Every once and awhile I look at Erik and say, “Hey. We got MARRIED!”. Losing my dad so soon after the wedding took the wind out of our sails, to put it mildly, and certainly took the focus off being married, at least for awhile. It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven weeks since Dad died, and we’ll celebrate our two-month wedding anniversary on Thanksgiving Day. One thing I’ve learned is that things do get better, whether you want them to or not…you worry that letting go of the sadness means you are forgetting the person who died, even though you couldn’t forget even if you tried. I know, though, that Dad of all people would not want us moping around, so we have to press on, in our own way and in our own time.
That said, there are still pockets of time when I get really sad; it tends to hit me when I am alone in the car. I’m not really sure why but I’ll just start sobbing uncontrollably while, for example, barreling down 495 on the way to work. Dad would have a fit if he knew; crying hysterically while driving 70 mph isn’t exactly safe. On the plus side, I’ve found the one thing that helps is playing music from our wedding. The music was really important to me — I have always had a soundtrack in my head my whole life, for different people and different places and different situations. (I once told someone a song “sounds like you look”.) Our wedding was no different, except that it wasn’t so much “MY” soundtrack as it was “OUR” soundtrack. Alas, E and I don’t disagree about much, but we have completely different tastes in music, and so there was more discussion about music than probably any other aspect of the wedding – including writing our wedding ceremony.
Ultimately we decided that since the wedding was so small (and we had such little time to plan) that we would forego a DJ. Instead, I spent several sleepless nights downloading songs onto my phone from iTunes, trying to find ones that would make everyone happy. (At this point we knew my dad had very little time left, so that’s why I wasn’t sleeping well.) We wound up plugging my phone into my nephew’s guitar amp, which probably wasn’t the best solution but it worked. During the wedding and dinner, I had music playing in the background, trying to incorporate suggestions from everyone. There was stuff on that playlist ranging from the B-52’s to Frank Sinatra and back again. Here were my selections:
- I had exactly zero interest in walking down the aisle to “Here Comes the Bride”, or anything else remotely traditional. So, I walked down the aisle to the James Taylor and Yo-Yo Ma version of “Here Comes the Sun“. I don’t know how I found this track, but I know it was last winter in the middle of all those snowstorms (“it’s been a long cold lonely winter”). The first time I heard it I couldn’t figure out what on earth they had done to the song; perhaps even changed the time signature? But it grew on me, to the point where I listened to it repeatedly, every day, while my dad was undergoing radiation and then chemo. There was something about James Taylor singing “it’s all right” that made me feel better, almost like a lullaby. Now, Erik hated this song from the get-go and begged me to find something – anything– else. And, to be fair, I tried, I really did. Nothing else seemed right though, and eventually he relented. Ironically, I don’t even remember the song playing at the wedding; I was so concerned with Dad walking over the uneven ground that the music barely registered. Oh well.
- [Actually, there was another contender for down the aisle: Patty Griffin’s “Heavenly Day“. It was, in fact, a heavenly day when we got married; all the clouds DID blow away and the weather was perfect. But I was worried the lyrics cut a bit close to home given my dad’s health: “tomorrow may rain with sorrow / here’s a little time we can borrow”. I left it out of my playlists for the day, but now whenever the song comes on in the car it makes me think about our wedding. We had no idea how little time we had, and tomorrow did in fact rain with sorrow…but it really was a wonderful day.]
- The recessional was “I Choose You” by Sara Bareilles. In retrospect, maybe a little obvious…but this song makes me happy. Even right after Dad died, this song put a smile on my face. Although, I keep singing the line “I get to be the other half of you” as “I get to be the better half of you”. Don’t tell Erik.
- Our first dance was to “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” by…Elvis. Yep, The King was in the house. We wanted something classic and that wouldn’t seem trendy. The obvious choice would was Etta James’ “At Last“, since we are OLD (44 and 45) it was what everyone at the wedding was thinking! But…we decided it was too obvious. Another contender was the original version of “How Long Will I Love You“, from the movie “About Time” which we both really like, but it was kind of hard to dance to. Ultimately E decided on the Elvis song, which (as it happens) was the first song we ever danced to together, at his cousin’s wedding.
- I had to throw in a Johnny Cash song for my dad, and I’ll never forget the look of surprise on his face during dinner when the first lines of “I Walk the Line” came on. Probably not wedding music, but it made Dad happy.
Other songs that I added to the mix…both typical wedding fare and not:
- “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters. What can I say, I’m a child of the 70s.
- “Islands In the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, because we find it comical and the lyrics make utterly no sense and it’s fun to sing the harmony. (Also, a Gavin and Stacey reference.)
- “Better Together” by Jack Johnson. (Also used in a Gavin and Stacey episode, now that I think about it, when Nessa is in labor.)
- “Snails” by The Format (which turned into the band Fun, a band which I inexplicably Do Not Like)
- “Ice Cream” by Sarah McLachlan
- “Somewhere Over the Rainbow“, the Hawaiian/ukelele version
- “Someone Like You” by Van Morrison
- “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra
- “Soon Love Soon” and “Eric’s Song” by Vienna Teng
- “Wild Horses” (only one I can find online, and it’s kinda crappy) and “Lilac Blooms” by Tina Malia
[I expect that a week from now half of those links won’t work anymore, but in light of the fact that I dropped and smashed my iphone on Saturday and I’m not 100% convinced my playlists will transfer onto the new phone, I’m writing the list down here in case I forget.]