On a windy, cloudy day I was surrounded by friends and family as I vowed to always cherish Paul. Yesterday marked our four year wedding anniversary. It marked the second of which I “celebrated” it without my husband.
I knew this year would be significantly different from last year. Last year, I was surrounded by so many people. It was as if everyone was trying to protect me. I had lots of friends that were being very supportive and active in my life. This year I felt more alone. Noone asked me what I was doing for our anniversary this year. Noone invited me to do anything this year. Noone gave suggestions on what to do. I wasn’t upset by this; I just knew that this was way different than last year. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel so I was determined to not make any certain plans. Well yesterday came and I literally had nothing to do. No plans. I hadn’t spoken to anyone about their schedules.
The last two weeks have been so difficult for me. I’ve been extra sad. I haven’t been sleeping well. I have been dreaming about Paul; only to wake to him not being there. It’s traumatic for those first waking moments-for just a moment when I first wake, he’s not gone; he didn’t die. Then it’s realizing that was a dream and that my life without him is the reality. And it’s heart wrenching. It makes me not want to sleep; it makes me fear sleeping. There have been times when I want to sleep just so I can see him but the ‘loss’ in the morning is so hard to bear. It sounds absurd but it’s the best way I know how to explain it.
Yesterday, I woke crying. Lisa was by my side and she tried her best to console me. It’s hard for me in those moments because my instinct is to conceal what I’m feeling. Although, when my feelings are that intense; it’s not possible. After she left, I had myself a good cry. I pulled my hair and I screamed. And it was terrible but necessary. I guess I tired myself out because I drifted back to sleep. I got around to getting a mani/pedi. I got a couple balloons, champagne and drove out to Stars & Stripes Park where we exchanged our vows 4 years ago. To my dismay, there were crowds of people and the champagne bottle was a pop top. Ugh. I struggled with the bottle for a good 20 minutes before popping it with my seat belt. I walked to the spot we stood at that day. I listened to Pandora and my Train station almost always plays Marry Me which was the song I was supposed to walk to but Paul forgot the boom box that day. That song played in my ear, I pictured that look he had on his face as Chris spoke and I let the balloons go. I watched as they disappeared into the sky. I sat on the ledge where our wine box sat, I had a drink and read the homily that Chris spoke that day:
In our culture today we express to each other two conflicting ideals. On one hand commitment is extremely important. We publicly admonish anyone who is unfaithful. Those who go against the ideal of commitment are subversive and are in some ways cast out. On the other hand we support and promote an absolute sense of self. We believe that the individual, their morals, passions, and aspirations are of extreme value and regard.
How can we reconcile this? How can an absolute sense of self and an absolute dedication to commitment co-exist?
That question is how we define marriage for our generation.
The contradiction exists in trying to forge your own path while sharing your life with another.
Yet, that is our strength. The belief in ones self is what ultimately makes us the best that we can be. Our sense of self and our drive to achieve our identity makes us whole. The whole person is the person that achieves loves. Because, love is an achievement, not a given.
Love is not a fleeting connection from across a room when two eyes meet; it’s soup and crackers when your sick. Love is not a first dates kiss; it’s that text message you get at lunch asking how your day is. Love is not roses and chocolates; it’s laughing with each other even though moments ago you were yelling at each other. Love is less about what’s ahead of you and more about what’s behind you. Because loving what you’ve done together before will prepare you for anything ahead.
There is an old cliche. Marriage is hard work. The idea expresses that love, relationships, and especially marriage are not for the feint of heart and not for those who are unwilling to put in the work. The cliche is old but is so true. Marriage is work. Much in the same way that a beautiful garden is work. Some days you can sit and admire the breath taking view. Smell the flowers and relish in the color and comfort. Another day you’re adding to the garden or taking away from. Before you know it, however, you might be knee deep in a pile of dirt, pulling the weeds, and praying for rain. -Chris Munoz
Lisa got me a green wine glasses and a lobster bottle stopper. I’ll share the lobster story another day. Although, many of you already know it’s significance. We went and had green beer. We came home and we watched the wedding video. Oh how I missed his voice. I replayed the ‘I love you baby’ several times. And I was happy to share that moment with Lisa. And this is just one of the things that makes her truly special. She respects and accepts my love. She actively participates. I’m truly lucky.
This anniversary was, by far, the hardest so far. My heart felt as though it was literally breaking. I don’t ever foresee a day when this will be easy or be just another day. I’m okay with that. Every year, I’ll look back on that special day; I’ll celebrate it in some way until the day I die.
And now we are preparing for our trip to the Bahamas. Paul will be joining us. I will be leaving a piece of Paul there because everywhere I go, so shall he.