When you pick your wedding date, you never imagine that day could one day bring heartache. All the focus is on the celebration and the happy life you are building together. It never even crosses your mind that one of you could be left standing alone.
Tony and I would have been married 15 years ago last week. He proposed in August of 2005 and as we were looking at spring dates, there was St. Patrick’s Day 2007. We went for it and embraced the holiday, incorporating it into our wedding. The bridesmaids wore green, we passed out shamrock lapel pins, served corned beef, and even had a bag pipe exit after we were pronounced husband and wife. The only thing we didn’t have was green beer, because food coloring and a white wedding dress is a recipe for disaster.
Over the last 14 years we continued to embrace the holiday. We went to Chicago on our 5-year anniversary to watch the river turn green. We always hosted a Sunday Funday at our house after the local city parade. We wore obnoxious t-shirts and continued to eat corned beef every year.
But this year was different. This was my first anniversary without him. I don’t even know what to call it this year. Yes, it’s the date of my wedding anniversary but it doesn’t feel like mine anymore. I don’t get to celebrate number 15. We were married 14 years and 34 days.
My feelings are so juxtaposed.
It’s a blessing and curse when your anniversary is on a memorable date. It doesn’t slip by unnoticed by anyone, even your friends who weren’t in your life when you tied the knot. No one forgets the couple who got married on St. Patrick’s Day.
I felt gutted with a vast hollowness. I woke up to the day with tears ready to spill from my eyes. My body just knew there would be no happy anniversary shamrock kisses.
The weather was great, but I couldn’t bring myself to go to our local parade this year and host friends for a Sunday Funday.
I didn’t cook corned beef and cabbage.
Despite all the empty, I also felt seen and loved from my friends and family who reached out to acknowledge how hard this day must be for me.
Only one person texted me to tell me that they were still wearing their shamrock pin. Most texted me their thoughts and wishes for gentleness as I navigated the day.
I did escape to Florida with the kids. We took an airboat ride in the morning with a few alligators. By the evening the sky was hosting an almost full moon, just like the night of Tony’s funeral.
I like to think this picture I took was a representation of us. Our lives crossed together in the light. His life reflects in the water as I carry on for us in the sky.
Full moons represent reflection versus new beginnings. As I reflect on our 14 years as husband and wife, they were good. We embraced each other and our lives together with everything we had, just like we embraced St. Patrick’s Day as ours. The years were cut short but that doesn’t make the 14 years we had any less than great.
So in all, I wrap this up still juxtaposed. I love the life I had with Tony but I’m still sad it didn’t end the way we planned. I will continue to do my best carrying him in my life forward while still wishing we had celebrated number 15 last week.