When you’re young, they’re something to anticipate. At 16, there’s such a thrill in marking one month with your first boyfriend, then two. If you’re lucky, one year.
“Until death do us part…” promises many.
But as we get older, some will lose their flavor. Become bitter.
A mis-carriage. A child given up for adoption. A divorce. The loss of a parent, or a grandparent. Or, unthinkably, a child.
Anniversaries etch a moment in time indelibly into our hearts and minds.
I’m generally not one who is tied religiously to dates; I put much more stock in the moment or the experience than the number on a calendar.
I have a divorce anniversary, but for the life of me I can’t remember the specific day the decree was issued. That paper is tucked away somewhere in a file drawer in my office. But memories of it are intertwined in years of going through it and doing hard things and coming out the other side a better and stronger person.
Although bitter, it is also sweet, as I recognize the fruit in my life that has come from those experiences. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.
The divorce is probably one of the reasons I hold dates loosely. I didn’t always have my children on December 25. Or Easter Sunday. For many years, celebratory events were a negotiation and the reality was that sometimes Christmas happened on the 26th. Or Easter dinner, the following weekend.
Though, as I get older, I’m starting to accumulate dates.
The 18th of June will never be the same for me. The day my sister-in-law died. Memories of that day flood back, sometimes with unexpected force, washing away the present, taking my breath away. On the anniversary of that day my recollections, thoughts and feelings are as fresh as they were two years ago when it all happened.
October 28th 2014. The day I got “the call.” The day my doctor told me I had leukemia.
I still recall the heart-pounding, sick-to-my-stomach drive to her office. A million thoughts racing through my head. Praying the whole way. I clearly remember telling my husband on the phone, meeting him at the door, melting into his arms. Just being held.
Making follow up appointments.
Telling our children.
The first time I walked through the doors of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary and thought to myself, “this is real…”
Anniversaries are part of our journeys. They can mark a beginning. They can signify an end. They are a marker of a defining moment in time. But they don’t tell the whole story. Life goes on despite the anniversaries.
And yet, it’s a life that’s forever changed.
A new normal eventually emerges. And it takes some time to navigate it all. Unexpected things, little things sometimes throw the biggest wrench in your seeming progress. Memory is a funny thing that way. It triggers when you least expect it.
For me, this new anniversary—October 28—is an interesting one. One year on, I still have no symptoms. I am still healthy. Grateful for white blood cells that still do what they’re supposed to do.
I’ve learned a lot in a year. I’m eating somewhat healthier. I am moving my body somewhat more. I am moderately better at prioritizing my time and focusing on the things that are important to me.
I’m still working on saying NO, with limited success. (The pace at which I implement change in my life could be considered glacial.)
I realize that I still have a long way to go.
But I’m choosing to celebrate this “one year” anniversary. And I hope to embrace many more to come!