His, mine and ours: the general theme of our family makeup. Chris and I met one month after his daughter turned a year old and just under 2 months after my son’s third birthday. Three years later we welcomed the birth of our first-born daughter, the Diva. And only 6 short months ago, on July 4, 2011 we welcomed our second daughter into this world. After 8 years and countless memories, Chris and I decided to make it official and join our families. So on the 17th day of September, 2011 we wed. It was gorgeous. It was everything we had imagined: a beautiful white tent, a luxurious and romantic inn, hospitable inn keepers to fulfill our every wish, lush landscape, vast golf courses, and 3 gazebos where we would gather with our pastor, closest friends and family to officially blend our two families. But one thing was missing… my stepdaughter.
My 9-year-old stepdaughter, Hollywood, is often missing from so many major family events. As a matter of fact, I can’t recall a major family event that she attended. Chris was not present for her first birthday as he was told that her party was at a different place and time than the actual event. Our first Christmas together he was asked to choose: you can see your daughter or you can see your girlfriend. The child would not be allowed to visit with him for the Christmas holiday if I was present. This little girl remained a mystery to me the entire first 18 months of our relationship. Hollywood was invited to, but was not permitted to attend, Chris’ brother’s wedding in the summer of 2004 and in February, 2006 she was absent when her sister, the Diva, was born. Countless summers, birthdays and holidays went by without the joy of sharing these special occasions with Hollywood. The moments were bittersweet because the sadness of missing Hollywood always hung in the air. Only by a chance run-in at the store this past July did Hollywood get to briefly meet her youngest sister. Most recently, after begging and many phone calls with Chris’ attorney, Hollywood was not allowed to attend our wedding.
The summer of 2011 was very eventful for our family. As of May, Hollywood was no longer allowed to come visit (per her mother and despite court order); the Diva spent the summer carrying a picture of Hollywood and crying because she “missed sissy so much;” our little Firecracker was born on the Fourth of July, and we were planning to wed in the fall.
Chris and I had many meetings with our pastor to discuss the wedding ceremony. We are very involved in our church and close to our pastor, whom Chris and I have secretly nicknamed PEZ. It was so important to us that the ceremony included certain things: 1. It had to represent our personalities, me being the one who hides my emotion and Chris, being the one who wears his heart on his sleeve; 2. It had to focus on our adult relationship and our journey as a couple; 3. It had to discuss the union of our two very different families as one; and 4. It had to have a children’s sermon because children are such a major part of our life (and because PEZ rocks the children’s sermon).
Even though we hadn’t seen or spoke to Hollywood for months (not for lack of trying), Chris had retained counsel and a hearing was set before the juvenile court. We were hopeful that the court would enforce its order and Hollywood would resume her scheduled visits with our family and also attend our wedding. So, with a positive attitude, I ordered her jr. bridesmaid dress and bouquet of flowers. I couldn’t wait for our first photo with all 6 of us together as a family.
MURPHY’S LAW: What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong.
OUR LAST NAME: Murphy
See where I’m going with this?
Needless to say I have yet to get my full family photo. Inevitably, our August 1st Court date was cancelled, upon motion of Hollywood’s mom, and eventually continued… to a date after our wedding. There was no way to get a court hearing before our wedding. Now what? Well, we rely on good will. Chris’ attorney made several unreturned and unsuccessful phone calls. The weekend finally arrived and we headed to the venue for our rehearsal dinner. After 8 years of heartbreak and disappoint, we both knew she wouldn’t be there. We both knew that she would never be allowed to participate in such a joyous family event. I tried to stay positive and told Chris that just maybe his attorney would call and say Chris could pickup Hollywood for a few hours so she could participate in the ceremony and be a part of this major family event. Chris wasn’t holding his breath. And thank goodness he didn’t.
Our wedding was beautiful. It was gorgeous. It was everything we had imagined: a beautiful white tent, a luxurious and romantic inn, hospitable inn keepers to fulfill our every wish, lush landscape, vast golf courses, and 3 gazebos where we would gather with our pastor, closest friends and family to officially blend our two families. But something was missing… my stepdaughter and her part of our hearts.