I’m getting married on September 9th.
My old boyfriend of twenty years took his own life, I lost everything. I still have pain. But I really want to move forward with my new husband.
Can you give me some advice? I want to be the wife he deserves.
I understand if you don’t have time to answer,
HURTING BUT MOVING FORWARD
DEAR MOVING FORWARD:
I am in a hotel room. Hurricane Irma is swimming toward Florida and we are heading the opposite direction. I have waited until today—your wedding day—to answer your letter.
Listen, I don’t do advice, but I can tell you about someone I know.
She was like you. Young. Smart. Pretty. Her husband swallowed the barrel of his hunting rifle and left her entire world black and blue.
I won’t tell her story because you’ve lived it.
You already know what happened to her. She wasn’t the same. She didn’t eat the same, sleep the same, think or talk the same—her posture even changed.
Once upon a time, she stood straight and confident. Afterward, she slumped.
Tragedy will do that to you.
But this woman has stamina. She’s seven kinds of strong, by God, and sweet. She is made from one-hundred-percent heart-muscle, unsalted butter, and powdered sugar.
I’ve seen her stand in a funeral line, shaking fifteen hundred hands. I’ve watched her work pitiful jobs, just to raise dimes for her children. I’ve heard her cry in the bathroom with the door shut.
She met someone recently. A good someone.
They started doing fun things together. They walked the beach, they went to hear live music. They danced.
This woman hasn’t shaken her tail feathers since the Nixon administration.
Death has a way of making you quit dancing. It makes you hate good and bad things alike. It cheats you. It tries to step on your chest and take your breath. It makes you afraid of the dark.
But she’s dancing.
Not long ago, I asked how she was getting along.
She smiled and said, “Oh, fine. I can’t explain it, but I’m not afraid anymore. I’m just happy all over, don’t know why.”
That woman is my mama. And I’m glad she doesn’t know why she’s happy. She doesn’t need to waste time thinking about whys, hows, buts, maybes, if-thens, or what-ifs.
And neither do you. Because today you’re walking the aisle. Today is flowers, music, and white clothes.
I hope your hair and makeup look just the way you want. I hope your family stands with you. I hope you get a glimpse of your life from a nice angle. I hope you get a letter from a ignorant redhead.
I hope this god-awful hurricane disappears.
I hope you see a groom, waiting at an altar. I hope you see his eyes when he sees you. I hope it sends a jolt through your bones.
I hope you forget all about all gaping holes inside you. I hope you feel God.
I’ve heard it said that time heals all wounds. I don’t believe that. If you ask me, time doesn’t heal a damn thing.
Congratulations, sweetheart. You picked a fine day to get married.