July 7, 2006, the day we started dating. July 25, 2015, the day we got married.
These days brought me immense joy. They are the days that I can remember down to the last detail so much so that I can almost feel it. It is so close yet so very far away. Watching our wedding video especially makes me feel like he’s right there and then it hurts that he’s not. It’s mystifying how what once brought me incredibly simple happiness is so full of mixed emotions now. I use to love our anniversary. We’d always find a way to celebrate whether it was camping trips, a weekend adventure or a night out. Now, I feel anxious and sad as the day of our wedding anniversary approaches. How should I treat the day? It’s not really a celebration without the person to celebrate with. It’s not another year together. It’s just me and a memory shared with someone disconnected by death.
On these days especially, I mourn the loss of sharing our history together. The moments, adventures, and jokes that were equally important and shared just between the two of us are mine alone now. Being the sole bearer of our life story and history is heavy and lonely. What has importance to me doesn’t mean much to others. To everyone else it is just another day. That’s how it should be. Our relationship and marriage wasn’t for anyone else but us. Without him to acknowledge it though, sometimes it feels like it could be just another day for me too. However, it is certainly not.
Our wedding and anniversary was and is still an important day to me. It’s a day that reminds me what I once had was real and I was so loved. It’s a day that reminds me that I am very fortunate. I say AM in the present tense and not WAS in the past tense because I am still lucky. Death cannot take that away from me. Sometimes that thought gets weighed down and clouded in grief but when I can see clearly, I know it is true. I’m lucky to have known deep love and been married to him. I’m lucky that he showed me how I deserve to be treated and loved. I’m lucky that he taught me what it means to be respected and supported. I’m lucky to have had someone that understood me and challenged me to grow and be my best self. I’m fortunate that he saw the best in me and reflected it back to me so that I can see myself in that light too. Even though he is gone now I am beyond fortunate to have had him. He lived his life and died loving and choosing me; that in itself is a huge honour. My life continues to be better because of him as I carry his influence and love with me.
What all these mixed thoughts of sadness and remembered happiness evolve to is the stark knowledge that knowing what my life is now, I’d still choose it. If I had known he’d die and we’d have less than a year of marriage together, I’d still have married him. I’d still have spent 10 year of my life being in love with him knowing I’d lose him and be in immense pain. In fact, I’d experience the pain 1000 times over to have had him in my life when I did. This is not to say that the pain or this journey has been anything close to easy. What it means is that it was worth it. He was worth it. The happiness I had is worth the sadness. The joy was worth the pain. The highs were worth the low. I didn’t fully recognize it then, but in opening myself up to being that happy I was also opening myself up to being incredibly sad. I know now with clarity that I’d do it all over again.
"The happiness I had is worth the sadness. The joy was worth the pain."
Moving forward, I know I need to keep this knowledge in mind. That sometimes the pain is worth it. You can’t experience complete happiness if you hold yourself back in your comfort zone. You get one (sometimes short) life to live, why settle for mediocre if you could have something great? I need to be bold and take risks. Even knowing that I wouldn’t take away the happy moments I had to relieve the brokenness, it is still scary. In fact, it’s terrifying. I know the reality of loss and the depths of darkness it can pull me into. However, I also know the beauty of utter happiness. And for me, that will always win. This mindset might take more conscious effort but that is okay; I am determined. Happiness trumps pain. Living trumps death. Love wins it all.
Happy Anniversary, Mike! You were and always will be worth it.