I’m Getting Married, & I Can’t Stop Thinking About Death

By Ashley C. Ford

Ever since Kel and I got engaged, I’m terrified that he’s going to die. This isn’t entirely new. In fact, pretty much since the moment I realized I was in love with him, I’ve been wary of his potential for an untimely demise. There are two factors at work here. The first is my generalized anxiety disorder which does cause me to think in worst-case scenarios and not just feel my fears, but picture them. Vividly. The second factor is my own preoccupation with death in general. Sometimes, Kel calls me his little goth because while I have no great affinity for the color black, or the sort of music a goth-identified person might be into, I am and always have been attracted to the darker more morbid sides of life and art. I find some of the ephemera attached to the idea of death and darkness (skeletons, spirits, cemeteries, etc) to be endlessly fascinating and aesthetically pleasing. And while I see nothing particularly gloomy about implementing a few of these elements into our wedding, I’m not sure Kel agrees. He may not want a grayscale color scheme, skeleton votives for center pieces, or for me to walk down the aisle to the first minute and forty-five seconds of “Welcome to The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. In fact, I’m quite sure he doesn’t.

I know what you’re thinking.

Is she really going to have a goth wedding?

Absolutely not. We want this wedding to reflect “us”, not the darkest possible side of my personal inclinations.

Doesn’t she know that people have goth weddings every day?

Of course I do. Well, I assume they do. It’s not like I’ve gone to one. But I would!

Didn’t we all watch Carmen Elektra and Dave Navarro do this on MTV like thirteen years ago?

Yeah, I forgot about that travesty, but thanks for reminding me.

I am who I am, and I am a woman who has always loved a happy ending that comes with a touch of melancholy, nostalgia, or macabre.

The truth is, I don’t want a black dress, a cake shaped like a gravestone, or a ring with a skull on it (at least not for my wedding ring, but I will happily wear rings with skulls on them otherwise).

But I am who I am, and I am a woman who has always loved a happy ending that comes with a touch of melancholy, nostalgia, or macabre. The first two movies I remember loving were Cinderella and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I know that last one sounds suspiciously goth given the fact that you can always find the film’s merchandise at the ever present mall beacon for beginner goths, Hot Topic, but it wasn’t like that for me. What I loved most about The Nightmare Before Christmas was how so many of the monsters, witches, ghouls, and skeletons who should have made me afraid, actually made me laugh, and swoon, and sing. The film turned my fear of the unknown and the seemingly monstrous into a pleasant experience. It taught me the joy of finding beauty in what others would call gruesome, in a woman who is also a doll who stitches herself back together, and in the loyalty of a pet dog who is also a ghost with a gleaming red nose. Yes, even as a kid, I understood the movie to mean, there are many ways to be a pretty thing.

As we continue the process of wedding planning, trying to nail down things like colors and decorations, I’ve had to ask myself over and over what I actually find beautiful. The answer is varied, of course. I find a lot of things beautiful, and I am always looking for more beauty in the world around me because in the limited time we have, it seems worthy of our attention. And that’s part of it too. Many things are beautiful because they end. People show up from all over the country just to see the cherry blossoms bloom in Washington, D.C. They don’t last long. Folks get the urge to drive up to Vermont in autumn to see the leaves change before the coming chill shakes them from their branches. Sometimes I take Kel’s hand, or smile while watching him from across the room, or decide to make his favorite breakfast first thing in the morning. Part of it is because I love him and want him to be happy, and I am often shaken by the depth of the love I feel for him. But the other part is that I know, even when we say “forever,” that is limited by the time we’re allowed in life. It is an intention, more than it is a literal promise. We can not give one another forever, because neither of us has forever to give to ourselves or anyone else.

The wedding colors we chose are navy, blush, cream, and gold. Navy because I always need a bit of dark shadow. Blush because we’re both pretty cheesy romantics. Cream for light and light-heartedness. Gold for a bright future. This is just the beginning. We still have so much to look forward to in life together. Hell, we still have to finalize our Dungeons & Dragons characters. My goal isn’t to focus on my fear about what might become of us, dead or alive. It’s to remember that all of this feels so good — life feels so good — because we have no idea when or how it will end. It’s okay to embrace that, and even celebrate it. It’s still a pretty thing.

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