On Gay Modern Love: A Wedding Invitation for a Mom Long Gone


In which The Gay Recluse presents a gay/impressionistic alternative to this week’s Modern Love offering in The Times. Those looking for our quantitative analysis should click here.

Published: May 11, 2008

SEVEN months ago, I was married in an ivory lace dress to a woman in a gray suit on an island neither of us had ever been to.

My mother was not there because she has been dead for so long that the scales have recently tipped: I have seen more days without her than with.

I was blindsided by the fact that wedding rituals — the big dress shop, the bridal shower, the planning — seemed designed to highlight her absence.

My girlfriend didn’t even want a wedding.

I didn’t want the typical wedding either. I couldn’t visualize myself in a white dress, walking down a long aisle.

But I knew my mother would have wanted one. “No wedding?” she would have said. “Over my dead body.”

After we decided to have one, there was the dress, the bridal shower and the question of how to honor my mother at the wedding.

For the dress, I forced my brother to come shopping with me. He cooed. No tears, maybe, but I got a “Beautiful!” or two.

I cried at the bridal shower when my mother’s friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in close to 16 years, said: “She would have been so proud of you.”

I was better at the wedding, though. I don’t know why. My friends helped; the moments when I might have pined for her were instead filled with Champagne.

And I know my mother was there, because I didn’t feel deprived, not even for a single moment.

And in the end, I even found a way to integrate my mother into the dress. I salvaged the ivory lace flowers from her decades-old wedding gown and stitched them onto my veil. It was my silent tribute.

For that one single day, I somehow managed to let go of everything I believed about life and death and earth and sky. I forgot about the limitations of mortality, about absence and finality and regret.

Instead, I knew my mother was there with me — in that piece of her dress, or in the wind, or in the crowd squinting up at us — with her own wedding gift of sorts: one more day for my “with her” column, which was one day fewer that I have lived without.

Most miraculous of all, I knew she had forgiven me for never telling her I was gay.

Julie Buxbaum lives in Los Angeles. Her first novel, “The Opposite of Love,” was recently published by Dial Press.

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