This weekend, New Years Eve, to be exact, was me and Nick’s first wedding anniversary.
On that night, we were supposed to attend a huge NYE party at a local establishment; complete with live music, prime rib dinners, dancing, and countdown to midnight festivities. We have been to this party before, a couple years back, and it was awesome. It was also a VERY tight room with very little space to walk or move or even dance. They pack people in, and with the covid numbers climbing to scary new heights in Massachusetts and in most places, we decided to cancel our big party plans. Instead, we stayed home on NYE, and we made another FB Live video for our friends. This time it was us giving a tour of our new home. (last year, it was our actual wedding, live-streamed on FB from The Groton Inn, where our ceremony was.) To make things even more fun, we decided to still dress up in our ballroom NYE attire that we were set to wear at the NYE ball. For me, that was a big evening gown in shades of blue – such a gorgeous dress. Just like last year when we held a private, covid-safe wedding on FB, this year we had a private NYE Bash / Anniversary celebration , live on FB.
We have become good at making the best of things, or making the most of things, and making them our own – and, in doing so, creating new traditions for ourselves and our relationship. The past couple of years in our relationship have really been a lot dictated and affected by the ongoing pandemic. And yet, during the pandemic, we moved in together to our apartment, moved out of our apartment, got engaged, got married, and bought a house. That’s a lot of life changes and big life moves during a major pandemic.
What does any of this have to do with being widowed? Well, a lot, actually.
In my life after loss, I dont waste too much time stressing about things needing to be perfect or a certain way. The “old me” , before losing Don Shepherd to sudden death, would probably not have been as nonchalant or totally okay with having a private wedding, no guests, and putting it on FB. The old me may have stressed out more about finding the perfect gown in time, or what will so-and-so think if we dont have an actual ceremony with guests, or how will we get everything finished in time. The old me may have wanted to be engaged for more than a few weeks before getting married. The old me may have waited until the pandemic was behind us, and then planned a wedding so everyone could come, and so we could take our time with it. The old me would have done a lot of things more carefully and differently.
But this version of me is different. Less careful, more spontaneous. Less particular, more grateful. Less planning, more doing. This version of me lives for today, because we dont know what tomorrow will look like. We dont know how much time we will be given together. We dont know how the world will look 2 months from now, or a year from now, or even 4 days from now. What we DO know, or what I specifically cannot ever un-know, is that your entire life can change drastically, or disappear entirely, in a matter of seconds. I know that you can go to bed one night with one reality, and wake up to an entirely different one.
There are a lot of things about this life that we cannot control – but we can control how we approach our day to day, the way we love each other, and how we use the time we have together right now. I didnt feel like a big NYE bash crowded with people was safe enough right now, but I also didnt let it put a damper on anything either. I didnt waste even one second being upset about it. Yes, it sucked that we couldnt go to the party, but in the grand scheme of things, it didnt matter. We made our own party. We dressed up anyway, and we slow-danced in our living room, and we toasted to midnight and to our first year of marriage in little plastic cups filled with white grape sparkling juice, and a tiny chocolate cake from the local grocery store instead of having a replica of our wedding cake made from last year; as is tradition for the one-year anniversary. Its not that I dont care about such things anymore, it’s just that I dont waste my energy on things like that. I’m much more interested in diving deep and digging our own path to joy.
We do the best we can, and we not only make the best of it, we make it ours, and then we OWN it.
In this way, we begin new traditions, new memories, a new way.
This is one of the things I LIKE about the new me. Im very adaptable, flexible, and able to go with the flow so much more, because of my loss. Need to alter our wedding plans? Anniversary plans? New Years Eve plans? Okay. Let’s figure it out.
I have altered my entire LIFE and continue to do so, rebuilding it and creating it and starting it over from a blank slate of nothing; all while living inside the darkest of hopeless places that I never saw myself getting out of.
Piece of cake.
Grocery-store cake, even.
And not only am I more than happy with that, I OWN it.