Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My age-old secret.

Remember, I was busting at the seams?

My mother is getting married in 38 days. I am happy for her. I really like Steve. I no longer entertain the idea of my parents ever getting together again. That was done, years and years ago. And, up until now, I've been really positive about this whole situation.

Okay, I've been walking on eggshells around the house, because I got a save-the-date card and really couldn't put it on the fridge. And I got a formal invitation to the wedding, but I couldn't leave it out anywhere. And I'm a bridesmaid, and I can't tell Dad how the dress search is going. And I had to book a flight to New Mexico, but I couldn't talk about the soaring cost of flights to Albuquerque. Not that my dad hasn't been dating someone for a really long time, or that he isn't a grown man who doesn't need to be protected. But I know my dad, and he's nostalgic for their marriage and the way things used to be.

My parents' marriage, as I experienced it, is only 20% of my life, really. I remember my parents talking in the front seat of the car as I slept in the back, my mom chewing watermelon and buttered popcorn jelly beans from Ogunquit. I remember Christmas mornings with Gumby and Pokey, and Irish soda bread with the Sheas, and Talking Heads dance parties, and Ring Around the Rosie. I remember my father's 35th birthday party, the day we got Sammy, training her to shut the door behind herself. I remember the day I asked permission to drink chocolate milk upstairs and instead sitting on my bed, talking about how things were going to change. I remember the feeling of chicken pox forming the day my mom moved out.

To hear my dad talk about it after dinner every now and again, they were the dream team, and very much in love. That's why they married less than a year after they met. That's why it wasn't so big a disappointment for my father to be leaving the Brothers for good. And I came along a few years later, and they were the dream parenting team. Every time we go to Doyle's, we hear the John and Eileen method of taking a kid out to dinner.

It's sad sometimes to hear my dad talk that way. A lot of family and friends tell me he never got over my mom, but I don't think that's true. The way my mom tells it, they sought counseling, and when they were asked to separate "loving each other" from "wanting to stay married". Mom says she said she thought she still loved him, but didn't want to be married to him anymore. She says Dad said the opposite. My dad is kind of in love with being in love, maybe, and forming habits with someone he cares about. I think that's reasonable, and not at all pathetic.

That aside, I haven't been nostalgic for that time of my life since I was eight, maybe. Today I found a picture of me and my parents. It was taken in Torrington, to the side of my grandmother's house on Chelton St. None of us seem to care that anybody might take our picture. We look so candidly happy - and to think all those years I never thought much of it.

So I guess in a way, the closer I get to my mom's wedding date, the more I come close to mourning my parents' marriage. What did Kubler-Ross says about grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance? I'm beginning to think it's been an awfully long period of depression.

I'm glad I have my best friend as my date. Who knows how I'll feel in July.