February is my landmine month and the only way I think I can make it through is chin down, teeth bared and feet moving. So far, it’s been a blur.
February 14th is my 42nd birthday. I cringe at the idea of celebrating without my sweet wife but time doesn’t stop, whether I want to recognize it or not. My 40th was my first birthday after Maggie’s Angel Day and I couldn’t in my wildest dreams imagine a reason to celebrate that day without her so I didn’t. Since then, I’ve felt no love for my birthday. How could I? How can I celebrate another year in my life when she’s not with me? We were supposed to travel together to our old ages and celebrate our rocking-chair days. Yet now it’s just me. Celebrate? No. I’d much rather just forget.
February 28th is our 8th wedding anniversary. Damn. I’ve commiserated before about what to call that day. “Our anniversary”? No. She’s not with me any more. “My anniversary”? It’s hard to have a “My” wedding anniversary. Damn semantics.
February 29th is MY wedding anniversary. This date is easier but the humor of it all feeds my sadness. See, we were married twice: once on the 28th which was OUR wedding and then once again on the 29th which was MY wedding. (MY wedding was in Las Vegas. She dressed up as Marylyn Monroe and I dressed up as James Dean. Elvis married us in the Little White Chapel with about 20 of our closest friends attending while dressed as their favorite movie stars.) Our simple plan was that HER wedding anniversary was more important and was to be celebrated every year. MY wedding anniversary, however, came just once every four years and was to be a par-tay! Unfortunately, we didn’t plan for this particular outcome.
Making this month more difficult is that a very good friend of mine’s brother is dying as I type this. His brother has been ill for some time. My friend is keeping a bedside vigil. I know all too well what that looks like and how that feels. My friend has told me many times during this time that he better understands how my life has been. His experiences have brought back many painful memories.
Making this month even worse (and some of you will laugh when I say this but stay with me), a friend of mine’s cat died last night. Yes, we widow/ers have all had that pale comparison made. But my very intuitive friend nailed it this time. For months he had been nursing his poor, ill-health kitty with various caretaking, around-the-clock tasks. Then, suddenly, he was relieved of his position of caretaker. Many of us know all too well that sudden cessation of duties. He was in shock. And all he could do was think of how it was for me back in early May of 2009. More memories for me.
But here’s the real kicker. Yesterday, an old friend of mine sent me a whole bunch of digital memories all wrapped up in a zip file. There were thirty or more pictures and about twelve videos of Maggie and me together. When were these little time capsules from? February 28, 2004 – our wedding day.
Maggie and I both agreed not to videotape the wedding. Jokingly, we said we didn’t want any chance for either of us to play out those sad scenes you see in movies where there’s a dark room and a wedding video playing where it becomes clear that a spouse had died. We only had pictures from that day, pictures I haven’t looked at in years. Now there’s video. As for as I know, these are the only videos in existence of her. It’s like the only proof she was even alive. I feel like I’m sitting in a dark room with a lit match and a stick of emotional dynamite that I haven’t lit yet.
I really try to leave each post I write with a positive message. I’m truly reaching this time for anything more than a message of determination. By taking many steps, a journey will take place. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will be surprised at where you’ll end up. (Right foot… left foot… right foot… stumble… right foot again… left foot….)
Part of my journey is writing these words to you. I’ll never know how they affect you. I hope they help in some way, if in no other way, knowing you aren’t alone; I truly want to help. But part of why I write is to know I’m not alone. Surely, I can’t be the only one who lived a dream… and lost.
“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” ~ Dr Suess.