Two years ago, I became a widow after my husband committed suicide. My late husband and I had a Justice of the Peace ceremony while I was pregnant, and we were planning the wedding we intended to have, once our son was old enough to remember it and be involved.
Today, I'm planning a wedding with my high school sweetheart, who I reunited with a little over a year ago. When thoughts of my two weddings overlap, it becomes cause for grief, not joy.
I get asked a million painful, well-meaning questions:
“Is your fiancé going to adopt your son?” No, he is my late husband's son, and that won't change until or unless my son is old enough to choose that for himself.
“Are you going to wear white?” Yes, I am. No, I don't have to explain why to you.
“Don't you think it's too soon?” No, but now I'm wondering if you do…
There are the moments that feel like betrayal:
Is it still okay to have a wildflower bouquet with my fiancé, even though it's what my late husband and I had discussed doing?
How do I show that I'm not trying to replace my son's father, but still involve my son in my wedding to the man who's stepped in and been a dad to him for the last year?
It's hard not to compare them:
My late husband wanted to wear a kilt in his clan's tartan and wanted our son to do so, too. My fiancé hates dressing up with a passion and keeps asking if we can get married in blue jeans.
Some nights, I wake up at 3 a.m. wondering how this happened, how I got to be where I am, and if it's worth it. I love my fiancé. I've loved him since I was a teenager, and even when my husband was alive, I wondered about him. Now, as I plan my wedding with my fiancé, I can't help but remember my late husband, miss him, and still love him.
Traditional etiquette says that if a widow remarries, her wedding should be a quiet affair in respect to her husband's memory. Well, my husband made the choice to not be there to marry me in a real wedding, and regardless of how much I miss him, I'll be damned if I'll deny myself one with my fiancé because of an outdated sense of ownership.
With the help of sympathetic and creative loved ones, so far I've been able to find compromises that work for everyone… but it's still hard.