Friday, July 19, 2013
Anniversaries and the Emotional Free-For-All
I don't know what it is about anniversaries, but I live like I don't any other time of the year.
For at least the week before, I excuse every weird thought or action I wouldn't tolerate in myself any other time of the year. I act weird, pay my bills late a couple of days late, probably drink too much wine, and assume that the rest of the world (especially my creditors) will somehow know that it's anniversary time again, so I'm somehow exempt from being normal.
The weird thing is that what I equate it to is how I used to act around my birthday.
I mean, it's not exactly celebratory, the anniversary of my husband's death, but it's when I try to plan fun things to distract myself and generally go off the rails for a few days (as much as I can - I'm pretty boring on a regular day, so "off the rails" isn't much to brag about). I'm thinking that if anyone else paid attention to what I was doing, they would think that something great had happened. Instead of something mind-boggling awful.
A death anniversary could have us going one of two ways - either it terrifies and overwhelms us or it makes us feel like life is short so we might as well enjoy what we can. For me it's like an emotional free-for-all and I never know which way it's going to go until the date approaches. Last year it was overwhelming and scary.
But for some reason this year, it's almost a beautiful experience. I know that sounds weird, but it's the best way I can explain it.
I'm sitting on my back porch with the most heavenly breeze, sipping a beer, and watching the hummingbirds dart around the feeders my mom bought for my kids last week. They look so busy, so manic, which is amazing to watch and makes me appreciate the calm I feel. The calm I've been hoping for in years past that has somehow illuded me.
This is my yearly "hump day" - the day between the anniversary of his death and my wedding anniversary, which is tomorrow. Seventeen years ago today, I was exhausted from my bachelorette party and looking forward to becoming a wife.
Life is weird.
I can't help but feel gratitude today (which in some ways is even weirder). Grateful for all that life has given me, even in the wake of all that it's taken away. Grateful for a minute of peace to just read my book (Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg - not heavy, but perfect for my mood). Grateful for the people in my life that - again, weird as it sounds - death provided and showed me how to appreciate.
And most of all...grateful that I was smart enough to say "I do" to a great man almost seventeen years ago when my skin was better and squeezing myself into a wedding dress wasn't the task it would be now.
Widow Chick (aka, Catherine Tidd) is the owner of www.theWiddahood.com and the author of the upcoming memoir Confessions of a Mediocre Widow (Jan. 2014). She is also a writer for The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas and a contributor to several books on grief and renewal.