Remembered by most for the tragic terrorist attacks on the US World Trade Center and Pentagon. Ugh.
Remembered by me as my wedding anniversary.
I am confused this morning. I am not married. I am widowed. Am I single? I am solo. You count anniversaries. Why am I counting Not anniversaries? Or Would Have Been anniversaries. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I know why I do it. I count all the dates – the “first,” the “second” and now the “since.” (The Third) But I don’t really want to do this counting. Each number is distance. A measure of my loss. The numbers are gentler, yet bruising.
The first September after Dave died is forever remembered by me as The Grief Tsunami. “Death is our earthquake.” I wrote. “We always live with the possibility of a tsunami roaring in.” And how conveniently I forget year two was the removal of my wedding ring, as noted in my Grief Reflection journal, 911: A Different Anniversary of Loss. “I’ve had to practice the naked and vulnerable feeling that accompanies changing something so familiar.” Ugh, again!
And his birthday is Saturday. I count his Would Have Been age. Spice cake? No candles. The Dutch, with whom I share genetic code, say “Congratulations on your ___ (sister, mother, father, husband…)’s birthday.” I thought it odd at first. There is poignant silence on this tradition now.
Text messages between my daughter and me last night:
Me: Saturday is your dad’s bday. Anything you want to do?
L: I don’t know. (___) is having her birthday party that night… I hadn’t thought of anything to commemorate it. Anything you want to do?
Me: Just not so sure myself.
Seem strangely neutral. Not compelled to do or not. 🙁
L: Same here. I’ve been aware that it’s coming up but I think neutral is a good word for the feeling.
Me: It’s probably because it helps to have the bday person present! Not to sound flippant.
Me: So it sounds very appropriate to go play and celebrate with (___)
L: I guess so :-\
Me: Love ya.
Grief is personal and individual. My dates are not your dates. But I know you know what counting is all about! And as the distance comes the shift for how to notice and what to choose to do also shifts. I feel a resignation to the facts. Or is it surrender? I can’t know. I feel weepy. I feel strong. I am grateful for having known his love and life. I am grateful for all the growth and change and transformation that brings me here today. I am happy and at peace. Perhaps the best in my life ever. Certainly, in a way I could never have imagined.
The irony is that his death is the instrument of incredible pain and joy; of digging deep inside in order to create my being outside; of physical breakdown and hard work determined to overcome ailment; and, of challenge to find my spiritual truth and direction. His death is instrumental in me becoming more, the person who stands before you today. But as I have discovered in my own grief work, so his life was profoundly instrumental in the making of my own. This is why I grieve. This is what I miss.
The irony is just how much I wish I could share this journey with him and bask in his acknowledgment, joy for me, and validation. But the ultimate irony is I can’t be here in this moment with him and I couldn’t have gotten here with him either, since his death is the change agent for my life.