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My Mom’s Best Advice

It’s 3 a.m. I toss and turn, praying for sleep to come, but it never does. Instead my attention is drawn to the steady snores of my best friend sleeping in the living room of our hotel suite. Even though it’s subtle, like an ineffective chainsaw sluggishly sawing wood, her muffled wheezing is all I hear. I want to strangle her. But it’s really not her fault; it’s mine. I’m too excited to sleep. By this time tomorrow I’ll be an official ball and chain, an old lady, a yin to someone’s yang. I’ll be married. My stomach feels like it swallowed a colony of butterflies, I’m so thrilled. But really the one thing that is at the forefront of my thoughts the one thing that is keeping my slumber at bay is not my best friend’s bulldog-like breathing, it’s how undeniably ready I am to marry the most wonderful man I’ve ever met. Especially since nearly two years ago I wanted to run for the hills. 

It was March of 2012 when I told my mother I couldn’t go through with the wedding. My fiancé (who I had been with since 2007) proposed on Sept. 3, 2010, and our wedding date was set for Oct. 13, 2012. With only seven months away, the impending nuptials were suffocating me.    

“You do what you feel is right, and who cares what anybody thinks,” my mother says. “But don’t live your life based on what happened to me.” 

She was referring to her first two marriages. Her first marriage ended after she caught her husband in a secret rendezvous with another woman. Her second ended after being subjected to years of abuse, infidelity and lies. 

But the third time was indeed a charm. She met and married my stepfather, who not only helped her heal, but helped her raise my sister and me. It’s been more than 30 years since they’ve been together, and I can still see how much he loves her. And although my mom did eventually get her happy ending, it wasn’t without years of shedding inconsolable tears. 

So while I gave the excuse of needing to finish school before getting married or the fact that I couldn’t marry someone whose cleaning contributions to our home were abysmal, I was really just masking the real issue: fear. 

My mother was right. I was trying to call off the wedding due to an irrational fear that if I too married, a similar fate awaited me one filled with pain and agony. 

So the wedding was postponed for exactly a year, during which time I did a lot of self-reflecting. I faced certain realities I never wanted to before, like the fact that pain is sometimes unavoidable, and not living my life based on fear is not only cowardly but wasteful. 

I thank my mother for helping me realize this. And as I lay here in bed the day of my wedding unable to fall asleep, I think of her, and how her wisdom and fortitude has made this day possible. 

Before I know it, the sun is out. I wake up my best friend to begin the wedding day festivities, but before we know it we’re faced with minor setbacks: my hairstylist has a flat tire, one of our groomsmen is rushed to the emergency room, my snoring beauty has an anxiety attack, and I have awakened with a full-blown rash.  

“Put some Windex on it,” my mom says. Although I tell her, “Mom, this is no time for ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ quotes,” her words make me laugh and relax me.  

Everyone will tell you the day goes by so quickly, and this I can attest to. But there are moments in the day that will be forever tattooed in your memory. For me it was when both my parents were walking me down the aisle. Even though it was a beautiful day, seeing my fiancé standing at the altar was like seeing the sun come out after a rainy day. I turned toward my dad to kiss him on the cheek, and then toward my mom. I thanked her, told her how much I loved her, and happily entered into a new phase of my life.