My anniversary is coming up.
Well . . . technically, it’s not my anniversary any more. I should feel that way about it, but there’s still a part of me that doesn’t. It should be a day rich with memories, the occasional jab about missing the date by my wife. There should be the mandatory extolling of marriage’s virtue and the required teenaged rolling-of-the-eyes when the “beautiful story of our love” comes up on more than one occasion.
Unfortunately, none of that will happen in my household.
I have to come to terms, in my own head, with the fact that I now share this anniversary with my four children. It’s a weird dichotomy, too, to have this anniversary have so many mixed messages.
You see . . . on March 26th . . . this coming Tuesday . . . I would have been married twenty years. Would-have-been is the key phrase. The possibly poetic, but most definitely bitterly ironic thing is that on the morning of my eighteenth wedding anniversary, March 26th, 2011, my wife, Andrea, passed away. A resistant strain of pneumonia had gone septic and in just a few days she went from the woman I knew to being . . . well, the woman I knew.
It’s a hard thing to have to share this day with everyone. I won’t pretend. I do it, maybe a bit begrudgingly, but I do. This is supposed to be a day I celebrate . . . the day I married a woman who grabbed my heart while it was still beating and entwined her own with it. Now, though, I have to share the loss and grief of the day with the celebration we held some twenty years prior. It’s a hard polarity to deal with. Some points in the day last year reminded me of the sunny day we got married . . . a day we thought wouldn’t come due to the winter storm that blew through just a couple days before. Then a computer beep or the smell of peroxide or alcohol will throw me eighteen years forward into a hospital room.
Don’t get the impression I’m complaining, my kids, even I need the solace of being together to weather the storm of this day. It’s coming, we know it, and we plan to do something fun each year to more or less celebrate, not denigrate the day.
It’s a funny sort of maelstrom this day has always bred. My wife, Andrea, could never remember the date of our anniversary. It was the end of March, she knew it, but it never really sparked her as a great day, I don’t think. She wanted to celebrate but then the day would come and she didn’t want to leave the kids behind or do anything together. I always pulled out the stops, took her to dinner or cooked something brilliant (or hoped to) and reminded her of the day. She didn’t dislike the day nor did she not like being married, quite the opposite, but the anniversary didn’t mean that awful much to her, I guess. To her, she was happy to be married each day, I suppose, except when we argued. Even then, the vow had us working on what was wrong, not looking for an escape.
So the day comes with renewed meaning, I suppose. I remember what I had and the eighteen years I enjoyed/loved/hated/stressed-out-about/extol/celebrated and renew my vow to keep us all writing this new story. Last year I made a video, remembering her and looking at what we’d done. This year another video is coming…first on Good Enough Mother and then linked here.
But at the end of the day 26 is a number. It’s a day. It was a day I celebrated. Now it’s a day I both celebrate and remember. It’s filled with joy and melancholy, which part of me thinks is a shame. I loved our anniversary, even if my wife didn’t always remember it. I wouldn’t have gone crazy with a 2-decade anniversary party, but I would have done something romantic. Instead, I’m doing something joyous and taking my kids on the road.
Anniversaries, after all, are meant to be shared.
Some housecleaning . . .I won’t be posting much over the next days leading up to the 26th, as I prep and finish the anniversary video.