Here Without You

…as we drive ever closer to home, I can feel my lungs beginning to seize a bit and the pain in the pit of my stomach begin to come back.

This weekend will be the first major family event for my husband’s family without both my husband and my mother-in-law. In this case, it is a wedding for one of Brad’s sisters. A joyful occasion, to be sure.

And we are ensuring that both of them are with us, not only in spirit, but also through small touches in all we are doing that will keep them close. From specific beverage choices to the bride wearing her some of her late mother’s jewelry to pink belts to my daughters and I all wearing necklaces given to me by my late husband, neither of them will be far away.

These days, most of the time, life is easier for me. I can breathe again. And move again. And smile. And laugh. And even acknowledge the wonder of life that Brad would have enjoyed without a knife stabbing through my heart.

But as we drive ever closer to home, I can feel my lungs beginning to seize a bit and the pain in the pit of my stomach begin to come back. (It probably isn’t helping that we haven’t been home to my in-laws since my husband’s funeral.) This weekend will be beautiful and wonderful and probably terribly difficult.

All of the preparations also take me back fourteen years to Brad’s and my wedding and all the craziness that went with that. Like all weddings, especially those first, big ones that some of us were unhinged enough to pursue, it was all the insanity you can probably imagine. Yet the beautiful details do remain captured forever in my mind.

And one in particular that sticks was Brad’s dance with his mother, or should I say, the song that they danced to. It is a country song that was relatively popular in the years around then entitled, I Hope You Dance. These days, it hits me harder than any of Brad’s supposed “songs,” because it is Barbara (my mother-in-law’s) song. It is all she ever wished for any of us who are her children. Some of those dreams were fulfilled. Some not.

The best part, though?

Both Mimi and Brad couldn’t walk at the end of their earthly lives. And this weekend, I know they will be dancing up in heaven, joining all of us as we celebrate Brad’s big sister’s new marriage here on earth.

So yes, life always finds a way. It’s just that sometimes it doesn’t look the way we expect. Sometimes, we find ourselves without the ones we hoped to have forever. Somehow, though, we are still surrounded by those loved ones God always intended to put into our lives. And then we dance. And then we begin to dream again.

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