This past week was the 6th anniversary of his death. I wrote last week about this, and what would have been our 9th anniversary together the week before. I will always hate that these two dates are a week apart. It’ll always piss me off to have to have my anniversary of celebrating our love so closely linked to when he died. But it is what it is I guess...
The week of our anniversary proved to be a lot harder this year that I’d expected. Harder than the anniversary of his death, which turned out to be pretty okay really. But our anniversary, nope, a lot of tears and just an overall sadness and wanting to withdraw for days. Still, it’s easier than it used to be. I will never forget the excruciating sadness and anxiety those first few years. The horrible hollow feeling when I first realized that no one else cares about your anniversary but the two of you… and thusly no one else remembers it or honors it. So you are alone then more than on any other day.
My new partner, Mike, has brought a lot of joy back to these hard days though. The first year I dated him, we were long-distance, but happened to be visiting each other when my anniversary with Drew fell. Mike took me out for a nice dinner that night, to a fancy restaurant. We got all dressed up and enjoyed a beautiful romantic evening. It was so surreal to be out with another man on that particular night for the first time ever… and even more surreal that it wasn’t upsetting or awkward at all. It felt beautiful. It felt like I’d found this new person who wasn’t afraid to celebrate both our love and the love I had before. He got that it was a part of me. It surprised me, no doubt, how easy it could be to actually have these two worlds in some way meshing into one new life...
In the years since, I’ve moved to continue this new relationship, and Mike and I now live together. Every year is different, and these anniversaries affect me differently each time. Last week, he came home with yellow roses on the date of Drew’s death, which was very specific because Mike rarely gets me roses when he gets me flowers, and he knows that Drew always gave me white or yellow roses. Small thoughtful things like that really do go a long way.
Sometimes the hard days are easier and I’m more able to feel the joy. Other times I’m filled with sadness and I just have to kind of make it through. And it’s usually a wild card as to which will happen… I’ve learned this after having been without my mom for over 20 years now. Sometimes her death day is HARD as hell, still, but sometimes it’s okay and maybe even a good day if I’m able to be in the joy of feeling grateful that somehow her love is still with me long after her body left. All I can say for sure though is that after 6 years of healing and feeling and living and loving on, I feel the love so much more than the pain. I feel Drew as part of my new life, instead of someone I had to leave behind.
Today is another hard day in our house, or at least has the potential to be. I know Father’s Day will always fill Mike’s heart with memories of his wife Megan and celebrations together as a family with her and their daughter. I have no idea what these days used to look like, and all I can really do is ask and hear the memories to gain some semblance of perspective on how to “do” these days. Usually, if nothing else, I always wake up before him and make a nice breakfast - which is saying a lot considering he is almost always awake and up for HOURS before I ever get out of bed.
Just like he does for me, I follow his lead on this and the other hard days of his. Some years it’s not so hard at all… and other years it is. So as we get ready this morning to head to his parents house, and go pick up his daughter after a week-long vacation with his late-wife’s family, I’ll be on high alert, waiting in the wings and ready for any potential emotions that need to come out. I think that is the best that we can all do for each other.