At one point my new friends commented, 'could you imagine if you knew everything that would be ahead of you on your wedding day? It's such a crazy journey' We smiled knowingly at each other and I responded, 'I'd still do it all over again.'
I watched these couples, young and old, hold each other on the dance floor and, sometimes expertly sometimes off beat, enjoy their closeness and their tenderness.
My husband and I dance like that at home sometimes. Not in public. Our wedding was the last time we danced like that in public. For a few brief songs we jumped up and down, held each other close, and then slipped off the dance floor quietly. I suddenly realized, watching these dancers, that I not only missed my husband tonight, I was grieving a part of life that wasn't ours.
You see, my husband has PTSD and severe anxiety. It manifests itself differently as the years go by but one thing remains true: the older he gets, the harder it has gotten. He's also gotten more help recently which has made a big difference in his day to day, and thus in ours. But looking around the room tonight I saw a mass of triggers that would have made my other half's attendance impossible: A dark large room filled with people, incredibly loud music, conversations that were hard to hear and overlapped with others all around you resulting in a noisy din where you just smiled and nodded while catching every other word, silverware dropping suddenly, multiple doorways but only one actual exit far across the room. After seven years of practice I can tell when a room will be bad news. I can pick out these and other triggers ahead of time. But there are always ones I don't catch, or new ones that come out of nowhere, or ones that he gets control of that are no longer on the list to look out for. And I know if it's tiring for me to stay on top of, it's exhausting for him.
So dancing in a room filled with people at a party? That isn't in the cards for us. And I want so badly to be able to hold onto him and show the whole world, or at least the whole room, how much I love this man; how we fit together so perfectly. I am content to settle for our living room, and I would swoon at a quiet street side dance. But I am grieving the way I thought we would be. I am grieving a life I pictured on our wedding day, one that didn't include chronic illness, health problems, daily management of symptoms and stress. Because while you enter into life together knowing all of those are possibilities and you are there for it, on that beautiful first day those realities seem so unlikely as you are wrapped in your own personal fairy tale. But on our wedding day, I married someone I would rather spend a thousand of our realities with than one single fairy tale without.