The Reality I Know and Live

Three years ago today, in my favorite spot in my favorite city, I married my favorite person. I remember lightly teasing Sean about not shaving and not ironing his suit. He teased me for wearing a white dress that I had previously worn as part of a Halloween costume. None of that mattered — we were getting hitched! So ready to embark on our journey as husband and wife. But unfortunately, because death is as unexpected as life itself, we never got to celebrate a single wedding anniversary.

Against my better judgement, I still go to weddings. I’ve been to nine weddings since our own, eight of them without a plus one, without Sean. I cry each time. To be fair, weddings have always made me cry. The vows always get me, now more than ever: To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do we part…

Weddings are still mostly fun for me. I like the ritual of the ceremony and the traditions; the food, the dancing, the speeches, the hashtags. But amid the festivities, there’s always a small, quiet instant where I feel sad. I mourn the hypothetical future that could have been ours. I indulge and torture myself with the possibilities. Where would we have travelled together? Would we have saved enough money to get that condo by the beach? Would you have convinced me to get a dog? Would we have caved and eventually had a kid? What would we look like as an old married couple? How saggy would that lion on your chest get? Would you still love me with without a thigh gap? What would our life look like after so many wonderful years together? It’s easy to imagine how vibrant the future could have played out when your reality is upset by a cruel fate. Sean said to me once that going down a rabbit hole of hypotheticals is pointless. It’s not the reality we know and live.

Have you ever seen a comet or a meteor shower? Like, really seen one in nature? I have yet to see one. Whenever one comes around, I never catch it. The sky is too foggy or there’s too much light pollution to see it clearly. FOMO doesn’t quite describe how it makes me feel. It’s more like a feeling of anticipation and excitement and wonder quickly extinguished by the realization that you won’t be able to witness its glory in real time — and the looming fear that it may not happen again in your lifetime. That’s how I feel about Sean. That’s how I feel about love. The two are synonymous.

I recently watched a video of Sean and I reciting our wedding vows because I’m apparently an emotional masochist. There’s a moment in his vows where he says, “You’ve given me the opportunity to pursue dreams I never would have thought possible. I feel like I just owe you so much.” And in the video, I visibly snicker! When I take myself back to that moment, I remember thinking, “Is this why he proposed? He feels like he owes me something? Did I just guilt him into marrying me?!” But then he saves the whole thing by saying, “I promise I will work hard everyday to repay you so that you feel like you are living your dreams for the rest of your life.”

I think that’s what I miss most about living life with Sean. That feeling of “I believe in you.” He believed in me, and holding onto that notion is one of the only things that actually keeps pushing me forward. He believed in me when I didn’t, when I wouldn’t believe in myself, when I didn’t feel like I deserved good things. And I believed in him— as an actor, as a husband and partner, as the best human I’ve ever known. Sean was a reliable rock to support all of my irrationality, an insightful companion to laugh at the world with, a kind soul who had the patience and made the effort to take care of my heart before his own. He was the reality I knew, the reality I lived, and if by chance I ever get to witness a meteor shower in my lifetime, it will be a subpar consolation.