Tomorrow is my fourth anniversary.
Every time I have said that to someone, I have paused. "August fourteenth is . . . I mean, would be . . . but it still feels like I'm married, so . . . well, in any case, four years ago, John and I got married."
It was last week that a friend of mine pointed out that the four-year mark was on the horizon and asked if we needed to plan a girls' night or something to mark the occasion. I was stunned to realize that the day was already here. It's not that I forgot, exactly; I'm one of those lucky people for whom my wedding day truly was one of the happiest days of my life. I simply can't believe that it's mid-August already. How did that happen?
And so I was thrust from blissful ignorance to coping with what to do, how to feel. I'll be going out for dessert with a small group of girlfriends, using a gift certificate that was given to John and me by a friend of John's when the twins were babies. We never had a chance to use it, alas, so John can be there in spirit as I stuff myself full of chocolate and wine in our honor.
Actually, to truly honor John, I should get a fruit dessert. John was not much for chocolate, but he loved fruit. I would tease him endlessly when we went out for ice cream, for as I debated the Holy Trinity of Chocolate Combos (chocolate/peanut butter, chocolate/coffee, or chocolate/mint?), John would be deciding between things like the Peach Melba Puff or the Strawberry Shortcake Smash. He was the only person I have ever met who would order a Mr. Misty Float at Dairy Queen, this thing that's like a Slurpee with soft serve in it. It was a triumph for me to bring him over to the dark side and get him hooked on butterscotch dipped cones. We ate a lot of butterscotch dipped cones together.
Ever since Maddie drew a picture for Daddy and set aside food for him and insisted that he was at home, I've been asking her, "Maddie, where is Daddy?" She always has an answer. "In the basement. On the couch, watching video. In the kitchen. He cook banana bread." I'm not one to believe in ghosts or visits from the afterlife, but part of me wonders what she sees. Lately, I myself have done a lot of double takes, seeing John's double walking down the street or flashing across the TV screen. It's unsettling, but oddly reassuring. I've felt John slipping away from me lately, but as soon as I see these John-doubles, he's immediately back for me. I imagine that he's at home, or at the store picking up a few things that we need. It's so easy for me to imagine what our life would be like with John in it, so easy because it would so obviously be, quite simply, better.
I've cried a lot lately, not full-on sobbing, but just tears here and there that are borne from pure sadness. I miss John so much, and I miss the life that we didn't get to have. I try to remind myself of the good things I have in the life that is mine, but it's not always easy to stay in the present. It's often much easier to live in the what-could-have-been, and then end up resentful of my reality.
I want John to be proud of me, proud of our four years, even though he's been gone for almost eighteen months of that time. I know he'd be proud on some level, but lately I feel like I could do better by John. He was the embodiment of a patience that I often lack, the voice of reason to my occasional impulsiveness. He wouldn't yell "Fuck!" at his kids or call them brats, at least not as often as me. He wouldn't lie awake at night, thinking about things that were beyond his control. But above all else, he wouldn't let me be so hard on myself. Without him to keep me in check, I can do a number on myself, although I've gotten a lot better.
I'm doing the best that I can, Goose, I'm doing the best that I can. I wish you were here to love me and to help me and to see Maddie and Riley, who talk about you all the time. We all miss you so much.