Today would have been our 20th anniversary. Why do I feel selfish for saying that I wanted this?
What's strange is that if we went back nine months ago to Christmas Day--a month before I lost her--I would have told you that we would make it to today. How could I have been so naïve? All the signs were there, but I just knew we could go one more round. It couldn't be over. She was too strong and I was too determined to not let that happen.
And we were stuck on 19. No one wants to be stuck on 19. You don't party because it's your junior year. They don't throw you a parade when you win the primary election but lose the general. The date can't end on appetizers.
I wanted this. If only so she could prove one last time that this spiteful, heartless, family-destroying disease couldn't determine our destiny. To prove (for maybe egotistical reasons) that we kept that commitment to each other for two decades. There's more we needed to prove.
And I wanted that one more trip. That one more stroll down the Riverwalk. One more memory. To be able to say "We did it." We hit that milestone of that number with that zero on the end. There's more we needed to do.
Maybe we could have renewed our vows. Or taken that second honeymoon we'd talked about so much. Made a little photo album of each year with one of those internet services. It's all so pointless and punishing to think about now. There's more we needed to share.
19 years, 4 months, 16 days.
We were close, but not that close and it hurts.
Last weekend, I took the kids, some friends and my mom back to Astoria to stay on the Columbia River, practically next door to where Anne-Marie and I stayed a year ago. The city was full of Labor Day vacationers but to me it was a collection of snapshots of only one person. Anne-Marie told me that the best memories of her entire life were found on those streets.
I was surprised that I couldn't feel angry or cheated. What I had was 19 years of happy memories. All of them happy. One year less than I wanted, but 19 more than so many are given. While the whole thing had an essence of wrongness to it, there was a sense of wonder in knowing that this urban scrapbook told the story of a (half?) life well-lived.
Like the fireworks show you wanted to last forever or the novel you couldn't put down. You were mad when they ended but only because it was all so great. Could you blame it for being wonderful? And if it went by too fast, why? Were you caught up in it? I hope you were.
I love you forever, Anne-Marie.
|Us throwing 20 roses for 20 years into the Columbia River|