Thursday, October 27th, was my wedding anniversary. To the dead guy. It would have been 16 years married to each other. But instead, it was and will always be 4 years and 9 months. Now that so many years have gone by since his death, our marriage seems even more tragically cut short than it ever has before. I had a tough time this year with it. There was lots of crying and reflecting and missing. As always and as usual, I posted about it on my Facebook page because it helps to share, and I know it helps others to feel validated in their own emotional tsunamis. And as always, it helped greatly to talk with my FB friends about this, and to read their comments and their memories of my wedding day all those years ago. One friend posted that it was the “happiest” wedding she has ever attended, and that she felt honored to be invited and to witness that kind of love. Others posted similar things. That helps greatly. Knowing that our love and our story matters, and was felt by others, and that our joy was obvious to people, and that they remember our wedding day all these years later with great fondness and smiles and love.
I worked hard at the time to create a wedding that was different and FUN and filled with little pieces of “us” throughout the entire experience. I was my own wedding planner, and planning our wedding led me to become a wedding planner for a few years afterwards. Don would help me by coming with me and helping me carry things, setting up tables, doing all the heavy lifting and also being his charming self with the guests. It was so lovely being a part of another couples joy on that day, and helping them to create the vision they saw for their day. When Don died, the last thing on earth I felt like doing was attending weddings, never mind planning them. So I shut my business down. I no longer had Don’s help anymore anyway, and I wasnt interested in doing it completely alone.
So many things change instantly or slowly when you become unexpectedly widowed. Your job, your family dynamic, relationships with friends, your love life, your sense of self and purpose, your financial situation, where you live, on and on and on and on. Its hard for people to understand this part of widowhood. Starting over is so hard. Some of the things you lose in widowhood, you get back. Some you never get back. Some you get back but its a completely different version than the original. Whatever the case, its exhausting trying to put the puzzle pieces together in widowhood. And then its even more exhausting once you realize that you cant put them together because the puzzle pieces no longer fit. Your life no longer fits. And so now you have to create a new one. Slowly. Reluctantly. Kicking and screaming at times.
Part of my new life, 11 years later, finds me reading books about death for my grief counseling courses. When Im done with the four courses and four exams, I will be a certified grief counselor. It strikes me that over a decade ago, my happy marriage and the joy I found in planning my wedding, led me to start a part time business planning other peoples weddings. And now, my husbands sudden death, the grieving that followed, and the healing and growth that comes from helping other widowed people, has led me to start a new career path at age 51. The cycle of life is strange. And the only thing I know for sure is that whenever you come from a place of love, even when it hurts and even when its sad, it can also be incredibly powerful and create beautiful things.
Love is everything. Always and forever. In all of its wonderful forms.