Today is my wedding anniversary. Eight years ago today, Mark and I said our vows. We celebrated our union in Christ with our family and friends. 09-19-2015. No wedding day is perfect, but at the end of the day we were married and began our life together. It wasn't long before everything changed rapidly, so sometimes it seems like we were married for longer. We were just shy of our 5th anniversary when Mark died, at only 37 years old.
You know how books, movies and TV show foreshadowing? You don't always realize something was foreshadowing until after the big event. I think back to around the time Mark died and something makes me think his death was foreshadowed too. He had been particularly attentive at home, intentional about getting projects done, spending time with the kids, sharing his feelings. The night before his heart attack I was on my way to the kitchen and I asked him "Do you love me?" It's not that I didn't know, or needed reassurance, we just asked each other that occasionally. He replied "Megan, I will love you forever." We continued our conversation to discuss our upcoming anniversary, #5, the first one that seemed to carry a little weight. I said "Isn't it crazy to think that we could end up being married for 50 years." He said "I don't know if I will live to be that old." 50 years would have made him 82 going on 83. It doesn't seem that old. Except now it does.
The eighth wedding anniversary means that this year I have had 4 anniversaries without him, equal to the number he was with me. From here on out I will have more anniversaries pass without my husband than I had him for. That is a difficult thing to process, because the longer I go the less he seems to be part of my life. I don't live in the same house we shared, he has never sat in my car, the last pair of shoes he bought me are wearing through the soles, heck I don't even have the same vacuum. He didn't bring much into our marriage, but he brought an iron. There is a short in the cord, I have to hold it just the right way for it to work, but I haven't replaced it, it would be just one more thing he isn't part of.
I don't know that these feelings are logical, but grief isn't logical.
Tonight, I sit here in my 3-season porch, where I imagine we might have sat together to try and escape our kids, and I reflect on my marriage. My marriage was hard, for most of it. We struggled in more ways than one. It was work, intentional, painstaking, work. Yet, I consider it a privilege.
Marriage is a gift, and I don't think that is easy to realize when you are in it, fighting over who did the dishes last, or why your spouse (me) left the gas tank on empty. But, death changes your perspective. The hard part doesn't outweigh the good, the feeling of having someone expecting you, having a partner in life, someone who loves you despite your shortcomings, a best friend, someone who knows you by look, gets your favorite snack without needing to ask what you want, someone you can crawl up next to when life is hard. I would fight a thousand fights again if it meant that I had my husband here, to have my back, to be FOR me, to love me in feeling and action. It's truly a gift, a gift of which the weight is not known until it is absent.
Lately, I have felt somewhat surrounded by divorce, and it is heart breaking. Couple friends, couples that got married around the same time as we did, couples you never thought it could happen to, divorce seems rampant. So, when I think about how unlucky I was to lose my husband, I have to think of my privilege. I was privileged enough to have been in a marriage where we fulfilled our vows, until death do us part. I do not know what our marriage would have looked like today if Mark had lived, God granted me a gift, a gift I never wanted, and allowed me to be loved by Mark until the day he died, to be loved by Mark forever.
What terrible things have I experienced that are truly privilege? The most terrible experience of my life, taking my husband off life support, was also the privilege of being with him in his last earthly moments, the privilege of praying him into the hands of Jesus. Having to plan a funeral, stand up and deliver a eulogy seemed impossible, but I was privileged to honor Mark by sharing his testimony and preserving his legacy. The daunting task of parenting our children alone is a privilege of teaching them strength, perseverance and unwavering faith. The terrible pain of walking this journey of widowhood comes with the incredible privilege of having my pain turned into purpose.
I wish Mark was here, and he isn't, but my marriage was a privilege. I don't know if the gift of marriage will be given to me again in this lifetime, I may just have to wait for heaven where I will have the unmatchable privilege of being the bride of Christ. God only knows the plans he has for me, but I trust that they are plans to give me a hope and a future.
Today, on one of those hard widow days, I pray that the Lord grants me peace when I have no understanding, that He grants me joy when my heart sees only sorrow, that He grants me hope when I can't see the light, that He grants me companionship when I feel alone, that He grants me kindness when the world is cruel, that He grants me acceptance when I feel left out, that He grants me strength when I am weak, and that my God continues to grant me perspective when I feel sorry for myself. I thank Him for Mark, I thank Him for the people I have in life that are in it because of Mark, I thank Him for his provision, for the gift He granted me 8 years ago and the gifts He grants me today.