Someone Else’s Pain

The phone rang early that Saturday morning in June.  I was awake, of course, but sitting on my bed writing in my journal about the worry I had for the day.

Today was my friend Michelle’s wedding day.

I had been dreading the day for a while now.  While Tom and I had split up under seemingly amicable circumstances, I still couldn’t quite imagine what I would do upon seeing him again.  So much had changed for me.  I worried that my bitter fear would make me cling to him like a liferaft and push him far, far away again.  I wanted to be just the right amount of attractive, engaging, but not needy.  I wanted him to look at me and see a possibility and not a regret.  I’d gone to the mall and bought a new dress for the occasion and done my hair three different times to try out styles; I knew I was a little psychotic about the whole thing, but I just couldn’t help myself.

I’d been secretly hoping that somehow Tom would show up at my new work to play darts at one point soon, so that the awkward First Time Seeing Each Other Since Our Breakup could have been gotten out of the way while I had to rush off and hustle tequila shots and draft beers.  But so far, Tom hadn’t come by when I’d been scheduled to work (probably a good thing since I wasn’t fantastic at waitressing so far), and therefore today was going to be awkward First Time.  My palms were sweaty already and it wasn’t even 9 am.

I picked up the phone.  “Hello?”

“Hi, this is Michelle’s mother.  I am just calling everyone to let them know that the wedding is off, so you don’t need to come today.”

Was this a joke?  Had Tom decided it was all just too awkward and this was their way of letting me gently off the guest list without hurting my feelings?  “What?  I’m sorry, did you just say the wedding is off?  Is Michelle OK?”

Her mother went on to quickly give me enough details to let me know that Michelle’s fiance had come to the rehersal at church last night, pulled my friend aside as the proceedings began and told her that he just couldn’t go through with it all after all.  She thought he was joking until she realized that he was completely alone; none of his family or groomsmen had accompanied him to the church for the practice.  Michelle’s mother was calling all of the guests to let them know, and trying to cancel as much as she could to try and preserve their deposits.

“Oh gosh, I am so sorry,” I told her mother.  “Please let her know that if she needs anything, anything at all to please call me.  Do you need me to come by or anything?”

“No,” the mother said sadly on the phone.  “As you can imagine, she pretty much wants to be alone right now.”

I exchanged a few more quiet words with her before I hung up the phone.  I stared at it, stunned.  I felt horrible for my friend, horrible for all of the times I’d wished that perhaps she wasn’t quite so happy because it was hard for me.  I felt selfish for dreading her happy day that was now not going to happen.  I felt angry at Frank for waiting for the last minute to express his doubt about his impending marriage.  At least Tom had been honest with me about his fears for our future instead of just telling me what I’d wanted to hear, which would have likely been far easier for him to do.

For the first time since my mother’s death, I felt like someone had it worse than me.  It bothers me still that somehow, that made me feel a little better that warm day in June.  But it did.

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One Response

  1. […] The First Year Posted on January 1, 2011 by myformerlife As the weather grew warmer, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel of the school year.  It had been a difficult year, but the learning curve had been high, and I was already gearing up for Year Two at FR Elementary.  I’d made great friends with several of the staff members, and we’d taken to going out together for drinks on Friday afternoons.  The job was still tough, but the people on staff that I liked were enough to give me the momentum to get through my days.  I’d even told two of my friends about openings at my school in the fall; one, a college friend named Laurie who’d taught with my at my urban teaching experience;  and Michele, my friend who’d been stood up at the altar last summer. […]

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