Today is my 25th anniversary.
It is also 9 1/2 years from the day my husband went missing.
I used 'is' up there deliberately, if self-consciously. It is my anniversary, not it would have been. Because I'm still here, I was married 25 years ago, and that still means something today.
Tenses are a bitch.
Over the last 9 1/2 years I have deliberately avoided making a big deal out of particular days. I think it was self-defence. Every day was difficult. Recognizing significant days would have just punctuated things, added a slight edge to what already felt unbearable. So I ignored them for the most part - Kirk's birthdays, our anniversaries, and yes, at least with my surface mind, the day he went missing.I knew they were happening but I locked away everything but the most superficial acknowledgment.
But this year I think my brain is fed up with that strategy. Maybe not my whole brain, maybe just the subversive bit that imbibed too many lessons about the value of suffering, among other useful, corrosive little concepts. That part of my brain has been spending the past several weeks dishing up a variety of interesting, barbed experiences. Glanced-at photographs of total strangers look uneasily familiar. Snatches of conversation on a train seemed to be in a well-known voice. And the nightmares. Those are always fun. Just after I fall asleep usually, the sort that slip away as soon as you wake up but leave your heart racing and your body tense and mean that, in a dark, empty room, there's no hope of getting back to sleep again for hours.
So maybe this post is to placate that bit of my brain, to say yes, I know it. I know what today is, and I recognize that it's important.
I just don't know what to do about it.
So I booked tickets for a show I've been wanting to see. I bought supplies for a very nice dinner - smoked salmon, goat's cheese, bruschetta, fresh tomatoes, capers. And I decided that today, for once, all day, I was going to give myself permission to do whatever it was I was doing at the time - no guilt, no pressure, no mental list of what I should be doing instead. I admired the hatching of goslings that was being paraded across the street by watchful parents and I made sure to look at the daffodils that are now blooming in the thousands. I only winced a bit when I passed a shop with a very lovely woman trying on a wedding gown, and I stopped for a moment to admire her, because she was beautiful and happy and it was nice to see that happiness so fresh and clean.
And I still don't know what to feel, which is maybe a good thing. Maybe I spend too much time watching myself watching myself feeling things and not enough time just... just feeling them and letting that be enough. So that's what I'm trying to do. Just feel, not feel the right thing, not feel the comfortable thing, just let it be. And right now, thinking of those lost 9 1/2 years, thinking about how we would have laughed and celebrated and loved in honour of our 25 together, it feels profoundly sad, and very, very empty.
Kaj - I miss you.