For someone who struggles with chronic and/or mental illness, a joyous day or a special occasion really can feel like a lighthouse in the storm that can be their life. It can act as a beacon of hope, reassurance that goodness exists and happiness is possible despite their difficulties. I had one of those days recently. And it was nothing short of wonderful.
My brother got married last weekend and the festivities couldn’t have been more perfect. I must admit, I was pretty stressed in the weeks before the big day. Although I was so honored and grateful that my lovely sister-in-law asked me to be one of her bridesmaids, I was so nervous that I was going to get sick and ruin things. Luckily, things worked out symptom-wise and I was able to be the type of sister-in-law I wanted to be, the type of bridesmaid she completely deserved. I’m not sure if I willed myself through the weekend or if it was a divine gift. Either way, I am grateful.
The day of the rehearsal was a hot one. Although the church was absolutely beautiful, it had almost zero ventilation. Let me be the first to admit, my body hates heat. It makes me feel sick – nauseous, dizzy, and just really unwell. I was sweating like a pig the entire time. As we repeated the procession and the pastor went through the basics of the ceremony, I was getting more and more worried. I was so scared I was going to pass out or vomit standing up there for so long the next day. Mortified wouldn’t even begin to describe how I would have felt if that had happened. My brother and his wife deserved a beautiful day, entirely focused on them and I didn’t want to deter from that in any way.
The rehearsal dinner was perfect – a relatively intimate occasion consisting of the bridal party and family members. There was yummy food and some really heartfelt speeches. Instead of going with the rest of the bridesmaids to a hotel to spend the night hanging out with the bride, I had previously decided I needed to sleep in my own bed. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to partake in the laughs and quality time, but I thought getting a full night sleep was a key factor in helping me feel my best the next day. Sometimes you have to sacrifice something little for something bigger. And there’s really no point in feeling guilty about it.
I woke up the next morning, excited and nervous. Sometimes my body and mind confuse the two feelings but I knew I was feeling both. My little brother was getting married today! I went to the hairdresser where it took absolutely forever to get my hair blow-dried and curled. After grabbing my dress and all my supplies (make-up, snacks, medications) from home, my mom and I headed to the country club where all the bridesmaids were getting ready. Everyone looked so beautiful. There was a buzz in the air. It was electric.
After everyone was done getting ready, all the bridesmaids piled into my dad’s car to drive to the church. We sang and danced along to the radio and took lots of selfies. It reminded me how wonderful it is to have friends, how therapeutic laughter and joy are. Once we got to the church, we gathered in the entryway and lined up to walk in. My heart was beating so fast but for the first time I didn’t really mind. When it was my turn to walk down, I couldn’t stop smiling. Seeing my brother up there…I don’t know. I was overcome with emotion. I started to tear up and took my place up at the front.
When the door opened and the bride and her father began to walk down the aisle, I became even more emotional. Seeing my brother’s reaction was priceless. It was so special. In that moment, a more beautiful woman didn’t exist. My sister-in-law looked absolutely stunning. The ceremony went by much faster than I had expected. I was so happy and present that the heat and my hurting feet didn’t matter. The music, vows, energy, and love in the church were so powerful. As everything drew to a close, I must admit, I felt a huge sense of relief. I had made it through the most important part. It couldn’t have gone any better. I didn’t faint. I didn’t get sick. I was pretty ecstatic.
After taking pictures in front of the church we rode to the country club for the reception. We took more pictures outside on the porch and down near the golf course. Then we could finally relax and really celebrate. The night was filled to the brim with laughs, happy tears, food, drink, and lots of dancing. I got to see family I hadn’t seen in a while and it really warmed my heart. There was such love in that room. Everyone had come together to celebrate the joining of two wonderful people. Two families were becoming one and my heart was bursting. The highlights of the night were dancing with my family, taking a shot with my cousins and the newlyweds, and golf cart rides out in the parking lot. I was so happy. I realized I hadn’t felt that good in a long time. It was joy. I was joyful. What an incredible feeling. What incredible memories.
I went to bed feeling an immense sense of gratitude. I felt so blessed. I was exhausted but so content. The next day I helped set up for the brunch we were hosting. I tried my best to make it through the festivities, but at one point I had to excuse myself to go take a nap. The weekend had utilized a lot of energy and I was starting to feel it. As I lay in my bed, I realized, these few days had been some of the best of my life. There is nothing more important to me than family. Even though I have had migraines nearly every day this week, I can’t help but feel hopeful. Bad days exist, sometimes a lot of them. But joyous days exist too. They are the light in the darkness that make the journey worth it. I will hold onto the memories tightly and return to them when I’m sick, anxious, or in pain. I take comfort in the knowledge that there will be more. Life can be hard, but it’s the joyous days that make it all worth it.