Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
Two things happened this year that made me feel alive, two things that are opposite sides of the same coin, really. I got married in September, a day full of happiness and fun and love, and then my grandma died in October and there were days of sadness and family and, you guessed it, love again.
When I think about both events, spending time with friends in the days before the wedding, the rehearsal dinner, the day itself, and a month later, the last time I saw Grandma, the visitation, the funeral, the days of confusion, I tend to focus on specific moments, the most important flashing through my mind in quick succession.
My grandma couldn't come to the wedding, but she was present that day. The pastor surprised us all by taking a moment to remember her during the ceremony, and I concentrated on blinking away the tears that quickly formed in my eyes. I sat next to my great-aunt, my Grandma's twin sister, after the ceremony and she held my hand, told me how the pastor's words had touched her, and we sat for a quiet moment together.
The wedding ceremony itself was a blur. My feet hurt, my arm was tired from holding the bouquet, and my cheeks already ached from smiling and laughing. We were so happy, walking out into the church foyer after the ceremony, holding hands, hugging friends and family, taking a giddy ride to the reception.
The reception was...I don't even know. There was Twister and dancing and there were fake mustaches EVERYWHERE, there were cupcakes and soft pretzels, and a bottle of wine and Hogwarts being passed around on the dance floor. I danced with my family and old friends and new friends and did I mention Hogwarts? I walked arm in arm to the bar (naturally) with my dad to get a drink, grinned at my parents dancing with their best friends, delighted in seeing my sister dance with mine. If the wedding ceremony was a blur, the reception was even hazier, a crazy whirligig of fun, if you will (™ Xander Harris), a funhouse ride swirling us about in an uncontrollable dance, finally spitting us back out at my parents' house for more celebration.
There was a moment, though, at my parents' house, that my dad and his brother and sister and I stood in a huddle in the kitchen, arms around shoulders, friends and family eddying around us. I don't remember who said it or how it was said, but someone made reference to how much fun Grandma would have had and how much she'd been missed that day, and we stood there, all bittersweet smiles and aching hearts, until we were swept away by the general merriment of the night. We didn't know she would be gone in a month. How could we?
The days of her visitation and funeral passed in a similar blur, but with more tears. My eyes were swollen from a week of crying and still my body had more tears, my high-heeled feet hurt, my heart hurt, and all I wanted to do was hide. But, as always seems to happen, those times when you want to run and hide are exactly the times you can't, and so I went to the visitation, made small talk with almost-strangers and kept my eye on my family, gravitating to whoever might need me most. I went to the funeral, jumped up to read when it was my turn, and spent the rest of it with my eyes forward, tears streaming down my face, holding Joe's hand, my other arm around my sister's shoulders.
It was a sunny autumn day, brisk but not cold, as we gathered around the graveside to say our final goodbyes. I tried not to stumble in my heels. I smiled at my sister, put a rose on other family plots, hugged a crying cousin as we walked away from Grandma one last time. I felt too alive that day and all too human.
We went to my parents' house after both the wedding reception and the funeral, my entire family gathered, joyous to be together, missing those not there, and all of us grinning and crying and laughing, just grateful to be alive and loving each other.