Here it is: the big, bad “D” word I’ve been avoiding in my writing:
Fourteen years ago yesterday I was a real princess, a glowing bride in the most beautiful formal ceremony of my life. My mother officiated. I started down the aisle and actually saw– in reality– the vision I had seen months earlier when I slipped into my wedding dress for the first time at Kleinfeld’s in Brooklyn and turned to face the mirror. A dear friend who years later would make her debut at the Metropolitan Opera graced us with her amazing voice, singing the Ave Maria. Family members read poems, our friends stood with us to witness. The weather was perfect, the day was long and fun and extended well into the night. Everyone laughed, cried, danced and celebrated. It was all perfect and I felt a joy and spiritual peace about the world and the start of my new married life.
People cheered us on that day because they loved us and they knew– beyond a shadow of a doubt– that we would make it. If any couple could overcome any obstacle, could stick together through any storm, it was us.
… beyond a *shadow of a doubt* …
Our 99.9% “guarantee” on a happy life which our friends predicted that day did not include autism. Or extreme challenges. Or changes so overwhelming that we could not have possibly imagined them in any way, shape or form because we had no clue what it could be like to live in Holland—we were happily headed for Italy and we were confident. Fast forward fourteen years…
The night before last after Alex was asleep, I sat down on the hard wood coffee table in the darkened living room to close my eyes for a few minutes and let in the reality of where my life had gone. The bright light in the foyer shone down on the curtains on the front door and crept toward where I sat, just out of reach of it. I took a deep breath and felt my feet on the ground, the table supporting my weight.
“This is what it is, fourteen years later. Everything has changed, and Mom is gone.”
Soundless, warm tears welled up and meandered down my cheeks. I let it in a little more, and breathed through it as if I were softening into a yoga pose, feeling that hurt, but knowing it was somehow a good pain.
I opened my eyes and looked toward the door. At the bottom of the old, crinkled curtains, the light cast tiny shadows in the folds. The shadows appeared to form letters across the edge of the fabric, as if someone had written in pencil in a tall, thin, fancy font.
I closed my eyes again and mentally walked through the house, imagining how it had once been and what I had loved about it. I felt the joy of caring for my home, my family, my married life. I felt the pain and disappointment at the loss of those dreams. More tears. But this time with resignation. Many times in the last few years I had come to a crossroads. There was always an answer, a new direction to take. Many leaps, always a net to catch me.
So what now? I opened my eyes again and focused on the curtain. What were those letters anyway? Could I read them? Bit by bit, I followed the penciled shadows across.
S.. t.. a.. r.. t O.. v.. e.. r