I wasn’t going to write about my anniversary yesterday. Last year when everything was fresher, I had dreaded that day and what I should do with it. This year since so much more time has passed, I figured it was just another day.
When I woke up Monday morning, I mentally passed the celebration away from my wedding and back towards my friend who’s birthday is the same day. She was in my wedding, and we all joked that I threw her the most kick ass birthday party ever. On the morning of my sixth anniversary, I texted her “Happy Birthday!” and a gif of a cat from a youtube video that used to make us giggle like idiots in college.
I went to work and busied myself in the tasks of my day. Had lunch with a friend. Got excited about the supportive people in my life that are helping me make a serious bid for graduate school, and generally had a pleasant but normal day.
Then my mom texted, because she is an extremely sweet person who always remembers dates like yesterday. I stared at the phone for a minute before texting her back something short and affirmative that I wasn’t losing my shit, and went back to my work.
Towards the end of the day, Tim’s sister called. The last time I spoke to her on the phone in May, I told her that I would always answer the phone when she called… so I did. I walked outside to take her call, and listened to her update me on life in New Orleans while I sat on the plastic picnic table that smells like the stale cigarette ash. When she asked how I was doing, I said the same thing I always say, “Doing okay. Can’t complain besides the obvious.” The obvious covers a lot of material.
Through my conversation with her, I stayed pretty upbeat. Talking to his family is hard for me, because they’re some of the few people who feel this loss as deeply as I do. Proud of myself for keeping it together on the phone, I went back to my desk to finish out a few tasks for the day.
When my office finally grew quiet, I grabbed my purse and started the walk to my car. The minute I left the building, I felt my breath begin to shorten. My flip flops flapped against the concrete in rapid steps, and the minute I fell into the safety of my car I grabbed my steering wheel, sobbing in the empty parking garage.
Yesterday both was, and was not my anniversary. There were no iron gifts nor special plans, but it was the same date where I had exploded with love six years earlier. Immediately after Tim died, I couldn’t shake the image of finding him in the floor of our home office. Every time that look on his face and his bent, exposed inner arm shows up, I close my eyes tightly and channel myself back to our wedding. To the exact moment where I turned the corner to the aisle made of white chairs in the shaded Peristyle, and saw him standing up there waiting for me. That exact moment when I knew that I had made the best decision to marry him.
Back at home, I sat on my back porch and sniffled for a while. I posted something halfway pathetic on Facebook, and watched Pascale throw her stuffed football in the air and zoom around my back yard. By the time my roommate got home, it was less obvious that I had been crying. If she noticed, she didn’t say anything which pleased me. I like to keep my meltdowns private.
My friend came over bearing a box of red wine and funfetti cupcakes. I poured myself a glass of Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon and joked that Pascale was saying to us, “Just like my Dad!” when I saw just how healthy my pour was into the wide goblet. The three of us ate cheap delivery pizza sitting cross legged on the couch, watching the dogs beg for pizza bones from the patio.
After dinner my roommate went off to study, and my friend and I laid in bed waiting for her clothes to finish washing. She silently swiped away on Tinder while I watched a sitcom and tried to figure out how to drink my large glass of wine while lying down. Next to my tiny bedroom TV on my dresser is a silver framed picture from our wedding, engraved with “Tim & Lauren.” My past stands on a bridge in City Park, smiling down at my present.
Pascale jumped on the bed, and started licking my friends legs. “Ah! Stop Panther!” she squealed. Pascale flopped down and thumped her tail on the bed.
“BT used to lick legs all the time,” I said. “Tim used to say she liked our salty meat slabs.”
My friend giggled, and I smiled. I put my hand on Pascale’s side, and felt the warm fur over her ribs expand with each breath. I have one foot in the past, and one in the future. In the meantime, I think a lot about the strings that connect them both.