Posted by: Rob | January 24, 2008

Acknowledging Days and Memories

Yesterday marked two years since my wife Ann’s first husband Will died. She admitted to wrestling with ideas on how to commemorate the date. Ultimately, she wrote a blog piece in tribute to Will, plus another one for the eve prior to the day.

We talked about “dates” and which ones should be celebrated and which ones she thinks could be treated with a “pass”. Most Hallmark dates fall into the “pass” category; Ann figures that we should devote more time to celebrating or marking dates that have some meaning to us. Ann’s example of this is Hallowe’en. Not because it’s a “calendar” holiday event, but because it was while working on a volunteer project Haunted House that she met and fell in love with Will.

I’m a little less inclined to mark days of any kind. Although Ann somehow got the idea that I’m a romantic, I’ve often felt a sense of obligation when it came to marking the “holidays”. I had to get gifts and flowers for Valentine’s Day because the calendar said it was February 14th and I thought it was “expected”. Of course, some days were never negotiable with Shelley. She was generally pretty adamant that we celebrate her birthday (and rightfully so); she was pretty big on Mother’s Day too. Not even my attempts to deflect her on that one with “Well, you’re not my mother; it’s up to the girls to get you something” really ever worked.

That’s not to say that I’m a cold and heartless wretch, either. Even though yesterday was Ann’s “sadiversary” or “remembrance” day, I found myself spiraling down throughout the day falling victim to a grief wave. Who knows why these waves crop up from time to time? Perhaps it was the heightened emotions around our house in the days leading up to yesterday. Or perhaps my memories were triggered by something. If you’ve read the news lately, you’ll know that Heath Ledger died this past week. I found myself listening to the soundtrack from “Brokeback Mountain” yesterday. Don’t know why, just happened upon it while listening to my iPod at work. Why is this significant? Because “Brokeback Mountain” was the last movie Shelley and I saw together in a sit down movie theatre. Not only was it an excellent picture, a good story with excellent acting by both Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, but though the film was set in Wyoming (and to a lesser extent Texas), it was actually filmed on location in Alberta. In Kananaskis Country. One of “our” places. One of Shelley’s favourite places. Watching the mountains of Kananaskis on the big screen in 2005 reminded us of the week we spent camping and hiking around Little Elbow in the summer of 2003. Although we had my Mom along, we were still able to sneak off by ourselves for some alone time now and then. It was a memorable week.

I guess that Heath Ledger’s death represents breaking of another link with the past. And so, thinking about that time, those memories, I was reduced to tears for a while last night.

But now, today, there’s a date to celebrate. In the now. For the future. It’s been one year since I penned a letter to Ann. A letter stating that I wanted to elevate our friendship to a higher level. I was afraid to send that letter. I didn’t want to overstep and risk losing our friendship. And yet, there was something about her. I had yet to meet her. Hell, I had yet to even lay eyes upon her. Yet, there was something about her………

We are meeting for lunch today. I think that flowers are in order, don’t you?


  1. Valentine’s Day again? I sense hostility:) Still, there are some obligatory days that aren’t entirely evil if the parameters are set to one’s value system. Christmas for example represent the very best that Christianity has to offer and so I celebrate it. Easter is the very worst thing and so I go bunny on it but in a small non-candy way. Our big moments deserve a shout-out and I think most people would be better off if they created their holidays out of special moments rather than relied on the Hallmark.

    Today is our special day – one of so many – and I want you to know that I am so in love with you and am so glad you sent that email.

    I love you!

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