Sarah and I are planning our wedding, taking place next year. Vaguely, it is going to be somewhat informal, in the sense that the traditional rehearsal, church, event hall, catering, DJ, etc are either going to not be a part of it, or otherwise substituted in a more unique way.
I’ve helped plan a wedding before. 14 years ago, Megan and I were “locked in” so to speak, by May. Our wedding was in August, and everything was booked, arranged, planned, and scripted. Invitations were not only sent out, but most RSVPs had been received. We had spent 6 months already getting everything in order. (Because of her health situation, all of it was somewhat “accelerated” from the traditional year of planning).
The point is, I’ve personally done this before. Most widows have. I have the benefit of a happy memory of doing half the work of planning a wedding, followed by a happy memory of nine years after the fact.
Sarah doesn’t quite have that leg up. She, unfortunately, never got to sit down with Drew and begin planning their day. She may have had daydreams about it throughout her life. She may have even specifically talked with him about things she wanted should the time come to get married, but ultimately, it wasn’t “official”.
I hate that.
I hate that we can’t incorporate anything she planned WITH Drew into our own wedding. Something, anything that they didn’t quite get to have, that our own relationship can finally provide. Yes, the proposal itself was one of those things, but to me, the marriage and wedding itself is even more important.
Granted, our wedding, technically, is about us and only us. Of course, the memories of Megan and Drew will be a very large part of our wedding day. Maybe their pictures are at whatever “altar” we take our vows at. Perhaps the cake toppers will be a nod to them in some way. Maybe the songs that were significant to Sarah and Drew, and Megan and I will be given a place of importance in the festivities that occur afterwards.
Who knows, at this point? We’re still over a year away from that day, and we seemingly have all the time we need to plan things. We’ve got a “baked in” reminder of Megan that will be present, in Shelby. We actually need to purposefully contemplate how Drew will be present. (This is not to get all philosophical and say “he’ll be there in spirit”...I’m talking about a tangible object that represents his role in all of this).
In a sense, Megan and I had a version of this at our own wedding, sprung upon us 3 days prior, when her brother died. We hastily did the best we could in incorporating him into our day, but realistically, we didn’t have the time to rearrange or plan any changes.
There probably won’t be a helicopter on the cake, at least without also having 65 roses. We likely will be walking a fine line between celebrating our own day, remembering them, and avoiding holding a second funeral for each of them. We don’t want to do that, but at the same time, Drew and Megan are indeed the persons that got us here.
I’ve started to wonder how this all works. I’m fairly certain that the vast majority of divorcees don’t really want to incorporate anything from their ex-spouses’ wedding days. They don’t put pictures of them around the event or remind themselves purposefully that they were once married before. For the most part, exes are not even invited to the wedding, or even told it’s happening in many cases.
But Megan is not my “ex”. She’s not my “first wife”, and she didn’t “leave me”. We never “broke up” and we didn’t “take a break”. We were married. Megan was, and is, until next year, my wife. She’ll have to take on some new title next summer, but I’m not sure what that is just yet.
It’s much the same for Sarah and Drew. Sure, I’ve never heard her call Drew her “husband”, because technically, he wasn’t, and I don’t think she feels that way. But he was going to be. A few months later, and she would be in the exact same situation as I. She’s still a widow, regardless.
For some reason, I haven’t even thought to ask if she’s changed Drew’s “title”. He was, is, and always has been her “fiance”, since the day we met. But I’m ALSO her fiance. I dunno, maybe she hasn’t given it much thought. To be fair, I haven’t either, but in the sheer act of writing this post, I now wonder...remind me to ask her later.
In any case, though Sarah and I will be husband and wife in the near future, we will also, always, be a widow and widower. It’s irrelevant what our titles for Megan and Drew are, or will be. I’m sure they don’t care all that much, at this point. They got to have their fun, and enjoy their own respective titles while they held them, and whatever they were upon the day they died, they get to keep. I will always be “Megan’s Husband” and Sarah will always be “Drew’s Fiance”. Our own titles don’t change or rescind.
We, happily, simply get to add titles.