Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Special Days

It's no secret to me that I've been accused of being someone that likes to upset the status quo. The thing is, the accusation is only partly true. It's not that I like to upset anything - I just have issues with blind acceptance of anything without a good reason for it. I ask too many questions for most people's comfort, and I don't do it to be annoying, I do it because I want answers. If the "status quo" is such without good reason, then why not question it and dig a little, you know? It might not make sense to many others, but it sure makes sense to me.

One example of such a thing is the customary reaction in society when it's someone's wedding anniversary, but the person is currently a widow or widower. Most people just ignore the day and don't say a word to the person. Why is that? I've never understood that.

While I have some personal experience as a widow, I am by no means a relationship/psychology expert. What I do know however, is that when you're married and then suddenly you're no longer married due to death, it's just not the same as it is for someone who has gone through a divorce. Yes there are similiarities but there are also monumental differences.

One of those glaring differences is the absolute finality of the situation that you face. There is no hope whatsoever of putting the marriage back together if possible, let alone even a glimmer of hope of at least reaching some kind of level of civility for say, the sake of the children. No hope of even speaking to that person ever again. It's that painful and difficult reality that makes being a widow or widower so different from being a divorced person. It's that reality that makes the wedding anniversary so different. Most divorced people I've ever known don't have much sentimental feelings for their wedding anniversary, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, ALL of the widowed people I've ever known DO have sentimental thoughts of that day.

It didn't take first hand experience in this for me to notice this among those closest to me. But it did require first hand experience for me to understand how it feels to suddenly never hear again "happy anniversary" from anyone. It's one of those situations where folks just don't know for sure what to say, usually out of concern that bringing up your deceased spouse will only make you sad. Newsflash kids - the widow or widower is ALREADY thinking of the late spouse on that day, whether you mention him or her, or not. It's their anniversary, how could they not think of them?

I've been thinking about this a lot for the past week, because it's my mom's wedding anniversary this week. My mom is now a widow, something my grandma, my sister, my step-sister and myself have all experienced as well.

I remember very well the months and weeks leading up to my mom becoming a blushing June bride. She'd glare at me for saying that, but it's true -she WAS blushing! For weeks in fact, she blushed every time the subject came up. I remember being so happy for her that finally after all those years of raising kids alone, she was going to be married. Married... my mom. It seemed so weird because she wasn't married for so long. Weird, but in a very good way because the man she was going to marry loved her, and he was a good man. There was no way in the world I could have been happier for her.

I remember going shopping for her wedding dress. Now my mom has never been too concerned about being fashionable or "trendy" but instead she's a very practical dresser. I can only assume that part of that came as a result of raising so many kids and the money only going so far. It's far more convenient to be practical than fashionable, when you have kids that need new shoes every time you turn around. I've learned that over the years, myself.

That day however, it was different. She wanted something pretty, something colorful but not "too busy" she said. She was shopping for a nice dress and wanted accessories to match. It was so much fun looking at dresses with her, I'd have bought her the prettiest dress in the world, if I would have had the money and thought she'd actually wear it!

As it turned out, I didn't even get to see my mom on her wedding day because it was a combination vacation/wedding out of state. I was perfectly okay with that - her being happy was way more important than me seeing her get married. They held a reception when they got back and it was loads of fun. I remember saying to my friend who came to the reception with me "my mom is married, how cool is that!?" It took me a while to get used to the whole thing, but it was all good.

All of that was (if memory serves?) 24 years ago. In those 24 years they had their ups and downs just like any married couple do, and while I know my impression of their marriage is from the outside looking in, I know that I'm sure glad my mom had those years with my step dad Jasper.

So Mom, I know know you're thinking of that day today. I know you remember the wedding dress shopping, the trip out of state, the phone call you had to make to that certain family member to tell her you were married - and the way she reacted (*snort!), and everything else about that day. I just want you to know that I remember it too. It was a happy day, and a happy time, and I'm glad this day will always be a special day for you. It's so easy to remember all the hard things and the sad things, but it's so much more fun to remember the great things.

I love you mom, and Happy Anniversary.