It was my wedding day.
I stood outside the doors to the chapel. My heart was racing, and I felt my eyes fill up with tears.
I can’t do this.
Before I could turn and run, the doors flung open. I was caught off guard as 80 expectant faces turned to look at me. I scanned the crowd. I saw my family and friends. I saw my dad and stepfather waiting in front of the altar to give me away. But I was going to have to walk down the aisle alone, and that was not how it was supposed to be.
I don’t know how long I paused there. I felt like I couldn’t move.
Then my eyes found my future husband, Joe. And right next to him, I saw a single candle burning on a tall candelabra. Gulp. I looked back at Joe and decided that if I could make it down the aisle to him, I’d be OK.
I felt as if my knees might buckle, but somehow I began walking. It was surreal. I felt as if I were floating, but I eventually made it down the aisle.
Eighteen months earlier, my 16-year-old brother was diagnosed with a rare pediatric bone cancer.
The diagnosis was grim. The prognosis was not good. He was quick to rally. He was going to be fine. He was going to live his life. He was still planning a future. He packed a lot of living in a short time.
Ten days before my wedding, he lost his fight.
Now, I look back and I don’t know how my family and I made it through both a funeral and a wedding in such a short span of time, but we did. There would be no postponing of the wedding as I’d suggested. Every single member of my family told me in no uncertain terms that my brother would never want me to put it off. He always said he "didn’t have time for cancer." He didn’t let it stop him from doing the things he wanted to do, and he would be highly pissed if I let cancer stop my wedding.