Our Story Begins:
What Is And What Should Never Be
Two years have passed. So have 20.
Those are two very different but very similar numbers for me.
You see, 20 years ago, almost to the day now, I married Andrea Andrews. She was a bottle of fire, a blonde bombshell with a dazzling smile that made her eyes twinkle.
But two years ago that marriage ended after a week of horrific stress. Andrea died in the hospital. It’s an odd situation, this. Your marriage begins with fanfare and candles and music; a celebration of the expectant life and the way the world should be lived. Nobody tells you, “What is and what should never be” -to quote my favorite Zeppelin song. They don’t tell you about the arguments you will have. They never describe how your spouse may drive you somewhat crazy with little things, like a dislike for crowds or that she might get too tired at a theme park.
They also never tell you how your marriage will end with little or no ceremony. There will be no fanfare, no candles, no joyful memory of the event sticking into the proper section of your memory. In fact, it’s never a good memory and it’s never marked with celebration.
“Two years…feels like 20,” my daughter posted on her Facebook page on the 26th of March. Abbi, Hannah, Noah, and Sam, my four children with this amazing woman, don’t have the dichotomy of this day. They have only tearful memories of what happened the day I came home and, exhausted, emotionally spent, and horribly sad, had to then, do the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and tell them their mother wasn’t coming home again.
But what they also don’t tell you is what you can and should do after the loss. Sure, therapy can help; so can support groups. But the biggest thing I and my kids have found, is that we live our lives now. We don’t live in the past, but honor it and move forward. We don’t just live, we’re living!
So this week we spent the days that led up to March 26th away from home. The well-meaning people who want to ask us, “How are you?” during that day, aren’t helping when they ask, particularly the kids. So instead . . . yes . . . we went to Disneyland.
The year Andrea was first pregnant with our sons, we went to that same park and it was a miserable experience. When we were walking through the park – and we walked everywhere – we recognized how much better it was.
“Mom wouldn’t have done this,” my daughter Abbi said. “She hated walking around this much.”
She was right, too. Andrea didn’t like waiting, or paying the prices for the stuff at the park.
We spent and entire day – a whole day – at the beach. Andrea didn’t have that patience. But we did it, and the kids had far too much fun than should be allowed. As we were leaving, my son Sam protested.
“We’ve been here for hours,” I told him.
“It felt like ten minutes,” Sam said.
We headed home from the trip and enjoyed ourselves. We went to the Hollywood sign. We picnicked on the way home. We sang with the music on the radio.
We realized that this was a trip that would never have been in our original story. It’s hard to realize you’re having a phenomenal time and realizing it’s something that would never have happened even three years ago.
Adventure. Life is full of adventure, you just have to look for it. We found adventures in our simple days in Southern California. We saw fireworks, wore light-up ears, buried each other in the sand, and just had fun. It was exhausting and pleasurable, and we realized that we’re living as a family – our new family.