Love In Many Forms

My son and his wife of seven days (typing that just seems amazing) are somewhere in Jerusalem right now.  In Israel.  Yes, the one that is seven hours time difference from where they live in Alexandria, VA and where I live in Connecticut. I was pondering that the other day.  For my honeymoon, my husband and I went on a Carnival cruise.  We went to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and New Orleans.  It was the first time I’d been outside of the US save for Canada (because every good Detroiter has gone drinking in Canada).   My son has been now to Spain, to Croatia, and to Israel.  He’s passed through France for connecting flights, twice.  What a different life has than I did.

What a different life he has than I ever imagined for him.

At my son’s wedding last week, after he and I shared our emotional mother/son dance, I walked him back to his new wife and hugged her hard.  Then I went back to sit at my table, with my husband and our two much younger children.  Within a minute, there was my father, red in the face and clearly just as emotional as me.

Maybe more so.

“I remember the day he was born,” he struggled to tell me, tears flowing from the corners of his eyes.   And he was right.  Of the hundred or so people standing in this room with us, there were only three of us who were there the day Zach was born.  My sister, myself and my father.  My brother was in the Navy in basic training at the time, and met him about a month or so after he was born.  Everyone else in the room met him sometime later in his life.

It was hard, at that moment in time, staring at my son and his lovely wife in this gorgeous hotel ballroom, with everyone dressed in their finery, to imagine what those days were like.  My father had literally been there since the moment this boy was born; he’d been my Lamaze coach.  He’d watched this young man come into the world, take his first breaths.  He’d been ultimately supportive after his initial skepticism  regarding my “situation”.  I was 18 and alone when this little baby came into all of our lives, and life could have turned out very, very different than the moment we were all experiencing together.

But what was overwhelming all of us, as my sister had now come to join my father and I, both redfaced in the front of the room together, was my mother’s absence.  “She should have been here,” my father said next, putting his head in his hand.  “She would have been so proud of him.”

Seeing my father cry about my mother is truly a humbling experience for me. While my father has been with his partner since before my parents’ marriage ended, it’s clear to me that he truly did love my mother.  While the demise of their marriage was fraught with difficulty, fighting and anger, eventually everything settled in to the way things were supposed to be.  In fact, I always kind of thought that my pregnancy at 18 and my parents banding together to support me and my child truly was the last step of pulling them back together as a family unit, if not a married one.  And when my mother passed, my father was there to hold her hand along with us kids.  It was my father who helped us eulogize her at her memorial.  They had a clear and deep connection, and it is easy for me to forget that on a day to day basis.  I suppose I deal with my grief often about my mother, but my father likely doesn’t.  So it is in these family moments where it comes roaring to the surface for him, still raw and harsh, even twenty years later.

In some sort of awful way, it made me feel good to see him that affected by her absence.  That while his life is very different now, the affection he had for her was real and true and honest. I held him and told him about the wedding song, and how sure I was that she had a role to play there.  That I was sure she was watching all of us here, this night and smiling from wherever she was, happy to see her beloved first grandchild so successful, so sure of himself, so clearly in love.  “She loved him so much,” I said to my father and my sister, which gave them both a fresh set of tears, but gave me a strength and surety that stopped my own.


Because You Loved Me

Well, just like that, it’s over.  The lead up, all the stress, the fights, the craziness of getting ready for my son to be married is over.  He’s married and off on his honeymoon in Israel.

There are many things bottled up inside of me that I want to say about it.  They’ll all have to come out, one at a time.  But for now, I guess I’ll share my favorite story of the weekend.

About a week before the wedding, my son asked me to select a song for the mother/son dance.  I’d honestly forgotten there was such a thing, and I was stumped.  We don’t really share a lot of the same music tastes, have never really had music in common as our thing.  We don’t have “a song” per se.  I didn’t know what to do.

I thought about it for a few days, and finally did what I always do when I don’t know something.  I consulted Google. And sure enough, when you type in “mother son wedding dance”, you’ll find several sites suggesting music.  I clicked on one that was supposedly from some DJ that does a lot of weddings, and looked at his Top 100 Mother/Son Wedding songs.

Some were weird and inappropriate.  More like for a couple.  But there were enough on there that made me think, “Oh, yeah, I’ve always liked that song” or “Oh, that one has always reminded me of Z.”

I wrote out a list of song titles, and put a little sentence underneath each one about why I picked it.  There were eight songs.  I asked him to listen to each one, look up the lyrics and decide which one connected with him the most about our relationship.  In the end, I deleted my descriptions of why I chose each one, not wanting to prejudice him.

When I asked him a few days before the wedding which song he’d picked, he wouldn’t tell me.  All he said was that one of the songs on the list I’d provided was one of the songs he’d been thinking of too, and so that would be the song.  I couldn’t imagine which one he would pick.  Here’s the list:

  • I Hope You Dance, Lee Ann Womack
  • Devil Knows You’re Dead, Delta Spirit (this is an Irish blessing put to song, don’t be scared off by the title)
  • You Raise Me Up, Josh Groban
  • Because You Loved Me, Celine Dion
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole “Iz”
  • The Prayer, Bocelli/Dion
  • What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
  • Forever Young, Rod Stewart

I figured he would pick What a Wonderful World.  Or maybe The Prayer, or You Raise Me Up.  I hoped he’d pick either I Hope You Dance, which has always made me think of him, or Because You Loved Me, because it has always been my song for my mother.

Z and his new bride danced their first dance, and we all cried.  They looked so happy and in love.  And beautiful, even though my poor boy really can’t dance at all.  Then his new wife danced with her father, very sweet, and they looked so happy together.  I knew my turn was coming.

And all of a sudden, when I heard the first notes of the song my son had chosen for our dance, I couldn’t believe it.  I tried not to cry, but I couldn’t help it.

He’d chosen Because You Loved Me.  I wasn’t sure if I’d ever told him that it reminded me of my mother.  It’s a pretty girly song, and I never imagined he’d choose it.  As we awkwardly moved in circles around the dance floor, cameras popping off everywhere, I told him:  “I’m not sure you know this or not, but this song has always reminded me of my mother.”

He looked down on me and responded:  “This song has always reminded me of you, Mom.”

And then the tears really started flowing.  A bittersweet mixture of happy and sad all at once, overwhelming.  I kept myself from sobbing right then and there on the dance floor.

Only later, alone in my hotel room, did I succumb to the emotion and cry the heaving sobs that my heart had to release.



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