Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Anniversaries and Other Reminders

Happy anniversary.  People say it every day, I suppose.  An anniversary - something memorable - a time to be marked, to be celebrated, to be counted as a measure of commitment or love or perseverance.  And sometimes it's a measure of strength and survival.

I have friends who celebrate their wedding anniversaries with much symbolism, sometimes elaborate gifts and surprises, trips, jewelry, getaways at romantic places, and some ways which are too private to disclose. I wonder what that means.  Is it like a birthday?  A cultural event? An occasion for gift giving and getting? Is it sometimes inspired but often merely the habit to do the socially prescribed?

I don't know the answer to these questions because Syed and I have almost never celebrated our wedding anniversary in the usual ways.  We've been married for almost 23 years.  We work and play together and always have.  We travel happily, laugh a lot, love many of the same things, and are what any psychologist would call "happily married."  So, why do we not celebrate our anniversary?

We used to laugh at ourselves and how weird we were to have forgotten, only to be reminded by our friend, Frank, who "gave me away", when he would unfailingly call to wish us the "Happy Anniversary!" that we had let slip by.  Early on, I would wonder what our forgetfulness really meant.  There must be some reason, some psychologically imperative reason, because, after all, didn't everyone who was happily married remember their anniversary for pete's sake?

Every spring, in March, I silently "celebrate" an anniversary.  One I never forget though it never appears on my calendar.  It is an anniversary that resides in my bone marrow.  In my heart.  In my soul.  In the pit of my gut from which the memory rose, in the early years, in a kind of bile, threatening to swamp me, bursting out of my body in sweat and shaking and voiceless sobs.  As the anniversaries passed of my mother's death, when I was fifteen, the joyous Springs of chubby hyacinths, pregnant with sunburst perfume, of daffodils and tulips shouting candy reds and yellows against the last whites of winter passed me by.  So lost was I in the anguish of not being able to bring forth her face, the pain of waking from the dream of her voice, that Spring was a lingering dark void.

An anniversary, not happy - but a remembrance, a marking.  Even now, fifty-three years later, an undeniable seasonal sadness flutters on my shoulders.  It no longer settles there.  Life, if one chooses it, actually chooses it in all it's vagaries and surprises, brings gifts of allowance - allowance for others to choose their own path, allowance for sadness as well as happiness, allowance for anger to pass and something like grace to enter in, allowance for pain and for loss.  And then, Life brings you the balance of itself.  It brings you views of horizons you didn't know were there, opportunities to love, to imagine, and then to create.

This Spring, the remembrance of the time of my Mother's passing will be somehow sweetened, imagining her at my shoulder as I greet my newest grandbaby.  Quietly I will say, Mom, here we all are - we have survived, we love, we choose Life.  Know that we love you.

And my wedding anniversaries?  I think that Syed and I don't mark them on a certain day because our days pass lovingly, filled with simple happiness, long philosophical talks, good music, comfortable silences, lots of laughter, busy creativity.  No trauma jars my memory of these nearly 23 years.  I choose him each day and believe he chooses me each day.  No need to send a card.

Thank you, Daisy, for your blog at  May your silent time be filled with grace.

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