"It is was the best of times, it was the worst of times"...
Charles Dickens really hit this one on the head when he penned this now famous line in The Tale of Two Cities. This quote perfectly describes what I am experiencing as a blushing yet grief stricken bride to be. Unlike my other blog postings this is being written in real time which means by the time you get to read it, it will be a distant memory for me ( 74 days, 20 hours, 6 minutes and 26 seconds old according to my wedding countdown app). I also want to be completely transparent and let you know that NO ONE has passed away however, I am experiencing a tremendous amount of grief. I am writing this with the intentions that readers everywhere will find comfort that they are not alone in their journeys of transition of all kinds and as a journal to capture my feelings and emotions as I capture in words one of the most important and meaningful voluntary transitions of my life.
Making A List & Checking It Twice
Today is December 9th, 2021. We are just two weeks away from Christmas and instead of the normal holiday cheer that I normally experience this time of year I am feverishly planning my wedding. Nothing about me or my life is traditional and in true fashion neither was my engagement. My love popped the question on our 3rd date and we officially decided to get married and have a wedding 90 days after making our engagement official.
As I recently learned, one of the most important parts of planning a wedding is deciding who you want to share your special moment and day with. Besides the immediate grief we experienced upon realizing that some of our nearest and dearest loved ones would not be able to attend because they have passed on we quickly learned that this is NOT an easy task and COVID-19 has further complicated this process. I have never been the girl who wanted one of those big fairytale weddings BUT when the time came to sit down and make our guest list my hearts desire was to write every person I have ever come in contact with. Being that my fiancé and I were limited to 25 guest each this is literally impossible. Sitting with the thought of having to choose only 25 people out of groups of family, friends, and collages who mean so much to me seems like an impossible task.
The process of making my guest list has been deeply necessary, extremely cathartic and what some may call a form of spiritual cleansing. I created a spreadsheet and listed every single person that I could think of. Sitting down and sifting through the names of those that have contributed to my life in various meaningful ways while taking inventory and evaluating the current state of relationships caused me to dig deep and think beyond my guest list. I was forced to ask myself 3 very difficult questions about each person on the list who at some point in my life meant so very much to me:
1. Is this person in my life because of a connection we had in the past that I am holding onto? Or, are we mutually feeding this relationship?
2. How is this persons presence currently reflected in my life? How is my presence reflected in theirs?
3. Do I truly wish to cultivate this relationship moving forward? Or is it time for it to die?
90% of the people on that list still mean the world to me and by no means am I saying that this is how we made decisions for who would and would not be invited. What this process did do however was force me to look at who I have become and how I have grown and outgrown relationships and some of the people in my life. This process also filled my heart with so much gratitude for the relationships that will move forward with me but unfortunately, still not everyone made the guest list.
Family members and close friends that I adore, one of my dearest loved ones from my college years whom I have shared many laughs, tears and fun with whom I hadn't seen in nearly 12 years and spoken to only 2-3x outside of social media along with another friend who invites me to each and every function that he and his family have did not make my list. This was heart breaking for me and what made it even worse was having to tell them that I could not include them in our celebration of love. I literally felt sick to the pit of my stomach with every telephone and text conversation.
Looking back (a few days later) I have more peace about things. Though these conversations were very difficult and challenged every fiber of my people pleasing being BUT were necessary. Moving forward into this marriage journey there are only two real opinions that matter. Mine and my husband to be. I am going to have to disappoint others with the choices we make as a team and perhaps even make situations uncomfortable when I choose what is right for my family and marital relationship that others don't understand. Overall, this experience has made me even more grateful for the growth that I am experiencing and helping me to become what I hope will be a good wife.
Oh, and as far as the list goes, we decided to go with immediate family and our closest friends. Me coming from a huge family on both sides made this extremely easy in the end. Wouldn't it have been so much easier to start off with this plan? LOL!
Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our contact page.