Everybody talks about the “firsts.” There’s the first Thanksgiving; the first Christmas, first birthday, Valentine’s day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the list goes on and on. I’m not going to say they get easier, but I’m learning to prepare myself and get through each one with a new kind of strength. This past Sunday I encountered a new “first.” My first “going out event” without Gregger. It was tough. A lot tougher than I expected it to be. To most this sounds like a simple task, but I had to get dressed up without my guy there to put the check marks in all the right boxes. Not that I don’t have confidence in my own taste, but, after 40 years with “the best dressed guy,” what can I say? Debonair, suave, and dashing, he just knew how to pull it together. So, I just sort of depended on his final “you look great!” Makeup, check; hair, check; shoes, check; belt, check; overall, check, check, and check! There were no checks, just a reflection in the mirror fighting to be strong.
I had to get in my car and drive alone. As soon as that first “love song” started playing, I cracked. I should know by now to switch to hard rock! But I swallowed, sniffed, and was determined not to mess up my makeup! I picked up my date – who better than my son, Ryan, to escort me. He was my rock and my support, as well as my friend for a difficult but beautiful evening.
As soon as we arrived the tears welled up AGAIN. Damn those tears! The memories flooded back so fast I couldn’t keep up with them. Our wedding, Ashley and Tyler’s wedding, the two of us holding hands sending quiet messages of love through our fingertips. Pictures…couples please. I’m not a couple anymore. Ryan and I took our pictures together, but my heart was beating so fast I thought it would pop. I’m not supposed to be doing this alone. I’m not supposed to be here without my Gregger by my side. I went to sit down, avoiding the eyes of all those I knew. I was ready to crack at any moment. I sat and peered at the mountains, the sun setting, and listened to the melodious sounds of something quietly playing in the background. I was in a different place. I was looking for Gregger. I was trying to reach him to tell him he should be sitting next to me. He should be holding my hand. We should be doing this together.
The ceremony began and it was breathtaking. The bride, groom, and decor were stunning but the inspiring message of love and commitment made my heart melt. I couldn’t help but cry. They were happy tears for a couple who were beginning a beautiful journey together and sad tears for a journey that ended far too soon. I learned to stand alone that night. I cried when they called “couples only” on the floor and counted down the anniversaries. We would have been standing almost until the end. But then I danced. I smiled. I even laughed. I made it through another “first.” I did what I thought was “the impossible” because I had been through what I knew was the “unimaginable.”