Stacy Ellingen

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Stacy’s Journal: Ever Want Just One Perfect Day?

2017-06-15
By: Stacy Ellingen
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Ever want just one day where everything just goes perfect?  I think everybody does.  For me, that day was my sister’s wedding day.  She probably didn’t realize this, but I had been thinking about the day for years—even before she met her now husband.  I knew that it was likely that she’d fall in love and get married before me.  Of course, it wasn’t easy for me to emotionally accept, but I had it in my mind for years that I was going to do everything in my power to make her wedding day all about her.  I was determined to make it the perfect day for her.

The wedding planning started last summer.  They picked a church and venue in the Madison area where they live.  Of course, my sister made sure everything was wheelchair accessible.  We spent a day in August shopping for her wedding dress with his sister and mom.  Admittedly, that wasn’t the easiest thing for me to do.  Watching my little sister try on wedding dresses with our mom and her future mother-in-law and sister-in-law brought many thoughts to my mind.  I wondered if I’d ever get the chance to do that.  However, I tried the best I could to put my emotions aside, and be there for my sister.

Last fall, she asked me to be her maid of honor.  I kind of figured I’d be in the wedding (because I’m her only sister and we’re pretty close), but I wasn’t sure I would be the maid of honor because physically I wouldn’t be able to help her much on her special day.  True to her fashion, she didn’t let my limitations make that determination though.  I was her sister; therefore, I was going to be the maid of honor in her wedding.

Since I do some freelance graphic design, as part of their wedding gift, I designed their save-the-date cards for them.  As maid of honor, you usually throw the bride a wedding shower.  I obviously couldn’t do that physically myself, so my aunt and I organized one at my parents’ house.  My aunt took care of all of the food, and I was in charge of the invitations, decorations, and games.  My mom and I also went to a shower for Steph hosted by his sister.  Again, those selfish thoughts crept into my head while attending the showers, but I did my best to push them aside.

Originally, for the wedding weekend, I had one of my personal care assistants setup to come to Madison to help me.  I thought that it’d be perfect—that way my parents wouldn’t have to worry about doing my cares; they could have one weekend where they focused solely on my sister.  That was truly my hope.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  My care worker backed out about two months before the wedding, and I wasn’t able to find anybody else for the entire weekend.  Doing what my family does best, we adapted.  I found a friend who lived in the area to feed me at the reception, and my parents would do the rest of my cares that weekend.

The festivities started the first Friday in June.  My parents and I actually went down on Thursday to start getting things setup.  We had some time to explore Madison and had some great family time.  Friday, before the rehearsal, the ladies went to the Capitol and did State Street.  I loved it because I had never been down there before.  The other two bridesmaids were so nice and accepting.  It was a great time.  The rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were very nice.  I was able to fight off my mind from wandering pretty well, and I was all set for Saturday.

Saturday morning, my mom and I got our hair done first, and then we waited while the others got their hair done.  I had gotten dressed early that morning because it was just easier.  The other girls got dressed at the nature center where the pictures were taken.  Everything was going great until we started pictures outside.  Very suddenly I knew something wasn’t right.  I started having severe stomach pain and was very light-headed.  My sister knew something was wrong right away.  They brought me back inside and laid me down.  They called my parents to come get me.  They took me to the church where I laid down for a half hour before the ceremony.  By this point, Steph was ready to cancel the whole thing and rush me to the hospital.  There was no way I was going to let that happen.  It started five minutes late and they skipped a song to shorten it, but the ceremony went on.  I was able to hold it together through it.  All I could do was keep apologizing to my sister.  At the reception, I spent most of the time in the back room because I was so in much pain.  I’d try to go out and be social for about ten minutes at a time, but then the pain was just too bad that I had to go back and tilt back in my chair.  My poor parents spent most of the night helping me instead of enjoying the festivities.  I was able to give my speech using my iPad which was very important to me.  Then, there was an hour or so where I felt great.  I was able to dance and enjoy the family who was there, but, unfortunately, the pain returned.

Finally, around 9:30, we decided I couldn’t wait any longer—I needed to go in.  My poor sister was calling hospitals to see if they accepted my insurance on her wedding night.  My parents and I didn’t even say goodbye to people.  We just ran out.  Steph helped load me into the van and my parents drove me to UW Madison Hospital.  We spent 15 hours in the emergency room and I was eventually admitted for a night.  It ended up being another gastrointestinal issue likely due to having cerebral palsy. 

Words will never be able to describe how terrible I feel that this happened on my sister’s wedding day.  I feel like I was such a burden.  Even though, people keep telling me it wasn’t my fault, I will never be able to forgive myself.  It was supposed to her big day and I will always feel like I ruined it.  I keep apologizing to Steph and my parents.  They keep reminding that I did all the important parts, but I think I’ll always carry guilt about it.  I think I even feel worse about it because I was trying so hard to make the day perfect for her.

I don’t ask “why me” very often, but, admittedly, under these circumstances, I certainly did.  Life just isn’t fair sometimes.  I’m beyond blessed to have great parents, a great sister, and now a great brother-in-law who will never blame me for this fiasco.  I guess that defines the true meaning of family, doesn’t it? 

***The views expressed here are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of InControl Wisconsin, the Network or any of our sponsors

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