I’ve been in Texas on vacation for a few weeks, hence my absence here. I have however been waiting to share something very special that happened while we were down there. If you’re new here, I lost my fiance Drew 7 years ago in a crash. I am now engaged to a widower, Mike, and we have this new little blended family together with his daughter Shelby. When we go back to Texas for visits, we are usually visiting all of my friends and also, Drew’s family. We stay with them for usually half the trip. In fact, we sleep in Drew's bedroom, which weirdly enough isn't ever weird at all.
Since day one they have loved me as part of their own family. The week after Drew died, his mom and I were sitting together hugging and crying and she told me that when the day comes that I am with someone new, she would be honored to be the Mother of the Bride. Yeah, I cried a lot.
Since I lost my own mom when I was nine, these words have continued to be some of the most memorable of my life. They told me so much about the heart of this woman, who was enduring the worst shock and pain of losing her son - her firstborn - only a week before. It told me that she felt the same way I did, that she and I were each other’s connection to him and we were never letting that go. Over time, it has grown into so much more.
It is no surprise then, that when Mike proposed to me (At Drew's parents' house on Christmas Eve, which I wrote about here), she was the one and only person I could imagine having with me to go dress shopping. So, while Mike, Shelby and I were down in Texas, Drew’s mom and I went out one afternoon together to go wedding dress shopping. We thought initially we’d just see what’s out there, not expecting to find THE one. What unfolded was one of the most beautifully bittersweet and incredibly surreal moments of my life.
So there I am, standing in wedding dresses, with her by my side. We both know the thing that doesn’t need to be said… that this isn’t how it was planned to go. And we both know, this is still the most perfect way that it could go if things had to change. We both know in fact, that this is how it is now meant to go. This this new person I am marrying was chosen by her son. Not everyone believes in that stuff, but we do.
What most people don’t know is that the very first time she took me shopping for a dress wasn’t for a wedding… it was for Drew’s funeral. I had left nearly everything behind in Dallas when we got the phonecall about his accident - so I had no clothes for the funeral. She took me shopping for what then was an equally beautiful experience together - even if for a very different and painful reason. I still remember us crying in the middle of the store together and hugging, as if it happened yesterday.
Seven years later, here we are, buying a wedding dress. Imagining this whole new chapter unfolding in a way we didn't plan for. Crying for maybe the 500th time together, for a whole mixture of reasons, but mostly, for the good reasons.
To be there with her - the one woman who understands the many complexities of this entire journey more than anyone. The person I have gone through the fire with more deeply than anyone. I think the whole history of our story flashed through me as we tried on dresses. Those first debilitating weeks. Making it through the first Christmas without him, together, with large amounts of wine and dark humor. Distracting ourselves each weekend with retail therapy just to get by. Going to psychic mediums together and discovering that there was still a way to connect to him, and exploring that entire new world together with tears and awe and laughter.
As we began to heal, taking art classes together and trips together and still taking trips together even after I have moved far far away. It seems sometimes that we’ve had a lifetime together already for all the living, loving, crying and laughing we have shared. There is so much fullness there. And I can say confidently that this one relationship with this one woman has hugely influenced my life for the better. There are times that we both very much believe that the gift her son gave us when he died, was this incredibly special new relationship with each other. I will always believe that.
We are two women who have been broken and helped one another put the pieces back together into new versions of ourselves. Two women who have kept his memory alive and his spirit with us, and have helped each other navigate the darkness as well as celebrating the light. Two women who will have a bond forever because of him.
I struggle to even write about this, because it’s hard to find words for how meaningful this relationship is to me. And for how in awe I am of how this all has unfolded. It humbles me how so much beautiful and big love could come out of so much pain. It reminds me to be grateful for every single thing in life - all of it - even the hardest stuff.
Seven years ago, I could have never known we’d be standing here, doing this very thing. That my first fiance’s mom would be helping me buy the dress to marry my second fiance. I couldn’t have even imagined ever having a second fiance to begin with back then.
I could have never known that any of this was going to unfold in my life back then. But what I do know now, is that Drew is still at the heart of it all. In fact, the photo we took together when we found THE dress - she is holding the tiny yellow helicopter that represents Drew - as he was a pilot. We each have one, and take them everywhere we go. And on this day, the little helicopter was there with us, to pick out the dress for one of the biggest days of my life yet to come. He is still woven into the fabric of my life, in a completely big way. He is, just as Mike’s wife Megan is, a part of our family, and always will be.