A few nights ago, I stayed up late and wrote a blog I had planned to post in honor of what would have been our 8th wedding anniversary. Along with everything that is new around me, I have anticipated (sometimes dreaded) this day, long before Jaime was even gone. I text Jaime the night of November 19, her first night in hospice, and poured out my heart to her. I told Jaime I didn’t want to be alone and that I wanted to grow old with her. In the middle of my extremely long text, I had one of those moments, where my words took a noticeable turn. I can see this in my words to her – “I don’t want you to go, but I know you have to go and I am letting you go.” Christmas, my birthday, New Years, Valentine’s, and Mother’s Day have all come and gone – each recognizably different without Jaime’s presence. Just like that text, I was looking back over my original blog and had that moment of realizing what I really wanted to say about the first wedding anniversary I will celebrate alone.
I had promised my fiancé that I would sing to her at our wedding, and on the evening of May 14, 2005, I looked into her eyes (ignoring those around us) and sang to Jaime, “I Will Be Here,” by Steven Curtis Chapman. I remember nervously holding her hand so tightly, yet being lost as I stared into her beautiful brown eyes. That seems so long ago now. And yet, as I painfully push through the first wedding anniversary without my wife, I remember it all. I can remember standing at the front of the church, just waiting for her to walk down the aisle. When the doors were opened, I was so taken by her beauty – by the beauty of the moment. There were tears in my eyes as this beautiful woman, my wife, walked towards me. I remember the rings and the kiss but more so the fact that we hugged after we kissed. We both whispered, “I love you” as we turned and faced the crowd. I remember walking into the reception hall so proud to have Jaime on my arm as my wife. I remember singing every single word to her and not even thinking that was the first (and last time) I had ever sang in public and I didn’t care. I was singing to my wife. I remember staring at my hand and seeing a wedding band and realizing that after a two-year engagement, we were finally husband and wife.
Everything now is obviously different. I look down at my hand and all I see is an imprint of where the wedding band once rested. I lay in bed each night alone. Yet in the midst of this bittersweet moment, I have thought so much about how I should remember May 14 – today and in the days to come. I did the math, and I am going to celebrate that for 2,763 days I was married to the most amazing, beautiful woman. I am going to celebrate that she was my better half, my trusted confidant, my sounding board, my advocate, my prayer partner, my lover, and my best friend. Her life, her death, and her absence have changed me in ways far too numerous to include in this short narrative. So today, like every other, I am so empty, yet so full. My tears – particularly today – are because I miss her presence and love in my life. We would have celebrated so much this month. Not only our wedding anniversary, but had things gone according to what was written on paper, (major “if”), Jaime would have finished treatment this month – possibly by the time we celebrated our wedding anniversary. So along with celebrating the honor and privilege of being Jaime’s husband, I also celebrate that her journey didn’t have to wait until May to receive good news. For some, that may leave you scratching your head and wondering what is wrong with me? Why would I say that? Because they gave Jaime 5 years – they told us even “if” her cancer went into remission, it would potentially come back within 5 years and Jaime would likely die. Jaime never had to sit on the edge of her seat wondering if a pain or numbness meant the end of remission and the beginning of the end.
I was supposed to sing to Jaime again after we had been married ten years. That would have been in 2015. But that promise, like so many other plans, is no longer possible. We were married for 2,763 days and I will, sadly, live longer than that before Jaime and I get to see each other again. I know as the years go by, May 14 won’t wound my heart quite like it does today. For now, though, it is just a reminder of all I have lost and that I am alone without my bride.