There are all kinds of special days in people's lives. From birthdays to wedding anniversaries, the day you bought your first house (or first car), the day you graduated, or landed your dream job and on and on the list goes. It's different for everyone, but everyone has some kind of list of days. Then, there are other days that are hard to forget no matter how hard you really want to. Days where not-so-wonderful things happened and it was traumatic enough to go down in your mental hall of records as "that day".
For me, that day is today, August 15th. Specifically, August 15, 1995. Twenty years ago today I became a widow.
I've thought about the day off and on for the last month or so (only because others have mentioned it, really) and of course today when I woke up it was among my first thoughts: "today is the day". Followed by "now what?"
It's such an awkward day. There are no rules like for birthdays where you wrap gifts, bake a cake and sing songs. No special plans are made like dinner reservations or shopping for a new dress. There's nothing to take a picture of and stick in the photo album to remind you of "this day". It's just there, sticking out of the calendar going "hey, remember me?"
Well of course we remember, but we don't really want to. At least I don't. I don't want to remember the details of that day. I don't want to remember how I felt that day. I don't want to remember the phone calls I had to make or the places I had to go. The one thing I don't want to remember ever again, is the looks on my children's faces when I had to tell them. If I never see those expressions on their precious faces (or any of my other children born after that time), it will be too soon.
It's one of those days you don't talk about. Or do you? Do you mention it? Who do you mention it to? How do you decide who to bring it up to, and bring them down with your thoughts of "hey, today is the anniversary of the day I became a widow"? You don't really want to do that but somehow it feels like you're supposed to say something, to someone. I'm not even sure why, but it does.
So as I've thought about it off and on throughout today, I've decided the best way to deal with this day is to look at all the awesome that has taken place since that day.
Those little kids who's expressions broke my heart into a million pieces? They're all grown up now with lives and children and experiences of their own. We talk almost every day, and they spend time here at home with mom off and on, and I can easily say I'm so very blessed they are mine. It wasn't easy for any of them and they'll never know what it was like to not have to deal with that as children, but that experience, as brutal as it was, had a large part in making them who they are today. Loving, appreciative, thoughtful, compassionate people. Okay some of them are a little weird too (fine, they're all weird!) but they are who they are, and I love them so much I can't stand it.
That first few weeks and months (and years, to be honest) is still rather blurry and I'm okay with that. There was too much pain to remember it all. Too many mistakes made, too many bad choices, too many trials and errors. Too many tears. Yet God was merciful and gracious and brought a new (and wonderful) husband into my life and four more awesome kids.
In all the years since that day, so many amazing, wonderful, incredible things have happened. I've experienced the joy of becoming a grandmother, traveled to amazing and breathtaking places, re-connected with my step-son (who struggled in his own way) and met his children, bought my first home, and... well, there's so much I can't even begin to list it all. The more I think about how much awesome has filled the last 20 years the more I could easily come up with.
Of course it hasn't all been rainbows and sunshine. Life has done what life does and takes you down in the valley then back up to the mountain. Again, and again, and again. Overall however, it's been an incredibly good and blessed life for the last twenty years.
So I guess all I really want to say about "this day" is that it happened, it hurt beyond words but... that was then, and this is now. God has blessed my life in ways I would have never dreamed of, since that day. I suppose it will always be an awkward day in some regard, but I like to think about the "since then" and the "now" and the "what will next year and then 10 or 20 years from now bring?" instead of anything else.
Oh, and August 15th was also the opening day of Woodstock. Anyone who knows me and knows my love of classic rock, will understand.
Edited to add: I've decided to share what I had to say about this last year, on this day. You can read that here. I'm only adding it because I hope it helps someone, who may need to feel that same hope that is rather elusive, at first.