Wednesday, May 27, 2009


We often see or hear the phrase “Happy Anniversary”, don’t we? Venture into any card store and you’ll find an assortment of cards depicting the phrase “Happy Anniversary”. Fortunately, I did experience “Happy Anniversaries” in my marriage, and I could buy those cards, and for that I am grateful.

Tomorrow would have been my 15 year wedding anniversary. However, as my husband Rory’s death was 5 years ago today, Happy Anniversary is not in the cards. I doubt if I walked into a card store I could find “just the right card” to depict what these Anniversaries evoke.

So, the questions come every year around the anniversary of his death. What to do? How to be on this Anniversary day? How “best” to remember and honor? How best do I help my son remember? (He was just 3 years old when Rory passed away) How much is too much, how much is too little? Should there be a yearly ritual? As the years go by, so much has changed. I have been racking my brain and asking myself how do I honor this “anniversary day” in a meaningful and authentic way now? If we are remembering Rory all throughout the year, how can we best remember him on this one day? How much weight do we give the “Anniversary Day”? I do remember Rory every day and do my best to share interesting and funny daddy stories along the way with my son Ryan.

Is there a “best” or “right” way to commemorate? As far as I can tell, each and every situation is unique and what I hope to be true is that my heart and head continue to guide me to make good decisions and when I make mistakes, I learn from them.

This year, I will write a card to Rory and Ryan will write a card to daddy. We’ll attach them to a helium filled balloon (Ryan loves balloons!) and let the balloon lift up in the sky as we remember. Here is the card I have written and will attach to the balloon (since it must come from me and not Hallmark for this type of Anniversary). On the outside of the card I have written, “Honoring the Past and Embracing the Future."

Dear Rory, You are missed and you are loved. It has been 5 years now. Here are a few memories I want to share. I can still see you wearing the “Survivor Buff” you wore throughout chemotherapy. You were such a trooper and you showed everyone and me that even in the midst of pain and a terminal prognosis, a person can be at their best, and you were. You were a role model for us all. I can still see you with a smile on your face even when you were in pain, getting treatments, or in the hospital (well most of the time anyway). I can still see how happy you were on our wedding day, the days and years we shared, and let’s not forget the day you finally got your cherished John Deere lawn tractor. I thought your cheeks might crack from smiling so much!

I can still hear your laugh and the jokes you used to play on our family and friends. Ryan’s laugh is just as lovely…I wonder if he will be like you as he grows up? In many ways he already is. He is a constant reminder of you, our love and our life together. I can never thank you enough for our son.

Today, Ryan and I are sending a balloon and cards in your honor. I want you to know that it has been a challenging 5 years, but everything is getting better all the time. I know you wanted me to eventually find someone to love, to share a life with, and who would also be good with and love Ryan. I couldn't fathom that thought for a very long time, but now I can tell you that I am very happy. I have fallen in love with a wonderful man (someone you personally knew and thought was “one of the good guys”!) I know you would be happy. Ryan is doing great. He’ll always love and miss his daddy. I’ll always love and miss you.

We were blessed to have you in our lives. Much Love, Colleen

So, my dear Widows Voice reader, I hope you find your own special and unique way each day, including anniversaries. One day at a time.

Warmly, Colleen Phillips, Coaching For Widows


  1. Colleen, Thank you for this beautiful article and for sharing your touching letter to your husband Rory. My husband also passed 5 years ago on May 30th. You are an inspiration to me in the way that you have honored your husband on this anniversary. Along with that you are an inspiration that love can be found once again, I am hopeful, thank you for that!
    Cindy Johnson

  2. That was beautiful Colleen, thanks so much for sharing.

    Michelle Dippel