Happy Anniversary, sweetuh.
I wasn’t going to write your annual anniversary note this year...for obvious reasons. But I didn’t know the one I wrote a year ago would be the last anniversary I’d have with you. Writing to you brings you a little closer. Or keeps you from drifting farther away. Or something. True to form, I’m getting it out a day early.
That day you married me, June 21, was one helluva day. A really great day. It was my second best day.
Watching you walk down the aisle took my breath away. Watching you walk toward me any time took my breath away. That didn’t stop, no matter what the disease did to you or the toll it took. I started looking through the wedding pictures and that morphed into running the slide show I have of you. You were beautiful all the time.
And, yes, you were beautiful on our wedding day.
Going back to the photos of you, of us, on my second best day...So many beautiful and understated shots and then, of course, this stupid thing where I’m dramatically dipping you (poorly, I might add).
Because I never could find a classy experience I couldn’t introduce goofiness into. Which is one of the many reasons I love you so. Because you could get just as goofy as me. Goofier, even. How you made goofy sexy is beyond me.
I didn't sleep at all leading into my second best day. Not because I was nervous or freaking out. Because I was impatient. I wanted to get it done. I wanted to be married to you. I was tired of waiting for forever to start. Sometime in the middle of the night I was wishing we’d set the ceremony for, like, 7am and followed it with a breakfast reception. Most everyone we know would have missed the actual wedding. The only reason I didn’t change the time on the spot is because I couldn’t figure out the logistics and I was afraid we’d both sleep through it.
I missed you that night. Missed you something awful. I hadn’t realized until that night how my lifelong sleep neurosis had been salved just by being able to slide over to you and wrap around you. Listen to the music of your breathing and the little sounds you’d make in your sleep. It usually put me right out. Because if I could hold you close and fall asleep to you and wake up to you I couldn’t figure out what more I could want out of the world.
I was missing my dad on my second best day. He would have loved being there. If he'd still been around he wouldn’t have been able to say much but he would have been smiling. At you. At Erin and Kim. At us. Us. Thanks for letting us get married on father’s day. You know I struggle with religion and faith. Always have. But I want to believe he was up there somewhere, watching us on my second best day. Just as I want to believe...as I choose to believe...that you’re hanging out with him now reading this letter out loud.
I think the most difficult part of my second best day was the reception and the toasting and the mingling and the greeting when all I wanted was to whisk you away. I’ve owed you an apology for a long time for the rather obscenely delicious things I was whispering in your ear while all the wonderful people who were kind enough to show up toasted us and waited in line to talk to us. You’re gonna have to keep waiting for that apology. It was difficult, but it was also one of my favorite parts from my second best day.
Don’t be mad at me that it was my second best day. That it wasn’t at the top of the heap. It’s close but it doesn’t quite get there. My best day was the next day. And the day after that. And the one after that and all the todays and all the tomorrows that I had with you. Those were, collectively, my best day. My very best day. The wedding, the exchanging of vows and rings was necessary but not sufficient. My best day was all the days I lived with you. I was not prepared to ever have todays and infinite tomorrows without you. That, collectively, is my worst day. I’m living it every single day. I find myself getting tangled up in simple things, in the silliest things. Grammar. Conjugation of verbs. I keep trying to say I loved you, to embrace the past tense, to stop holding on to you so hard, to acknowledge that you’re gone. But I can’t quite grab on to that past tense, not with any consistency. ‘Cause you are gone. But I”m still here. And I have not stopped loving you.
I’m mad at you. Or I pretend to be. You took my heart with you when you went away and I spend a lot of time yelling at God, demanding that he send you back and return it to me. I guess God knows, as you know, that it’s all just so much bullshit. I gave you that old battered, clunky heart so long ago. It was always safer with you than it was with me. I don’t really want it back. I wouldn’t know what to do with it and there is no one I’d rather give it to. It’s just an excuse, a dream, a fantasy in which I can believe I might have one last breath, one last touch, one last kiss. One last today. One last tomorrow. One last forever. One last best day.
Oh, my girl. Happy Anniversary. Please, be up with the angels now. I guess I’ll be hanging around down here for awhile longer, missing you and loving you. Remembering my second best day and all the best days that followed.
Jesus, Mary, mother of God, Rick Reppe. Here I sit in the courtyard of my temporary residence in Paris, starting the last day of my stay here on the first leg of a three week trip, having my first cup of coffee, savoring its flavor, mixed with tears that fall therein. It's the second day also that knowing you has choked my throat and watered my eyes since that first time so many years ago that I saw you perform your one man show at NYC's fringe festival and we spent an entire day walking Manhattan from the Battery to Spuyten Duyvil, Starting Out From Paumanok. What and how you wrote here is a blessing to all of us, so eloquent, so complete. I envy your sorrow and will forever be grateful for knowing you this ongoing way and hope to see you again in this world, not waiting for the world to come....
Posted by: Benjamin Feldman | June 20, 2016 at 11:17 PM
As I was reading this, I felt like a man who was never able to grasp what a noun was sitting in the presence of a master language teacher. What an incredibly moving tribute to an amazing love. Sending you non-verbal and quite possibly incoherent thoughts and prayers today.
Posted by: Travis Terry | June 22, 2016 at 07:22 AM