Wedding VS. Funeral

I spent this past weekend with Stacey and Lisa. Saturday was supposed to be my wedding shower. Many I am sure wonder why they didn’t receive an invite but the truth is, my Matron of Honour and I chose the date just a little over a week before Nick died. We were going to hold the shower in my parent’s beautiful backyard, and I was so looking forward to spending the day with the most amazing women in the world. I am so blessed to know so many strong, determined, funny, loving, and bad ass women. I don’t know where I would be without these women.

This weekend Lisa, Stacey and I reflected on our lives, our friendship, and our future. I will speak for all three of us when I say we had an absolute blast. Okay, I will admit, if it weren’t for Stacey’s husband Bo, we probably would have ended up getting tattoos or shooting each other with a loaded firearm, but that’s neither here nor there.

I love these women. I lost the love of my life this year, but I still want to laugh, and I still want to have fun. Five months ago it was different but today I want to make memories. I have been told so many times to just “be positive.” Sometimes I want to smack people when they say this sort of thing to me. Being positive when the person you love has died, is really fucking hard. This weekend, though, we were positive. For example, Lisa and Stacey were mesmerized with my tattooed sleeve that is still a work in progress. Most of the upper arm is complete, and the detail is insane. I said to the girls, “I am so glad Nick died because now I get to have this kick ass tattoo.” Yup, that’s right, me being positive. Oh and don’t forget when we were trying to convince Bo to let Stacey get a tattoo with our new trademark of 818079 on it. “Hey girls, I am so glad Nick is dead, and I can make my own decisions now.”

Morbid? Ya, a little. I am so blessed to have women in my life who allow me to make crude comments and who will just laugh at me and say “Oooooh too soon.” Obviously, I don’t mean any of these things, but this is me trying to be positive. 😉 I am so lucky to have women who love me on my good days, on my bad days, and the days when I am ready to end it all.

Several of my friends have said to me, “Nick’s funeral was too much like a wedding.” I know that sounds strange, but I have to agree with them. Let’s go back to that day.

I remember waking up that morning thinking; this can not be fucking happening. I think I had got out of bed 30 minutes before I had to be at the shop to meet the group. I remember having the worst anxiety and this feeling of, I am not doing this today. Somewhere in all of that, I decided there is no damn way I am showing up at Nick’s funeral looking like a pile of shit. I got out of bed, and I put myself together for a day that was much too like my wedding.

Everyone was waiting for me. Everyone wanted to wish me well. Everyone wanted to see me and be there for me. It all felt okay at first. I was still in such a deep shock. Keep in mind; I didn’t do much of the funeral planning because I just couldn’t. A week before I was wedding planning and I had just bought my damn wedding dress. We just picked out Nick’s suit and what the groomsmen were going to wear less than two weeks before Nick died. Do you know how messed up it is to go from picking out a wedding suit to picking out what you are going to showcase your dead fiancé in? I will never forget my Mom dragging me up the stairs into the closet, and we just cried. How do you pick out clothes for the body of your best friend? Like everything else, you just do.

I remember showing up at Brad’s shop. Everyone was there. We booked the Godzilla bus to take us to the funeral. We booked the same Godzilla bus that I had booked for our wedding just a few weeks prior. Nick was so excited. On February 7th Nick posted on his Facebook the following:

“You know you’re marrying the right girl when while you’re out sledding she books the limo bus for the wedding and says, ‘I’m pretty sure Nick would want the Godzilla truck.'”

Darn rights my love. I knew what you wanted, and I wanted to make you happy. What I didn’t have planned was taking this bus to your funeral. We all loaded up on the bus, and the boys bought a flat of twisted teas to toast Nick. Gross, I had a beer and Nick knows his girl loved her beer.

When we got to the funeral home, it started to hit me. This is not my wedding day. I am not going to be meeting Nick at the end of the aisle. I held on to sweet Jaxon’s little hand, and he walked me off the bus. I remember seeing an Ambulance thinking, Oh thank god the paramedics are here in case I pass out. It turns out it was a long time family friend who showed up to pay her respects. Thank you Amy.

There was a fire truck parked outside and the honor guards at the doors. I kept having to remind myself I was “me” and not a police officer going to a funeral for a fallen member. This is me and the man inside we are paying our respects to is Nick. My Nick.

I walked in the doors and remembered seeing so many people. I didn’t know a lot of them, and I don’t even have words to describe my confusion. Why am I here? What are we doing again? Shortly after we arrived, it was time to start. The piper started, and I knew what to do. But did I? Any other time I heard the piper, I would march. I  would march and I would march, and I would salute. I would salute to the fallen officer. But this time, it wasn’t a fallen officer. It was Nick, my Nick.

I remember walking down that aisle behind the piper and not knowing where to look. I am not a bride. That’s all I kept thinking. I am not a bride. Nick is at the end of the aisle, but I am not a bride, and he is in a casket. I sat down, and the service began.

I don’t remember a lot of what was said, but I remember being called up to read the Eulogy. My Uncle Nelson came up with me in case I couldn’t make it through. I kept thinking to myself, what are we doing again? My Uncle Nelson was supposed to be the Master of Ceremonies at our wedding, but instead, he was standing by my side to help me get through this horribly confusing and difficult reading.

I remember getting up there and taking a minute. I tried to wipe away my tears, but the kleenexes were awful. I was five seconds away from using my Uncle’s sleeve. I remember looking out at everyone and thinking, who are all these people? I was amazed by all of the firefighters who showed up to pay their respects and there was not one person in the room who wasn’t ugly crying. For a moment I was proud. I was so proud of my Nick and the lives that he had touched. I shared my final words, and we laughed, we cried and remembered. We remembered my Nick. I was not reading my vows; I was reading my farewell.

During the service, we shared a slide show. Friend’s of mine and Nick’s spent a great deal of time putting together this slide show, and it was beautiful. It was beautiful, but it was not the slide show I was hoping to see. It wasn’t the one we were going to share at our wedding. This slide show was to send off my beloved Nick. Thank you again ladies.

At the end of the service, I remember the piper. Oh, the piper. I have heard many pipers over the years, and this piper was flawless. I have stood at attention to the song Amazing Grace several times in my career but this time, I was walking out of the service following my sweet Nick, while he lay in his casket carried by his friends, and followed by several uniformed firefighters and co-workers who loved him. Nick was an Apparatus Technician aka heavy duty mechanic for Calgary Fire Department and let me tell you, his fellow co-workers and friends are a vision I will never forget. They all looked stunning.

When we got outside the firefighters saluted my sweet Nick. I remember standing next to Nick’s best friend Matt with his arm around me, and I just cried. I was overwhelmed, sad, proud, angry, lost, scared and most of all I was feeling in that moment, finality. Nick’s body was being placed in the hearse, and that would be the last time I would be in the presence of his physical form.

Today’s entry is not to make everyone cry. Here is what I want to remind you of. Today something may be stressing you out, or you may be struggling to plan the perfect wedding or the perfect party or the perfect baby shower. Whatever it is, remember, today you could be planning whatever it is you are planning and tomorrow you could be planning a funeral. I can not stress enough how important it is to seize the day and just laugh and love. Just enjoy whatever it is that you are doing because whatever it is you are doing means you are alive.None of us our guaranteed tomorrow. I try to remind myself on the days I am feeling really bad that today could be my last. As much as I want to stay in bed, I don’t. I get up and I go. I get up and I make memories. The last four days I spent camping with my family. I got to take my one year old nephew into the lake for the first time and he loved it. I got to be the one to teach my oldest nephew how to hook a worm on his fishing rod and it was hilarious.  There is nothing more entertaining than listening to your aunt and your grandma teach you how to hook a damn worm.  (It was not easy by the way). 

If I would have focussed on the things that I am so sad and angry about, I never would have made these memories. Please, please, please listen to what I am saying.

Thank you so much to those who made Nick’s funeral breath taking, especially the Calgary Fire Department. Nick deserved every minute of it, and although it wasn’t the day I had planned, I couldn’t have envisioned a better day to honor my love.

“Goodbyes make you think. They make you realize what you’ve had, what you’ve lost and what you took for granted. So appreciate what you have before it becomes, what you had.”-unknown-


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