The Norwegian and I would have been married 33 years yesterday. That is if he hadn’t dropped dead on a sunny day in the woods. Five years later, I remain neither single nor married; stuck in an undefined relationship status.
Grief entered our marriage that day becoming an unwelcome companion, the uninvited guest who doesn’t leave. It is a stealer of peace, of the steadiness of life and an assumed future. It digs a black hole in life and beckons you in–urgently in the beginning and subtly as time continues.
At work I am struck by sudden tears. Middle Chicken, having none of it, advises me be ready for dinner out. She takes us to the place with perfect salad and toasted ravioli. Hint: Breadstick Nation. Nothing like iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and olives slathered in Italian dressing paired with fried pasta pockets for all that ails. Fancy is our calling card.
She asks about the day her father and I eloped and family reactions. I let her know eloping is romantic. Family response? Not so much. I tell her how happy we were in a tiny apartment, oblivious to the fact we had nothing. Living on love was the order of the day and it was enough to just be together, shutting out the rest of the world.
I tell her stories of grandmas and grandpas and cousins and brothers and sisters and how life was before she joined the fray. I tell her how happy her father was the day she was born. She’s heard the story a million times and listens patiently as if it’s the first time. I tell her things about her dad, not as a father but as a man. The one thing she can’t imagine is how proud he would be of the young woman she has become.
Grief steals much; mostly time. It squirrels away tears like drops of gold feeding a thirst that’s never quenched. One thing it can’t possess is memory, despite it’s best efforts. It may steal away the future but it cannot grasp the past and the magic it contains. It cannot take away smiles, tiny apartments, secrets, hand holding and what’s created when two people create a life together.
Happy anniversary, Baby. Cheers.