She needed something to do. Not fuss over the dresses, or bother the bridesmaids. That was silly, and no help to anyone. The last thing she wanted to be was “that” kind of mother. Besides, it was her daughter’s day, not hers, and she had always despised parents who had to grab their children’s limelight. “She must increase, and I must decrease,” she murmured to herself. It was a misapplication of scripture of course, but the principle was still sound. And if ever there was a time when it was appropriate, surely it was one’s daughter’s wedding day?
But it hurt. Things had been hard for almost as long as she could remember, but the last year had left her wrestling with more emotions than she knew how to name, let alone categorise. Her marriage had always been strained: good on the outside, depleted and barren within, but all those straitjacketed emotions had been thrown into turmoil by her husband’s sudden death, and the sordid revelations which had followed. She had coped silently, alternating grief and denial while the numbing months flowed past. Looking back, it was her responsibilities to others that had helped keep her sane while she dealt with these things. And especially her responsibilities to Jessa, her beautiful daughter, her only child. She suspected that her husband had always been a little jealous of the bond between mother and daughter, and a little resentful that she had “given up” after several miscarriages and one heartbreaking still birth, and never produced the expected son. But that was his loss, to have a lovely daughter and never quite see her value.
And today it was Jessa’s turn to become a wife, to turn towards a young man, starry-eyed, and give him her heart’s first allegiance. Resolutely she swallowed her own pain, the terrible sense of loss that came with letting go, and tried to consider her daughter’s welfare. Once she, too, had been just such a starry-eyed young bride, but she knew now that her bridegroom had never been what she dreamed. It had not been the worst possible life, but it had been so much less than it could have been. In the end, she acknowledged now, with the cold hindsight that comes after grief, so much of it had built on a lie, a lie she had chosen to go on believing because the alternative had been unbearable.
What if Jessa ..? but no, that way lay destruction. She wanted to protect her little girl with every fierce atom of herself but then, her own motives were suspect, since she also wanted Jessa for herself. Besides, there was absolutely no reason to doubt the character of Jessa’s bridegroom. It was time to let go, to let her little girl move forward into life, to hold out her own empty hands and let God fill them with whatever came next. In a moment of clarity she suddenly saw that real love is always an act of faith, an act of deliberately choosing not to cling and grasp, but to give, to let go, and to wait. She was ready now, ready to end what had been, and begin a new chapter of life. There would still be love.