I knew from day one when I lost my mom that specific occasions would arise in my life that I would inevitably miss having a mother there for. The two most prominent times would be getting married and having kids. I was hesitant about them from the beginning. It was comforting knowing I had my dear friend Rebecca to relate to when it came to those topics.
The thought of marriage and having kids would make me sad instead of happy because my mom wouldn’t get to be a part of those exciting events. She wouldn’t be there to get advice from, and she wouldn’t be there to sit next to my dad when the wedding day came. I stopped picturing those things happening. I didn’t spend time dreaming about the future in those ways because it was too painful. I knew that before my mom passed away, I wanted to get married at some point; but after she passed away, those thoughts were blocked and weren’t something I enjoyed pondering.
Ultimately, I was grieving the loss of the future. What I once pictured nonchalantly wasn’t possible anymore. For someone who loves people, doesn’t get tired of being around people, and doesn’t like being alone, it’s unusual that my goal was to avoid relationships as long as possible. That was until someone crossed my path who was worth the journey of crossing the emotional, unavoidable bridge to marriage and more healing. Kyle, my husband, was and is that person.
At some point, in the back of my head, I told myself (and the Lord) that if I were to get married, I wanted it to be with someone who knew me before my mom passed away. I wanted the person to know what I was like before loss.
Mine and Kyle’s paths crossed in college of spring 2009. Since our campus was small, we naturally became friends. Because we were both musicians, that brought us into the same smaller circle of friends. It is still extremely crazy to me that I met Kyle, the person I would spend the rest of my life with, right before the season that made me feel like my life was over.
I met him two months before I lost my mom. Kyle and I started dating in my senior year of college, a time of contemplating the future, enjoying living in close quarters with some of my best friends, and avoiding serious relationships.
I knew if I were in a serious relationship, it would lead to marriage, and I wasn’t ready to process all of that. Therefore, I wasn’t seeking out a relationship when I met Kyle, but after a couple of years of going our separate ways—he in Oklahoma, me in San Dimas—our worlds came back together when I sang at his sister’s wedding in spring 2011. There was chemistry, hours of Skyping, lots of airplane tickets, playing guitar, and singing. We somehow managed long distance.
The very first time Kyle mentioned that he could see himself with me for the rest of his life, I was filled with joy and terrified of the future! My heart wanted to run. This is nice, but it’s too close to home. I want to tell you the same thing, but I don’t want to cross that bridge. I knew what lay ahead of me emotionally (if our relationship was heading toward marriage), and I wanted that—I knew I did, but I never actually visualized myself walking into that season.
When Kyle proposed with my mom’s ring (incredibly special), it was a matter of “Do I want to move forward or not?” Do I want to move forward and step into a beautiful yet emotionally uncomfortable season? Or do I want to stay stuck because of fear? Do I want to let fear control my life? I could say no and never get married, or I could say yes, knowing Kyle was good for me. It was a healthy and adventurous choice.
What if the new season on the other side of the bridge is worth going through the uncomfortable, awkward, and painful times that are inevitably ahead?
When describing what being engaged was like for a motherless daughter, I would say it is like standing on one side of a bridge while staring at my fears in the face. All while they are hanging out between me and the other side where the new season of healing was waiting.
Opening oneself up toward healing is incredibly vulnerable and takes determination. It is a choice. You know when you hurt your ribs and everyone says that it will actually hurt worse before it gets better? That’s what crossing the bridge from engagement to marriage is like. It is a bridge to more healing, hope, and wholeness. Hanging onto knowing where I wanted to be and persevering through the dreaded in-between. I only made it because of whom the Lord provided as the handrails to my bridge: my dad and the amazing guy that Kyle is.
Engagement was a door to many healing conversations with friends, family, and my dad. It created a space and gave permission for everyone to reflect, miss, and reminisce about my mom collectively. You can’t make, plan, or create those kinds of intimate moments. There were some beautiful times of pure joy and laughter, and some where we all just hugged each other and grieved, acknowledging that Mom would have loved to have seen the wedding day.
What’s on the other side of your bridge? What fears are keeping you from crossing it?