Dan and I were married on March 4, 2008. The ceremony was performed in a limousine driving up and down the Las Vegas Strip (yes, it all happened seated inside the limo.) Nick and Amanda, Dan’s adult children, were the only guests.
It was absolutely perfect!!
But since I lost Dan, I have never remembered, on March 4, that my wedding anniversary is on March 4. The only exception is during that first year of grieving, where I went out to dinner with a friend that evening, and in a lovely surprise gesture, another friend called up the restaurant and paid for it. It is a good memory, my friends caring for me.
In the years since, March 4 comes and goes, and I don’t remember it’s my anniversary. I remember in the days before. I remember in the days after. Just not on the actual March 4.
The good news is, I have never beat myself up for it, although I have often wondered why this date doesn’t come to me. This year, on March 3, I remembered it was tomorrow, and I knew for sure that I would think of it on March 4. But it wasn’t until March 6 that I remembered!!
I will know and feel January 1, Dan’s birthday, until the day I die. On January 16, the day he died, I will always think of Dan, the moment he slipped away from me, and the aftermath. But March 4, it’s a mystery to me why my mind and body won’t mark that date.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter.
Not a day goes by that I don’t remember and feel Dan’s loss multiple times. At this point, five years and counting, it rarely impacts my daily life anymore. (Although I have learned to never rule that out, because every time I thought the days of dissolving into grief-stricken tears were over, it happens again. And there’s no rhyme or reason to it.)
As I realized I once again forgot the significance of March 4, I became curious as to how often I think about Dan on a typical day. So last week, for 24 hours, I paid careful attention to when Dan entered my mind. These are just some examples of thoughts, feelings, memories and flashbacks about Dan and our life together that I was able to note in one day. It would be impossible to capture them all.
When I made eggs
That awful last year, when his body was deteriorating and his world was shrinking, he decided that he loved making fried eggs in a cast iron pan and that’s what we ate most mornings for breakfast.
When I opened my bathroom cabinet
Dan loved Listerine, and I would buy him the Costco two-pack periodically. I still have the second bottle of the last pack I ever bought him in my bathroom cabinet. When I see it I can’t help but remember that he USED IT, that VERY SAME bottle that’s sitting in my cabinet. A tiny connection to him.
When I rode my Peloton bike
I was pushing hard, and it was tough. But I often remember that Dan’s cancer battle was much tougher. I kept pushing, no matter what. That happens a lot when I work out.
When I got on Facebook
I was reminded that I am supposed to delete Dan’s Facebook account. He made it clear that he wanted me to, but I have struggled with it. I’ve been thinking about that a lot these days.
When I was packing
Eric and I went to Las Vegas for Eric’s nephew’s 21st birthday. During my packing I remembered the dry Bombay Sapphire gin martini Dan ordered for us at the Parasol Bar at the Wynn Hotel in 2011. We shared its icy cold goodness paired with delicious salty mixed nuts the bartender placed in front of us. A perfect combo in a perfect place at the perfect time. This spontaneous experience together kickstarted him making martinis for me—something that became hugely important for both of us later on.
When I heard a song
Vegas has great music, and “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley was playing everywhere when Dan and I visited in 2007. We both fell in love with this song. It brings me back, every time.
When I read an article
I am always interested to read about how effective some of today’s cancer drugs are. Lucky Jimmy Carter had metastatic melanoma, and he took a drug that rid him of it. I’m happy when someone beats cancer but the other part of me thinks . . . why wasn’t it Dan, it’s not fair.
When I flipped channels
Perusing the guide, I saw The Lord of the Rings movie “Return of the King” was on and I flipped to it because it was clear it was close to the end of the movie and my favorite part. After Aragorn is crowned King, he and Arwen reunite when they thought they had lost each other forever. On this particular day, it brought me to momentary tears.
When I listened to my Pandora country music channel
Some aspects of these particular songs got me good—Shotgun Rider by Tim McGraw, Song for Another Time by Old Dominion, H.O.L.Y. by Florida Georgie Line.
When I was in the hot tub
Eric and I were in the hot tub and I curled up on his lap. I immediately got a flashback to when Dan was in so much pain from the cancer metastasizing that he couldn’t even hold his ten-month-old grandson on his lap for longer than a couple of minutes. When I experience flashbacks like that, they are usually not good memories. At least I get them less now.
Do I wonder why my brain can’t seem to evoke my wedding anniversary on March 4? Yes. Do I worry about it? No. A hiccup in my memory of one day a year is meaningless amidst what is a lifetime of loving remembrance.