An anniversary

So…it’s January again. It’s not my favourite month. For so many years, January has meant loss. It started with the death of my husband Craig and then continued, year after year – nephew, uncle, parents-in-law, parents, brothers – gone one by one in the early months of the year.

Ten years – of loss, yes –  but as many to reflect on what remains and learn to treasure it. We endured the worst we could imagine and we lived. Life did go on – in rich and unexpected ways. Craig’s loss shaped and refined each of us and his presence in our lives is a current that continues to bear us.

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So here it is one more time: Craig’s signature symbol of defiance. He took to wearing such colourful tie dyed t-shirts as his own sign of hope in the face of a terminal illness. I’ve posted this bright little square for a number of years now in his memory – and as an encouragement to others to share that defiance and hope. Kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight. Find the crack where the light pours in.

I’m posting this a little early. Tomorrow morning I’ll be boarding a plane, winging half-way around the world to meet my daughter in Bangkok. We’ll observe the anniversary there – on January 31. Years ago, we reflected that Craig would have hated to be the cause of sadness year after year, so we began to look for ways to make the day a celebration. I don’t yet know how Kyra and I will mark the date, but there will be tie dye. And hope. Stay tuned.

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June 15, 1985

I’m off on a completely unrelated tangent today.

When I was younger, I can remember my grandmother counting off the years of each wedding anniversary. My grandfather had been gone since I was in elementary school; I clearly recall saying to myself, in thoughtless teenage conceit, “you haven’t really been married all those years…!” Thank God I never, ever said that out loud.

I was so wrong. 

Today is my own wedding anniversary. Like my grandmother, I still count the years. What I did not understand as a teenager is that marking joyous events in your life will continue to bring joy, even when tinged by sadness. My husband’s passing over seven years ago does not change the fact of our marriage nor the myriad reasons to acknowledge and celebrate a wonderful day. In bereavement class I was told that with the death of a spouse, a marriage does not end – it changes. I know this to be true for me. Craig is still intimately entwined in the details of my daily existence; I believe this will always be true.

Our wedding twenty-nine years ago fell on the day before Fathers’ Day. My dad never grumbled that we had stolen his thunder. Rather, he thought it the best present ever. The two anniversaries – Fathers’ Day and our wedding, continue to coincide, a mix of sweet and sad now that both Craig and my father are absent.

I’ve lost track of my grandmother’s tally – I wonder how many years she’d have been married now? Today, Gramma, I’ve been married twenty-nine years!

Happy Anniversary. Happy Fathers’ Day.

Coming down the aisle with Dad

Coming down the aisle with Dad

Craig and me and the Springbank Dairy Countess

Craig and me and the Springbank Snow Countess