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Happiness didn’t make me cry.

November 25, 2012

I should have started taking an antidepressant and seeing a counselor at age 10; my mother sometimes laments not putting me on medication and in therapy when I was a child. I clearly have needed psychiatric treatment for multiple reasons, but the catalyst behind my finally seeking help was my father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and the realization that I can’t cope with his illness alone. Because I feared sobbing while Daddy walked me down the aisle at my wedding, my therapist and I focused on preparing for that dreaded moment—along with the disappointment that my friends and Ryan’s family never will meet my socially ingenius father but a compromised, introverted version instead. Also, when Daddy acts apathetic about my wedding, it wouldn’t be fair for me to take offense; I remind myself that a disease has taken over his brain. For example, when Daddy said he wasn’t interested in looking at my wedding pictures on Thanksgiving, I winced for a second and remembered Alzheimer’s was talking.

I attended my now sister-in-law Jennifer’s wedding in August, and watching her dance at the reception with her father and stepfather as well as listening to their toasts was hard. While her father twirled her and held her hand against his chest, I cried as privately as possible, knowing that Daddy wouldn’t be able to sway with me to a Beatles song or give a speech at my own nuptials. (The latter in particular would cause him too much stress.) My therapist suggested that when visiting Daddy at home, I ask him what he would say if he could speak at my wedding—but not to expect a fulfilling answer.

“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it,” Daddy said when I approached him in the living room.

Again, Alzheimer’s was talking.

Despite the above anxieties, my wedding weekend was a joyful, inebriated success. I suppose the celebration kicked off on Thursday night at Cabbagetown restaurant Agave with Ryan’s father and Adam, one of Ryan’s groomsmen. A mere two margaritas filled me with surprising bloodthirst. When a homeless man attempted to help us parallel park on Edgewood Avenue for payment, I rolled down the window and told him to go away. Afraid the man would vandalize his vehicle, Ryan moved to a lot across the street. However, the man followed us. Once I exited the car, he screamed at me, “Hey I didn’t realize you were racist!”

“Oooo. Way to pull the race card!” I yelled.

“Why don’t you go take care a yo yeast infection?!” he screamed as we walked toward Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium (which Atlantans just call Church).

“What did he say to me?” I stomped to a halt, running back toward the man. Adam ended up carrying me into the bar.

In continuation of the festivities, our rehearsal dinner took place the following night in a private room at Cafe Lily. Without asking permission, Ryan’s stepfather brought his karaoke machine, cranking our noise level up 20 notches.

During groomsman Phil’s raw performance of “Love Shack,” the restaurant manager leaned through the curtain separating us from the main dining area and said, “You guys are going to have to tone down the karaoke.”

“All right, haters!” Phil hollered into the microphone at the song’s completion. “HATERS GONNA HATE!”

While our dinner guests’ renditions of “Mustang Sally,” “Red Rubber Ball” and “Somewhere Out There” jacked most everyone up, the clamor became too much for Daddy to handle. My stomach sank at the sight of him leaving the table and standing at the exit in search of fresh air. Fortunately, my desire to showcase my rapping ability during “Gangsta’s Paradise” overtook my sadness. Plus, the restaurant manager ended up handling our commotion with grace and offered Ryan and me a bottle of Prosecco as a congratulatory gift, noting that we were his most fun private party ever by far.

Daddy and me walking down the aisle at my wedding | photo by Bonnie J. Heath Photography

Daddy and me walking down the aisle at my wedding

photo by Bonnie J. Heath Photography »

I felt nauseated and nervous on the wedding day overall, but the ceremony mismanagement transformed the processional into a humorous shit show. I figured we had paid our day-of coordinator to stay on top of the ceremony logistics, but she forgot to hand me my bouquet and remind me to get Ryan’s wedding band. Plus, the music stopped once my bridesmaids made it to the end of the aisle, so Daddy and I walked in silence. I choose to look at those mishaps as a blessing because I laughed the entire way down.

The reception raced by as anticipated. Also as expected, Daddy left the party early with his childhood best friend Carolyn. She and Mother “traded” responsibilities, since her son with Down Syndrome, Clint, wanted to stay.

The night ended with hammered Ryan hanging all over my mother and repeating to her that she is beautiful and he loves her. He proceeded to mash against Clint in the back seat of my parents’ car until someone guided him back inside the venue.

Perhaps my favorite memory is the last song our DJ (DJ Dookie Platters) played upon my request: “Do You Realize?” by the Flaming Lips. Mother, Timber, Ryan, my closest friends and I put our arms around each other and spun in a circle screaming the following lyrics:

Do You Realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize – we’re floating in space –
Do You Realize – that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

It’s funny. Daddy and Ryan don’t remember a lot about the wedding but for totally different reasons.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Timber permalink
    December 14, 2012 6:22 pm

    You know Daddy would have done a countdown to your wedding day if he weren’t in his current condition! I’m glad the flubs in your ceremony didn’t ruin the day for you. I, too, thought it was pretty funny in spite of my concurrent frustration. Your wedding was beautiful, as was its bride!

    • December 14, 2012 6:42 pm

      Aw, thank you, Timby! One of the saddest things to me was that Daddy didn’t do a once-typical countdown. But we were blessed with a wonderful day – thank you for being a badass maid of honor. ❤

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