It’s taken me just over a month to write this post.
I keep crying.
Happy tears. Sorry to have scared you. I’m fine.
On the 2nd of June 2018 my beautiful daughter married her boyfriend of nine years in a pine forest, in winter, surrounded by friends and family.
I was there.
I spent the year before the wedding teaching myself floristry, partly to save them the cost of flowers but mostly as an act of love. I wanted to do something special for them both on their big day. I’ve always been a gardener. Flowers seemed a good fit. It was a way to squeeze every bit of love into the day. I made bouquets and my husband posed with them so she could get an idea of scale. He became a minor facebook sensation. It was great fun. On the day she had a huge bouquet that was exactly what she wanted, complete with orchids from my garden and silver wattle from her primary school.
I also made 100 metres of environmentally friendly bunting from hessian tape and recycled bed sheets. It only occurred to me after we had made it that they were almost like prayer flags. My daughter and her partner lived with us before they had a place of their own and sheets were a communal thing, so all of us have dreamed and loved and planned our futures on those sheets. There’s a fair chance that a decent forensic lab might even be able to detect the residue of my chemotherapy. I would have woken up between those sheets more than once, certain I would never see my daughter’s wedding. And here were all those nightmares cut into joyful triangles and hung from the ceiling.
It was an emotional day. The groom teared up when the bride appeared at the edge of the forest with both her dads, one by birth and the other by marriage, red eyed and shaking with the emotion of it all. I could hardly see anyone for the tears. My daughter’s childhood friend and head bridesmaid spent most of the service looking at the treetops and trying not to sob. The vows were punctuated with deep breaths and strategic tissues. I’ve never seen so much happiness.
These two have been dating since high school. They’ve never wavered in their love for each other and they’ve weathered the storms that come with enduring my breast cancer and, at one point, receiving the news that it might be necessary for them to bring their wedding forward so that I could at least attend it. Rumours of my death proved to be false 😀
There was a kind of silent agreement that cancer would not be invited to the wedding. My daughter asked me to do a reading during the service rather than make a speech or walk her down the aisle. She told me that it was necessary to find a way to contain the almost overwhelming memory of the possibility that I might not have been there at all. Her father knew not to mention the cancer in his speech, and so did the best man. Then my daughter rose to thank the long list of people that have loved and supported them. There was something about ‘my Mum….who almost wasn’t here….’ and we both lost it. I cried and waved her on and she took a deep breath and change the subject.
It can be awkward when you have two dads, knowing which one you should dance with first. She danced with me instead. The song was something about female power. I don’t remember. I danced and danced. At one point the DJ announced there were only three songs left to play and I realised it was just me and all the young people on the dance floor. I was too happy to sit down.
Tomorrow I have an appointment with my surgeon. It’s my last one. It’s been five years since my diagnosis next Wednesday. I am well.
And deeply, deeply grateful.