September 18 is our anniversary date. That carries back to the actual day Mona and I became a couple for the first time.
We were touch and go in our youth…not knowing what the hell we wanted. Who does really at that age? And if you think you do…you’re almost certainly wrong.
It worked out that that day fell on a Saturday and we thought it would be cool to make that date the official date as well. I mean, when opportunity knocks, you’re a fool to not open the door.
I was having a pretty great evening last night.
Finished off a productive work week and shifted into drill writer mode in the evening. The daughter was hanging out with me in the room reading some new Manga she is super excited about and I caught a good creative writing groove.
And out of nowhere my brain says
“Monday is your anniversary. Mona’s not gonna be here for this one. Are you ready for that?”
Up until this point, I’ve only heard about the dreaded “firsts” from fellow widows. First birthday. First Thanksgiving. First Christmas. First Anniversary….without….them.
To be honest, I’m an OVERLY sentimental person. I want to infuse memory and love and light into everything I’m involved in because I believe that those intangible things are what truly matter on this planet…this perhaps is my direct opposition of those who feel that the accumulation of wealth and tangible physical things is what truly matters.
But despite this, I haven’t feared the firsts.
Dates don’t really make me sentimental because I’m ALWAYS sentimental. I don’t need a particular day or time to trigger my sentimentality….it’s always on.
This can be a blessing but is almost always a curse.
I’m dreading the holidays because that TIME of the year is filled with memories and memory making…and not being able to share that with Mona is going to be tough…but a particular date or day isn’t going to make it better or worse. It’s all going to be tough.
So whatever neuron connection that decided to ping me while I’m in a very focused and relaxed state
(Side note…I’ve been recovering from kidney stone surgery, had a minor infection so had fever and chills the past few days before this one but had the stent removed after having to have it for three weeks and was FINALLY feeling physically COMFORTABLE in my body for the first time in almost 6 weeks)
well….whatever neuron that was …for lack of a better term…it messed my shit up.
I was fine at first. Because quite frankly, Mona and I’s wedding was epic.
Filipinos celebrate life in a way that is just amazing and at weddings, this gets amped up to 11.
We had our marching band community there, lifelong friends, new friends, a random comedian that appeared on the Filipino Channel impersonating Arnold Schwarzenegger saying some highly inappropriate sexual jokes in a toast to us (no joke..and apparently he’s a super famous guy…holy crap I don’t get embarrassed easily but WOW), FULL families including my relatives from back east, Moms, Dads, kids, co-workers, former students, current students, I’m pretty sure at least 15 complete stranger wedding crashers and by the end of the reception we were rocking at least 400 people…lots of people think way more than that.
It was quite simply MY dream wedding. My entire family united for one moment in time dancing and music and good food and great times.
A marvelous day.
And as I’m sitting there recalling that day…before cancer was a thought in Mona or I’s mind…before the battles began….it just got me thinking about all the other amazing things we had done.
We took FOREVER to get married. We lost and found each other several times during that period. But we always found each other.
And the trap was sprung.
I got angry at the world.
You can’t make more memories like that with Mona anymore. (This is “the voice” or “noise” from my last post talking).
“You’re not going to EVER be that happy again.
And I just crumbled.
Maybe it was because I’d been so focused on my physical discomfort for the past few weeks that I had been distracted from my emotional discomfort.
Maybe this had just been storing up for a while.
But I just completely caved and dissolved into a sobbing wreck.
I didn’t want to talk to anyone.
I didn’t want to hear words of encouragement.
I didn’t want to hear “It’s going to be OK”.
I just wanted to sit in this pool of accumulated sadness and fester in it.
And at the peak of this..when I was reveling in this pit of misery…another voice says
“Why are you doing this to yourself? Why are you doing this to US? Why are you letting THAT voice RUIN this memory that means so much?”
It was like being punched in the face.
You see, for me, the worst part about grief is that if you let it, it CAN become cancerous to your soul.
It CAN grow and use your own memories and thoughts and emotions against you.
It CAN be incredibly malignant and destroy.
But it also can remind you that those memories are things that cannot be tainted or taken away.
They were real.
They need to be protected.
Those memories cannot be allowed to be perverted into something BAD…they need to be a wellspring of happiness and a source of strength.
If that happens. Well….I don’t know.
What I do know is I’m going to do my best to honor Mona…honor US…and absolutely NOT let one of the happiest days of my life become one of the strongest sources of grief in mine in the now.
I REFUSE to let this happen.
Grief may take some other days because in any war there’s going to be strategic losses and collateral damage.
But this is one beachhead of a memory it will not be taking from me.