Today would have been my 22nd wedding anniversary. My husband and I were married on April 6th, 1996 in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI. We were married for 20 years, 5 months and 22 days.
I have been unmarried (alone) from him now for 1 year, 6 months and 8 days.
The first year of being unmarried was no honeymoon. It was a painfully slow traveled road full of shadowy miseries and late night desperation, a continued cold and empty dreariness running through the veins of every single day, no matter what specks of light appeared, trying to stir up some hope through a nice person I’d meet at the park or freshly brewed mug of Kauai Coffee or heading off to Miami to receive an award for my first published novel. Alone. Alone.
Saying goodbye to him and going through the rituals of honoring his life, sorting through our belongings, getting our girls back on track, selling the family home, buying a condo in the city, moving to some place new…there were no highs or bursts of hope in any of that because Loneliness still came along for the ride.
Going through grief programs, learning that others are going through the same thing, bonding with a few of them over our mutual losses, finding some solace in these understandings, and still, the struggle with finding any semblance of hope eludes me most of the time.
And the second year of being unmarried from him is proving to be a different kind of prolonged misery and emptiness.
And the loneliness? The Second Year Loneliness is unlike anything I’ve ever known. And I’ve been lonely before.
Now…instead…Loneliness is this dreaded entity with a proper name and arrogant emotional vampire personality, and it envelops me like the smoke monster in the TV show Lost…and at the strangest of times. At my desk at work, standing in a Harris Teeter checkout line, washing my hands in a restaurant bathroom, running on a treadmill in a fully lit and attended gym, or on a gurney waiting for a medical procedure…knowing that I now have to impose on friends to drive me home for such things…because unlike most of the other women my age in my social circle…I have no husband to bring me home from a hospital as I deal with this middle-aged woman bull-crap.
I expected to feel lonely at home. Because…well…I am alone. No one there. No one to talk to. No one to ignore me. No one argue with. No one to make up with. No one to snuggle with. No one to bounce thoughts and ideas off. No one to talk with through a bad situation. No one with whom to share good news. No one to criticize the way I clean the floor. No one to tell me when I’m being an idiot. No one to tell me that my butt indeed looks big in those jeans. And no one to show me grace. No one to hold me. No one to touch me. No one to care about me. No one to love me.
No one to kiss goodbye in the mornings as I go off to work while he (tries to) sleep…his bald buzz head resting up on the fluffy pillow and the covers pulled all the way up to his chin. His ridiculously long eyelashes covering those perfect baby blue eyes.
This was my favorite vision of him for our entire 20 years, 5 months and 22 days of marriage. It was him as pure as pure could be. It was the one moment of the day when I knew that I hadn’t pissed him off yet. It was the one moment of the day he wasn’t working or playing golf or watching TV.
It was the one moment of the day when he was 100% mine. This him. This sleeping-early-morning him. He didn’t belong to himself. He didn’t belong to his employer. He didn’t belong to the golf club. He didn’t belong to our girls. He belonged to me. And I wasn’t alone.
And then, after I kissed him on his forehead and whispered that I loved him, he’d groan and complain that I woke him up. And I knew that he really loved this early morning work week ritual of mine…but he also loved to complain about it. After all, who was my husband without complaining about something? Even a good thing? Even a thing he really liked and appreciated?
My Married-to-Him anniversary will always be April 6th. And my Unmarried-to-Him or “Alone” anniversary will always be September 29th…almost 6 months apart.
And now I suppose there’s only one more anniversary out there left to have.
And remember: while we oftentimes do feel alone, we are not alone in how we feel.