Happy Anniversary

I have spent the last two days in a lovely location. It is a state park about 125 miles away from my home. I was there for work but this retreat couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

Today would have been my 22nd wedding anniversary.

I went this morning and sat by this beautiful lake. I looked out at the water, acknowledged the day for what it was, thanked God for letting me have such wonderful memories to look back upon. Then I took a photo of the lake and sent it to my person. I wanted him to be able to see the beauty I was gazing upon in the early morning. There was just a hint of fog hovering over the water. It was amazing.

I then proceeded to go about my day with a smile upon my face and yes, in my heart.  Only one person can make my heart smile. I am thankful he is in Chapter 2 of my life.

I didn’t carry around the heaviness I have carried on October 17th for the past three years. I was at this beautiful park with trails and lakes and trees. I was in my element.

In the wee hours of the morning, the co-worker I was sharing a room with and I were talking about the losses we had suffered. Her husband passed rather suddenly six months ago. She told me how she watched me and the I gave her hope that she too could survive. She told me I was an inspiration to her. I don’t know what to say to people when they say that. I am just trying to get through.

I told her that the things she was feeling, whatever it is at any moment, was perfectly okay. They are her feelings and she is entitled to have them. She told me how she was supposed to attend a function recently and she got there and turned around and went to “her spot”. She told me that me talking about my “hiding place” had influenced her to find a peaceful spot to spend a great deal of her free time.  I told her I had done the same thing even leaving family functions because I just couldn’t stand it another moment longer.

We shared funny stories about our late spouses. She told me that she still felt married. I told her that I understood. I walked through that before. You don’t feel  “single” but you are no long married and the word widow, people tend to want to spit it out of their mouth like it is sour milk. We talked about how people perceive widows/widowers. That if you are happy, people think you are too happy. If you are sad, they think you are depressed and they watch you closer. How that after a while you get exhausted hearing the “I’m so sorry for you loss” speech, knowing that most people are sincere but we want people to treat us normally. Three years later I still get that speech from time to time.

At one point in the conversation she told me that it was great to see me happy again. I told her that I had a great group of people around me. When I was talking about my best friend and my girls she could tell that they made me happy. Apparently though when I spoke of my person, it showed on my face. She said that my eyes lit up a little more when I spoke of him.

I didn’t realize that she was watching me so closely. I didn’t realize I was a “role model”. I am just living my life and loving the people in it. I don’t get it all right, not by a long shot, but I do try with all my might to show those in my life, the love I feel for them.

After the conference was over, I wanted to take one more walk around the lake. I wanted to be near that spot the brought me peace in those early days when I couldn’t seem to take a step. Water speaks peace to me.

As I walked around the lake, I noticed a butterfly sitting on a leaf. Butterflies are very important to me. I feel like they are little messengers bringing me whispered tidings from someone who is still with me, although not in his physical form.

It was a tiny butterfly.  He just sat there on his leaf for a good long while. I eased out my cell phone because I knew that if I moved my camera bag it would make him fly away. I snapped a shot of him (and not a very good one) , wished him well and continued my stroll.

At 3:00 pm, (the time of our wedding) I was traveling on the interstate. I thought about those words….”For better for worse, For richer for poorer, In sickness and in health, forsaking all others til death do us part”. When you say those words, you make a promise to someone’s heart. I never break a promise. I never broke that one.

It was a good day. It was a day of remembering happy times. It is drawing to a close.

The fact that I acknowledged the day gave me the power to control how I dealt with it. I did go to the cemetery. He isn’t there but it is a place to go. I sat there and I thanked God above for this day and for the gift he had given me some 22 years ago. I wished him a happy anniversary, got into my car, came home and edited some photos from my trip.

It was very much a different day from the past three years. It was another step forward. I don’t move past him for he was the love of the first chapter of my life. I move forward, with hope in my heart for Chapter 2.

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