Today is my husband's 61st birthday. He was 54 and I was 44 when he died. Now that I am 51, I realize how young he really was at his death leaving behind sons only ages 9 and 10. His son from his first marriage was a sophomore in college and age 20.
What is so strange about today is that all week I thought the 23rd (today) was our wedding anniversary and I was looking forward to reflecting on it and doing some reminiscing. But somehow with the busyness of life I goofed up my anniversary dates! We got married on the 20th, which was Wednesday and that day I was preoccupied with taking my oldest to the doctor (acne troubles). I never thought of our wedding the entire day!
It was only when I was taking my half-hour nature walk this afternoon that I realized it was actually my husband's birthday and not our wedding anniversary and that I had missed our anniversary big time! It would have been our 19th year of marriage on the 20th.
So during my walk I reflected on my husband. Monday, the 25th is the seventh year anniversary of his death.
My husband ended up dying at a crummy time as far as the calendar year goes. It would have been easier for me to have held anniversary celebrations if he had died in a humdrum month, March would be perfect when there is not much going on. But we've always been so busy this time of year what with Halloween and then the holidays come upon us in full force, with Thanksgiving just one month later and Christmas, two. So over the years, I've never really gone all out in observing these three days that follow one another so quickly in succession at the end of October.
The first few years after my husband's death, the boys played soccer, football and fall baseball. Along with school and homework, the fall days just were a big blur of me coping with car pooling on my own and muddling through my own feelings, as well as trying to keep it together as an only parent. I tried the first few years to make a nice dinner with dessert to honor my husband's birthday but they were madcap, rushed affairs and eventually my husband's birthday and his day of death were marked by a verbal mention. There were a few years when the days passed by without any acknowledgment and I was so busy caring for my parents that I wasn't even keeping track of what day was what.
My husband is buried out of state so there is no grave site for us to visit. There is a memorial tree planted in a park on the other side of town overlooking the baseball fields because my husband was such a baseball fan - he was recruited to the minor leagues but turned down the offer to start college and become a teacher - he wanted to have a greater impact influencing young people. Over the years my husband "saw" the boys play on those fields. I always believed his spirit is around us and not at the actual grave site.
I regret that my life unfolded in such a way that it has been difficult to honor my husband as I would have liked during this time of year. But right now my oldest is involved with football playoffs and as usual our life is pretty hectic and fast-paced. Maybe it is a blessing that my husband didn't die in March when we would have ample time to mope and be depressed with the grey clouds keeping us company. His dying this week is at such a time that we're so busy we're not overly sad or down by our loss. Which I should add is a part of us every day anyway. And by having all these anniversary dates occur within one week, I only have to deal with a hard time of year once and it is over!
Still, I am sad that our lives have been so madcap that there hasn't been ample opportunity for me to plan what I'd define as a more formal and solemn observation of my husband's life and death. Although thinking of my husband, who was grading papers up until he was in a coma, maybe what we've been doing is fine by him. He lived every day of his life with cancer as normally and fully as possible. And I guess looking down he can see that we have done the same.
"I love you Daddy. The boys love you Daddy. You were never fond that I called you Daddy but got used to it! We so miss you and you remain forever in our hearts. Today I feel your presence around us, although I know it is always there. I wish you could somehow send down a message about how you hated tattoos because both of the boys are getting ones as tributes to your life and their love for you. I can only hold off discouraging them until they are of age and have enough of their own money to afford them. I have persuaded them to get them anywhere but their arms/necks so they can be covered when they go in for future job interviews. But maybe you won't mind so much because tats are pretty common these days - many of their friends have them. Sometimes I'll think of a question I want to ask you that I never did when you were alive and I so much want to know the answer - I thought we had plenty of time together to get to all of that. But I am grateful for the time we did have. You taught me so much, maybe even more in death than life. I'll talk to you again soon, probably in the stands next week at a playoff football game. Til then, Happy Birthday."