We have just passed the 5 month anniversary since Dylan died and if ever there was a time that I have been fully made aware of the rich and varied tapestry of emotions this thing called “Life” brings, it has been this past week leading up to and encompassing my wedding to Jim on October 10th.
The entire week leading up to the wedding, as Jim and I were rushing about taking care of the million little details that goes into planning a big 3-day event, I could feel Dylan very present with me. It weighed on me constantly as a combined feeling of frustration, anger and sorrow. There would be moments when I would be driving in the car when the sudden realization that we were about to participate in the first big family event and that he would not be here. He SHOULD be here! I wanted him here to see how happy I am, to soak up the love of his family and know that all is well.
In the midst of all the wedding planning, my dearest friend in Kelowna gave birth to a beautiful boy who I was able to hold only hours after he was born. As Jim and I visited them in the hospital and I held him, I was transported back in time 22 years to the first time I held Dylan. All of those feelings of wonderment and peaceful calm came flooding back. It was so therapeutic to just stand there, holding this precious sleeping bundle as my body instinctively bounced and swayed gently back and forth. Once you’ve had a child, you truly never forget that feeling and all of those involuntary muscle movements seem to kick in all at once.
Two days before our wedding, we had a knock on the door and were delighted to receive a gift of the print “The Singing Butler” from my dear friend Adriane in Connecticut. Her message was to the effect that she hopes we "never stop dancing through this life together". She had come to Ontario for Dylan’s funeral and was such an amazing support to not just me but all of us during our darkest hours, I knew exactly what she meant by that. Ever since Dylan was a small child, Adriane was one of the few adults in his life who “got him” and loved him for the unique human being he was.
As family began to arrive on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I found that my feelings of deep sadness became less frequent and I started making a conscious effort to keep them at bay. Everyone was so very happy and excited for Jim and I that I didn’t want to over shadow this joyful time with a grief that I know in my heart will never truly go away. We had a full house and a very rich and beautiful time leading up to our wedding day on the Friday.
Eden was my maid of honour and as we got our hair and makeup done with my mom, we didn't talk about Dylan. We were focused on this happy moment. My son Justin walked me down the aisle and although I know we were both thinking of Dyl, we didn’t talk about him but rather just enjoyed each other in this very special moment. At our outdoor ceremony, one chair was left empty with Dylan’s name on it. He was very much a part of our day and in our hearts but we didn't talk about him at theceremony.
At the ceremony, Jim held me close and we danced together as husband and wife while Eden sang “At Last”. At the reception, we shared our first dance to the beautiful but mostly unknown song “My Girl Tonight” and it was as though we were the only people left in the entire world. Eden also sang one of my favourite songs "You Take My Breath Away" by Eva Cassidy. But still the theme of dancing didn't stop there.
I come from a very big family with 8 aunts and uncles just on my mother’s side. She had asked them to send email messages to be read at the reception and something my uncle Vern wrote really touched me. It was based on the song Turn, Turn, Turn which was popular the year I was born in 1965. Vern wrote so eloquently: “The Biblical text simply posits that there is a time and place for all things and it contrasts the peaks and valleys of our life as being seasons which we will all inevitably see and which have their own purpose. Several aspects of our lives are mentioned but this one line perhaps wraps it up most neatly… ‘There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance’. Ah… it’s now the season for laughter and dance. It doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten the other seasons… but that doesn’t change anything. It’s now the season for dance. Dance with Jim until the wee hours… Dance until you can’t dance anymore. And don’t forget to dance every day. Dance like no one else had ever danced before. You don’t need to explain what happens on that floor. Let the music play. Just hold each other close and dance, yeah, just dance.”
Vern’s words were just exactly what I needed to hear – permission to be truly joyful, to celebrate this season for what it is – impermanent and precious and beautiful. Oh yes, we did dance! And I know we will hold on to the shower of love we received on our wedding day and all Thanksgiving weekend for a very long time to come.