I was my dad’s plus one for his best friend’s daughter’s wedding on Saturday night.
When my dad got the invitation in the mail, I knew how much he wanted to go, but I also knew that he would never go by himself. When I saw that he was allowed to bring a guest, I offered to go with him.
My dad had his suit tailored and dry cleaned. He bought a new shirt, new cuff links, and new shoes. He stressed over how much to give and what to write inside of the card.
He was really looking forward to the wedding, but I know he was also dreading it. My dad doesn’t get out to socialize much and I know firsthand how overwhelming it can feel to have big plans.
I arrived at his house early to pick him up and make sure he had everything he needed. Then I drove us to the church to watch a couple I’d never even met before get married.
After the ceremony, we waited outside of the church for the bride and groom to come out. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my dad’s best friend—the father of the bride—spot us in the crowd and make a beeline over to us.
He said, “Hey, buddy! It’s so good to see you! I’m so glad you came! I didn’t think you’d be able to make it!”
He was genuinely so excited to see my dad. Out of all the guests there, he made sure to talk to my dad and thank him for coming.
Later at the reception, I met the bride and she told me how excited her dad had been when he heard that my dad was coming. They both thanked me for bringing my dad and I could tell how much it meant to them.
As the night went on, I saw pure joy on my dad’s face and felt his excitement for being able to attend his best friend’s daughter’s wedding. He thanked me over and over again for taking him.
The next morning at breakfast, my dad said, “Last night made me so happy. It was great to see everyone. But it also made me sad because everyone was there with their wives and Mom wasn’t there. I remember how she used to sit and talk with all the other wives. And we would get up and dance. I miss that.”
I thought the same thing to myself the night before. My dad had been smiling all through the night, but he was also quiet at times. I wonder if that’s what he was thinking about then.
Pure joy on his face with an aching hole in his heart—one that will never be filled.
That’s grief, my friend.
Joy and pain.
Excitement and dread.
Happiness and heartbreak.
Feeling both full and empty at the same damn time.
You don’t move on from loss. You move forward with it. It is a part of everything you do.
It’s just that sometimes you have to force yourself—or find someone else who will force you—to keep doing the things that light you up and bring you joy.
Take a walk. Go to the park. Buy some flowers. Watch your favorite show. Go to your best friend’s daughter’s wedding.
Get out of the damn house!
Not in spite of your loss. Because of it.
Your grief won’t go away, but luckily you can feel two things at once.
And you just might make someone else’s day.
(Side note: My dad’s best friend was the one who drove to my parents’ house the day my mom died—knowing he couldn’t even come inside because of Covid—and just stood outside in the front yard to show his support. Later that week, he showed up at my mom’s 10-person graveside service, parked down the road a little bit, and stood outside his car in a suit to pay his respects. I’d say he’s a pretty great friend! So glad my dad could be there for him on his special day!)
*If this post resonated with you, you should consider joining the Alzheimer’s Daughters Club!
**If you liked this post, you would love my book “When Only Love Remains: Surviving My Mom’s Battle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.” It’s available on all Amazon marketplaces.