My fiance lost his mom to cancer years back. I wasn't with him when it happened, so I didn't know what he was like while she was still on earth. I only ever hear stories, see pictures, or on good days, watch home videos of her.
I am fortunate enough to still have both my parents.
That is a blessing I think several of us often take for granted, but when you're with someone who doesn't have that same luxury, you really start to see a gift for what it's worth. To me, my parents are worth everything and even more so now that I see what losing one of them can do to a kid.
Though my fiance is an adult, I am able to see the obstacles in his life where he'd benefit so much greater if he'd still had his mom here.
As I plan our wedding, I get a little sad thinking about the dance I will do with my dad. It's a bittersweet moment, but one I couldn't imagine not sharing with him. When I asked my fiance if he'd like to dance with my mom since his wouldn't be able to be at our wedding, he said, "I don't think that dance should be shared with anyone except my mom."
I immediately felt two things. One was a sense of guilt because I couldn't ever dance with anyone else for my father-daughter dance at my wedding besides my dad. It wouldn't sit right with me, and I felt guilty for not putting myself in my fiance's shoes before asking. Two, I felt a little blessed at that moment. I always just assumed I'd have my dad there to dance with me on my wedding day. As if it was owed to me? The truth is, I'm fortunate because he will be there. That's something I wouldn't even have thought about had I not watched someone I love plan a wedding without someone he desperately loved, there.
I fast forward to after our wedding and imagine watching my parents be grandparents to our kids.
They are already so excited for babies that have only, partially, been thought about. I call my mom and say, "I think I'll have my kids call you something like, Meemaw!" Then we both laugh, and go through other names that would sound cute coming from our future kids' mouths.
Before I was with my fiance, I'd talk about my "one day kids" to my parents. I'd tell them my plan for how future family vacations would be and days they'd probably watch them while I worked. We honestly discussed it all. Once again, I felt this was given, promised, and owed to me. I would not have changed my expectations or dreams had I not met Ethan.
As naive as it sounds, I'd still believe that my family and myself were all invincible when it came to death.
But I've been forced to see the repercussions that come with someone losing a parent. When you live with another person, you don't just get a roommate. You don't just get someone to cook, sleep, and go about your daily routine with, you get someone and witness things that happen in their life, and then see the aftermath of it all.
I am more grateful for the presence of my parents now than I ever have been before.
On every occasion where my fiance needs a mom, I thank God I still have mine. And part of my vows to him will be that no matter what it takes, I will try to ease the sting in any way I can for him when he feels like he really needs his mom.
Even though Ethan is the one who lost the parent, I am able to take away a lot from his loss too. Though I wish the circumstances were different... they aren't. When you watch someone you love and live with lose a parent, you start to live each day feeling even more thankful that you have your own.
Do I treat them differently than I did when I first met Ethan? Absolutely.
Did I stop expecting things to happen exactly as I imagined they once would? No question about it.
Did I and do I continue to try and fill a void in Ethan that I could only imagine would be there after losing a mom? Of course.
I have never experienced death enough for it to affect me. I was either too young when a grandparent died or wasn't as close to people that have passed recently. If my parents were to pass, I always tell everyone I would grieve horribly because I've never had to go through what it was like to lose a parent.
The truth is (though it's not even close to the real thing) I've witnessed the aftermath of losing a parent in someone I love. I watch him miss her, I feel sadness from him during songs that remind him of her, and I see the hurt in his eyes when we talk about our wedding, knowing she can't physically be there.
I see what loss does to you, so I try to use my fiance's life as inspiration for my own.
I will love and care for my parent's harder than I ever have before because I know that's what Ethan would've done if his mom was still around, knowing what he knows now. You don't get second chances to show your parents you love them, so you might as well do it now.
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