Our 16th wedding anniversary is tomorrow.
I am not sure how I feel. Sometimes, living with an ongoing saga can make you a little jaded. A little removed and detached. In years past, I would have had a card and the perfect gift already purchased. Right now, I got nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
For our first anniversary I wanted to do something special for Jim. The traditional gift is paper. Paper. What could I get special made out of paper? We had visited a really nice art gallery in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace (remember, we lived in Las Vegas our first 3 years of marriage) a few months before we were married and Jim had really liked some paintings there. Yes. A painting that is on paper! I put the perfect one on lay away and proceeded to pay it off over the next 7 months. During that time, he was deployed to Columbia (the country) and I was laid off from my job. But, I finished paying it off.
When the climatic moment finally came to give him my gift, I could barely hold back my excitement.
He was furious.
“How could you get me this painting when you were out of work?”
“I put it on lay away before I got laid off.”
“We can’t afford this.”
I was crushed.
That painting hangs on the wall above our bed and I often think of how upset he was when he first saw it. I had been so excited and I was just devastated when he reacted so harshly. For years that picture has represented a bit of a bitter memory of our life together. Both of our kids love to look at it and often comment on how much they like that piece of artwork….I always get a sense of guilty pleasure when they do.
I am glad I have that memory of him. That is the REAL Jim.
These days money doesn’t seem to be much of an issue for him. This story helps me recall that Jim was very good with money. He stuck to budgets and was acutely aware of saving for things and not purchasing something unless we needed it. I was just the opposite. I enjoyed spending. We were a good balance. We would argue about budgets and savings and even though I always knew he was right, I didn’t really change the way I wanted things. Ironically, the tables seem to have turned. I am now the one with worries about budgets and savings and trying not to purchase things we don’t need.
Sometimes I really miss that Jim. There is a lot of stress and pressure that accompanies the one deciding the finances of a family. I miss having a partner in the decision making process and coming up with life plans.
A very good friend told me, “Stop. Stop saying that. You don’t know. You don’t know what life will bring. This may be the best Christmas of your life.” I had been complaining to her of how awful Christmas was probably going to be and how I didn’t know if Jim would remember this Christmas next year.
It doesn’t matter. Our children and I will remember for him.
She was right. We had the BEST Christmas in recent memory. It was relaxing. It was joyous. It was festive and full of family and friends and love and it was just the kind of holiday season you hope for. We didn’t have much money and I can honestly say that didn’t really seem to matter. I wasn’t in the mood to put up all the decorations inside. That didn’t seem to matter either.
Yes, she was right.
It is hard not to delve into the “this might be our last (fill in the blank) where he can enjoy it. Where he is aware, REALLY, of what is going on.”
I needed that slap of reality from her to snap me into my own reality of “seize the day and the moment and enjoy what you have now.” Carpe Diem my friends.
Tomorrow we will be enjoying a round of golf as we have many anniversaries. My parents will be joining us and we will be supporting our daughter’s softball team.
Who knows, maybe we will actually win the tournament!
After golf, we will watch Brad play a baseball game. Another activity we both enjoy.
There will be no fancy, special dinner. There will be little romance and flowers. But, I am confidant there will be lots of love and time together. That makes me smile and makes me happy.
These past 16 years have been some of the best years of my life and some of the worst years of my life.
There have been spiteful, hateful things said. There have been tender, loving moments. There has been laughter and tears. There has been times of despair and loss of hope. But, we have always had each other.We are no different than any other marriage that has weathered 16 years of life together.
The only people in this world that have loved me unconditionally, without falter, in my life have been my parents, my children and my husband.
I sometimes say I used up all my luck when I married Jim and that is why I will never win the lottery. I think it is true. I found a partner in life that accepted me with all of my faults and never, not once, tried to change the core person that I am. Isn’t that what we are all searching for in this world? He has seen my faults, my weaknesses and my ineptness. He has supported all of my crazy ideas 100%. He has seen me without makeup and bloated and disheveled. He loves me anyway.
Thank you Jim. Thank you for being such a wonderful husband and thank you for 16 years of showing me what it means to be truly loved. I miss us. I miss our conversations and our nuances that made us us. You are still here with me, with our children and I am so thankful that you are. Thank you for staying so strong and trying so hard everyday. You are AMAZING to me and I am sorry if I don’t show you those sentiments most of the time.
It used to really bother me when I looked at that beautiful painting. It brought back his initial reaction and my feelings of being hurt. But now, when I think of things that I would grab out of our home if it caught on fire, besides Jim and the kids, I think that painting would be really, really high on the list.