Four weeks later, it is our 26th wedding anniversary.
On this date you and I made a promise to love each other unconditionally. We stayed true to that promise. It is my own priceless treasure floating like a lily on the ocean of tears in my heart. I’ll embark on that royal flower today, anchor myself to the details so I don’t drown in the agony of missing you.
I realize some might think I am foolishly torturing myself, inflicting unnecessary pain. The is furthest from the truth. To not remember, to distract myself or do "something else" this would be agonizing torture to my heart.
I want to wear my white cotton dress, the one with memories woven through its fibers, to be close to you and all the memories. But I can’t find it.
25 years ago, I couldn’t find my clothes. On our first anniversary, you came home for lunch and announced, “Let’s go!”
What should I wear?
Oh, you always look nice.
You saw me in a way I didn’t see myself.
I went to change from whatever I was wearing working in the house. I couldn’t find any clothes. I was so confused. I had just added maternity clothes to my closet, being 9 weeks pregnant. I was in that “regular clothes are too tight, maternity clothes are too big, what do I wear to look pretty” stage. I learned later, you were confused too. So confused by all the options you had thrown almost all my clothes in the trunk of the car.
My mom, there to babysit, was rushing me. I scrambled looking through the laundry growing more disoriented. Is this pregnancy brain? Do I just not remember where I put my new clothes? She knew the secret, I had no idea. In her frustration she thought I was ruining the surprise. I just wanted to look nice for you.
Thankfully you saw me becoming undone, and mercifully felt my confusion wasn’t funny. You shared you had packed all my clothes, revealing the surprise was more than a lunch date. Then we were off to a truly wonderful surprise anniversary.
I can still feel that young bride’s desperate confusion turn to calm disbelief. Sitting next to you, racing to the coast, the winding road was like wedding streamers waving behind us. Feelings even as heavy and dark as asphalt turned to lightness and beauty with you. I didn’t need to know where we were going, because I would go anywhere with you. I had never been treated so lovingly, so thoughtfully, so extravagantly.
Now, here I am looking for my dress, the dress that whispered a secret from heaven about you, the one I wore to get ready on our wedding day, the one I brought all our babies home in, and took family photos in. The dress I imagined being used for granddaughters, and who knows how many more lovely days. This dress is connected to so many heavenly memories. That's not just a romantic adjective, I literally mean when heaven touched earth in our precious story.
I was you "delicate flower" and you "my rock", flowers fade, but rocks are forever. I never imagined I'd wear this dress the last day I was with you, the day you flew to heave
But I did, because I understood the sacredness of the day.
The empty satin hanger stares at me.
Your shirts, my comforters hanging steadfastly, shrug their shoulders without an answer.
I search every drawer and shelf.
I wonder who has hidden it. You are on the list of possible persons, but I’m not. I know this isn’t reasonable, but this dress is too precious for me to misplace or not know definitively it’s location.
This is so strange to relive. The panic of missing clothes is slightly humorous.
As I search an upper shelf, I find our wedding aisle runner, embellished with an angel I had painted. We took our first steps as husband and wife floating over that angel.
I roll it out on our bedroom floor.
I look under the bed, only a missing slipper. I try to force the hiding place from my mind, but there isn’t a memory. I try to squeeze it out, talk to myself like a parent does to a child who is hiding something. My brain refuses to cooperate. I’m trying to remain calm.
I pull a basket out from under a chair knowing the dress is not in it.
My journals. I had looked for those last night and given up too exhausted and defeated in my mind.
My mind fills with smoke….
I had packed my valuables in case we had to escape and had never completely unpacked. All my journals were still ready to flee in my basket. My dress was still in your travel bag, along with some of your clothes. I packed more clothes for you than for me, even though you weren't here to wear them. I had never unpacked my most precious belongings when the rain began to fall, because I couldn’t see through the storm of tears and grief.
I slipped on the familiarity of heavenliness. Fresh. Flowing. White. I stood on what I’d found looking for it, our wedding runner.
You melted the heaviness away.
I know all this loyal love you gave me and I gave you, _will be intricately woven through the rest of my days. _Embraced in what I feared was “lost” I stood on what was found
I was searching and
I was comforted.
Wearing my dress, I watched our wedding video, this gift that you gave me. You insisted that we have the day recorded. I didn’t believe I deserved such extravagance, such expense. You continued to lavish me all of our marriage. The love we experienced stretched over all the years. You were deaf to the voices I sometimes heard that told me I was undeserving. It was a language you simply did not understand, because you treasured me, and saw me as a gift from God.
I’m listening. I'm hearing you. I understand you want me to know this still, what you spoke to my soul consistently through the years and to walk in this truth until I see you again. To love and honor myself, is to love and honor you.