It was twenty years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play

It was twenty years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play

If you would have asked me twenty years ago what I thought I might be writing, looking back on twenty years of marriage, talking about “my first year-and-change of being a Widow” would not have been the topic I would have thought. So, you know, CW for grief and rage and confusion and all that, if you’re new around here. And for f-bombs. I use the word “fuck” like a comma.

It was 20 years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile
So may I introduce to you
The act you’ve known for all these years
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
— Lennon/McCartney

Today was pretty hard. Even harder than back in March, the 11th, the one year anniversary of Tim’s death. I don’t know why it was harder, it just… was. On the anniversary of his death, I spent the day thinking about where I am, what I want, what I’m reaching for, how far I’ve come in a year, what I’ve done in a year, what I want to do. Today all I could think of, selfishly, is that nobody will ever tell me “Happy Anniversary” again. That statistically, even if I did get together with someone, we might not get to twenty years before one of us dies. And I just don’t know that I can carry that again, if I’m the one who stays behind. Shit. I don’t even know that I have the energy to carry the thought of even just dating. I’ve seen what my single friends go through out there! Yeesh. Anyway. I finally understand that statement, “a bit of me died that day, too” – because the part of me that was a wife, the part of me that celebrated every year on August 9th, isn’t there any more. What am I going to celebrate? There’s nobody to celebrate anything with.

Which isn’t exactly true, because two of my dearest friends, who were at the wedding with me, both texted me today to tell me how much they love me. Tim’s parents called me (while I was at dinner with people who I hadn’t reminded about it being my anniversary because I didn’t want the …. pity?) And Bill and Linda sent me a lovely plant I can add to my butterfly garden. And that made me feel… less alone. Made me feel that just because I don’t have THAT kind of love any more, doesn’t mean I don’t have ANY love. I still have friends I have decades of stories with. Friendships I’ve had longer than I knew Tim, even! I’m far from alone. That hasn’t kept me from wallowing in a little pity party today, but I know, deep in my soul, I do have friends and I do have love in my life.

Maybe it was so hard today because I was expecting March 11th to be hard. I took the day off work, I took care of myself, I told myself that whatever I felt was OK. And it’s not like this is my first anniversary without him; it’s just that this time last year I was on a boat in Alaska and everyone I was travelling with went to a dinner without me and I stayed in my room and watched Dune and ate room service for dinner. Dune. Lordt. That’s three hours of my life I’ll never get back. ANYWAY MY POINT is that last year I was doing something unexpected and completely different, so the feeling of ‘this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing’ wasn’t as unnerving as it was today, on my property, in my house. I was expecting today to be easier than it was and hooooooooo JOKE’S ON ME.

This will never not be one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite, picture from the wedding. Tim and Heath, my soon-to-be-husband and my Mister of Honor. Heath being Heath and grabbing Tim’s butt and Tim absolutely not knowing what to do. Dammit, Heath. You should be here to help me through this. I’m mad at you, too, you know. I was just getting over your death when Tim got sick. Tim used to tell me, when I was travelling down every other week to take care of you while you were sick, that I was the very definition of a friend. That if anyone ever wondered what it was like to be a real, true, friend, that all they had to do was look at my actions with you when you were sick. That nobody could possibly ever doubt that I wouldn’t go to the ends of the earth for someone I loved. I wonder how, then, Tim felt when it was him, sick in the hospital bed, and me taking charge for him the way I had for you.

Who’s going to take care of me? Not necessarily at the end of my life, but… in general. I am far too much an absentminded professor to be safely left alone for long periods of time lest I become feral or burn my house down or adopt six hundred cats (OH WAIT). Who’s going to take care of me, but also let me take care of them? Who do I have to share things with, even if those things are just “I swear to GOD Tim if you make that phone sound ONE MORE TIME”.

Oh trouble, move away
I have seen your face
And it’s too much for me today
Oh trouble, can’t you see
You have made me a wreck
Now won’t you leave me in my misery
— Cat Stevens

It’s almost unreal, the number of people in the wedding photos that aren’t here any more. It’s unreal, it’s unfair, and I get time marches on and all that shit but DAMN, Y’ALL. Bill. Rusty. Juanita. Toni. Brandy. Heath. Barbara. Tim.

One of everyone’s favorite moments was the Dollar Dance. We asked the band to play “Leader of the Band” by Dan Fogelberg, and any dollars raised would be donated to Hospice in my dad’s name, since my father had died a couple of years before. The line was so long to dance with us both that the band wound up having to play the song three times. The woman at the desk at Hospice cried when I told her the story and gave her our couple hundred dollar donation. It’d be hard pressed to say which was funnier… Rusty dancing with Tim, Joe dancing with Tim, or me looking up and seeing Heath and Laura holding little four month old Liana and Ariana with dollar bills clutched in their tiny hands, so we could swing the babies around the dance floor.

Instead of throwing the bouquet, we gave it to the wedding guests who’d been married the longest. I remember it was my friend Linda and her husband, but I don’t remember how long they’d been married. More than fifty years. I wonder what that’s like? I guess I’ll never know. I thought I might, if Tim and I both lived into our eighties, but… meh.

What would you think if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
— Lennon/McCartney

Don’t even get me started on the rehearsal, or the rehearsal dinner. Or the party we had the day after the wedding. Y’all, we partied about three days straight. It was like one long party.


Now, I don’t know. I’ve got to figure it out, I guess. Some days might be easy. Some days might be like today, me just sitting, breathing, staring at nothing, telling myself I can do this even if I’m just doing it one minute at a time.

But I do know, even on my most helplessly flailing days, I have friends in my life. I have love in my life. I’m not alone, even if it feels like it just this second.

7 thoughts on “0

  1. Giving the flowers to the couple married the longest is brilliant. Happy Anniversary of some of the best memories of your life.

  2. OMG, that photo of Heath and Tim…

    I’m sorry but not surprised that today was hard. I’m sorry we couldn’t raise that glass together today. But I’m glad you know you have love. Lots and lots of it! ♥️

  3. sometimes…, rarely but sometimes… ‘forward’ is not the right comment.
    this is one of those times.
    Hang in there kid everybody here and…. there is so proud of you.

  4. Being the somewhat psychic empath that I am, I woke up earlier this morning feeling overwhelmingly unexplainably sad. Reading this an hour later, now I know why, channeling the feelings of my dear little girl. Not the first time this has happened with her. Like that time I knew something was wrong and found out later she had swallowed the quarter she was holding in her mouth for the cablecar.

  5. What a fun few days that. You had the wedding you wanted before that was even a thing. And Tim was right, you are such a good friend. Big hugs, my friend.

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