This week brought with it a major milestone - my first wedding anniversary. A special day that I should have been celebrating with my darling but, instead, had to spend alone, as his widow. I've had a pretty busy few weeks so even though I knew it was looming, the reality of the day really snuck up on me.
One year ago I married the man of my dreams. A man I never dared to imagine existed. A man I still adore and have a ridiculous crush on. A man who, even in death, makes me want to be a better person, to make him proud. Who makes me feel lucky and blessed, beautiful and loved.
In the days leading up to our wedding anniversary I started thinking, ‘what does this day mean now that he’s not here to celebrate it with me?’
Because, on one hand, I felt in my heart that it should be a happy day. I’m grateful that I married Dan, he was the most beautiful thing to happen to me and this should be celebrated. It is such a cliché – but our wedding day really was the happiest I had ever been in my life. I have had many reasons to be happy before this, I’ve had some amazing experiences, created wonderful memories and lived a very full life, even at the tender age of 32. But nothing had compared to standing up before everyone dear to me and exchanging vows with the man I had waited for my whole life. His love had validated me and completed me in a way that I hadn’t thought possible.
But on the other hand, of course, it was a tragic, sad and painful day. My husband was dead, our marriage had technically lasted 45 days - 'til death do us part. Even though, as many of you would agree, I still feel very much married and consider myself to be his wife, more so than his widow. How do I bask in the glow of on his love and memory of this blessed day when I am grieving his death so deeply?
I’m learning that while it’s normal to ponder these philosophical-type questions, I need to stop putting so much pressure on my self to find the answers. I have always been a proactive problem solver but grief is teaching me to sit in the moment, be patient and let the world turn without trying to preempt and resolve everything. I’m relying on my instincts so much more than I ever have before. So, rather than decide what this day meant to me and how I should mark it, I decided to just let myself feel my way through.
I started off with a major meltdown the night before, while reading the beautiful card he wrote me and watching the video footage of our wedding. It wasn’t intentional, but a good few hours of crying and I think I got most of my tears out – meaning the actual anniversary ended up being a much calmer affair.
I spent the day with my sister, who was my maid of honour and has been by my side every step of this difficult journey. We went to the cemetery in the morning before getting massages at a day spa and then met up with my best friend (who was my other bridesmaid) for lunch. The afternoon was spent curled up in bed, where we watched trashy tv, ate chocolate and drank cup of tea, after cup of tea.
There was lots of reminiscing about that beautiful day – so many happy memories that deserved to be aired. Both my sister and my friend miss Dan too and, having played an important role in our wedding and our lives, they are also going through their own, different grieving process.
So, overall, it was a very difficult day but I got through it, with a heavy heart. It was cruel, agonising, complicated and exhausting, just like grief. I'm glad I managed to go out and do something nice, I know Dan would have been pleased about that too. Like many milestones, the lead up was more painful than the event itself, but that doesn’t take away from the overwhelming task of reaching and passing them.
I miss my husband with every fiber of my being. I ache for the life we should be living and will never be ‘ok’ with the fact that he was taken from me so soon, in such tragic circumstances.
But, I will be forever grateful for our wedding day. Despite suffering with his depression on and off over the months leading up, he was truly happy on that day. I look at the photos of his wide, cheeky grin and listen to his wedding speech about how he realized he had found his ‘home’ when he met me, and that is so, so precious to me. I'm thankful that we had that special day with everyone we loved. It was a beautiful day - the best day - my favourite day.