Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The third horrible anniversary

Three years ago today, I lost my beloved Nigel. That’s three years or 36 months without him. But because of Leap Year, the weeks and days are off. So, it’s also been 1096 days, and 156 weeks + 4 days. There’s no reason why anyone else would be aware of all that, or even remember the date, but I can never forget. And because that date was so consequential, I’m aware of all sorts of minor and unimportant details, especially how long precisely I’ve had to live without Nigel. I Now understand that this is just the way this works.

It turned out that I was actually fine today—not happy and bouncy, obviously, but just plain old fine, like I might be on any other, ordinary day. I’ll take it. But I also had an epiphany today.

I knew today could be difficult for me because of New Zealand’s wall-to-wall news coverage of the death and funeral of the Queen, something that had the real potential to be triggering. I watched the funeral, though I wasn’t sure until the last minute that I would, or could. But, in the end, it didn’t affect me badly.

This morning, my sister-in-law rang me up to invite me out to lunch. I wasn’t sure how I was feeling at that point, except for tired (the TV coverage ran quite late). I told her I’d ring her back. As I finished getting Leo’s breakfast ready, I could “hear” Nigel’s voice in my head saying, “Don’t be a bloody idiot—go!”, and I knew he would’ve gone. So, I rang her back and we did have lunch.

On the way home, I stopped at a shop to check something out, and instead got a couple cushions for my sofa (I’ve been wanting to replace what I had for ages). I mention that because that gave me an epiphany.

Up until now, this anniversary has been about being sad about losing Nigel and our life together, and it will come around every year, no matter what, and I’ll experience it every year. I realised today that I can choose a more positive path forward. It’s true that my life is on this changed story arc because of what happened three years ago today, but I feel that taking this as a day to focus on the life I’m building is the best possible way to take what’s an unhappy day and make it into a positive one.

What I do doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive (those cushions definitely weren’t) or over-complicated, just something, anything, focusing on the life I’m now building. I have plenty of good days with great, happy memories to celebrate Nigel and the life we had together, but from now on, this one day can be about building my new life, rather than why I’m doing that. Maybe Nigel whispered this idea into my ear, too.

To be clear, I’ll always remember what happened on this date, and I know the anniversaries can still turn out to be emotional for me. But I’d rather remember my beloved Nigel and the wonderful life we had and the memories we made than focus on the day and moment it all ended. That’s my way. There’s one more thing: I know with absolute certainty that Nigel would be happy I’ve reached this point—and he’d then get that cheeky grin on his face and make some sort of joke at my expense. THAT’S where I want to be on this date. Today, I was.


Roger Owen Green said...

I wish I had someone saying to me, "Don't be a bloody idiot!"
Still, my condolences, even as you reframe your loss.

Arthur Schenck said...

I "heard" Nigel only because I'd heard similar things in real life over many years. You can, I'm sure, hear your loved ones in your ears, too, and hopefully when it's most useful.