Today would have been our 24th wedding anniversary. Look at our pictures. We were so young and hopeful. This day in 1989 when I stood at the Duke Chapel altar and said “in sickness and in health” I’m pretty sure I had no idea what I was commiting to do. Even if I knew, I’d have done it anyway. There was no one for me but Adam. From the first day I laid eyes on him. Ask Stretch. He was with me that day and he knows. Julia knows too, but she is biased 🙂
Last year at this time, I was frightened. I was bitter, and I was exhausted. We barely wished each other “Happy Anniversary.” There were no cards, no gifts. Life was bare bones. Life was a struggle. I had told Adam a few months earlier that I wanted a 25th anniversary and he promised it to me. Of course, that wasn’t his to promise.
All of our friends are celebrating their silver anniversaries these days. I remember the first silver anniversary party I ever heard of or attended: that of my Aunt Katherine and Uncle Harry. They’re in their 80s now and I have no idea how long they’ve been married. I was a petulant kid at their 25th anniversary party, but I still knew that it was a special milestone.
Well, I won’t have it. And I’m kind of angry about that because we had a good marriage that would have lasted. Why were we robbed? Why can’t people who hate each other suffer this fate, and not people who are devoted and in there for the hard work and the long haul? Again I say, we were robbed. Adam was robbed.
A year ago tomorrow, we were supposed to be going to the beach. We’d planned a two-week vacation. The car was packed. We got in the car and it wouldn’t start. Hallelujah. Did I tell you this already? I think so.
Instead of going to the beach we went to the hospital. Caroline wrote a thoughtful, insightful recollection for her creative writing class, but that is hers to share. I share what I wrote on Caring Bridge. I managed to save the entire journal to a .pdf file and hope to do something helpful with it later. But for now I share its raw footage with you.
Sunday, July 8, 2012 12:46 PM, EDT
Just wanted you all to know that we are not going to the beach after all. Adam is feeling really bad today, fighting a bad headache and nausea. There’s just no way for him to ride in the car that long. So the kids are unpacking and I am, frankly, unable to do anything but sit in my chair and cry. For everything.
Sent from CaringBridge iPhone app
The longer I write on this blog, the more I am aware of the unfathomable number of widows in our world. When Adam died, I felt like I must be the only person in the whole universe suffering this bewildering fate (except for Michel, who was enduring this misery by my side). This year has helped me become more acutely aware of those widows who were just news stories to me a year ago: the widows of war, the widows of community service (police, firefighters, other public servants). Their faces came and went on the news, a year ago, but today I crumple at the news of each new widow who is left to raise her children alone, to find a way to fund the rest of her life, to learn to do those things her husband took care of before his death. It’s a cruel place to be.
Finally I want to acknowledge and raise awareness about the widowers out there, dads left to braid hair, buy bras, dance ballet with their daughters, teach their sons about the vagaries of the teen-girl mind, perform roles they find foreign, such as (to make a sexist, broad sweep) laundry, meal planning and prep, the aforementioned underwear shopping, maybe even doing routine auto maintenance, if that was their wife’s forte. We women get the attention because we seem to be left alone in greater numbers, but the widower dads out there are doing time-and-a-half too, and they deserve a shout-out.
Today is a “calendar anniversary.” I knew it was coming and I’m sort of prepared for it. Maybe I’ll find myself debilitated as the day rolls on. Who knows? All we can do is take it as it comes, accept it, and hope that it passes and allows us to move on. Perhaps we’ll be wiser and stronger. Maybe not.
Happy after the Hoopla