45 years…that’s almost a lifetime. It’s all of MY adult life. I was only 20 the day I said “I do” on April 15, 1967. I could not even imagine 45 years ahead. As years went by, and we passed 25, then 30 and 35 years….I could glimpse ahead at a 45th Anniversary. 50 felt impossible! Quite honestly, I have wondered if the next big anniversary, 50th, will even occur – given the situation. So that made for a little extra pressure for me to want this one to be recognized and marked significantly.
And now, 45 has just passed. The day was barely marked, and that bothered me. I knew that if we were both well, we would have taken a trip to celebrate having been kept together for all this time. T never failed to buy a card, a gift, and at least do dinner until these last few years. Recently, we have gone to Knoxville to enjoy the dogwoods and have dinner in the city where we married, but this year that was not possible. I have come to wish these kinds of occasions pass quickly to avoid lingering, wistful feelings overwhelming me.
But being the determined woman I am, and so the day did not go by without some notice, I bought an orchid for the house. We both enjoy the exquisite beauty, and the blooms often last for weeks. I also picked up some Freesia stems for the kitchen table. The evening before the 15th, I grilled steaks and made a little dinner complete with wine and candles. The dinner was marred only by an interruption for extended bathroom duty. There was wasn’t much conversation, but I have grown familiar with that, even if I don’t like it. Amazing that a person can become “familiar” with such losses and begin not to even notice their absence. A part of the “new normal” as I call it. And I didn’t sit there with my Sudoku book I hand!
On the 15th itself, we stayed in. T did not feel well in the morning, so I put out some plants in the front yard while he rested. In the evening, we did go out for a simple dinner with our daughter, Stephanie. It was great to have someone to talk with over dinner, and we really tried to include T in the discussion. I’m not even sure he remembered it was our anniversary until the evening. He had tried his best to communicate to me some of his feelings earlier in the day. I got from it that he is thinking about his past life, his “old friends”, his family. He misses them. It reminded me that often, even when there is no “talk”, there are thoughts which just cannot be expressed verbally except through great effort. So my gift to him was to simply sit down for an hour or more and try to listen and elicit his buried and unexpressed thoughts.
Really, I cannot complain, but I have to acknowledge that I like to mark significant occasions in a significant way. I like celebrations. So once I came to grips with what “was”, then I had to minimize my inner expectations so they could coincide with reality and afford me peace and contentment on my 45th wedding anniversary. Noting that there are still many blessings from God, and that many have been robbed of these years by tragedies and loss, brings a clearer perspective to my spirit as I reflect on the day just past. Now I think I will make a cup of tea and ready my pillow for my head.