Widow not an anniversary

Not The Anniversary

September 11.

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.
L: Yeah
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.


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