the date on which an event took place in a previous year.
"the 50th anniversary of the start of World War II"
the date on which a country or other institution was founded in a previous year.
"Canada's 125th anniversary"
the date on which a couple was married in a previous year.
"he even forgot our tenth anniversary!"
For better or worse — just as in the wedding vows so notably associated with the idea of anniversaries — certain dates, moments, events mark us forever.
Some are relatively easy. The day we were born or met our true love or became a parent or got proposed to on the beach. Those are fine anniversaries. Dates to remember, revisit and celebrate. Pop the champagne, crank the tunes and cue the laughs. These are moments to mark. They remind us of who we are, where we came from and where we hope to go.
Others are more challenging but just as persistent. Sometimes even more so. None more difficult than the dates, moments, events where we had to say goodbye.
For as surely as the moon follows the sun, anniversaries of sorrow and pain dog our days.
These occasions of remembrance are not less important than those occasions of celebration. In fact, they are so bittersweet because they co-mingle the joy of a person with the pain of their absence.
Today marks one year since Tyler's dear, sweet girl Julianne took her leave. Twelve months, 365 days, 52 weeks that I can scarcely believe have passed. A year in which I have cried so many tears. For so many reasons. And so many for Tyler, for Julianne, for my friend who unexpectedly lost her husband, for old friends who tragically lost a son, for a baby boy lost so many years ago, for my beloved grandfather and wonderful aunt, for a desperate uncle, for my little brother's childhood best friend, for too many lost to the despair of suicide over the years and their loved ones left to carry on...for everyone faced with the stark and irrevocable absence of someone they loved.
Most of these sorrows I have carried with me for years if not decades, but the beautiful Julianne opened my floodgates. I don't know why and I still haven't been able to really stem the tide. And part of me is okay with that. I believe the memory of a person, the celebration of a person, the absence of a person deserves attention, notice, acknowledgement and even tears. Especially tears as it seems that is the best I have to give in their honor.
Standing in Today and looking backward I am grateful for many things. I am supremely glad and eternally grateful that I answered the phone on the second ring when Tyler called in the wee hours of the morning. I am so grateful that I kissed Julianne on the cheek and said "I love you" the last time I saw her. I'm grateful I did the same to my grandfather the last time I was able to share a day with him.
I'm thankful that it's a year later and Tyler is strong, happy, healthy and more hopeful than I can remember.
I'm grateful that I've seen enough loss to know that we can survive. That we do survive. And that our survival honors and celebrates those we so desperately miss. But that doesn't diminish the loss or make the anniversary easier.
What I do know is that over time — and it may be a very long time — the anniversaries come with less weight. Less dark weather and haunted dreams. The first time you realize the anniversary is upon you without weeks of gloom and despair heralding its arrival you will feel guilty. For some reason we are prone to wear grief as the testament of our love, devotion and remembrance. But, when we think about it objectively, we would never want anyone paralyzed in mourning on our behalf.
The undeniable truth is that anniversaries are unavoidable. Some we look forward to and some we wish had no reason to exist. But their acknowledgement — and their passing — is imperative.
In the words of King Solomon,
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time heal,
a time to tear down and time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."
Anniversaries are a time for us to remember, to mourn, to celebrate, to share and to heal. For Tyler this is the first of many tough anniversaries to come, and that breaks my heart. But he is up to the task and I am so proud of him. Along with the pain anniversaries also bring resilience. I am indescribably devastated to have this anniversary to mark but am so grateful for the love, light, joy and healing that it brings along with the sadness. Because to remember that bright girl is to remember sweetness, authenticity and a true, genuine spirit that was rare for a girl of just 17. She was delightful. I am so glad to have known her and cooked meals for her and watched the way she looked at Tyler and never once hesitated in calling Tyler "him." We love you Julianne. You are in our hearts now and forever.