During my dad’s visit with us a few weeks ago, he shared the news that he and his girlfriend would be getting married some time in the near future.
I have deleted and re-written this entry several times. It’s been hard to find the words to express the millions of thoughts that have been racing through my brain. I am incredibly happy for him and his soon-to-be wife. I truly am. But this news was shared on the day of the anniversary of my mom’s death. The range of emotions that I felt on that day and every day since then have been overwhelming, and trying to process all of this change has been really hard.
It is difficult for me to believe all of the changes that have occurred in the two short years that my mom has been gone. My husband and I have had another baby, my brother is getting married to a woman she never got to meet, and now so is our dad. Often I wonder if she would recognize our lives in their current state. Sometimes I feel like our family is just an empty shell without her here; she was the glue that held us together, and without her we are all struggling. Granted, in many ways we have become stronger out of necessity – we are all we have left. But my mom brought light and life everywhere she went. She lit up a room. We are lost and fumbling in the dark without her light.
Shortly after my mom passed away, I read Joan Didion’s book “The Year of Magical Thinking”. The author writes about her hesitancy in making any changes to her life after she lost her husband, including not wanting to move out of her apartment, for fear that if he were to return he would not know where to find her. Without realizing it, I found myself thinking along those similar lines. I know that my mom is gone and she is not returning, yet the fact that Dad is remarrying marks a finality that I did not anticipate. I felt like the wound that remains from mom’s death was ripped wide open again; the dull ache that was starting to reside there now felt sharp and raw again.
The guilt I have for feeling these things is tremendous. It feels terribly selfish. My dad deserves every happiness. It was truly wonderful to see him happy and acting himself again. It has been difficult for him to visit my husband and me since my mom has passed away; it just held so many memories for him. To be able to share this trip with a woman that he loves again is fantastic – this was honestly the best time we have had with my dad since my mom has been gone. It was just so much to process in one week. The entire dynamic of my family is drastically changing.
I think I would have handled the news much better had it been shared after the first time meeting. It was shared in the middle of the week, and I found myself struggling to keep my composure throughout the remainder of their visit, and that was not fair to her or to me. It has been hard for me to digest that I may only get to meet her once before she is in our lives forever. She will be my stepmom, and the only grandmother on my side that my children will ever know. As I have mentioned before, my sweet Will had been incredibly concerned that his mama does not have a mama. The week that my dad and his girlfriend were visiting, Will tells me one night, “Mommy, now she can be your new mommy”. He is so precious, always so in tune to others’ feelings for someone his age.
I do not know how long this is going to take to accept these changes, but I am trying to give myself a little bit of a grace period. The relationship that my dad and his soon-to-be wife is not concerning to me; it is clear that they are happy, in love, and excited for their future. I know that she is a wonderful person, and there is a strong possibility that we may have a great relationship down the road. I also know that it is ok to not be ok right now, and my hope is that in time I will come to a place of peace with this.