Celebrating a Loss

There was a time when my wedding anniversary held the same trepidation as the anniversary of my husband’s death. As the anniversary drew near, that old uninvited gnawing began, a presence that demanded attention. For the first few years I tried to ignore that presence, keep busy, but throughout the day that biting pain reminded me of the celebrations and the happiness I couldn’t share with my husband anymore.

When I remarried, I did not tell my new husband when the date rolled around, and thought it would be easier because I had created new memories and had a fulfilling life. I thought the date would simply be one that I no longer had to recognize, but after several years, as much as I tried to think forward thoughts, the past always came back.

Over dinner the night that would have marked my fifteenth wedding anniversary, I told my new husband. I thought he would simply acknowledge the thought and move on, but to my surprise, he raised his glass and proposed a toast. “Here’s to Brian Murray,” he said, “A man I admire for his bravery and sacrifice.” The little speech brought tears to my eyes. I hadn’t known that James was so unfettered. There was no jealousy or resentment. James was strong enough to acknowledge the man who was once part of my life.

From that day forward on my first wedding anniversary date I make a little toast and remember with fondness, not trepidation, the gifts I have been given.


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