Anniversaries and Adversities....
This for me has been a week of sleepless nights and bone deep sorrow....not on the pot but close enough to stare at it longingly. Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the day I married my sweet honey. We would have marked 18 years of marriage and very near twenty years together...I consider it the single greatest accomplishment of my life.
We weren't perfect but we were very good for each other. We always strove to put the other first and be honest to a fault. It was painful and exhilarating....we had trails that would've destroyed most couples but we held on and endured. We taught each other how to love...unashamedly and unconditionally. She made me a better man and a more complete person.
She taught me that joy comes from the simplest things and that even our darkest moments can be embraced and learned from....if we just change our perspective. It is this loving lesson that I cling to now. Desperately.
On our wedding day, those many years ago, we'd planned a simple outdoor service. At a friends house that had a beautiful backyard in the county. It wasn't extravagant in any fashion...financially our divorces had left both of us starting over but she was beautiful in a simple white gown and I had on the only suit I owned. At the time we lived 80+ miles from the place we'd chosen to be married and we traveled there because it was close to where my best friend (who was very sick with cancer) lived.
Amazingly, a large number of our martial arts outreach families made the trip that day...we started outside but before the service could be completed, the Tennessee skies opened up and the entire group was quickly drenched in a down pour. Our friend had a converted outbuilding that was his dojo (martial arts studio) and the entire group retreated inside...to say it was packed was like saying a sardine can was roomy! Many in attendance were professional soldiers and they quickly rigged a makeshift covering for the grills set up outside...grinningly cooking, drenched in the blowing rain...tarps were thrown on the floor to protect the mats. Hardly the romantic ceremony I'd hoped for...and yet, there she stood...damp...smiling and as beautiful as the morning sun. We exchanged vows and simple bands...my girl sang for me...her voice quavering and angelic...eyes brimming with happy tears. We danced...slowly and locked into each others eyes. I fed her cake...nicely...my best friend encouraged her to smash my piece into my face...which she did for him, giggling madly.
People applauded...many in tears for our union. Best day ever...and one that we each celebrated every year. No matter the circumstances. Be it before or after work...most times in simple intimate ways...I once filled her SUV with balloons, each having a scrap of paper with an endearment of my love. We spent an evening on our deck in the moonlight...dancing to a tape of love songs she'd made for me...whispering the words in my ear as we swayed together.
For those that don't know me...I have two dancing styles...Fonzie slow dance and a version of being tazered while remaining upright! Honey was the dancer...she could literally dance to anything and tolerated my ineptness with humor and grace. We loved each other daily...holding hands and stealing kisses. A thousand tiny gestures that strung together are a love and a life lived and shared, always together...which is why I am so lost without you babe.
You sweet Tammy Jean were my world...my hopes...and my dreams...always included you. You asked me to keep dreaming...to cherish each day. I am trying. Truly. Your memory and selflessness encourage me and give me strength...most days. But I miss you...and I miss us. I think a part of me always will. It's that corner of my heart that keeps me going...makes me face another day. If not with joy, then at least with a stubborn determination to fulfill my promises to you. Yes dear...still hard-headed...despite your best efforts.
I don't know if I can ever love again...I know that was your hope. Your wish for me...but for now at least, it's beyond my ability to do. I love my family...I cherish my friendships but beyond that? I just don't know. I once told you that anything was possible as long as you kept pushing no matter how many doors were closed on you...I believed that and in you...as long as it was desired, right?
Maybe I was wrong...in life, some things are closed forever...beyond our reach. It's the reality...but does that mean our dreams become less meaningful? Our desires diminished and our drives forever crushed? I know what my girl would say...she'd say, “Follow your heart boy...it's a good one.”
If that was ever true, it's a broken one now...but I hear you honey. Happy anniversary baby....I love you.