Three years and a couple of months ago, my ex husband and I got in a fight on a Thursday night, and he walked out, without really explaining why. That first night I cried. Saturday we had a wedding to go to together, with six other couples from our church - his friends more than mine, since I'd just moved to town a few months earlier when we got married.
My friend A texted me to confirm we would still carpool with them. I texted to ask if he wanted to go. He said no. I couldn't just sit home all night Saturday with my thoughts, so I made an excuse for him and went alone.
At that wedding, I broke down to another friend, K, told her he'd walked out, told her I was terrified, told her I didn't know what to do. K is ten years older than me and was close to ten years into marriage. She told me it would be okay, assured me the first year is always hard, but that we would get through it. And then we drank together, bottle after bottle of wine from the open bar.
The bride and groom gave all the children a little box of toys, including a small stuffed bear. They also had those little disposable windup cameras on each table. Another friend of ours (T) had her son's bear sitting on the table, and, drunk and emotionally exhausted, K and I took it upon ourselves to take the most ridiculous, mildly offensive pictures of the bear we could. He smoked, he looked down a busty friend's dress, he drank, he passed out on an empty bottle, he went into the men's bathroom and used the urinal courtesy of K's husband.
That was the night I sat on the corner of the dance floor and cried, pretending the bride couldn't see me. It was the night I passed out in K's husband's car as they drove me home. It was the night I felt like my whole world was falling apart. It was the night before I found out my ex was cheating on me.
When we left, me almost too drunk to walk, K's husband half carried me to their car and K fed me macadamia chocolates that she found in the back seat from her recent trip to Hawaii. We left the disposable camera on the table, and the bear went home with T, the mama whose child he belonged to. Weeks later the bride and groom thanked us all for the photos, saying they'd gotten a good laugh out of it all. Months after that, the bride found out I was by then divorced and finally asked why I'd been such a mess at her wedding, and apologized profusely for things that were never her fault.
Today T posted a picture of that bear drinking coffee on facebook and tagged everyone from our table at that wedding, made a witty comment about how he needed coffee to drink off his hangover, naughty bear.
And I laughed when I saw it. My mind flooded back to those pictures, to the laughter that night, which, while masking obvious pain and often interrupted with tears even as I was snapping pictures, was still real. My mind went back to the good part of that night, not the bad part.
I even commented, 'What an epic night!' and then stopped to think how incredibly awkward it should all feel for me, so I edited my comment to add that I consider it personal growth that I feel that way.
Time moves on. Wounds heal. Pain fades. The good is stronger than the bad. Laughter is a stronger memory than tears. And I am content with where I am.