Today is our anniversary, except there is no longer an us, well in real-life anyway.
We had our first date on June 13th, we went to see the movie Friday the 13th. And then the year we finally decided to get married, the 13th fell on Friday again in June and we were ecstatic!
My dad said, “Of course she would marry on Friday the 13th, she’s been a financial omen her whole life.” My mother in law, being British and somewhat superstitious, was horrified.
But today, the 40th anniversary of that date and the 36th anniversary of our wedding, there is no longer an us, there is just me and my memories. Not even for the human beings that our marriage created does this date hold significance. I never realized how deeply personal anniversaries were. I wish we had celebrated them more because they are awfully hollow now that you’re gone, but we weren’t really the celebratory type.
It made me think about longevity. I looked it up, it simply means long life. Which made me look up long, which means a measure from end to end, lasting or taking a great amount of time, relatively great in extent, then you can talk about odds, phonics, finance, prosody. You can have a long day, a long meeting, a long nap — those don’t require a specific measure of time, long is a measure of how good or how bad it was. You can long for something lost or absent or anticipated. All these things are wrapped up in an anniversary. Even at a wedding we anticipate those anniversaries to come. The saving of the top of the wedding cake for the one year anniversary, the toasts and wishes for a long and happy marriage. But like joy and grief, anniversaries are both universal and deeply personal. We threw a big party for my parents 50th wedding anniversary. We weren’t even alive when the wedding took place and while their marriage both created and impacted me, it also had nothing to do with me. I really have no understanding of the connection that made them decide to marry 50 years earlier. But now he’s gone, what is that day now? Now it’s suddenly very personal again. Incidentally, tomorrow, June 14, 2020 is the 67th Anniversary of their wedding.
I think anniversaries are not so much about longevity but reflection. That reflection changes over time. The first anniversary celebration is nothing like any other, then they blur into the big ones. At GriefShare you hear people reference them as we just celebrated our ___ anniversary or we were looking so forward to our ___ anniversary. But only looking back can we see our last anniversary.
As I now look forward to and long for eternity I wonder: What does an anniversary look like in light of eternity. I think that anniversaries are a human shortcoming to deal with the fact that time makes no sense because we were meant for eternity. When the world was created, our days were not numbered, that came from sin. Now that our days are numbered, we’re obsessed (some of us (me) more than others) with counting them. With pregnancy we start counting weeks, the newborn we count months until eventually years all morbidly counting toward the end when we are awarded our final number. Then we lament, “Their life was cut so short” or “But they lived a long good life.” But living in the light of eternity is starkly different. It’s kinda sad and hollow when we wish someone a happy birthday in heaven or mark the anniversary of their death as their home-going or a wedding anniversary that reached its expiration date. I recently cleaned out my refrigerator and threw away all the condiments I had accumulated that reached their expiration date, is that the same thing?
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day.2 Peter 3:8
But my hope lies in the reality that time is something I will grapple with only while I’m on this earth. We aren’t supposed to understand time! Like other things of the flesh, hatred, hunger, sadness, pain, fat and tired, time is one thing I won’t take with me in eternity. I don’t think we’ll celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or homecomings, we’ll celebrate only being in the presence of God. So maybe that’s why, today, more than most, I long for eternity.