One year ago

It was one year ago that my husband Oren and I said “I Do”. It was an amazing evening filled with family, laughter, happiness, romance, and of course, love! Our night went as planned, and I could not have imagined the wedding any better.

Oren and I just celebrated our one year anniversary. We went back to the hotel where we got married and spent a romantic evening catching the show “Kinky Boots” and eating at the best restaurant in Ohio, which happens to be in the hotel. The show was so good, and the dinner was phenomenal. O and I have been told we have a spark to our relationship, but to be careful because that sparks drifts off with time. However, if our one year anniversary was any indication of what our future holds, I am going to say it looks pretty damn good and that spark is not going anywhere!

The wedding process was very difficult for me. I had women here and there who were assisting me with the wedding, but as I mentioned in basically every single post, it did not come close to having my mom be there with me through the process. I thought on the day of the wedding I would be super depressed about her not being there. And while I woke up with her on my mind that morning, I also woke up with many exciting things on my mind that morning! She was there beside me the whole day, in my thoughts, and it did not make me feel sad or mad. I was so overcome with joy that I was marrying O, that the absence of her was not ideal, but surprisingly, it did not put a damper on my wedding day. And thank goodness! I was living in fear for nearly 14 months that my whole wedding day would be ruined because I could not get over the fact she was not there. Do not get me wrong, the day was not easy breezy without emotions (my Dad and I had a nice cry with how much we wished she was there, the Rabbi spoke beautifully about her and about how she was with me, through me…etc.) but overall, I was so happy to start the rest of my life by marrying my best friend and the most amazing man, that fact took over everything else.. and I believe that is exactly the way she would have wanted that.

The past year as a wife has been much different than the many years of not being a wife… I graduated from my Master’s program (hey!) and I landed a position at a great organization doing development work. I am back in my home, Cincinnati, full time, and O and I have rented a beautiful house. We are looking to buy this year, which is super exciting, scary, crazy, nerve wrecking… you get the idea. I am going through a lot of emotions. 2015 was a year of crazy milestones and changes. And it continued on without my Mom. Through all this, I learned that being a motherless bride is not where all the pain stops. I bet I could have told you that before, but I guess now is the first time I am presenting it somewhere other than my own thoughts.

I am realizing that just because I am no longer a motherless bride, my motherless sadness is ever present. Every day I go through many things where I find myself wondering what advice my mother would give, or what she went through in her newlywed years…? I have so many questions, and when I open myself to friends they say “Would she know the answer to that?” or, “It’s different for everyone else, so what may have been true for her is not true for you”. I often wonder if they are uncomfortable and just tell me something easy, or if this is what they really think.

Buying a house is a big deal and for me a huge commitment. Though I never second guessed marrying Oren, this commitment feels 10X crazier than getting married. It is things such as this adventure of buying house in which I would like to ask my Mom a million questions. I have others, but there is nothing like Mom’s advice, or opinion. Instead, I have to guess what she would say to me, which is not fun at all. Who is to say that my guesses would be her opinions? I am at a loss.

Any motherless wives out there that want to give advice about how they get through the huge milestones without the input of Mom?

I will continue to ask my pendulum if my decisions are correct….. At least the Universe helps guide me.

Sarah

My Mother’s Wedding Gift

A truly amazing thing happened last week. O and I decided we wanted to exchange some gifts that we received duplicates of. We do not know how it happened, but it did, and we wanted to take the opportunity before the wedding to exchange the gifts, so we did not have to worry about it after the wedding!

Our first stop was to a local store in Cincinnati. As I pulled up, O asked if he could stay in the car. I said no, explaining that I wanted his help to pick out the new gift we were getting. O agreed and walked into a store that I swore had nothing in it that he would be interested in. As I waited in line, O decided to walk around and see what the store had to offer. In it, he found the only thing that could possibly be interesting to him; a book containing all the maps of National Parks in America.

Back story: O and I love adventure. Even more, we love to hike. We made a pact together to try and make it to every National Park in America. Instead of taking family vacations to the same beach every year, O and I want our kids to grow up loving hiking, camping, and exploring as much as we do. We want our kids to see Earth’s beauty through National Parks. It is a tradition we already have in the works and one that we will continue the rest of our lives together.

Bringing it back to the store in Cincinnati. O brings the book to me and announces how we HAVE to have the book. I looked at the book and then him with excitement and agreed that we would not leave the store that day without it. I am next in line and the woman asks how she can help me. I explain the situation about the gifts and she reveals it is no problem to grant my request. She asks for my last name to pull up my registry… I spell it out very carefully, as usually people misspell it. When the computer pulls up my last name, she reads out “Ellen?”. My heart stopped. It was bizarre to hear someone say my mom’s name. It is not often that I hear her name these days…

I correct her and tell her my name, Sarah. She explains how the only name that came up in the computer system was my mothers. She goes on and says how my mom also has store credit from 2006, the year she passed away. I was floored. I had been in the store at least 10 times since my mother’s passing. I have registered there, where store employees took down my name. However, it was not until this day that a connection was made that in 2006 my mom had returned something to receive store credit, only having her life end too soon for her to use it.

I explained the situation to the clerk and requested to use my mother’s store credit, as I knew she would not be using it. In addition, I would rather use what belongs to my mom than let the store have it. The woman agreed to give me my mom’s store credit. I asked “How much is the store credit for?” where she answered “$60”. I looked at O, who was present the whole conversation and just as stunned as me, and asked him how much the book was. He looked down and looked back up with a huge smile and revealed that it was $60. O and I tried to keep our excitement down, but in the moment we realized what was happening. My mom’s soul was present. She was there, in the store with us, giving us this gift. It was the most magical moment of this whole wedding process, and it was even more magical because O was there to experience it with me. We left the store, and got in the car where I broke down realizing that my mom had just bought O and me the best wedding gift we could have asked for.

A bittersweet symphony

Since the last time I wrote (which has been a while, my apologies) a lot has happened in my life, and the life of my family.

Wedding details:
I had my Bachelorette party in New Orleans in October. It was a beautiful time of the year to go, the weather was nice and warm, a nice break from dreary Ohio. Also, I was surrounded by the love of my best friends and family. The weekend was perfect and the only thing I wish I could have changed would be to make it last longer. I had both my bridal showers which were gorgeous and filled with love. However, with the wedding bliss there was also a lot of sadness.

My Aunt Susie, my mother’s only sister, was in and out of the hospital due to heart complications. Before long, it was discovered that she was carrying a rare and mysterious heart disease. Our family was hopeful for a recovery, though we all understood it would not be easy, especially on her. After multiple surgeries that didn’t take, she passed away surrounded by her amazing children, devoted husband, and of course, her two brothers, brother-in-law, and nieces and nephew. I do not want to dwell on that time, as it is something I would not be upset with if I forgot bits and pieces. Like my Mom, I do not want to remember my aunt during her weak times, rather I want to remember her when she was a strong woman, which was the majority of her life.

When my Mom passed away eight years ago, my aunt came to me and hugged me so tight. I remember the moment, the place, even the time of the day this happened. She looked at me and said “I am your surrogate mother, I will be here.” To remember that moment now and it fills my eyes with tears and my heart with sadness. My Aunt Susie and I are both very strong women. So much that when she would give me advice, I would tell her I had it under control and later I would usually take her advice. (For example, she did not like my bolero for my dress, but I told her no way I would change it. I have since decided to not wear the bolero on my wedding day. She was right). In many ways, I was treated like a third daughter. She did not care if I would be upset by her advice, she gave it to me because she thought that was the best thing for me. We did not talk every day, or every week, but when we did talk she would call me and say “Hi Sweetie, what’s going on?” and we would chat about my life, school, O, and most recently the wedding.

My aunt was looking forward to my wedding, and I was looking forward to her being there for me. She was in charge of the gematria, which is adding the numbers of the hebrew alphabet to find meaning in every simcha. She will no longer be able to provide that tradition. As she was in the hospital, she was discussing with others what outfit she was going to wear, and how excited she was. I am my mother’s only daughter, and she knew how important this wedding would have been to my mom. She knew my mom would have taken over and made it the most amazing wedding for me, her little girl. And my aunt wanted to help to make that special in honor of her sister.

In June my aunt called me and asked if I could go to lunch. We met at Parker’s restaurant and talked about everything I still had to do for the wedding. She gave me her advice and then took me on a spontaneous registry spree. We went to Sterling Cut Glass and we registered there. I had no idea what I was doing so I leaned on her to take the lead. She helped me realize what is important to register for and what you should skip. Though I finished registering with the help of my aunt Lisa, my aunt Susie gave me the direction I needed to start it all. Then we made plans to go see my dress that had just come in. We made it a girls day, brought my grandma, cousins Alyce and Layla, and all went down to the bridal salon. We tried on the dress and my aunt let me have a photoshoot with her cell phone. She loved my dress and kept saying over and over “your mother would have just loved this”. I know she was right, because if anyone knew my mother, it was my aunt Susie.

My mom and aunt were best friends. Their relationship made me jealous. I do not have a sister and their tight bond made me long for one. They would laugh for hours and no one would ever know what they were laughing about. They loved taking family vacations together, where they could spend their days together, gossiping, and enjoying the presence of one another. They spoke on the phone more times in a day than could be recorded. Their bond was unbreakable, even when my mom died. My aunt had a difficult time talking about my mom with me, for she could not handle the loss of her baby sister. When she did talk about her though, there was so much pride and love, you could feel it in your bones.

Getting married without my mom was going to be the hardest thing I had ever done. Now, having to get married exactly 2 months after the loss of my aunt, makes me feel so lost. I find myself asking how it is possible to be happy during these times? I am excited to marry the love of my life, a man who is compassionate, hard-working, smart, generous, and handsome. However, the loss feels so overwhelming right now, I am worried about how it will feel on the day. Are others going to be crying because of sadness? Will the day even be happy? The absence of my mother through this experience has been extremely painful. Some days it has been bearable, and others I don’t even want to talk about the wedding because it makes me miserable thinking about doing it without my mom, and now my aunt.

I know I can be negative, but it’s hard being positive when you do not have your mother saying “It’s okay, you’ll get the million of tasks completed in 4 weeks!” or simply helping me get everything completed. Others have offered, and I am so grateful for that. It’s just not the same to do it without your mom, and I guess I would rather do it alone?

My mother and aunt Susie will be honored, along with my grandparents and O’s grandparents at the wedding and in the weekend itself. We will remember them on the wedding day and every day that comes before and every day that follows. And for me, I find some comfort in the fact that their souls will be together surrounding me, Oren, and my family and fill us up with their loving presence. I know they will be there that day, I just wish it could have been different.

Tick tock, the clock won’t stop…

…And boy, am I feeling the pressure! 108 days away from the nuptials of my best friend and so much is finished, but there is so much more to do! I knew wedding planning was an undertaking, but I honestly did not know it would be like this. Then again, I guess my planning experience is out of the ordinary, for some…

It is officially October and I am feeling the pressure. I have made amazing progress this past month! We have picked out the groom and groomsmen tux’s (all black, with cummerbunds and a little hanky to go in their pocket: classy and perfect!!!) selected the invitations, and have finally finished the guest list…!

My mom’s 8 year anniversary for being gone came and passed this Friday, September 26th. I was not as emotional as usual, and I had a hard time with that. I did not stay in bed and cry, or mope around, or eat pizza- my favorite go to. Instead, I socialized with family, got my nails done, and did some homework. Of course, I miss my mother with every inch of my being, but this year her anniversary was different. I could not figure out why, but I came up with a theory. I believe since I have been so emotional planning this wedding weekend and have longed for her presence during this process, her anniversary did not nearly seem as bad as January 17th, 2015 will be. That in itself is sad. I am praying that the day of my wedding, I have my mother in my thoughts and in my heart, but that I am not sad. Right now, that is my biggest fear- focusing more on the absence of my mom on my wedding day, than focusing on the fact that I am starting a life with an amazing man I love.

The invitation process was especially difficult. Seeing the invitations, my dad’s name and my fiancé’s parents names, makes the fact that she is not on it a reality. It was another one of those moments that I realized she REALLY will not be there to see me walk down the aisle. I tear up even thinking about it. My dad asked, when he saw the invitation, if we were going to put her name on the invitation with a z”l (a Jewish way of honoring those passed). Obviously, I would love to have my mom on the invitation, but it is impossible for someone who is not present on this earth to invite guests to a wedding. Etiquette advises against it, and to be truthful, I think seeing the z”l next to her name on the wedding invitation would be more depressing than not having her on the invitation at all.

I leave for my bachlorette party next weekend! We are going to NOLA and I have 10 beautiful, amazing, loving, best friends joining me! I am so surprised so many people signed up, NOLA is not cheap. I am forever grateful for them joining me to celebrate my last wild weekend as a single lady! Conveniently, O, is going on his bachelor party the same weekend as me. He is going to Nashville and I am sure we are both going to have a fun, wild, and amazing time with our best friends. I have been looking forward to this trip since February 2014! FINALLY!

I have been planning final (omg final!?) meetings with vendors. We picked our ceremony music last weekend and in a few weeks will get started on the Band’s playlist. Oren and I are trying to figure out the perfect first dance song- we keep going back and forth. Do you have suggestions? I know that I will be dancing with my Dad to the song “The way you look tonight”. I want to mimic the movie Father of the Bride as much as possible, but unlike the movie, my Dad will dance with me.

I just want to take a moment and thank all those who read this blog. The support and advice you give me does not go unnoticed. I started this blog because there is a lack of resources for motherless brides, and I wanted to share my experiences to possibly help future motherless brides. Your words keep me going through this crazy, insane, wedding planning process.

It’s the little things…

This past weekend my older cousin got married. It is surreal as we have gone through this planning process together, almost since the very beginning. She became engaged July 2013, and myself in November. When I became engaged, we shared everything about our wedding planning. We gave advice on vendors, decorations, cute ideas to make our weddings unique. We have very different taste (both very good taste if I may say so myself) so neither of us were worried the other one would “steal” anything. It was a dream being engaged and planning a wedding at the same time as my cousin. The only thing we did not share- me having my Mom.

My aunt (her mom) has been more than helpful during my process. I am forever grateful for her advice, guidance, and help. I am very lucky. Her mom and my mom had always been good friends. My mom set her and my uncle up (my uncle was my moms brother- or is it is? Are they still brother and sister if my mom is gone?). My aunt has always been like a second mom to me, so it seems very natural that she is helping me through this wedding planning process.

Though this weekend was amazing in so many ways- the bride looked absolutely stunning, the couple looked amazingly happy, the party and ceremony were so perfect- it reminded me, frequently, of my mother’s absence. Even more so, it reminded me that my mother would be absent on my wedding day.

There is something about family functions- whether it be a wedding, holiday, or just a regular family dinner- that makes the absence of my mom more real. When we take a picture of the girls, it often runs through my head that I am the only girl from my immediate family that is representing my family. I do not have any sisters, and I do not have my mom. I am alone in a sense. This goes through my mind every single time we take an all girls picture. Maybe even more than that…

Furthermore, I am pretty sure me and my family feel her absence more than anyone else. I mean why would that not be the case? This weekend as my aunt was preparing everything for her daughter, as my aunts friends were pitching in to help out their friend, I could not help but think of my situation. Who would be there for me? What friends would bring us lunch to help the flow of the nail appointments? Who is going to help me with my dress, veil, and anything else I may need? It became very real, very fast that not only is my mom absent for the wedding planning, she will also be absent for the day of the wedding.

I know what you’re thinking. How could I possibly not think about this before? Good question. I guess I thought about it, but being in my cousins wedding and seeing all the effort my aunt put into making her daughters weekend perfect, made it more real than it has ever been before. My wedding is not far away, and I am becoming increasingly nervous and hesitant for it to come. Not because I am unsure of the man I am marrying- that is one of the things I am sure about in my life. It is because I do not want to feel the pain of having her absence on that day. I do not want to do everything on my own (but I already am, so what is the difference?). I will probably order lunch for the girls when we get our nails done, I will probably dress myself, I will probably do the things my aunt did for her daughter, for myself. Because, who else is there?

I am not throwing myself a pity party over here. You are probably thinking- well your aunt will help you, duh. Okay, that is fair. However, the loss of my mom is so strong and present, that I do not know if her help, or her presence will even do much for me the day of my wedding.

I should have eloped…

Four months to go…

I can’t believe it. Only four months until I say “I do” to the man I love. I have become lazy with my blogging unfortunately. Life became busy and for a bit I forgot that I had created this blog. I think that I forgot about it mostly because I have been dealing with the absence of my mom better than ever since getting engaged.

It is weird to think I have not had extreme heartbreak in the past couple months. Of course I miss my mom and her presence. Not a second (literally, not one second) goes by that I do not miss my mom. My heart constantly aches for her. Though this is true, I have come to a point during this process where I no longer feel sorry for myself. My mothers absence is what it is. I can’t change it so it’s better that I embrace it, however that may be. In addition, my family and friends are being so helpful to me. They are giving advice and pitching in when I need it the most. I have stopped thinking silly thoughts of people becoming sick of my wedding talk (though I guarentee there are some people who just want me to shut up). I am embracing people’s advice and help and I have stopped feeling guilty. Let’s be real, my mom would want me to get help rather than try to be superwoman and do everything alone. Though, don’t get it wrong, this wedding is basically being planned 99% by yours truly.

I have done a lot in the past few months. My aunt took O and I to register! It was SO tiring. I could not believe how much energy it takes to register. We had to stop midway through. I was becoming hangry (hungry + angry), and really, how much can one register for in one day? A few weeks later, I finished registering online. That was a great decision. I am happy with everything we registered for and have my fingers crossed for a few specific items! One thing I think I should invent from all this- a way to prioritize your registry. I love everything on my registry, but I wish there was a way I could prioritize the items so I definitely get some things, and if I don’t get others, it would not be the end of the world… Oh well. Another project for another year! (Don’t take my idea!)

The save the dates were sent out, but not without a hassle. Boy, did we learn what we DO NOT want to do for the wedding invitations. With headaches and hours spent on labeling, stamping, and stuffing, we are happy that part is finished. It was wonderful to receive the multiple calls and texts about how much people loved our save the dates 🙂

The flower girls dresses are picked out. I am very happy with what we picked out! They are so cute on my nieces and cousin and I can’t wait for them to walk down the aisle and be princesses!

Of course we finished other super important wedding tasks; we added two more musicians to our band making it a 9 piece band, we locked in the lighting contract, the ceremony musician, the cake baker, and had the tasting for the reception! It feels amazing to have so much done. I am working on little things here and there but am happy to say am a lot less stressed than I was before. It’s coming together, as it should be! Remember people, only four more months!! No more “plenty of time” comments 🙂

Though I am emotionally stable with the fact my mother is absent from this time in my life (as of now, who knows when that could change. Seriously, it’s like a switch of a button- as I am sure you know), I am still wondering how I am going to be on the wedding day, or the wedding weekend I should say. I hope I am able to keep it together but also will give myself the freedom to feel what I need to feel. I am never one who holds back my feelings. I know how important it is for myself to experience all the emotions happening in my heart and head.

On September 26th, it will be the 8th anniversary of my mother’s passing. It is so weird. On one hand, 8 years does not seem like a long time at all. One the other hand, it seems like it was so long ago. It is difficult as there are things about my mom that I do not remember. If I try hard I might be able to remember them. I can hear her saying “Sarah” but when I try to remember her voice in other ways, I can’t seem to hear it in my head. I wish for the nights I can dream of her again. Maybe with my wedding coming up she will come to me again in my dreams. I could only be so lucky.

I want to end this post on a very very happy note. Three weeks ago O and I became aunt and uncle X 4. My brother and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby boy into this world. Of course, he was named after my mom. He is beautiful and we all feel so lucky to have this new addition in our family. They live overseas, so I will not meet him until the wedding. That just makes the anticipation for my wedding one trillion times greater.

I promise I will keep up on my writing. Please write to me too! I am honored by those who reply to my posts. I thank those who read my posts and understand the pain I am going through. I think of you often and send my love to you during your own journey.

Save the Date

I ordered the save the dates!

They are beautiful and exactly not what I thought I would want. But they are perfect.

O and I have been engaged for 6 months. It seems unreal that for half a year I have been going crazy over a wedding that is still 7 months away. But now we have reached a milestone- we are close enough to start buying the save the dates! I feel like the save the dates are one of the best parts of a wedding. It is a little preview. The save the date is a glimpse of the couples personalities. Save the dates are like previews to a movie. They get you hyped for the fun and entertainment the wedding will provide you in a short amount of time. It is the climax.

Our save the date was not something I expected I would pick. I had spent 2 months looking at save the date templates. I knew I had to have them ordered by the second week of June so I would have 4 weeks to label, stuff, and send them out. Four weeks may sound excessive but when you are working a part time summer internship and enrolled in a qualitative research course the other half of the time, you want to give yourself plenty of time to fall behind. I tend to be courteous to future Sarah.

I had asked friends, family, and O for their suggestions when I was searching for a save the date. Everyone gave me great advice but in the end, O and I made the final decision. We liked how simple and elegant this save the date was. I appreciate having multiple people step up to give me their design advice and suggestions! It was really helpful. I must thank my cousin, my bridesmaid, who’s wedding I will be a bridesmaid in 2 months for providing me so much help, even though she has her own stuff to take care of (and much sooner I might add). I am learning how to ask and stop feeling guilty.

Drumroll please….dadadadaddadadda

Save the Date

We used a picture from our engagement photo session. The photo we picked was one of the first photos I saw, and I knew right away that would be our photo. The best is the story behind the picture. As our photographer was changing settings, O started to pick me up and swing me around, for no reason. Our photographer happened to catch the end of it on film and said “smile!” It was such a spontaneous moment and explains our relationship and us as individuals.

I still have to find a cake baker and ceremony music and I can check my wedding tasks off my list for the month of June! It feels good to be right on schedule.