New Year’s Eve was our holiday. We celebrated it together multiple times before we were a couple. We were each a “third wheel” to our best friends, who happened to be married to each other, and so became de facto New Year’s Eve dates over several years going to fun, fancy night clubs, and feeling like proper grown ups in our early twenties. My dearest BFF made it known she thought we belonged together. At our wedding, her husband joked during his best man speech that it only took her 7 years to achieve the task.
We were not a couple that made a big deal of any holiday, really. He always remembered roses on Valentine’s Day and our anniversary, but we were not big on gifts and parties. But New Years remained special. Swanky clubs gave way to staying in – always with our same best of friends- with our growing families, many of those years parting ways before the clock struck midnight to get exhausted babies into their cribs.
Each year, I think of, and long for Gary on every holiday…every day. On New Years I have a mental picture of our entire relationship like snapshots on a flip book. I remember what I was wearing on each of those early third wheel dates, where we were not yet a couple, but were already imagining the possibility in our minds. I remember the year we were “extra fancy” with our friends, as we celebrated our engagement. We had our whole lives ahead of us.
As a widow, I hear many stories of those who lose friendships and even families after their partner’s death. I am blessed not to have had this as part of my story. When your life changes in an instant so much that you no longer recognize yourself, it is your village who carries you when you can no longer bear the weight on your own. This year was only the 3rd time in over 30 years that my BFF and I did not raise a glass together to toast the upcoming year. Because everything was different in 2020. Through the miracle of technology we were able to be together through our phone screens, and clinked our glasses to the screens instead.
I sit here now, in the quiet house, listening to the rain, and running my New Years memory flip book through my head. Memories are our most precious commodities after loss. May 2021 bring us all many more joyful times to remember, as we continue to hold our dear ones close.
Harry: [about Auld Lang Syne] What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?
Sally: Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.
When Harry Met Sally