How many thousands of times have I said, "Once you're my bride, you're always my bride!" I've meant it, too, every single time. The brides that pass through these doors carry a bit of my heart away with them. The grooms are my heroes, knights in shining armor, sweeping their darlings into their arms and taking them off on great adventures, as they Happily Ever After.
Today, Wendy and Ever After met face to face. This woodland faerie sprite of a creature, joyful and loving, whisked into my life one October afternoon, and promised to love Blake for the rest of her life. And so she did. So she did.
And on this day, nearly a year after losing my own true love, I can offer no words of comfort to Blake. I can say comforting things - of course. And I can give excellent advice, things that have helped heal my own heart. I can say to him: find your gratitude, and live in it. Search hard and dig deep, for the things that she meant to you, and hold them dear. Be grateful. Be thankful. It will get you through. And later, maybe, those words will help. But not today. Today is for the heart-wrenching gut punch of grief. The relief to see her stop suffering. The guilt for the relief. And the overwhelming sorrow that drops you to your knees and makes you cry out in an unfamiliar voice. Today is for sadness, and while I can't help with that, I can empathize. Sometimes, that's enough.
For Blake: I can offer you this. I love the way she looked at you. The way she lit up when you came into the room. I saw her light up like that once when she was facing me, not you, and you came in behind her. She knew you were there, and just glowed with pleasure. It was the day she made us the turkey dinner at the Creek House. The day she taught me to cook the turkey upside down, to keep it moist. A day filled with laughter and newness and discovery and two couples head over heels in love with each other.
I've married a lot of couples. A lot! And they're all in love and they're all promising Happily Ever After, but not all of them share what you had. What you still have. I saw a kindness and a tenderness in you that I doubt you shared with the rest of the world. You didn't shine it on me, or on Larry. But you lavished it on Wendy. I saw it while you were in Maggie Valley. I saw it again, over and over, when we went on the cruise.
And I can give you one more thing: I don't know if this will fit into your world. It does in mine. I realized one day that just because Larry died, didn't mean I didn't love him any more. So. I'm a woman in love. And being in love is a joyous thing. Every so often, in those first moments, first days, first weeks after losing him, every so often, a little glimpse of the joy of loving him shone through. Be watchful for them. They will sustain you.
And always know that when you were gazing at her, your heart so full, she was doing the same. If she can, I'm sure she still is. I wish you peace, my friend.