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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Mixed feelings day

Today I have extra justification for feeling sad: Six years ago today Nigel and I were legally married, which makes this my first marriage anniversary without him. Arriving exactly six weeks after what turned out to be his last day, it was bound to be hard. Thing is, I don’t know what I feel about it.

I don’t think that either of us ever expected to be able to be legally married, not up until it suddenly became legal. When Civil Unions became legal in New Zealand in April, 2005, we didn’t exactly jump at the opportunity. While Civil Unions gave gay couples most of the benefits of marriage, it was NOT marriage, which was reserved for opposite gender couples alone. It was nearly four years later—January 24, 2009—before we got a Civil Union, with a big family celebration, because we’d decided that some legal recognition was better than virtually none.

At the time, the Civil Union ceremony itself was the happiest day of our lives—up until October 31, 2013, when we were married at the Auckland Registry Office. On that day, we became legal spouses and could legitimately use the title “husband” for the first time, something neither of us ever really expected to be able to do.

We chose October 31 because it was the closest we could get to November 2, the date we’d always considered our anniversary because in those pre-legal recognition days the date we started living together in 1995 was a logical one to pick. In 2013, we had a big family party on November 2, which was also our 18th anniversary together.

Anniversaries! Anyone who’s followed my blog knows that every year I’ve marked a string of anniversaries that I came to jokingly call “The Season of Anniversaries”. It began with the anniversary of when I arrived in New Zealand as a tourist (September 12, 1995). When we had our Civil Union, my pretend season extended all the way to January 24. The anniversary of our marriage added another date to that list. Will I continue to mark these dates? I simply don’t know. Probably. Maybe not.

Because six years ago today was such a happy day, and this anniversary is only six weeks after what was the worst time of my life, I honestly don’t know what to feel. Mostly, and most obviously, I’m missing Nigel as I do every single day. However, we didn’t make a big deal out of any of our anniversaries, including this one, though we were always aware of them. If Nigel was still alive, we would have said something to each other about the day, like “Happy Anniversary”, and that would have been it. So, because it was never that big a deal, I can’t be upset about what I’m missing out on today—again, apart from missing having Nigel with me.

One random thought popped into my head, though, as has happened a lot over the past few months since Nigel became sick. Because of when Nigel died, he and I had known each other 24 years, but he died before our 24th anniversary together, and before our sixth wedding anniversary. That means that, technically, we were together only 23 years and married only five. Anyone who knows me in real life will know how much that numeric incongruity will always annoy me, and anyone who knew both me and Nigel would know how much he and I would laugh at that.

But another, sadder, random thought also popped into my head: Six years ago today Nigel and I gained the legal right to call each other “husband”. Six weeks ago I got another title I never expected: Widower. The first was wonderful, but the second is hardest thing I’ve ever faced. It will remain that way for a very long time to come.

So, sad and with mixed (and often conflicting) feelings, all I can think of to say is what I would have said to Nigel if he was still alive: Happy Anniversary, sweetheart. I love you.

Previously, in happier times
Fifth Anniversary (2018)
Fourth Anniversary (2017)
Third Anniversary (2016)
Second Anniversary (2015)
Still married (2014)

Related
To be married
Husband and husband
Just one more

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