think that is okay.
But, I have a problem when the questioning and curiosity turn into judgment and criticism.
What is there to positively gain from judging, insulting, or belittling someone / something you simply don't or can't understand???
Am I saying that I have never wrongfully judged someone?
No, not at all. 
I'd be a fool to try and convince anyone that I've never said or thought something about someone that I had no right to say or think.
But, I've learned a thing or two in the past couple of years...
I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the ignorance.
It's so unfair, mean and hateful...and most of all - heartless...
And it hurts...  It hurts really, really bad...
Just because I live / think / cope differently than you - doesn't make me wrong.
And, vice versa.
There are and will continue to be so many situations in life that we just aren't capable of wrapping our minds around unless it directly happens to us.  It is impossible to look through someone else's eyes or "walk in their shoes" exactly the same as they do...
I'd also be a fool to think that we will ever live in a world without critics.
Without bullies.  Without hatred.
Without unnecessary judgment...
But, I guess if life were that easy...and that perfect...
...and everyone lived in peace...
...there would never be any valuable lessons to learn or evil to rise up against.
I've heard someone say before that their most successful and fun days in life have seldom helped grow their character...  But the times of deep pain and struggle have grown them extensively.
When you think about it that way...even the days (and people) that feel so difficult can be gifts.
We, you, and I - can grow through adversity.
Hardship is a part of life.
We all experience it to one degree or another.
Remember that.  Think before you speak.  And have heart.

Friday, June 14, 2013

This Day - Four Years Ago...

I've sat here for what feels like forever, trying to find the words, but even now, words mostly won't come...and they certainly don't come easy...
Today marks four years since Jordan's accident. 
Four years...
How can it be that long already?  How can it be that short?
Strange how it seems like a lifetime ago, and yet it seems like just yesterday, all at the same time.
June 14th, 2009 is engraved in my brain.  The days that followed are still so vivid.
I find myself shoving feelings down - pushing them back through the cracks when they threaten to spill out.
Like right now.  I feel like my insides, my heart...could explode.
I'm fighting the tears with every ounce of strength I have in me.
Memories flit across my mind.  Flashbacks haunt me.
I remember the phone call.
I remember listening to the devastating news.
I remember not understanding what I was hearing.
I remember hitting the floor like a ton of bricks.
I remember crying like I'd never cried before.
I remember praying and begging God to spare Jordan's life.
I remember feeling completely and utterly helpless.
To relive it is gut-wrenching...
and I'm all out of words...
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