Wedding rings part II

For 3,5 days I have been wearing Mr Esther’s wedding ring as well as mine as he was in hospital for the removal of his heavily infected gall bladder. At the end of this morning the man came home! We’ve been having gorgeous weather here lately and as he has hardly been outside since last week Wednesday when his stomach pains started, he relished the opportunity to just sit in the sun. I planted him on a chair in our front garden with a cup of tea and a stroopwafel (typical Dutch syrup waffle – yumm); it was warm enough for him to be sitting in a t-shirt (his fave Monty Python one with the “What have the Romans ever done for us” print)…

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… and afterwards he put his own wedding ring back on…

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The scary part is over, this is the perfect sign for me that everything will be alright now! He’s still on painkillers and has very reduced mobility but he’s OK and can finally get some proper rest. Hospitals are fine (and seriously, our hospital is the best with the most empathetic care you could hope for!) but still they are very busy with doctors and nurses at your bed constantly, sharing a room with a stranger (albeit a very nice one), a stream of visitors coming to see you and being subject to hospital schedules which differ from your own. The man hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in a week and is exhausted. Mr Esther is also a bit of a hypochondriac, his over-worked mind and overwrought feelings need a little calming down. Now he’s back home, the wedding ring is back on and he can finally have the peace and quiet to settle down, process what happened and recover.  When he took a little nap after lunch I laid down in bed with him for a little bit and it felt so good to have him beside me again. Welcome home, Mr Esther! ❤️

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… and all is well!

Mr Esther’s gall bladder surgery went well. I know it’s a relatively common procedure and doesn’t take too long but still, I was worried. That was my soul mate they operated on, everything just HAD to go well and luckily it did. 🙂

Mr Esther has never had any gall bladder complaints before until Wednesday evening when the pain started and soon became intense. Turns out it wasn’t just gall stones that were bothering him, his whole gall bladder was completely infected. The surgeon called me after surgery and told me the gall bladder had been ‘close to death’, it’s good that it’s removed now. They want to keep Mr Esther in the hospital for a few days for observation, give him antibiotics and make sure the infection is gone. Hopefully he can come home again after the weekend. They gave us a little pot of gall stones that came out of him…

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… and my goodness, I can’t believe he never had complaints before! He’s still groggy after surgery. We left him an hour and a half ago so that he could sleep a little. Going in to see him again in an hour. Thankfully all is well and all he has to do now is have the patience to recover.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts, support and reassurance!

It ain’t easy…

These days I find myself singing this David Bowie song in my head…

There’s a lot to deal with over here in the Esther-household.

Things with my daughter (I call her Sec here) and her friend (Tem), who has been admitted to a closed institution, have come to a head. As much as my daughter wants to support her friend, it has become impossible for her to do so now. Tem is putting Sec under pressure to do certain things for her (not only during visits but also in phone calls), trying to manipulate her, venting her frustration onto my daughter and it is causing deep depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and even fear for Sec. For my daughter’s own protection we’ve decided (and she has come to that conclusion herself as well) that it is best to break off contact with Tem for a while. Things have become so toxic that, together with a psychologist, this decision was made and Sec has felt lighter and somewhat relieved because of it since. We always knew the friendship was close but had its problems (hence us separating them in school a few years ago) but it is only now surfacing how deep those problems have become and how much Sec has slowly slipped into a role of suffering friend doing everything for her friend but getting very little in return. There is of course much more to all of this than I wish to write about here, but suffice it to say we have been very worried for Sec. Now, things do seem to be looking up a little for her, so that is good. Still to be continued, though…

And then the next thing: a week ago we were hearing on the news that in my hometown a woman on a bike  had been killed in an accident when a truck didn’t see her and drove over her. Horrifying news and then last weekend, while I was having a lovely weekend away with Suzy in Germany, I was contacted by an ex-colleague who told me the woman who had been killed was the former cleaning lady we used to have at the office! This wasn’t just any cleaning lady, she was the most lovely, cheerful, warm person you could ever wish to meet. I used to organize movie nights and she’d be there (she was working for a cleaning company, not for us, but she was so dear to many of us, I just invited her along every time), at company parties she was always helpful and friendly and full of mischief and laughter. I can still see her wide smile in my mind’s eye. She even insisted on babysitting my kids once and, even though it was only once some 6 or 7 years ago, the kids still remember her and the games she played with them. I last saw her about two years ago during a dinner… I just can’t believe that she was ripped out of her life in such a horrifying way. I understand her family has taken her body to Morocco so she can be buried there. Rest in peace, dear Hassana.  “Inna Lillaahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’oun” (“We surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return”).

On top of all this, two evenings ago Mr Esther started getting stomach cramps. It got really bad at night, so we went to see a doctor on night duty. Mr Esther was given tests and painkillers and they think it may be gallstones. We were sent home again, with pain sort of managed and were told to make an appointment in the hospital for a scan of his stomach. The pain has not subsided and the meds are turning out to not be doing enough, so this morning I called the doctor again. We now have a low dose of morphine for him. In less than two hours we have that hospital appointment. Going by in how much pain the poor man is, I fear they may even want to keep him there in hospital… we’ll see.

Sorry for the quick brain drain here. Stuff on this blog tends to be escapist and happy-ish but sometimes real life needs to be acknowledged here too. I know that this too shall all pass but as I already said, it ain’t easy this week. In the meantime, I’m posting kittens here to cheer me up…

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(To anyone else having a bad week: I got that picture from here:    https://metro.co.uk/2017/07/10/23-cute-kittens-to-get-you-through-a-tough-week-6760550/)

My fave wedding ever!

So, my previous post was about Prince Harry’s & Meghan Markle’s wedding and of course it made me think a lot about my favourite wedding ever: my own wedding in July of 1999! Of course, ours was not nearly as grand as the royal wedding, but we had really made a celebration of it, with our families and our friends and for me it really was one of the very best days of my life.

I was looking at pictures of our wedding but by far most of them aren’t digital. The digital pictures we do have are only a handful of images we have scanned and pictures taken with my father in law’s digital camera (digital photography was just getting started at the time). The pictures taken with the digital camera were of low quality and the camera also failed at times, giving us pictures that were overexposed, blurry or too dark. No matter, I have collected some of my fave digital images that we have and just can’t resist posting my wedding day story here!

Mr Esther and I had already been living together for 3 years before we got married. Why bother getting married, you ask? In my heart I just knew I had found the man I wanted to be with forever (that still holds true today!) and yes, we were already totally committed to each other. Getting married was just something we eventually wanted to do as well. We wanted a celebration of our love for ourselves and for everyone around us, to cement and clearly state to the world that yes, we were in this together forever. We celebrated our wedding on our 7.5 year anniversary of getting together; I was 29, Mr Esther was 28.

The morning of our wedding we got dressed in separate rooms (we didn’t spend the night before separately, that would have felt weird). We had invited our immediate families and my best friend at the time to come over to our house for a brunch to start off the festivities. When everyone was there, Mr Esther came into our bedroom and saw me in my dress for the first time (that was a very special moment!) and then I walked down our little hallway to the living room where I was greeted by our guests. Another very special moment!

We left everyone in our house to enjoy a brunch while Mr Esther & I and our two best friends came with us and the photographer (not a professional, but someone who did it as a hobby) to help with our wedding pictures being taken. Our pictures were taken in Delft, which is where we were also getting married (we lived very close to Delft at the time). Here are a few that have been scanned over the years…

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We got back to our apartment and there we picked up all our guests for the short drive to the old city hall of Delft (the building pictured above). As parking was tricky for the center of Delft, we had rented this old bus for the whole family to travel in, while we travelled in a vintage Rolls Royce.

In The Netherlands you can’t get married with only a religious wedding, you always have to have a civil ceremony. In addition to our families, other friends had also come to city hall to witness the event. We had met with the woman who was performing our ceremony a few days before our wedding. She gave a little speech about us, spoke about marriage and then we said our “I do’s” and signed the registry.

Afterwards we were led to a reception room, where we received out first congratulations, before we went on to another venue.

When we exited city hall, the church bells of the old church opposite city hall (where Dutch royals are buried!), started ringing for us, which was pretty cool.

My father was a theologian and minister and I have been baptized and grew up going to church. However, over time I have come to see myself more as a humanist and Mr Esther is an atheist who has only ever attended a church service in my presence. So, we didn’t want an official church wedding. We did want an extra blessing on our marriage and I really wanted my father to perform that ceremony. We went from city hall to a nearby wedding venue where the ceremony as well as our dinner & party would be held.

My father had discussed the ceremony at length with us and, although the structure was based on a church ceremony, we were also able to reform it in such a way that suited us. Mr Esther and I, for instance, never used the word ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’, we had bible readings but also poems, we had classical and ‘secular’ music, my father gave us a blessing (Aaron’s blessing to be precise) after we had exchanged our vows and put on wedding rings, but there was also the presentation of a special wedding gift for us by my in-laws. It really was a very special and deeply personal service and, like Harry’s and Meghan’s service, it had the theme of love and the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) at the heart of it. “My beloved is mine and I am his” was the theme. The fact that my father was able to perform this blessing for us remains one of my most cherished memories.

After the service there was a cutting of the cake (just one overexposed digital picture)…

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…and as the weather was great we all went out in the sunshine for coffee and eating of the cake and just relaxing a bit after all the excitement (while inside the staff revamped the room from a ‘church’ to a dinner room with round tables).

This was also the venue where lots of group pictures were taken, including one with my brothers and sisters (and lots of other fun pictures, that I don’t have digitally).

We had a buffet dinner afterwards (with yummy Indonesian food). Dinner also included some speeches and presentations of a few gifts.

And then from 8 pm onwards, we had big party (where even more people joined in the festivities). We had a DJ and seriously, from the start, everyone participated in the dancing and fun. We had our first dance to U2’s “All I want is you” (more of a shuffle) and after that everyone joined us on the dance floor.

Some people had also put on acts for us. We had asked people not to give us any wedding gifts separately but if they wanted to give us something, to give money so we could spend it on a honeymoon. One of my brothers had coordinated it all. Friends had thought up a quiz and with every correct answer that Mr Esther and I gave, a letter was turned and together the letters would from a word. We got 2 or so questions wrong but in the end we had enough correct answers to figure out that the winning word was ‘Portugal’. Our families and friends had booked us a honeymoon to Portugal as a wedding gift!

My family had also organized an ABBA act: family members in the background wore masks and were the backing singers and dancers, my mother was in a blonde wig as Agnetha, another family member was in a red wig as Annafrid, my dad was guitarplayer Björn (or Benny) using  an ancient bed pan and Mr Esther’s uncle was Benny (or Björn) on an ironing board as a keyboard. They sang and danced (choreographed!) along to ABBA’s “Gimme gimme gimme” and screamed “Mr Esther after midnight” to follow that line. It was a helluva lot of fun to watch.

Mr Esther and I were also lifted on chairs and carried around…

At midnight the party ended. We thanked everyone and right after that we were surprised with an emotional ending: everyone was given a candle and stood around us in a circle while the song “You’ll never walk alone” was played (and everyone joined in singing). This was something my mother had organized (just like the ABBA act had been her doing) and it was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Harry and Meghan’s wedding may have been great but ours was better! I am still so happy that we celebrated our love like that and the love we received back was overwhelming. My wedding is a memory I will cherish in my heart forever.

So, dear readers, what about you? Did you have a wedding? How big or how small? If you’ve never been married, would you ever want a wedding? Or are weddings just not important to you? An inquiring mind would love to know.  🙂