Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Time to Forget


Wednesday’s podcast was about wedding planning and some funny stories we recalled from Amber’s and Christen’s weddings. I only had one funny story to tell from my own wedding. I don’t know if it is because nothing funny happened or because it was more than 35 years ago. Honestly, I think weddings are a lot like childbirth and construction/remodeling projects – they are painful while you’re in the middle of it, but after a while, you just forget all the bad stuff and only remember the good. Grief can do that, too.

If you had asked me two years ago to describe my husband, I would tell you that Mark was a wonderful and kind human being who was passionate about his work, Boy Scouts, and making music. I would probably also tell you he was the youngest of 3 children, born when his siblings were in their teens, making him both the “baby” and, later, an only child. This resulted in him being spoiled, a little selfish, and a bit oblivious to the needs of others. I might even have railed about how he could never seem to close the closet door, made way too much noise getting dressed in the morning while I was still sleeping, and had a lot of double standards when it came to spending money. But that was then.

In the fall, when Mark’s cancer started taking its toll, I stopped complaining about the chores he didn’t do. I never asked about the thousands of dollars he spent on the studio he built. I didn’t complain about him spending too much time with his band or working in the studio. I never questioned his love or his commitment to me. 

Since his passing in January, I’ve noted some extreme shifts in my perception of who Mark was. As Christen and I prepped his obituary, I was reminded of his many accomplishments. The attendance at his memorial service and wake was a powerful symbol of the many lives he touched in so many different ways. I was proud of him. You might even say I glorified him. I became consumed with continuing his legacy – making sure the world found him as worthy as I did. I jumped at the idea when a friend suggested starting a scholarship in Mark’s name at the college we both attended and where he taught. I even explored the possibility of taking over his music publication and revising a textbook he once wrote. 

Luckily, I was smart enough to know that I shouldn’t jump into any commitments right away. Grieving can make us do impulsive and irrational things, and I knew that taking on some of those projects might mean biting off more than I could chew. I decided to wait, see how things played out, and revisit the ideas when I was more stable.  In the meantime, the weeks went by, and I passed through other phases of grief that brought on different feelings, like anger and guilt. I saw things he did in a different light and felt cheated by the time he spent with the countless others who came to visit when I thought he should have been spending that time fully engaged with his family. I was angry about the money he paid to build a studio he would never use. When tax time rolled around, I was frustrated by his lack of detail and preparation, leaving me to hunt for receipts and guess what his expenses were, not to mention footing the bill.

Most days, I’m somewhere in between. I remember the fun times we had, and I desperately long to be with him and share with him all the things that constitute my life these days, but I also remember that life wasn’t always rosy and sweet. There were ugly fights and even days when it felt like the only thing to do was give up. I know those things happened, but I don’t really remember them. All those fights are irrelevant now. They were probably irrelevant back then. But now that he’s gone, it is especially true. The things I remember about our life together are the important things: the plans we made, the love we had, the laughter we shared, and the family we raised. Most of the rest is washed away by the grief and by time, and the labor pains of trying to make two lives work together as one subside and are forgotten. Planning a wedding can be stressful and painful, but it can also be the best day of your life. In the end, what we remember is the lovely memories of our wedding day, and maybe some of the funny things, too, but hopefully, the rest is all forgotten just like everything else that doesn’t really matter. And that’s the way it should be.

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