“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” William Shakespeare, Macbeth
December nineteenth. This date is always a day of mixed emotions for me. It is the day twenty-seven years ago that I married my first husband. We were young, total opposites, and determined to change the world through music. We gave it a good run- over fifteen years- but the last four years were very unhappy and difficult ones for both of us. Upon our divorce, he swore I would be his only wife, that he would never remarry. He has kept his promise.
When I came to Birmingham, it signaled the end of the luke-warm efforts we had made to work things out. I was left emotionally bruised and battered, determined to build a new life on my own. A year later I met and then married Dan, and have never been happier. I joke with Dan at the strange coincidences; my first husband was Danny, now I am with Dan. Both are Irish. Both of their mothers were born on August 27th. Danny has dark hair, Dan light, so I think of them as the dark and the light in my life in so many ways.
Where Danny was controlling and full of anger, Dan is supportive, loving. Where there was fear, now there is trust and deep friendship. I don’t regret the past, as it brought me to where I am today, but I would never want to repeat it- or the mistakes that were made. And yet…and yet, on this date I always feel a familiar twinge of sorrow, a loss of innocence, a loss of my first love….a deep sense of failure.
Since the divorce, I always receive a text or late night voicemail from him on this date, wishing me a happy anniversary. Today was no different. I had a nightmare about him last night, and felt a sense of foreboding all day…and then the text came tonight. The message is always jarring to me, coming at me as I sat peacefully in front of the fire with Dan and the dogs, watching a movie. An intruder in our loving home. An old world colliding with a new one, taking me back in time.
To me it seems he has to make sure that I remember that this date is ours eternally in some morbid way, the anniversary that will truly go on until death do us part, no matter what. A tether that he wants to keep connected to me. Tonight I saw myself as a skeleton in a crumbling wedding gown, engulfed in cobwebs. I fear that somehow he would try to tarnish the happy life I lead now, take away my hard-won peace. If I am honest, perhaps a part of me wants to know that he realizes what he lost in losing me. Perhaps I feel some nostalgia for the two young people we once were, so in love, so hopeful.
But…I am a different woman now. I will no longer allow him to control me or hurt me. The new foundation I have built, brick by brick, is a strong one. A reminder to acknowledge the past and lessons learned, the growth I’ve made, and to appreciate the gifts of today. I wish him well. He is the ghost of a sad Christmas past, and a reminder to treasure what I have in the Christmas present.