It’s my anniversary, and I can ignore it if I want to.

Today is my anniversary. Or is was my anniversary. Or it would be my anniversary. I guess I really don’t know the proper tense for this situation.

But suffice to say: if Tom were alive today, we’d be celebrating 19 years of wedded bliss. Ok, it’s possible not all 19 of those years would have been blissful, but for the sake of this post, we’ll just assume it would have been 19 years of marital perfection.

We were really just babies when we got married. I managed to scandalize a few people by getting engaged in high school, and we married when I was 20 and Tom was 22.

I conveniently decided to study abroad in Latvia for the 3 months immediately preceding our wedding day, leaving Tom to do the invitations and other preparations. When I got home, we had 12 days to get reacquainted before getting married. It was not ideal, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else, but we made it work.

Here we are circa 2003. Those early days were crazy, but look -- still smiling!
Here we are circa 2003. Those early days were crazy, but look — still smiling!

We made it work despite having 3 kids in 3.5 years. We made it work despite having some radically different ideals and backgrounds. We made it work despite realizing a few years in that maybe we didn’t know each other as well as we thought.

Really, the cards (or at least a lot of early poor decisions) were stacked against us, but we made our marriage work. And then a &%$# tumor took it away.

So now what?

What do you do for your anniversary after your husband dies?

The first year I went to see The Wolf of Wall Street (NOT what I was expecting!) since Tom liked Martin Scorsese. I figured if he had been alive, that’s probably what we would have gone out to do during our 2013 anniversary.

In 2014, I decided to do what I would want for an anniversary night out if I were calling the shots. I had dinner alone at a restaurant I always wanted to visit with Tom but never got the chance. Then I drove out to some of our old stomping grounds and finished up by doing some clearance shopping at Big Lots (not exactly sure what that was about).

Last year, we were in New York visiting my brother so I really wasn’t at liberty to run off and do something on my own to mark the occasion.

And then we come to this year. This year, I decided to do nothing. Absolutely nothing.

It’s ok for me to ignore, but I’d still like to hear from you.

My opinion may change later, but for now at least, I’ve decided commemorating my anniversary and other special days I shared with Tom doesn’t make me feel good.

Rather than celebrating the memory of Tom, I’m stuck feeling jaded and sorry for myself. The days make me short-tempered with the kids and unhappy with myself. All in all, I feel crummy every time I try to do something special on a “Tom day.”

So I’ve decided to do nothing at all. Well, not literally nothing. Today, I drove out to meet with some people I’m profiling in an article. Then I stopped at a coffee shop on the way home – not to do something special for myself but because I desperately needed 30 minutes of quiet to finish a big project that had been looming over my head. I came home and did some more work, told the kids to reheat the raw Cornish hens I cooked for Christmas and am now working on this post.

In the middle of all this, my maid of honor sent me a text to ask what I was up to today. I told her what I’ve just told you, but I also let her know how much I appreciated that she remembered.

You see, I might want to ignore the day, but it still feels good to know other people haven’t forgotten. Of all the awful things that come with being a widow, worrying that the world will forget your husband ranks up there as one of my worst fears. I can’t bear the thought that his memory will be blurred and lost as the years go on.

Go ahead and let the widow in your life know you’re thinking about her and her husband on their special days. Even if she’s trying not to dwell on the day, I bet she’ll appreciate your note, call or text all the same.

If you’ve lost your spouse, I’d love to hear how you mark the occasion of your anniversary.

(photo credit)

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    1. Thank you for this timely post. There’s a widow in my life and I was wondering what to say or do on the anniversary of his death, almost a year now. I’ll take your cue and let her know I’m thinking of her and her husband. I certainly don’t want to forget him and want to let her know I’m thinking about her as well. Blessings, Mary

      1. I really don’t think you can go wrong by sending a card or calling your friend to say you’re thinking of her. Just take her cue on what happens next. I loved that my maid of honor replied with “Consider it ignored then!” after I told her I wasn’t doing anything special for my anniversary. There was no “oh, you HAVE to do something.” I really appreciated her respecting my wishes and then we had a nice chat without me feeling any pressure to justify my feelings.

        Hope you’re having a very Merry Christmas Mary!

    1. Dear Marylene,
      Tonight, we celebrated an anniversary supper that ended with a fresh-baked raisin pie, one of Dad’s fave’s. He’s 88, and widowed 17 years. Today would have been his and Mom’s 67th.
      When we came from far out of town to celebrate Christmas (on his invitation!!) , we brought as many memories of how Mom would have celebrated Christmas, so we could honour her on Dad’s behalf. He liked that, SO MUCH…and so did we… To celebrate ttheir anniv. at tonight’s supper was a “capstone”. Mom and Dad’s anniv. always was so close to Christmas for us kids….but we watched ea yr. he bought her a wrapped gift: the next one in a series of beautiful teacups, wh she always feigned surprise about receiving…

      I don’t have him for many more years, so these are precious days… There is a kinship through a “same anniv. date”.

      Thank you so much for your post, and voicing for us readers oft-unspoken thoughts from our own times of sweet/sad reflection….

      1. Oh that sounds lovely! And what a great memory to have about those teacups!

        This is where I hope I’ll be someday…having a special celebration with the kids on my anniversary. Not there yet, but maybe someday!

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