Over the last year, I've had a number of friends tell me that sometimes writing letters to those you've lost helps with the grieving process. It's been 2 months since my wedding and over a year since Nanny left us. I'm sitting here watching Finding Neverland, one of my favorites with one of my all-time favorite scores. I think it's time to take their advice... Nanny,
I miss you, more than I think even I could put into words. I know there are those times when I'll sit out on the back deck and just start talking aloud, as if you're right there. Sometimes, I feel your presence so strongly that it's tangible. Other times, well, you know me. I get caught up in the day to day routine. Now that the semester is finished and the wedding is done, I find myself talking to you so naturally that it feels like you never left. Then reality hits, and I wake up from my dream world in which you're still there.
I realized the other day that I never really told you about the wedding. Put simply, it was an amazing weekend. By the Monday before, nearly all the small details were completed. Frankie and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday pampering ourselves with massages, facials, manicures and the like. Friday came, and we made it to the church. The decorating was done in less than 2 hours. I don't think I'd ever seen Holy Covenant so transformed. I wish you could have come to church with me sometime. You would have seen why I love it immediately.
Rehearsal went well. Tons of laughs, and a few teary moments while I practiced my song. There was a bit of confusion about how fast to walk. By the time we were done, everyone was so tired of hearing "step, touch" that, had it not been my own wedding, they might have killed me, or at least duct taped my mouth shut. Most of us went over to Penny's for dinner, sitting around. It felt like a roast of both Frankie and me, all the stories being told. New friendships were made. Frankie and I sat at opposite heads of the table. We couldn't figure out which one of us was mother and which one was father.
I spent that night at the hotel on my own, soaking up the experience of being in a king size bed all by myself. I soaked up the sheets after a long, hot shower. I thought about you, and let myself cry for a bit. I knew you'd be there with me, just not in the way I ever thought of or imagined.
The one and only snag of the weekend came the next morning. Michael, Alex, and I were going to a local barbershop for a hot shave. I'd been told that only same day appointments were taken. Apparently, this was not the case. Thankfully, the shop got ahold of a barber from another shop who made it there in record time. It really was a treat, especially having Alissa take picture for us. She did a fantastic job all day long.
When we got to the church, it all finally started hitting me. I smoked nervously. We ate some lunch. Larry did some makeup for us (don't laugh, I wanted the pictures to be perfect), and we got dressed. Frankie game me his wedding present... a small crystal on a necklace... a piece of him to keep close to me... a reminder that our hearts were beating together that day.
The time for pictures came and went, and I don't think the laughing ever really stopped, at least not for very long. There were a few moments here and there where the emotions of the day started getting to me. I'd cry for a short spell and then be okay. Frankie even teared up here and there... not as much as me. When Alissa took me for some solo shots, that's when it hit the hardest. You weren't there. Mom and Dad weren't there. Aunt Bonnie was. Mattie was. All of Frankie's immediate family was. It was more than just a little overwhelming.
People started arriving, and so we all waited out in the gallery. Alex came back with the lantern that Jamie had brought. At first it was supposed to be a gag gift. But then, after learning about Jewish traditions of mourning, it became more than that. It became a way of having you there, of honoring you without making a huge scene. It was something I could look at and remember that you were with me, with us. That you were proud of how far I'd come. It was a symbol of the light that you were to me, the way you changed me and helped me be the man I am... a man who loves God and isn't afraid to wrestle with the tough questions.
I took the lantern in hand, walked out into the sanctuary, trying not to make a scene. I was crying, holding back really. I got stopped by a couple of people, but I mostly stayed focused on doing what I needed to do. Once the candle was lit, it felt complete. It felt like everything was ready to begin. And so it did. After several songs played over the speakers, Jonathan began playing the prelude. We started walking in one by one, lighting the candles, smiling. Finally Frankie and I walked in, and I've never had that many people smiling at me at one time before. I've never felt connected so deeply to as many people before, especially at one time. We reached the center of the circle, surounded by more love than anyone could ever hope for, and we began our rite.
The welcome was made. The fire was lit as a way of recognizing that Frankie and I are united both as individuals and as families. We exchanged rings with vows that were far from traditional, Amatheon giving me my charge and Matthew giving Frankie his. Kristin read 1 Corinthians 13. I sang my song, mostly without breaking down. I was sure to include a good laugh. We went into the handfasting... it's a little hard to explain. Long story short (not too late I hope), it's a symbol of Frankie and I joining our lives, of being tied up in each other. Frankie was a smart alec of course, but it was fitting. The final blessing was given, we kissed, and we all laughed after a good sigh.
The receiving line was fantastic. For someone like me who thrives on hugs (you know this), it was a dream come true. Laughs. Jokes. Tears. Hugs. Kisses. Handshakes (awkward, lol). Everyone who needed to be there was there. That's not to say people weren't missed, but as a friend advised me, I just tried to live in the moment. Everyone remarked how lovely it all was (imagine that phrase in an English accent). Finally, it was time for the real party.
Our friend Aaron drove us over to the reception hall (in a really sweet ride I must add), but not without a Starbucks run just so we could show off how dashing we were. We arrived, and after a plethora of applause, the drinks were poured, the appetizers passed, and the fun started. I, being the usual hostess I am, had to be told several times to let other people worry about the details. We ate like it was the end of times. The toasts were hilarious. The cake was great... and yes, I smashed some in Frankie's face. Some friends gave the kitchen an iPod so they could dance in the other room. I really could not ask for more...
Well, only one thing more. I wish you'd been there to share it with us. I wish I could have seen your face when I made a remark about not being able to catch a ball, or when Frankie displayed his usual snark. I wish you could have heard me sing one last time, You would have been first in line for a hug, and it would have lasted for what seemed like forever. I wish you could have sat next to me at dinner, use eating a meal like we always did. I might have stayed seated more had you been there.
I hope you don't mind that I'm sharing this with some people. I'd not really written about the wedding, and any chance I have to tell the world how amazing a woman you were I plan on taking. This won't be the last letter by a long shot, but it is a good start I hope. I love you, and I miss you, and I thank God for giving you to me for the time that she did. I'll be seeing you...
To the rest of you, thank you for your presence, whether near or distant. Hopefully you get a piece of Nanny, and of me, by reading...