The wedding was everything I hoped, feared, expected and never imagined. My emotions ran the gamut – so, pretty much the normal state of being for me. Other things that went as expected and feared:
• The one who had disowned me barely spoke or cast me a glance, even as we waited for the “family” photo with her, Marco, LaLa, Luna and myself.
• Things are still kind of strained in a kind of pleasant but guarded limbo between my friend and myself.
• Keith justifiably and irrationally felt slighted by my son because he was intentionally and deliberately excluded from the “all in the family” photo when Luna didn’t want to leave her daddy’s arms to go out for another picture. There was a miscommunication by my son and a misunderstanding by Keith. It was beyond my capacity to do anything. So that photo isn’t just missing Keith, whom my son doesn’t consider family, it is also missing his youngest sister and me. This is my main regret of the day.
It’s a miracle Keith didn’t take Luna and leave right then, before the ceremony and her fulfilling her role as co-flower girl with Bridgette’s niece. Needless to say, however, I will say it anyway, we left as soon as possible after bride and groom walked their recessional.
That is my other regret.
Marco and I had already had more than one conversation in which he brought up the idea of me not staying and leaving with Keith after the ceremony. He recognized that his decisions to exclude Keith from pictures and have me sit at the head table and Keith to sit elsewhere would be problematic. He knew months ago when he decided to include his youngest sister, who is Keith’s daughter, in his ceremony that he was choosing to invite Keith to an event he was going to be completely excluded from. He is an adult and he made an adult decision that he knew the ramifications of.
As his mother AND the mother of his youngest sister, whom I am committed to raising both in relationship with her father and healthier than I was able to do with/for him and LaLa, I had to be an adult and make difficult choices too.
• I honored and accepted my son’s request for me to attend the wedding. I was blessed and greatly honored to find out our relationship had mended to the point I was to be included as a family member at the head table, had I attended the reception. That is a miracle and a gift.
• I facilitated every effort to ensure he got to include his littlest sister. I have and will continue to facilitate and ensure opportunities for him to build his relationship with her in spite of their age difference and the fact she is Keith’s progeny.
• I stayed present and engaged throughout the entire experience. I did not focus all, or even most, of my energy worrying about Keith and his feelings.
• I made conscious and conscientious efforts to sincerely and gracefully greet and connect with the other parents of both bride and groom. I just realized I missed connecting with and greeting Bridgette’s mom in the midst of everything else going on. I saw her across the room a couple of times, but kept getting swept up in the swirl of people and events on the side I was in. Most importantly, as soon as I saw my son’s other mother, I gave her a huge hug and thanked her for being the mom I hadn’t been able to be. I meant it then and I mean it now.
• I prioritized my values, goals and commitments and weighed them against my wants and desires, factored in what the focus of the day needed to be on, and took other people’s needs and emotions into account. At the end of the equation, my calculations indicated two things:
When I said goodbye to the one friend, I was questioned and informed how nice it would be for Marco if I would stay. I told her he and I had previously discussed it. She nodded in acceptance and seeming understanding, but I can’t help but feel the understanding was that she saw me choosing Keith over my son again.
I had expected that we would leave and I wouldn’t get to stay. I had expected to feel conflicted over it. What I hadn’t expected was that there were actually other guests who wanted me there, who love me, and are either neutral regarding Keith, or are incredibly talented thespians – yep, they’re thespians.
That is the good I am taking away from this.
Three people I loved, without reservation, when I was younger, when it was just Marco and me, were there. The love I felt, the compassion, the unconditional acceptance, and the hugs I received were life renewing. I had reunited with two of them back in June. I wasn’t expecting them to be there. So, when I saw my first college best friend, my head snapped back around, my eyes opened wide, as did my mouth and an uncontrollable, spontaneous and shrill teen girl squeal exploded from my mouth. I sounded like a giggly, high spirited teenager. In that moment, I knew that even if things weren’t okay, I would be okay and the day would be okay. Her husband has always been special and affirming. He was my first college boyfriend and the first pure and innocent love I ever had.
My damage and inability to believe myself worthy of being in relationship such good, happy, and functional people caused me to abandon their friendship many years ago, although that wasn’t what I told myself. The fact that these two amazing and wonderful people have reentered my life with open hearts, minds, and arms, in spite of everything that has happened . . . it brings tears to my eyes. Marco was ring bearer when the got married. It was fitting they and their sons were at his wedding.
The third person, well, if it weren’t for her, none of the other friendships I talked about here would have happened – another story for another day. She made me remember that it was my strength and friendship that helped her go through some really tough times 20+ years ago. Honestly, she is the first real friend I had after I lost my best friend to my husband, when I was 19. to have her tell me nothing that I have said or not said, none of the things I have done or failed to do, and that regardless of anything opinions or viewpoints of others she is here for me and I’m worth being there for. . . I have no words to explain how that felt, what it did, or how it affected me.
So, I left with Keith and Luna, secure in the knowledge that I had done my best and been my best.