Soon after Prince William told the world that he and Kate Middleton were engaged, we also learned that William had given Kate his mother's sapphire and diamond ring. Of the ring, William said he was just making sure his mother didn't miss out on the special occasion. "It's my mother's engagement ring," he explained, "so of course it's very special to me."
Getting married without your mom is hard. You're happy and excited, but you're also sad and mournful. The one person you'd want by your side isn't there to cheer you along. I know, because I got married without my mother, too.
Throughout the planning of my wedding, I longed for my mom. She died, though, just a few weeks after I got engaged, when I was 25. I wanted her help choosing a gown and picking the menu. I wanted her opinion on wedding locations and where my husband and I should go on our honeymoon. And I simply craved my mother's inexhaustible interest in my life. How many times could friends listen to me go on and on about floral arrangements and table decorations?
I realize my wedding story is different from Prince William's. I was the bride, after all, and clearly I had more nut-and-bolt planning to do than the Prince of Wales. But I also didn't lose my mother when I was 15 years old, and I didn't have to mourn her in front of the world.
I'd like to think William and Kate chose to get married in Westminster Abbey, where his mother's funeral took place, because it symbolizes that his life -- and his mother's -- are forever connected. It's also not a coincidence, I imagine, that after the ceremony, William and Kate rode to Buckingham Palace in the same carriage that carried Prince Charles and Diana after their nuptials in 1981. Both the Abbey and carriage are physical connections to his mother, and such tangible links can feel like a warm, maternal embrace. I chose to get married under a canopy of my mother's favorite bright and floral scarves.
Healing also comes from people, especially those who knew Princess Diana personally, and can share their own memories and stories. Kate never knew her would-be mother-in-law, and perhaps that's why the Royal guest list included those who knew Princess Diana best. Elton John attended the ceremony, and it was Elton John, Princess Diana's dear friend, who sang "Candle in the Wind" at her funeral.
The royal wedding was great fun to watch, but maybe while the festivities continue to unfold, take just a few moments to think about this: Prince William is teaching all of us that even during our happiest times, it is possible to keep the memory of our loved ones alive.