7 years ago today, I was waking up at my parents' house, getting ready with my bridesmaids, and rushing to a church to walk down the aisle to Rick. In fact, right now, I was a few hours married...dancing the night away.
It feels as though it might as well be 70 years ago.
You have no way of knowing how things will turn out. You put in fancy earrings and talk to your mom for the last time as a single woman in the house where you grew up, ready to embark upon a marriage journey at 23.
The photos show me looking basically the same as I do now, but I've aged so much inside these past 7 years. When you're taking charge on your parents' front porch, trying to instruct the photographer what you want him to do, you don't foresee widowhood at 29.
When you're laughing in the sun, excited for a new life, you can't know that financial hardship and the emotional pain, depression, chronic pain, and alcoholism of your mate will one day shake your world.
I loved Rick and Rick loved me. He taught me a lot in the 7.5 years I was with him and during the 6 years we were married. Today would be 7 years, but I want to stop counting...because he is not here anymore and I've moved on. That time is over, and in truth, I feel that girl is gone. A better, wiser version is now in her place.
As with anyone who has been married and then not been married (no matter the circumstances), my marriage to Rick will always be a part of me. We went through a lot together and made a lot of memories. That won't go away. And that is totally okay. Because it happened. But it doesn't mean I won't be happy again. Or even happIER. I've learned a lot along the way and I know that second chances exist. I also know what I want and don't want in a way I didn't know at 23.
People say your wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. And I was happy in those photos. I was happy on my wedding day. But...here's the thing about the way this crazy world works: I'm even happier now.
A new life is difficult to begin. But beautiful things are waiting... happiness exists beyond past happiness... we can have what we want... surprises find us. Our past has a place, but our future can be brighter still. And I know wherever he is, Rick is so happy I've figured this out.