Smiles and Tears
Last weekend I drove out to Utah for the wedding of my niece. It doesn’t really matter that I’ve made this trip so many times in the past, or that even in the past year I’ve made it a half a dozen times. I get in the car and there is all that uninterrupted time to think… and what I end up thinking about is Tom’s death. I planned for this – we listened to music – new and loud – for about five hours straight. But then cell service finally went away and I had to pull out the personal music – and then the memories started flooding in. Every song reminded me of a time with Tom, and underneath that the thought of that day when I was doing the very same thing, not realizing that my life as I knew it was coming to an end and there was nothing I could do to stop that. And above that the thought that I was heading back into the past – to the years when we lived in Utah, when we were students and newly married and new parents – and all the memories we had made there. Does it go without saying that I did some crying??
Haley and I stayed with my sister and her family. They recently moved to a new home in Provo and it was fun to see their new place – and of course, it was a lot of fun to play with her kids. Their oldest gave up her room for us, and their youngest (about six months now) smiled on demand whenever we looked at him. And the two middle kids kept us entertained with their antics. We got to spend some time with Spencer and Kayla, which was so nice. I’m glad that Spencer is an independent, functioning adult, but that also means that I have to do without him. It’s the bittersweet part of being a mom – if you do your job reasonably well, your kids move on just when they are the most enjoyable!!
Liz and Francisco got married in the Salt Lake Temple – the same place Tom and I were married. The circumstances couldn’t be more different, however. This weekend the weather was warm, even hot. There were so many newly married couples jostling for prime photo opportunities on the temple grounds. Tom and I got married on a very cold December afternoon. There was so little light when we came out, that we only have a handful of pictures and I can still remember how frigidly cold it was. I was very excited for Liz – she has waited a long time to be married. Being with all of Tom’s brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews was wonderful and familiar. And then I was walking up the stairs and into a room that could have been the same room I was married in and suddenly I was overcome.
I’m very grateful for my sister-in-law, Joanna, because she stayed right with me, handing me tissues, a comforting hand on my shoulder, waiting while I pulled myself together. I kept thinking how much I wanted Tom to be there with me – how much he hoped that Liz would find someone to marry and how happy he surely was. Traditionally the man who performs the ceremony speaks words of counsel or instruction before the ceremony itself. In his instruction, the sealer spoke of witnesses – both the people here on earth and the angels who witness the promises made between bride and groom to each other and God. He gave as his opinion that probably the angels are members of our family who are watching and rejoicing with us from heaven. While I haven’t felt Tom’s presence since his death, I did feel that these words were a tender mercy from my Heavenly Father, reminding me that though I might not feel him around me, Tom is close by, still watching out for us as the father of our family and my partner.
So what’s the take away from this weekend? Well, I don’t think I will ever completely get away from finding myself in situations where my emotions overcome me. I’m not sure I even want to get to that place. My life married to Tom is a huge part of who I am today. While there is pain in realizing that this part of my life is over, there is also a lot of joy in remembering just how much good there was in it and how much good there still is because we shared our life together. And there is the ear infection … because, yeah, I’ve got one of those too…