When I stood up to speak the eulogy I looked out and there were a lot of people. I had thought that I wanted to honor Michelle in this way but now I was just tired, just sad, just depleted. My soul was crushed. I didn’t know if I would be able to get through the first word without crying, expecting myself to have a complete breakdown the likes of which I had so many times before during her cancer battle. Somehow I made it through, speaking the words that I had written quickly and worked to perfect over the course of a couple of weeks, while I focused my mind on something else. Something better. Something magical.
Our wedding. The dream night that we had thought about for so long that never did occur, stolen from us right along with our fifty years.
I spoke, people listened, but my mind was imagining that fairytale night when we would become one in front of all of our family and friends.
I imagined getting ready that morning, hopefully I would look decent, maybe even semi good. It was a rare occurrence but sometimes I could actually look handsome on my absolute best of days. I imagined seeing everyone as they entered, friends and family coming up to me one by one as I’d already be fighting back tears well before go time. I imagined the wedding procession and the beautiful songs we had picked. My mom and Joe first, I’d keep it together for them I predicted, followed by her mini-me and Luca, that’s when the tears would begin. I imagined the other children walking down the aisle and then the twins, they’d likely bumble and stumble a bit until finally making it to their appropriate destination. The room would be filled with smiles and laughter as each set of children walked down. I imagined the candles, the flowers and the romance of it all. Hundreds of candles surrounding us as we would say our vows, purple rose pedals scattered throughout the beautiful room. And then I imagined the song starting to play.
No, not the traditional bridal song. Michelle and I had picked ‘At Last’ by Etta James, a song that I had loved forever and that fit our story so perfectly. Everyone would stand. I’d fight with all my mite to not completely lose it at this point.
And then I imagined her.
Walking down the aisle we had created for her. I imagined the dress she loved so dearly and how I would react seeing her in it for the time. I imagined the stunning shoes she picked out, yes that 3rd and final pair. I imagined the perfectly placed hair and makeup, she’d be more beautiful than ever before. I had dreamt about this moment since I was seventeen years old.
This moment. With this girl. The love of my life.
I imagined the tears I would shed, the beauty she would radiate and the happiness I would feel. I imagined our vows. I’d surely be crying at this point, rather hysterically, her a single tear, maybe more. After all, she had been showing more emotion as of late, maybe there would be a second tear, or a third. And then I imagined the dance. Our first dance. We had picked the most romantic of songs, Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers. Years of history would go into that dance, from a powerful and true teenage love, to years apart and an implausible reunion neither of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams. From the first time I met Emma to the romantic engagement over a decade in the making, to a cancer battle and coming out victorious on the other side.
It was supposed to be our dance, our moment in time, the ending to a fairytale romance and the beginning of fifty beautiful years of happiness and joy.
I imagined this knowing that it was a dream. A dream that could no longer come true. I read the words that I had written for my beautiful wife, somehow managing to only choke up and not completely fall apart.
I read and people listened.
I honored her, as she deserved to be honored.