This past Sunday, August 6th, would have been Megan and I’s 12th anniversary. Sarah, Shelby and I were camping, with Sarah’s sister, and as the morning light (and two dogs) woke me up, I immediately noted the significance of the date.
Then I crawled out of the tent, took care of the dogs, and made some coffee.
As I sat down for that first, glorious sip of coffee in the morning, I remembered that it was our anniversary.
Then I rekindled the campfire.
As Shelby woke up, crawling out of the nylon dome, I couldn’t help but think of the fact that she was emerging in the New York woods as the biggest reminder of Megan and I’s marriage.
I got her a pop tart to munch on as she sat by the campfire.
This cycle endlessly repeated itself throughout the day. I would have a calm moment, or some occurrence that would remind me that it was Megan and I’s day, and I would ignore it. I simply didn’t want to think about it...it’s too depressing, because there is no one else that shared that particular day but the two of us.
I did a particularly good job of functioning as normal throughout the day, without anyone even knowing how it affected me. Nobody acknowledged it was our anniversary. They didn’t know, and I didn’t mention it. I had moments where I was aggravated or stressed, but I didn’t let on that I subconsciously (and consciously) was trying to ignore the fact that my wife was dead. Yes, Sarah could have identified with it obviously, and I could have talked to her, but it really was a case of “I didn’t want to bring the room down”.
Wedding anniversaries are that special day out of the year that are truly “ours”. Nobody that was around me on Sunday was present at our wedding. It never was a big day for anyone in our families other than the two of us. We would get a token “happy anniversary” from our parents, but Megan and I celebrated it as we saw fit. We sometimes went to a nice dinner, and relaxed. I would get Megan flowers, and she would maybe get me some chocolate. In the early years of our marriage, she was often in the hospital on our anniversary, or we were on our family vacation (where at least two years, she went to the emergency room even then)
Which gives me the full right to “ignore” our anniversary now. I WAS there beside Megan for 9 years...for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and until death did us part. August 6th, 2014 had me sitting at her bedside in the ICU, where she was so full of medications and painkillers that the most she could do was mumble a “heepee erm-erversery” before drifting back off to crazy sleep town.
So, forgive me for not telling anyone what was bothering me on Sunday. Hell, I tried my hardest not to tell MYSELF that it was our anniversary. I wasn’t trying to distract myself at all. In fact, I was trying NOT to distract myself. Egotistic as it may sound, I did my part. I fulfilled my wedding vows to Megan in exemplary fashion. I have earned my right to continue “celebrating” it as I see fit.
That means that I refuse to let this one particular significant date be anybody else’s struggle but mine. I’m not posting a public note on her “Memorial Facebook Wall” for anyone else to read. I’m not putting a flower on her urn or partaking in a special cake in order to symbolize our anniversary. She’s dead. I miss her. I wish she was present for me to give a flower to and share a dinner with...but she’s not. She’s in a wooden box in powder form in our dining room.
However, being our anniversary doesn’t change any of those facts. Maybe it’s silly and analytical and insensitive, but I really don’t care that it was August 6th, because she’s not “more dead” on that day. Pick any random date out of a hat, and tell me if it’s an easier day because they’re “less dead”. The fact of the matter is that yes, I did think about Megan more frequently on Sunday than a random day, but I suppressed it just as frequently. I went about our anniversary just like we used to…”on our own program”.
Out of 9 anniversaries with Megan alive, 6 of them were spent with her in the hospital. On those 3 years where she was healthy, we celebrated them by doing whatever we felt like doing, with no planning, and no crying over the past ones.
Which is exactly what I did on Sunday.