Monday, March 4, 2013

The Other Anniversary

This morning, I woke up haunted.  Michael left for work extra early and I was home with our girl, who threw up the night before.  In the 1.5 hours between when Michael woke me up and when Claire bounded in and asked for cartoons, I was stuck- fixated- focused.  You see, tomorrow will be my eighth wedding anniversary.  I'm not haunted by that.  I am haunted by my cousin, who was supposed to be there.

My cousin Tim, who is my mother's first cousin's son technically (but family is family in my book), lived outside of Chicago, the middle of three brothers.  As kids, the two of us clicked well and played together at family functions.  I felt a tight bond, in spite of living twelve hours apart.  So- eight years ago, Tim was graduating from the University of Oregon and- rumor had it- proposing to his girlfriend, Katie, at the end of the month.  It was exciting!  I was getting married, he was getting married, his older brother, Nick, had just married a wonderful girl named Eva.  I was thoroughly excited thinking about all this family coming down for my wedding.

As it stood, Tim was unable to attend.  He was unable to manage the travel expenses, like many college students, was my understanding.  On March 5, 2005, I had a lovely wedding- with a honeymoon to London planned a week later.

In the interim week between my wedding and my honeymoon, I returned to work.  I cannot even recall what day it was when I received a call from my new husband.  He told me to drive straight to my aunt's house, instead of driving home. I was quite concerned, actually thinking that something may have been wrong with my mother, who was going through cancer treatments at the time. When I arrived, my aunt and husband sat with me in my aunt's living room as my aunt leaned into me and said, "Tim has passed away".  Passed away?  That is a term associated with an elderly person at heaven's gate.  That is a term associated with the ending of a long illness, resulting in going toward the light.  That is not a term I associated with my then 22 year old, as far as I knew- completely healthy cousin.  My aunt's words are indelible in my head.  "Tim passed away".  What the hell?  Why is my 22 year old cousin dead?  Why didn't he get to propose to Katie and have babies, drive a minivan and live in a house in the suburbs?  Why did all of this extinguish in the blink of an eye?

The night of my wedding, Tim and some friends had climbed to the top of a multi-story apartment building to look at the stars- the same stars over my sky as I danced at my reception, when one unfortunate step took his life.  He stepped into a chimney shaft and fell several stories.  He died instantly.  It was such a freak occurrence.

For the next several days, I was a lunatic.  My family had to assure me that I needed to go on my honeymoon, and that it was what Tim would have wanted me to do.  I felt so guilty leaving my family.

Now, each year, I share my anniversary with the anniversary of the passing of my cousin.  Each year I am married, I know we have lived another year without Tim.  While I think of him often and have done pretty well on past anniversaries, today, I felt seized. I felt gripped.  Maybe it is because I realize he would be thirty now.  Maybe it was because I saw his girlfriend's facebook page (she's friends with my family members still) and saw that she is married with a baby now. Of course, I wish her all the best and could never imagine going through this on her end.  However, I admit to tearing up when I thought about how that could have been Tim's baby, if one step would have been different. (again, I am very happy for Katie and her family)

And now that I have spilled my guts in blog form, perhaps, I can go on and have a wonderful anniversary tomorrow.  Of that, I know Tim would approve.

((Disclaimer- this post is only my point of view.  I cannot even began to express the feelings of other family members, nor do I intend to portray my perspective as superior in any way shape or form))

No comments:

Post a Comment