Down the wishing well

The wishing won’t stop.

It started when I left the post office. After my third day in a row there, selecting the perfect stamp (bonsai), asking about weight and delivery dates, adding a second stamp (yet another bonsai), and finally parting with Mark’s pretty paper masterpieces, I pushed open the door, walked out onto the New York City sidewalk, and reached for my phone. All I wanted to do was call her and say, “Ma, can you believe it?” Only in her would I have been able to confide how vulnerable I felt: I’d just told 120 people that Mark and I were in love. I joked with Mark later, saying who knew the girl who blogs her innermost thoughts would ever feel exposed by a wedding invitation?

It happened again today, when I saw a picture on Facebook of a girl I knew in high school being walked down the aisle, flanked by her father and mother. I cursed my Jewish heritage for including both parents in the patriarchal tradition. If I were Catholic, my mother’s absence wouldn’t matter in that moment. But I know it does. With just my dad there (despite his wonderfulness!), the weight is uneven. Grief gives you an eternal limp.

If you’ve gone down the wishing well, you know what I know: It’s not good to wish for things that can’t come true.

So, I thought that instead of wishing to talk to my mother, I would write to her here over the next eight weeks leading up to the wedding. Here goes…

Dear Mom,

It’s your little girl. I’m getting married!

His name is Mark and he’s just lovely. Warm and funny and strong. Sometimes I worry you’d call him an “Eddie Haskell,” because he’s quite the charmer, particularly with the older ladies. But I think that would have only been your first impression. You would have grown to see what I see, and told me I’m very lucky, and to treasure him.

I’m trying on my wedding dress for the first time on Saturday, my 30th birthday. I’m calling it the best me-to-me present a gal could get: a preview of how she’ll look on one of the happiest days of her life. You will be with me, as you always are, since I honor you every day by wearing your engagement stone. (I hope you approve of the beautiful facelift Mark gave to it!)

I try hard to honor you in my everyday actions. Smile. Talk to strangers. Be there for your friends. Impact the lives of others. Be kind to those less fortunate. Notice people who are often overlooked. Laugh too loud. Laugh at yourself. Laugh when life is good. Laugh even when it’s not.

Sometimes the concept of “getting married” feels scary. Something that’s happening to someone else. Something I can’t possibly be old enough to do. Sometimes I’m surprised by who it is that fits me. Sometimes I’m scared of being this lucky – of my happiness being found out and taken away. Best to act nonchalant so they’ll skip over me. Maybe they knew how much we loved each other, Mom.

Next month it’ll be the 10 year anniversary of when you passed away. I can’t believe it’s been that long. If I heard someone else say that, I’d say, “Get over it, man!” I wish I could. But your loss is still that – a loss – especially as I near such a delicate day.

This morning, I accidentally slammed my underwear drawer shut, and the photo of you, me, and Daddy came crashing down, bringing with it some loose change and my brand new bottle of perfume (an early birthday gift from Laura – yes, 17 years later, she’s still my best friend). I felt I heard you say: “Stop wishing, Missy. Enough!”

I’ll try.