The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Who Will be Missing

Summer tends to be a somewhat nostalgic time for me anyway--as the years stack up, I find that the slow, warm days of Summer seem to fertilize memories and those creeping moments of nostalgia catch me when I am simply going about my day.  The smell of drying cedar trees, a growing breeze that shuffles along a garden hedge, the sound of bees buzzing around the lavender blossoms, the first taste of dripping, locally grown cantaloupe--Summer now reminds me of Summers then...

Throughout the Wedding Planning process, I have been overlapping the current with the past in what sometimes feels intensely spiritual and at other times is emotionally annoying.  Both Teri and I have found ourselves talking about our history books of weddings, births, loves, funerals and all the various incarnations of ourselves; we catch ourselves talking about and feeling the bittersweet presence of ghosts--all those people who have created the women we have become, but who are no longer alive in the expected sense.  Recently, Teri told me about a tribe of people she was reading about who have three different words for people--one for those who are still physically alive, one for those who have been dead a long time, and one for those who are dead, but there are still living people within the tribe who have memories of them--that third, middle, life-and-death-straddling group is the one I think of as the ghosts that move in and around my every day.

I was visiting my mother a couple weeks ago and she shared that it is during gatherings--birthdays, holidays, weekends when the "kids" are visiting that she has moments where she expects to see my dad (who has been dead amost 2 years) come walking across the yard.  I understand this.  As our Wedding day approaches, I feel the presence acutely of those people who will not be in attendance in any way but my mind and memories.

My life is full of useful sacred objects connected to these ghosts and memories.  You wouldn't know them to see them if you waltzed through our house but I do: a battered orange plastic pitcher that was my Grandma Peggy's "kool-aid" pitcher.  There is a scratchy line etched on the inside to show you where the water fill line is; a pair of wire reading glasses that were my dad's when he died--it is all I've taken as my legacy; my marble rolling pin that was given to me as a wedding gift the first time around by my late great-grandmother--the wooden handles are long-gone but I still use the rolling pin and imagine I will until I'm done in this world; scarves and costume jewelry that belonged to my Grandma Jean; worn table linens with the name "Rodley" stamped on the hem edges that belonged to my Grandma Rodley; a diamond ring my Grandpa Tuff gave to my mother. Teri has her sacred objects too--as I was finishing up the ironing of all the tablecloths yesterday, I found myself getting a little weepy and when I got to a beautiful and well-used cloth of Irish linen patterned all over with faint clovers that is Teri's, I realized that I was ironing it for the first time as part of "us" and wondering at all the O'Leary meals that may have been shared across that tablecloth.

To someone else, these items are just the "things" that make up the set dressing of our lives, but for us, they hold little pieces of the essence of those who we have not completely let go. While they may not be here in body for our ceremony or our merging of lives, and we don't get to know exactly how they would feel about the whole thing anyway, we can only imagine.  Since my grandmother who is still with us, will be at our ceremony and celebration, and I was out when all of my grandparents and dad were alive, I like to think that they would be mingling and sharing in our day--regardless, they have all been with me throughout this process.

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