Love won that day, 23 years ago.
I returned to the church we were married in, and it had been completely remodelled. It’s barely recognizable.
The first time I returned to it, I decided not to take these photos because it was so unrecognizable. It was disappointing to see the place she loved so much had become almost sterile. More recently, though, I changed my mind and returned with a camera.
Something is better than nothing. I’ve learned the hard truth of that.
Hell, I’m barely recognizable in that image. Life is barely recognizable. Somehow, she never changed. She looked the same for decades. Then, September 24th, 2015 came, and that was that.
Life isn’t a smooth, or easy, ride. Tragically, the person I loved most caused me more pain than anyone I’ve ever known. But, the person I loved most gave me more beautiful memories than I’d ever had, so I suppose it balances out.
So it was, “until death do we part.”
I always expected I’d go first, but I assumed we’d at least both grow old together, before that time arrived. “Old” is only happening for one of us, and I feel like I’ve aged a decade in the past couple years. Hell, I’ve aged a quarter century in the past decade.
I’m not the one that should still be here, though. She should. Life is backwards and upside down. Life isn’t fair. I’ve learned the hard truth of that, as well.
I thought I once understood about love and loss. I now realize, I was clueless. I had no idea.
I hope one day our wedding anniversary will come and it will put a smile on my face and I’ll recall a beautiful memory without the pain, and I’ll blow her memory a kiss with gratitude and love. Just love.
I think I still have a long journey ahead before it gets that simple. But, of course, it’ll never be that simple.
I just have to learn to carry it a little better, and be thankful for what we once had. And I am thankful. Of that, I am sure.
I long to be free of the pain, but I still hold tight to the love. I don’t want pain and anger to win.
I want love to win.