This is Peter and my last picture together. I put it up today because our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary is on Saturday. Twenty-eight years Peter and I would have been together if death didn’t part us. Twenty-eight years of shared joys, struggles, laughter, fights, love, hate, long talks, silence, compromises and most importantly, unconditional acceptance.
When I say we had it all, I mean the good and the bad. Our marriage was spotted with mistakes and imperfections and yet, we continued on because of our deep love and obvious attraction. Not necessarily the physical attraction – although sometimes that’s all we had to hold onto – but I’m talking about an opposite attraction that drew us to a stable middle. We held the same views on life, child-rearing, love, and social justice. We rolled well together, even during the bumpy times.
Peter and I met playing volleyball, a love I held since I was ten and one he was developing. It was obvious he was becoming a quick learner because he grew spikes and bumps over me. His tall, lean body and freakishly long arms made him a perfect volleyball specimen. He also had the perseverance and the thirst to learn which added to his skills. I was an okay volleyball player, never rising to the top. I had my great moments and I had consistency, but I never had consistently great moments. That never stopped my love for the sport to grow. And it was wonderful I found a sexy man who loved the sport as much as I did.
After we played in an open gym setting for two to three hours, he and his friends, and me, my sister and a friend, would go out for drinks at a local bar. We drank beer, played foosball or air hockey, talked and laughed. Peter was quiet and most of my time was spent talking with his friends. It was hard to get a conversation from him. One night, when we were walking out to our car, my sister said to me, “you know, I think Peter is your type. I think the two of you would be good together”. Thus started my rethinking of Peter. As I spent more and more time with just him, coaxing words out of him, listening to how his great mind worked, making him laugh, I fell in love. (Side note: My sister played a key role in mine and Peter’s relationship. A year and a half after Peter and I broke up after a few months of dating, it was my sister who brought us back together. Ironically, it was through volleyball again.)
It took a while before Peter and I settled into a partnership. We were both older when we married. He was thirty-one, and I was thirty. Peter had lived on his own since the age of eighteen, and I was living the Mary Tyler Moore singlehood for almost six years before we moved in together. We were both unaccustomed to making selfless decisions and regarding the other before we acted, whether on simple things like food choice, or more monumental ones like where to spend holidays, or where to live. But we eventually got there, weaving our ways through the delicate maze of couplehood, each of us trying hard not to step on the other’s toes. Although, even after nearly twenty-eight years together, our autonomy became a source of our disagreements, even anger. Still, we loved each other and leaving was never an option.
Our wedding day was unique. Peter’s father died less than a year earlier. His mother’s kind and gentle soul wanted the best for our day, yet her grief was still so much a part of her. It was a grief I only fully understood lately. My own father’s illness was declining fast. His body, too weak to stand, was stuck in a wheelchair and his beautiful mind barely worked. My mother took over the role of walking me down the aisle and the knowledge of not having a daddy-daughter dance snapped at my heart. Despite the sadness, the challenges most wedding days do not have, the moment I walked down the aisle, toward Peter, and saw his crooked grin light up to a full smile, I knew, my heart knew, he was right, he was I wanted, he what I needed. Everything else became background noise.
We had other silly things happen at our wedding – the best man forgot to rent a car so we crammed ourselves in my 1987 Ford Escort, an argument erupted at the reception, a pre-teen guest drank too much from the champaign fountain, two young boys full of shenanigans clogged up the men’s’ toilets with sugar packets, my father came into the reception just as dinner was served and left twenty minutes later, and other things. Yet, I was happy. I was happy because I was with the man I made a commitment, in front of family, friends, and God, to be with until death part us. And death did part us…the only thing that could break us apart.
This Saturday is going to rough, probably the roughest since I found out he was killed. I will be spending it again downtown which seems to me my refuge lately. I made plans with my bestie two weeks after Peter died. I knew then I would not want to be alone or be in the house where memories haunt my emotions.
This weekend, the weekend of our anniversary, I’m going to play out, in my mind, every moment leading up, and including our wedding. And I’m going to remember Peter, our day, our honeymoon, our first meeting, our commitment, our lives together. And I’m going to feel the most painful of feelings, pain I’ve never felt before, caused by the strong want to have all of it back and knowing it’s all gone, forever, knowing he’s gone forever, knowing we’re gone forever. I’m going to spend time looking back at us, perhaps smiling at the good, shaking my head at our trivial fights, crying for the desire for it all. My heart will swell, my tears will flow, and I will have to deal with the strongest blow Death has given me thus far – a celebration of the day we became one without him.
My blog will be on hiatus as I grieve in private. Thank you for letting me share this morning with you. Peace in all of our nows.