The Anniversary

Weather patterns shift over time, through acts of man or through acts of God, and this September 4th is a hot one here in Minnesota, humid and full of sunshine. Other than the sun, this September 4th bears little resemblance to the one 11 years ago when I said my wedding vows in front of friends and family with green orchids in my hair and that foolish thing called hope so big inside me I could almost hold it with my hands. The way I held his hands and spoke a truth in front of onlookers, how I learned not from the books I held so dearly but from him what it was to love.  That September 4th was long ago from last September 4th when I gave up on coaxing him off the couch and out of his depression and spent our anniversary taking care of our son instead, long ago from this September to where my husband is now gone from me, not from the impending divorce, which was almost too painful to name, but from death, this thing so infinitely worse and infinitely more final. It is so big my heart cannot hold it all.

I met Ian when I was 19 and told a friend after a month that he was someone I could see myself marrying, despite the fact that I was dating someone else at the time (apologies to my ex), a fact I kept from Ian for three more years. I knew it wasn’t logical to feel that so very instantly, and was afraid of all those big feelings taking up residence inside me. I liked nearly everything about him, his hair, his jawline, his brain. The way he was kind to others, easily, in a way that came difficult for me. Most importantly, I liked how I could be myself all the time around him and still be liked, not the exhausted pretense of a show I put on for others, being more of what met their needs and less of what met mine.

At 19, you don’t know what your future will hold any more than I do now at 35. For more than 15 years I built a life with a man who is now gone from me, and that means that part of me is gone now too, irrevocably taken. I have to build something else in its place, but I am tired, and this is hard, and some days I think that I am not up to it, the pressure of being now the only parent.

When my son calls out for daddy from a nightmare, there is nothing I can give him that will make up for his loss. I have only stories, words that seem now like such paltry, insignificant things. I want to tell him that his father is in all the air around him. I want to tell him that his dad became the earth supporting his small feet. I want to tell him that nothing ever really dies, not completely, it only becomes something else, matter transmuted into other matter, that his molecules are out there somewhere, transformed surely, but still going on. I want to tell him his father’s love was so big that a little thing like death could never stop it. But when my son calls out for daddy from a nightmare, all I can say is that I miss him too.

So here’s to our anniversary, Ian. No matter where we left things, there is no part of me that regrets the journey we undertook together all those years ago or this small, dear boy we created. Someday I will show him pictures of that day 11 years ago, how happy the two of us were, with so much hope. That is what I wish for him now. So much hope, and all the love in the world.

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