Are wedding anniversaries like phantom limbs? You know, you can kind of still feel them even though they no longer actually exist. The remains of what was once there can create an almost physical twinge despite the fact that it is no longer present as anything but a memory.
Two couples I know recently marked their 20th anniversaries – one with a lovely dinner al fresco, the other with the decision to acknowledge the end of their marital partnership. I guess these examples support the often quoted figure that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Do you think it is possible to predict at a wedding ceremony which marriages are going to remain intact and which are going to end before death doth them part? I don’t. Personally, I don’t believe anyone plans to not live happily ever after.
I know that love and intentions and hopes and dreams were very much a part of my wedding day. I married on an early afternoon so cloudless that our photographer complained about the lack of shadows. The best man saw a majestic blue heron take off as he drove to the ceremony, an obvious sign of nature’s blessings even to the most jaded. We had a totally cool wedding date – month, date and year expressed with a concise number of digits. Perfect.
However, 18 years from that day, as I ran under a cloudy, darkening sky, I wore the marital status “divorced” rather than that beautiful emerald-cut diamond ring I received when I accepted his proposal. Ugh.
As I ran though, I smiled to myself as I recalled that my groom and I found ourselves alone following our wedding reception’s conclusion, red Ford Escort wagon parked in the lot and strung with cans, without the keys to drive ourselves to the next destination. Really. A phone call or two resolved that roadblock, and we joined our friends at their hotel to shuttle to another location for dancing and drinks. We were not ready for our day to end – we were having far too much fun. We all piled into the hotel’s courtesy bus, but as we began to pull away I realized my groom was being left behind. He missed the bus. Literally.
There were, as I said, no clouds. There are no regrets for having spent nearly twenty years sharing my life with a man who I once was very happy to call my husband. Sometimes, though, anniversaries are to be celebrated as the date when two became one, while other times they are simply reminders of a former life, once whole but, now forever severed.