This week I was the lucky girl who got to see Pirates of Penzance for the second time. It was fantastic and hilarious. Sitting in that theatre reminded me of about one year ago, when my mom, my sister Jordi & I went to see it (for my first time) at the Stratford Festival. Going to a show at Stratford is one my favourite things in the entire world. But this was at a point when not only was I still not able to eat regular foods, but I had zero facial expression. As part of the surgery, my muscles had been detached and so I couldn't smile - not even with my eyes. A few times when I thought I was smiling from ear to ear, like when I got my hair cut short, or when I ate mashed potatoes for the first time and was liberated from my smoothies, I actually had no facial expression whatsoever. When we went to Stratford, I was right in the middle of this phase. But at one point in the play, which I was enjoying very much, Jordana looked over at me and even though I wasn't smiling, my shoulders were shaking with laughter. I was smiling on the inside and I couldn't hold it in anymore. Maybe even during several parts. And watching that hilarious historic play again this week reminded me of what it was to laugh after what felt like a long time without laughter.
One a more significant note, just over one week ago my sister Tamara got married! I'm not going to lie - it was a stressful week leading up to the wedding with lots of tasks to get done and not much time to do them. Everyone was exhausted, some feelings got hurt, and the bride got a 2nd degree burn on her arm, but everything got done in time. For example, we made 132 jars of jam so that there would be one on every plate as a favour for their guests. We made table numbers, escort cards, labels for the jam, put together some (pretty awesome) goodie bags for guests that were staying at the hotel overnight, and emergency supply kits for the bathroom at the venue. We threw a BBQ at my parents' house for out-of-towners and close family members the night before the wedding. We decorated Tamara's "bridal suite". And in the middle of all of this, personally, I had to finish Molly's mosaic and I was accepted into my first show where I'll be selling my mosaic art (hooray!). But even though we were tired and overwhelmed and sometimes grumpy, we wanted to do everything we possibly could to make Tamara's special day as special as it could possibly be! And it all came together. Those little details made a big difference. And at the rehearsal, when everything was handed over to the venue, we all felt a rush of excitement as the real work was over and the fun could begin.
Jordana & I decorated Tamara's "bridal suite" the night before her wedding
132 jars of jam
With great reason, Tamara was extremely emotional all week. Lots of happy tears streamed down her face every time something special happened. And she got an early start on the tears the morning of the wedding, when her groom, Will, sent a very thoughtful wedding gift and card for her to open at the salon.
Have you ever seen a bigger smile in your entire life? She was such a beautiful, beaming, happy bride.
While everyone else was overflowing with emotions, I wasn't. Don't get me wrong. I was happy. I was excited. I was glad. But I wasn't crying. As Tamara walked down the aisle to meet her husband, I was pre-occupied with wondering what's wrong with me that I'm the only one not tearing up. Am I dead inside? I could appreciate how beautiful she looked, how happy she was and that she was getting married, but the significance really wasn't soaking in, and I wasn't tearful ... that is until the hora. Watching my sister dance at her own wedding was a dream come true. Seeing anyone you know closely so extremely happy, after knowing of the ups and downs they've gone through to get there, is really special. But it's indescribable when it's your soul sister. And so all the tears I hadn't shed earlier in the day came rushing out, a flood of emotions built up and a reminder of what it's like to be truly happy for someone else.
Over the past year, it's been hard for me to really be there for other people because I've had to focus on really being there for myself. As my old manager once told me, I was in "survival mode, not 'thrival' mode". And some of my relationships may have suffered because of this. But I see it as a sign that I'm now in a better place that I could feel such love and happiness for my sister, even if it came to me part way through her magical day.
When it was time for the father/daughter dance, Tamara and my dad got up there and the band played a beautiful Beatles song. And one by one, Tamara gestured to my mom, me and Jordana to come and join then. There we were, "the unit", all together and celebrating as one for this special day in all of our lives.
Just like when I was humming along with the Pirate King, even though you may not always see my smile, it doesn't mean it's not there.
Looking forward to many more chances to celebrate together and appreciate the full extent of my love for my family. Love you guys xoxo