it’s been a year

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On May 24, 2011, I giddily hung up the phone and began to skip all the way home. I had gotten off the subway and had immediately received a call from the woman I had just finished interviewing with, the woman who was to be my new boss. After over a year of scraping by and trying to find my way in NYC, I had finally landed my first job on a film. As quickly as I accepted the position and learned that I would be starting the next day, I hurried to ring up Mike, or “Mikey” as I called him– the guy I had been seeing for just a few weeks. “I GOT IT!,” I shouted, the second he answered the phone. “YES!”, he belted back, “YES! YES! YES!”.  His enthusiasm blew me away; I could hear him fist pumping in the street. I had never been aware of a person being that happy for me before; he was so proud you would have thought I landed a position as a CEO, not a production assistant.

His joy for my joy in that moment exemplified the heart-lifting effect he had had on my life over just a short period of time. We have celebrated that day each year since as our anniversary.

Now we are set to celebrate a new anniversary–our wedding anniversary. Today, October 18th, we’ll have been married for 1 year. I think when celebrating our old anniversary, I always looked back specifically at May 24th and enjoyed rekindling the feelings of that day. October 18th is different; my mind approaches with more hesitation when considering stirring up all the specifics of that 24 hours.

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There are a lot of things I don’t understand and I don’t like about weddings. I think having an engagement party, and a shower, and a bachelorette party is over the top and a lot to ask of people.  I hate the forced color coordination and the posed photos; I’ve never understood why everything has to “match”. In defense of this I have heard people say that you don’t want to look back at your photos and have everyone be “clashing” because they wore their own thing. It’s weird, I have never looked back at any other group photo and thought-“oh no, our outfits don’t go together.” There are all these traditional requirements that “identify” the event as a wedding–and once we got engaged, I had to tell my soon to be husband that I really didn’t want any of it.

Although I was happy to think of going to city hall and then taking some amazing trip, my husband felt differently. He is the opposite of me–agreeable, easy-going, willing to compromise–but on this, he put his foot down. He wanted our wedding to be a day of celebration and he wanted us to be surrounded by our friends and family. I found his insistence romantic; I immediately gave in and started planning a wedding.

We both worked incredibly hard to put together an event that reflected us; we tried to keep it simple and wanted to make sure we got to share some of our favorite things with friends and family we don’t often get to have in town. We kept it small–both out of desire and out of necessity. Neither of us ever wanted a big wedding and the cost of hosting one in Brooklyn was extremely prohibitive. I have to admit, planning our wedding might be one of the least favorite things that I have ever done. From disappointing relatives who weren’t invited to trying to find a venue that wasn’t half a year’s salary–I just felt lost and overwhelmed 95% of the time.

I have never felt like someone who is “put together”; I’ve just never been that girl even on a good day. Planning a wedding was like having this insecurity exposed 24/7. We were faced with a million choices and I fell in and out of the wedding industry trap of thinking every single detail of our day was a reflection of who we were as a couple.

I think before you plan your own wedding it is so easy to call someone a “bridezilla” or comment on how unimportant a lot of things are. I had a whole list of traditional wedding things we didn’t want–I thought that would make things easier. But, it turns out even those backyard shindigs that look like they just came together on the fly, require an enormous amount of effort and planning–especially when you live in Brooklyn and don’t actually have a backyard.

Despite all my craziness, things seemed like they were coming together. Then, about two weeks before the 18th, things started to fall apart. My mother-in-law Theresa had a terrible fall and her health began to decline. Each day we went back and forth with her doctors and Mikey’s sister who was taking care of her–wondering whether she would be well enough to make it to our wedding. She was not well enough; she did not make it. She actually never made it back to Brooklyn; we lost her less than four months after we were married. You can read more about that day and about Theresa, here.

On the Tuesday before our wedding, I was waiting for a phone call from my dad telling me he had landed safely and was on his way to my sister’s apartment. Instead, I got a call from my sister telling me my dad was still in Michigan; he was in the hospital–he had suffered a stroke. He would require surgery that Friday. After the surgery, it was a huge relief to learn that he was going to be ok– but by this time, we were emotionally wrecked. I wanted to bail. I don’t think I have ever spontaneously burst into tears more times than I did in that 3-4 day period. However, as many of our guests had already made the trip to NY and we did not want to start out our life together defeated, we decided to carry on.

I think much of weddings are about expectations. I am not that girl who imagined her wedding since she was young; honestly, before I met my husband I thought I would probably end up in one of those relationships where you are together for years but never see the necessity in making it official. Still, there I was about to be married and nothing looked or felt like I thought it would.

My dad and I have a good relationship, but like any other parent and child, we’ve had our ups and downs. We disagree on a lot and we’re both as stubborn as they come. I think when I turned the corner into my thirties and started recognizing my parents as people–I awakened to realize I was an important piece but still just a small part of their overall story.

Once Mikey and I decided to actually have a wedding, I began to imagine this moment I was going to have with my dad. I knew that he was never going to agree with all my choices, and I knew that there would be things that I would always see differently than he would. But, I thought somehow, in that moment where I would take his arm, and he would walk me down the aisle, we’d get this peaceful, healing couple of seconds together. That’s when I usually get choked up at weddings, when the bride is walking with her dad. The dads are usually beaming with pride. That’s what I wanted. I wanted my dad to be proud. I thought there would be this inescapable magic in that moment where he would see everything it took for me to get there, and he would be proud.

I never got that moment; instead, my husband and I walked hand in hand down the aisle together. There was significance in that, and it was special. Still, I think I write this a year later to acknowledge that my sadness of not getting that moment still lingers; I expect this acknowledgment will help me move through that pain. There I go again with those expectations.

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October 18, 2014 did not start out rough and then culminate into some sort of fairytale. My amazing husband did what he does best and was able to live in the moment; there was so much joy emanating from him it did manage to penetrate the shell I felt covered in. There were bursts of joy sprinkled throughout the day, and I am so grateful that our photographer captured each and every one of them. Still, overall, I wasn’t able to move past the events leading up to our day enough to really be present and feel the happiness of the occasion; it was mostly bittersweet. Who wants to admit that? Not me, but I have to if I want to start celebrating this day as our anniversary.

One aspect of the day I’ll always be happy to look back at is our guest list. We had the most amazing and supportive friends and family there. Each and every one of those people wrapped their arms around us and loved us. A couple of them even had to walk me back from the ledge a couple of times. My dad couldn’t be there but I had another incredibly dedicated parent who was; I realize now more than ever that not everyone gets that. I have a sister-in-law whose love and compassion held me up; she kept reminding me that I was not crazy, that it was ok to feel what I was feeling because the situation was unbelievably hard. She and other friends kept me afloat, especially while my big sis was in Michigan taking care of my dad.

Lastly, we could not have asked a better person to marry us. My little brother was what he has been for me my whole life–rock, solid. He remains one of my very favorite people in the world.

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I realize now after so much reflection that it’s not really about that first day of our marriage; we are celebrating the 364 days we have lived since then. In those days we have lost a parent, moved, started a job, changed career paths, celebrated nieces and nephews, run races, battled injuries, traveled extensively, and even started a blog. I think I’ve done more crying and more laughing this year than any other in my life. I think that means we’re doing pretty good.

I also think it means I’ve made a start at fulfilling the vows I spoke to my husband on that October 18th. I want to leave those vows here to remember them and to be able to come back and hear myself speak them with a quietness my mind would not allow the first time. I had expectations for what it would feel like and what it would mean for me to say them that day. A year later I might be starting to understand what it might mean to actually live them, one day at a time.

It’s been a year…I’m so glad it has.

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Before you came into my life, my vision of all of love’s possibilities was so narrow. I didn’t know it was narrow; everything I had hoped for and imagined was wonderful, but it was not this.

I am a fearful person; much of my life before the last several years has been spent running away from or desperately pushing through things that scare me. I thought this meant I needed someone who would push me— someone fearless. At the beginning, I looked for that from you. Instead, often times, you took my hand and said “I’m scared too my love, but I’m right here with you.”

I think fearlessness is overrated. It’s the truth that sets us free. It’s about showing up even when there are doubts. It’s about seeing the race all the way through- even if we have to carry each other across the finish line.

I love you because you are kind, and honest, and patient, and brave. These are areas in which I often fall short; in these among others you flourish.

You make me pause. You make me look at the world a little bit differently. Your view inspires me to grow; it pushes me to look outside myself; it gives me the courage to believe in and go after my dreams. It makes me want to do better. I want to be more kind. I want to be more honest. I want to be more brave. I want to be more patient too but we both know that’s going to be a lifelong journey!

On this day—our day, I promise to never give you less than who I am—or ever accept less than who you are. I promise to be there to listen, to understand, and to support you. I promise to rejoice when you achieve, and to help you get back up when you fall. I promise to always search for the light- even if all we can see is darkness. I promise to live fully and be present with you, especially in unbelievable moments like this. I promise to love you like crazy, till Heaven and beyond.

Someone said, “it takes courage to trust, that the best is yet to come.” I trust. I believe that for us. I’m ready to chase our dreams. I believe in you. I believe in me. I believe in US. I am so glad you’re going to be my husband; I am so proud to be your wife.

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Photos by our AMAZING photographer–who doesn’t do weddings, Lily Cummings

3 thoughts on “it’s been a year

  1. Kathy Schwiebert

    Cat, I’m a friend of your mother’s ( high school, college room-mate) – your writing is beautiful – unique, heart-felt, & fresh! Thank you for sharing these personal peeks into you thoughts and your life.

    Liked by 1 person

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