Today (June 18, 2015) would have been my 10th wedding anniversary, and I really have no idea what to write. Typically, I plan out my blog posts ahead of time, create an outline, write a couple of drafts, sit on the final revision for at least a week.
But this time I got nothin’.
I mean, Kristen died in 2013.
We aren’t married anymore.
Till death do us part. That’s what we said. That was our vow. And we kept it.
So, you see, we would have been married for 10 years today if Kristen were still alive, but she’s not.
What’s significant about a widower’s wedding anniversary, then? What is there to celebrate?
Does it even matter?
Yes and no.
On the one hand, I had a wonderful life with Kristen. We became best friends soon after we met in college at age 19. Then we spent the next ten years together, seven of them as husband and wife. We bought our first car together, our first house, and brought two beautiful children into the world. She really was my second self and best earthly companion. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. I see her every time I look at my kids: her smile, her laugh, her joy for life. She’s still part of me, and she always will be. She shaped me into who I am today, and I will be forever grateful to her for that.
So yes, today does matter because it represents a milestone in my life, the day when I left my father and mother and united with my wife and learned to become one flesh. On this day ten years ago, I became a husband and began a new journey as an adult with new and unfamiliar responsibilities. My life changed irrevocably that day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
However, while I can respect and appreciate my past (I am a historian, after all), I can’t spend my life looking backward. Kristen was the most significant part of my life for most of my adulthood.
But she’s gone.
I could sit here and type more love letters (because I’ll always love her).
I could sit here and type more grief letters (because I’ll always miss her).
But I no longer need to do those things. I no longer feel like I have to take some kind of action in order to honor her memory or keep her alive in my heart. She’ll always be part of me, even if God blesses me with another wife one day. Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting, and it certainly doesn’t mean ignoring what I’ve been through.
I grieved intensely for the first year and a half. I wept and sobbed more times at night than I can remember. I’ve broken down in front of my kids more than once. I’ve left my tears on God’s altar numerous times. I’ve been in individual counseling from the beginning and even took part in a bereavement group. I’ve written and journaled and blogged and posted and texted so many feelings and experiences these past two years. The only way I could resolve my grief was to face it, and I did that. It was definitely painful, and I wouldn’t wish that kind of hurt on anybody, but the process healed my wounds.
I don’t need to relive the past in order to escape the present. My present is looking pretty good right now. My children are a pure joy (even when they do drive me crazy), I’m making progress toward my degree, I have amazing and supportive family and friends, and I’m enjoying life.
“…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…”
This is what I’ll do today: I’ll visit the graveyard, sit by Kristen’s grave (which is right next to mine, by the way), spend time quietly writing and meditating, and then go to work.
I still have a job to do (the world didn’t stop when Kristen died).
I still have people counting on me (especially my children, my students, and my community).
I still have a purpose in this world (because God still has a plan).
So today’s just another day. And that’s OK.