(un)Happy Anniverary

missing piece wedding photo IMG_0142sm
Wedding photo taken in front of stained glass at St. Robert Bellarmine. The panels have since been moved and rearranged, making it difficult to match up.

I kept putting this post off.

I even posted something at 12:01 AM last night so there would already be a post for the day, which I thought would keep me from posting something else, since I usually don’t post more than once a day.

However, I keep coming back to a need to address this anniversary.

I’ve scrapped every attempt, so far, because I start something too sad, or, too artificially happy, pretending I’m not depressed. So, this time I’ll probably just write until I stop writing, then hit “publish” without reconsidering it. If I overthink it, I simply won’t post anything.

Today, Beth and I would have been married 22 years; together nearly 26 (half my life, basically). But I can’t count this year, because we haven’t been together since September 2015.

Or, maybe I could say we have been married 22 years, I suppose. It’s not like I’m divorced and no longer married.

Wedding anniversaries are about celebrating love.

Beth is gone, but, you already knew that. My love was taken from me that day, and she’s no longer here to return any love to me, and I can only offer it to a void. I can only rely on memories.

I often hear, “You seem so much better now than a half a year ago.” Or, “It’s great to see you smile.”

I know every positive comment is meant as a compliment. I’m certain they’re meant to help me feel better. I understand they’re all supportive comments meant to help me heal.

But only one person texted me or called me. Beth’s mom texted me to tell me she was thinking about me. It was very sweet, but mainly because I know their loss is even greater than mine. And, yet, she thought of me, which breaks my heart.

The date won’t register as meaningful to any of my friends. Others that might know, likely didn’t want to bring it up for fear it might depress me. Understandably, most wouldn’t know. Hell, I’ve struggled to keep track of it over all these years, myself.

Speaking of depression, though, I’ll tell you something: Don’t assume a person isn’t already depressed, or that you’ll make it worse by reaching out. Trust me. Reaching out is never unappreciated.

There are definitely moments when I don’t know what day of the week it is, which often leads to being clueless about any particular date. Taking time off from work has helped more than anyone knows, but now, dates often come and go without me noticing.

Except for the 24th of every month. I always notice when it’s the 24th.

And today there’s no kidding myself: Today is July 22, our wedding anniversary.

And I’m still married, just without my wife.

I’m a widower.

There, I said it.

Usually I try and do things to keep myself occupied. That is, after the first half year, when I did little more than get out of bed. But, I’ve started to go to concerts. I’ve gone out to eat. I’ve traveled a bunch.

I do find moments of happiness, I suppose, but mostly because I have to. I need those moments. I use them to fool myself  I’m no longer depressed, or that I’m doing so much better.

I tell myself I’m not miserable, which must mean I’m happy.

Usually, though, it simply means I’m not miserable.

That’s another thing people say: “At least she’s not suffering any more.” I usually want to reply, “That’s because she’d dead.” But, I hold my tongue. Besides, she really was suffering a lot.

Since 2007, Beth’s attacks grew progressively worse. She would seemingly be in more pain with each passing month. After each of Beth’s many attacks, of which she’d suffer up to 10 times a day, she would be elated when no longer in pain.

One day, as I was massaging her arms, I lifted her hand to kiss it. She became let out a deep, received sigh and said the cramping immediately stopped. She said I kissed it away, but it wasn’t as if she suddenly felt great. It’s just that feeling normal, again, became a kind of ecstasy for Beth.

I know my mental pain is nothing compared to the physical she dealt with. Trust me. I know that all too well. Mine is emotional. Hers was both emotional and physical; very physical. It tore her up.

However, in those fleeting moments when I don’t feel depressed, I almost believe I’m happy. But, the truth is, I’m not.

I’m just temporarily distracted.

I’m elated when I forget I’m heartbroken, even if just for a moment. Feeling normal feels like a sort of happiness.

But on this July 22nd, our 22nd wedding anniversary, I’m just thankful I’m not more miserable than I am.

Don’t mistake it for happiness, but always understand that anyone else you know that’s going through anything even remotely like me can use any extra love you’ve got to offer.

There’s one thing this world truly does suffer a serious shortage of:

Love.

 

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2 thoughts on “(un)Happy Anniverary

  1. I can’t pretend to know how incredibly hard it is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Your wedding anniversary…that’s rough. One thing that’s evident throughout your posts is how deeply you cherished each other. How lucky you were to find and love each other the way you did. I hope you’re feeling okay, today.

    Liked by 1 person

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