My sister-in-law, Marcy, celebrated her fourth wedding anniversary two days ago. Congratulations Marcy and Jaime! The event, like any milestone, got me thinking about the passage of time.
Four years ago: September 3, 2005. Chief justice of the United States, William Rehnquist, died after a long battle with thyroid cancer and the nation was still reeling from the catastrophic destruction and loss of lives wrought by Hurricane Katrina http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina. More personally, I was living in New York City with my four-year-old twins and had been widowed 19 months. Yep, I was still in my 30’s (okay, late 30’s). I remember the day well. Marcy picked out a long, black “va-va-voom” dress for me to wear. She wanted me to look and feel good, and I have to admit, I got a lot of continued mileage out of that babe-alicious dress in the years to come. The wedding was held at Whitby Castle, a gorgeous outdoor mansion in Westchester County, New York. Those of us in the bridal party decorated Jaime’s hunter green triumph – a car he built himself as a teenager – with bagels and empty cans of tomato sauce.
The wedding for me was bittersweet. Joyous, yes, because finally Marcy and Jaime walked down the aisle. And how wonderful it felt to celebrate a happy occasion after the anguish of the past six years. Which leads me to the sad part: Brett, Marcy’s only sibling, died before seeing she and Jaime tie the knot. No doubt, he was right there in spirit, smiling.
I remember being pretty off-kilter that day. My identity as a WIDOW felt branded like a black mark across my forehead and I wasn’t yet able to give myself permission to remove it. No one else could read my insides, but to me, the mask was as visible as my stunning dress. The loss still felt raw. And yet, enough time had passed for me to have the urge to feel alive again, to feel young and vital and attractive and hopeful. I wanted to want a future. Yes, I wanted to dance and flirt with the cute firefighters who were inappropriately young. Thank goodness for The Black Eyed Peas – My Humps and its funky beat got my juices flowing again.
Much has changed over these last four years. Marcy and Jaime have a beautiful son, Brayden, who turns three this month. My twins and I are now living in Denver. My children are eight years old and real people, no longer babies! I remarried. I have two teenage stepsons. And far too many family members and family friends have died. We can never replace lost loved ones; their absence looms large, always.
I’m reminded of a favorite quote in my office from the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: “I will always love you, Vivi,” he said. “There is nothing you could ever do that would make me stop loving you.” The words shot through Vivi’s bones and blood and muscle, and her body relaxed, so that when her feet touched the ground they met the earth differently, as though they had found roots that reached deep down and anchored to something tender and undamaged.
We’ve got to honor the passage of time and all that it holds. Whether that means being truthful, stoic, heroic, flippin’ mad, sad, ecstatic or tentative, embracing the markers in our lives allow us to live more completely. Cheers!