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Tomorrow is the Anniversary I've Been Dreading
I'm going to write this fast, while I can, but don't think you have to be sad for me.
For days now, leading up to tomorrow, the dreaded one-year ‘anniversary’ of Ed’s last moments, my thoughts have been scattered. I dream of him more often now and in my dreams nothing much happens except we’re together. My dreams seem more natural than my everyday life, and maybe I need them, mundane as they may be. Only once have we been angry in my dreams. I don’t remember the details, but I remember that it was more like bickering and it seemed perfectly normal.
I woke up smiling. ‘Normal’ is good. When my friend Vicki lost her husband at a too early age, I remember her words: “Don’t, for God’s sake, let me make him a saint!” We both laughed through our tears, but I thought, even then, that I must remember that.
Counting our courtship and engagement, we were together for more than 66 years. Neither one of us could claim future sainthood, and I’ll never say the waters ran smooth and life was super-rosy and nothing bad ever happened. That would be silly. Nobody believes that. But we belonged together, and love won out. Every time.
I was 18 when we married, and Ed was five years older and a Marine, but even then I knew I was marrying a man who wouldn’t ever try to hurt me. Not in any way that would destroy my soul or harm my body. We would have our arguments—of course. And we had some doozies, even before our wedding, but there was always that feeling that we could do this.
Did we know we would go on loving each other as we grew older? Nope. Hadn’t a clue. I suppose we hoped, as all young couples do, but we were also aware of too many long-time marriages, in our own families and out, where both the husband and wife were just going through the motions. Nobody young thinks that will ever be them, but we saw what we saw.
At some point we must have decided not to be them. Our life got better, our love grew stronger, and neither of us wanted to think about a future without the other.
And then it happened. And here I am. Without him.
I don’t want to think about tomorrow. Let it just be another day. I think of anniversaries as celebrations, or at least memorials. I don’t want to remember March 16 of last year, I want to remember all the days of our lives before that.
When I think of Ed most of the time now, I think of him when he was healthy and whole. Not exactly young—he was 89 when he died, after all—but alive. Not sick, not feeble, but living the life he wanted to live. Enjoying his days, even if they meant puttering, even if they meant sweating out a project requiring power tools, even if they meant doing nothing more than watching hours of “Andy Griffith” with the sound turned up.
I have no advice for anyone, either about marriage or about widowhood. These are my moments. Nobody else can feel them, and that’s as it should be. We all deal with our lives in ways that eventually seem right for us, even when we’re dealt blows we didn’t see coming. Sometimes we deal in ways that seem so odd even we can’t figure out what the hell is going on. That’s normal, too. Not right, maybe, or even helpful—but normal.
I look back on some of my early writings after Ed’s death and realize they were the unfocused thoughts of someone who was seeking answers, looking for ways to cope, stretching to find words that might explain what was happening to my nerves, my senses, and my searing inward pain.
All while trying to appear calm, all while trying to make YOU feel better about my pain. I should be sorry about that but I’m not. This is the way I cope in the moment. My falling-apart moments are few but mighty. I keep them to myself, but they happen, and when they’re over, I write. Not about falling apart, exactly, but about the reasons I might. Or should. And then I move on. Grieving for me is not a constant. I’m grateful for that. But loving my Ed is.
I’ve told you before that writing about my life out loud is a new thing for me, and I’m not always comfortable while I’m doing it. But I’m doing it because I realize now, as a widow, that there is comfort in reading or hearing someone else’s story about grief. We need to know we’re not alone in this.
And, unfortunately, we’re not alone in this.
I’ll be back soon. I was trying to end this with some delicious words of wisdom, but this is it. This is all there is. So see ya.
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