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31 Days to Shine: Shining in the Shadows (Part II)

October 9, 2013

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Heather and Jeff were married the weekend after mom died. I was a bridesmaid. My husband, Gabe, a groomsman. Heather called to tell me that it was okay, really, if I didn’t want to be there. But, the pink satin dress was already hanging in my closet, pressed and perfect, ready to go. I remember the first time she told me she was in love—she cried just speaking the words. Her esteem for Jeff so great it overflowed in abundant joy and tears. We first loved Heather because she loved our Jeff, and in his new girlfriend I found a kindred-spirit. Heather had become a dear friend; because let’s be honest—I wouldn’t wear pink just for anyone. Pink is not a color I wear often. Ever. But this blush satin made me feel amazing. And tan. I was there the day she picked it out from the bridal shop, giggling in the dressing room as we tried on the most heinous and hideous gowns we could find, before spotting another girl down the hall in this one. I loved that dress. I loved the glossy satin, and the tiny kick-train. I loved the ribbons that hung to the floor from the waist, and I loved the way it made me feel like a princess. I loved the joy of that day sewn into the seams, and the friendship that lined the fabric.

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Just days before mom’s funeral, a pink, satin princess dress, instead of a gown of mourning.

The day of the wedding was glorious. The bridesmaids gathered in the bride’s suite to get ready, passing hairpins and makeup brushes back and forth. Heather sat among us, glowing on her throne before the mirror as the stylist assembled her blonde hair into an elegant chignon. Heather held a pile of hairpins in her cupped palm and I remembered how I used to sit before the mirror as a child, as mom pinned up my thick, unruly hair.

The pictures from that day are as splendid as the weather. I glowed in that dress, and I look at them now and wonder, how did I do it? How did I stand there, and smile and pose and preen, yet bleeding, every moment, the wound invisible yet so palpably present?

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I danced at the reception. I remember forgetting for a few moments, spinning on the parquet floor. How brash, how brazen, to dance within days of my mother’s death. Did I do her memory disservice, like a toddler with a forgotten bruise, laughing even with the tears still drying on her cheeks?

Or is this simply the way of life?

The days following mom’s death were some of the darkest I’ve endured. A darkness so deep and intense at times, like in a cave, I could not see my own hand in front of my face. Despite that darkness, in every one of those memories I can see there were points of light.

A ray of kindness. A beam of joy. A laser-fine thread of hope that this was not all there was to be, that life held more. More promise. More to come.

Be shiny today. Don’t just do it for yourself, do it for her. She needs your glow.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2013 11:14 pm

    You could never do her memory disservice! She would have been so proud of you that day , proud of your strength, proud of your gracious, supporting friendship, proud of your beautiful pink dress and shiny smile. I was proud for her and continue to feel that way about you. No mother wants her child to walk in shadows but if they do and shine while doing so, it is amazing grace!

  2. Bethany Hall Fitelson permalink
    October 10, 2013 9:20 am

    I agree with Pat! I understand how it must have felt wrong to smile and dance, as if people would think you aren’t grieving. But anyone who knows you knows how much you were grieving (and still do) but that life is this odd mix of joy and sorrow that coexist. They just don’t often coexist in such close proximity as they did for you that weekend. Hugs to you (and to Heather, who I really miss after reading this!)

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  1. 31 Days to Shine: Choose to Shine, The End | Adelle Gabrielson

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