Some friends of mine have just celebrated their 7th Wedding Anniversary. Every time I see their beautiful wedding photo come across my newsfeed it feels like a punch to the gut. I’ve had many of my friends celebrate anniversaries, get engaged and even get married this year and it hasn’t affected me this way.
But this is a 7th Anniversary.
I lost Jon 28 days after we celebrated our 7th.
Our 7th Anniversary is my biggest regret. See, I didn’t realize it then. But I’m pretty sure Jon had a minor heart attack that night. We were at Carrabba’s and Jon suddenly didn’t feel well. He excused himself and went to the restroom. He had done this more than once before so I wasn’t concerned. I was annoyed.
Jon had become a bit of a hypochondriac in my eyes. It was always something. (Not always heart related: head, stomach, skin…) I used to get mad at him for looking up random symptoms on WebMD. He was always making trivial things into big deals. At least, that’s what I thought. Looking back I think he could tell something was wrong. Had we had insurance maybe his heart condition would have been discovered. But in the 7 years we were married, neither of us had ever gone to the doctor outside of my pregnancy with Jocelyn. When he was a teenager he complained about his heart enough for his parents to take him in for extensive testing. The diagnosis: stress. So any time he complained about his heart I would just tell him to relax it was just stress getting to him.
When Jon returned to the table he said he was really dizzy and would I mind if we took our food home. I didn’t complain and I tried to mask my disappointment. All I wanted was a nice evening. Between his music schedule, our one year old daughter and the fact that we were living with my parents until we could make the move to Miami, we rarely had time alone. A few minutes after leaving the restaurant he said he felt better and apologized for cutting our date short. My annoyance dissipated and we said we would try and plan another date soon. Honestly, I don’t remember if we ever got another date.
I regret that night. I regret not taking him seriously. I regret my attitude. I cannot step into that restaurant without feeling an ache in the pit of my stomach. It took me a long time and a conversations with two different doctors to stop feeling responsible for Jon’s death. (The doctors said from the looks of it, what happened was inevitable. Even with a diet change and meds, there was no guarantee it wouldn’t have happened anyway.)
Even though I don’t struggle with guilt anymore, (most of the time) there are so many things I wish I would have done differently. I wish I had been more present with Jon. I wish I took advantage of the moments we had together. I wish I did better at showing him how much I valued him.
I see married couples around me and its all I can do not to beg them to appreciate the amazing gift that they forget that they have. I want to cry out to please learn from my pain, tomorrow is not promised!
Let the little things go. If he doesn’t do the dishes the way you like, who cares? You have a man that does dishes! (Having *all* of the chores be 100% your responsibility is literally the worst)
If she’s running late, does it really matter? You have someone to go do things with. (Forever 3rd, 5th or 7th wheel sucks!)
If he’s goofing off with the kids rather than helping you with dinner, it’s not the end of the world and guess what? Your kids have a daddy. (My children will have no memories of their father and that crushes me every time I think about it.)
If she’s not in the mood but just wants to cuddle and watch a movie. Drink it in. You have someone who loves you. (I’ve heard more than one widower attest that they miss affection more than they miss sex. And yes, we talk candidly about those things in widow groups lol )
I remember so many things that I got upset about that are absolutely ridiculous. Would you like to know what our last major argument was about? Eggshells. You want to know what’s not worth fighting over? Composting eggshells.
I know it’s so hard to get caught up in the monotonous details of life. But don’t forget to remember the one you swore to love and cherish. Don’t keep your compliments and kind thoughts to yourself. Tell them! Show them how much their presence in your life means to you. Go do something fun! Something that makes you both laugh!
Life is way too short to be trapped in the mundane. Take advantage of the time you have with the person who loves you because it only takes 30 seconds for everything to be ripped from you. 30 seconds is what the man who did Jon’s autopsy said. It probably happened in less than 30 seconds. Life is short. Live it with an outpouring of love.
Now, go kiss your spouse. Like right now, put down your phone and give them a kiss that takes their breath away. Not just a peck on the cheek. I don’t care if there are kids in the room. Let them see how much you love each other. Its good for them. The last time I kissed Jon was unbelievably unsatisfactory. I would have done better if I had known it was the last. So kiss like it’s your final chance to show how much you love, need, appreciate and desire them. Kiss like you did in the beginning. Kiss now, and kiss often.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.