I’ve been anxious about this anniversary since the day after Pete died. I was so hopeful that we’d make it to ten years. Actually, I was amazed when we made it to our first anniversary since Pete’s heart issues started to reappear right before we were married. Even though I absolutely did not worry about his health every day, I was certainly aware enough to be grateful every day. So, in a way, every day was a milestone in the back of my mind. We used to talk about how cool it would be to celebrate our silver anniversary. We knew the odds of that weren’t optimal due to the fact that we were 45 when we got married, but we also knew the odds weren’t good because of his long-term health probabilities. It never slowed us down. We shot for the moon. “Let’s be 80 and married and hold hands and make each other laugh,” we would say. I learned early on in our relationship that Pete was not big on hypotheticals–no “what ifs,” just “what is,” but he did allow both of us to imagine a life of growing old together.
So this wedding anniversary was a tough one. I think they will all be tough. Months prior, I started planning what I would do when October 7 rolled around this year. I planned a big train trip cross country, but couldn’t quite get down to booking it. I considered a trip to northern Italy, one of our favorite places, but the thought of being that far away and depressed seemed risky. So I opted to go to the place where we spent our ninth anniversary–our home on Martha’s Vineyard. Last year we had a laid back day there, which was kind of our favorite type of anniversary. We loved shutting down and spending time together laughing and dreaming. We had dinner at a local restaurant and then went to see a movie. It was nothing elaborate but truly enjoyable because we were together.
This year I staged a reenactment of that day. First I went to the drugstore and shopped for anniversary cards. The logical side of me feels ridiculous, but I’m looking for anything to make this all seem normal, which is the last thing all of this is. Then, in the early evening I took myself out to dinner. It’s amazing how long I spent pondering whether or not I should sit at the same table where we sat last year or sit somewhere else. I opted to sit at the bar, where I could see that table and miraculously, nobody was seated there the entire time I spent at the restaurant. So I could look over and imagine the two of us there. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember Pete smiling and talking about what a great day we were having. I’m so glad that nobody took those seats. It would have broken my trance.
After dinner I went to a movie, but I invited my daughter who made the trip with me. Both of my kids have been really supportive through all of this. They are devastated as well, but they know it’s different for me. Sean keeps a close eye on me, yet gives me a lot of space since she knows I’m an introvert. After the day is over, she checks in to see how I feel, to ask me if it was a good day or bad day and how I felt moving through it. Thank goodness she was a philosophy major.
I signed the anniversary card, sealed the envelope and put his name on the front just like I'd done for nine years.
I'd love to hear about your similar experiences or thoughts. Please feel free to comment.