Five weeks away from my wedding, we found out that my dad is going through kidney failure. He will soon be starting dialysis and beginning the process of searching for a transplant. There is no concrete plan, anything could happen, but overall it’s not looking good, and all we can do is hope for the best.
I’m a complete wreck of emotions right now. I live in New York, and all I want to do is move home to Georgia to take care of my family and enjoy the time we have left all together. Instead I’m up here, dealing with the daily pressures of work (at a job I love, but is extremely stressful), feeling alone in my grief, and getting increasingly nervous and fearful about the wedding.
For the first time in five years with my fiancee, part of me wishes I wasn’t with him, so I could make all these decisions about moving home and taking time off from work without having to worry about another person. On one hand, I love him with all my heart, but on the other, being alone gives more freedom to deal with a crisis like this in a more “selfish” way. For the record, he is amazingly supportive, I just feel guilty that my decisions affect him. Yes, I’m aware that is part of marriage—I’m just scared to start our marriage during such an unbalanced time.
The wedding is two weeks away. The invitations were sent before we got this news, and my father couldn’t be more excited about the event. I’m so thankful that it looks like Dad will be able to attend my wedding, but also dreading having a big, family wedding filled with having to be tactful as people try to talk to me about Dad.
I don’t know what is the right thing to do; I don’t even know what’s right for me. I just don’t know how I’m going to get through the next four weeks of everyone expecting me to gush with excitement, despite circumstances, and then dealing with the weekend-of. And then I’m scared to suddenly be going into a wedding with this fear about how this will affect my relationship.
First off, Melissa, I am deeply sorry for your circumstances and I truly hope that the transplant happens soon and goes well. We’ve covered this before, but this is important and it bears repeating.
My first suggestion is to go to a grief counselor. Yes, you still have your father, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not experiencing grief. Go now; if things get harder you’ll already have a support system there to help, and if they get easier then you’ll go a little less. You said that you’re alone in your grief, but do not let yourself be. Talk with your family, and, especially, talk with your fiance. How hurt and sad would you be if you knew he was hurting so badly and he didn’t let you in? He can’t fix it, but he can do the best he can. And, guess what? He’s been with you for five years and he’s about to get married to you. This is already his family, too. Maybe allowing him to air some of his own feelings about your father’s illness would do you both some good.
There’s nothing wrong with thinking about how things might be if you were single; it’s way more common than you’d think. But when your brain starts focusing on it, keep remembering that you are not the person you’d be if you were single. Thinking of the “if only’s” might make you feel more in control right now, but who knows if things would truly be better? Logistics might be more favorable for you to move and be closer to home, but maybe not; single Melissa might have had a chance to move out of the country and be even farther away. Hell, single Melissa might have suddenly turned into a jerk who only cares about shoes and teacup poodles and would not even be thinking about her family right now. So let’s keep the thoughts about what-might-have-been’s as daydreams to keep you occupied while waiting for the bus, and stop feeling guilty. Having someone to worry about—your father and your fiance—is a beautiful thing, despite how painful it is right now.
This sucks. It sucks in a big bad giant way and it’s not fair and I wish there was a way to change that, but there’s not. But I promise you, there is no balanced time in which to get married. You’re getting married so that you can help each other through hard times and so you can grin your faces off at each other during the good times. Do your damnedest to make sure that you’re not cowed by this. Your father’s illness is going to color the rest of your wedding planning, but it does not have remove your joy from it. That’s the last thing your family wants. Meg said it best:
So many of you have been writing me lately, and leaving comments, worrying about your wedding being frivolous or not something you deserve. And let me tell you now: you deserve it. But more than that, your community needs your wedding almost as much as you need your wedding. They need it for hope, they need it for joy. When people are throwing bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and engagement parties for you, when they buy you gifts and they ask if they can help you with anything, it’s simply because they want to participate in your joy. They want to lift you up, and in so doing, let themselves be lifted too. And your responsibility is simply to let them (and write thank you notes afterward) and then to pass it on. That’s it.
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). We’re not kidding. It brings us joy. What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!?