Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Thoughts surrounding my Mom's 11 year death anniversary.
December 19, 2020
Taylor Swift has always been a Wilson family staple, ever since I can remember. When I was 19 my sister, Fallon and I had the opportunity to meet her at a pre-concert meet and greet with Rascal Flatts. Six years later, Fallon was invited to her Rhode Island house for a 1989 secret session event. There she shared with Taylor the comfort her music provided our family when our mom passed away. Fallon and as a result our family clung onto her fearless mantra, approaching our grief head on, knowing that all we could do was “dance in a storm, in [our] best dress, Fearless.” Throughout all our ups and downs, it seemed Taylor’s music was there for us at exactly the right time.
A week ago, when her second album of 2020, Evermore was released, I found myself in awe of how much it spoke to the feelings that surrounded this year. Not only has this year been filled with a national pandemic, for me and my now husband, it was filled with wedding planning, the purchasing of our first home, changing wedding venues, downsizing our guest list, all while keeping the safety of our family and friends in the forefront of our minds.
For some brides, they’ve envisioned their wedding day since they were little girls, but I was never that girl. I hoped that one day I would get married, but I didn’t fantasize about what my dress was going to look like or where the church would be. Despite my lack of planning, I never envisioned that day, would be one that didn’t include my Mom.
For those that have lost a parent, not having your parent present for your biggest life events, isn’t something you would ever wish on your worst enemy. Despite having eleven years to prepare, I never fully comprehended what my wedding day would be like without my mom. Letting my mind go there, was something that was too difficult to comprehend. Instead when the time came, I just wanted to focus on our wedding plans and make sure that despite all the changes, everything would fall into place.
Now, almost three months later, I’ve had the chance to reflect on our wedding day and I realize that more and more of Taylor’s lyrics ring true: “What died didn’t stay dead. What died didn’t stay dead. You’re alive, so alive.” While I didn’t allow myself to linger on my mom’s absence, I realize that she was anything but absent:
She was alive in the bouquet I carried, after my sisters pinned a piece of her wedding dress around the stems.
She was alive in her sister that attended the celebration and is her spitting image.
She was alive during my father daughter dance to Elton John’s “Blue Eyes,” the song my parents gifted me the day I was born.
She was alive in her handwritten tattoo, hidden under my dress, as a silent reminder of her love and support.
She was alive in our wedding cake topper, which was passed down from my mom’s parents, to my parents, to us.
She was brought to life in my sister’s Maids of Honor speech, which was a poetic blend of laughter, tears and grace.
She was alive in all the family and friends that like her, couldn’t attend in person, but were with us in spirit, sending us love and support from afar.
This year has been a lot of things. For me it’s been a year of blessings and perspective as we push through all the fog and uncertainty. 2020 has reminded many that we’ll never be fully prepared when our loved ones pass, but it’s up to us to keep them alive. The rollercoaster of grief is never done. It might be resting at the bottom of a hill, but sooner or later the cart starts moving and those emotions come back again.
I’ve learned that remembering those that have passed is both difficult and heart wrenching, but it’s also cathartic and necessary. While it can be easy to become stagnant in one's grief I think it’s important to remember that our loved ones would want us to move forward. They want us to fall in love and marry our person, even if they can’t be there to stand by our side. While grief is sad and difficult, it doesn’t mean you can’t also feel love and happiness. As Taylor sings, “there’ll be happiness after you, but there was happiness because of you too. Both of those things can be true. There is happiness.”
I am so thankful to all my beautiful family members that made sure my Mom was alive and present during our wedding day. While I’m not sure what next year will bring, I know that she’s still all around, reminding me to be happy, as I figure it all out.