When we were at Jamie's cocktail party, Raechelle and I found ourselves tending bar and having a great conversation with several of Jamie's friends. And someone asked how Rae and I met, which led to that story, which led to other stories, and somehow the Fire Story came out. I'm used to the shocked and sympathetic looks when the Fire Story is told. It's a compelling story. But it usually comes as the footnote to my lost-my-wife-lost-my-dad-lost-my-home-all-in-one-year story, and by the time we get to the fire part, folks are shaking their heads in complete bewilderment in terms of how to relate to an experience that is fundamentally impossible to relate to.
But what both Rae and I noticed is that the very last story to be told on this occasion was the Widower's Tale. It had become the footnote, not the lead. She said the next day that something had changed, that I was no longer defined by the tragedy of my circumstances. I had known that for the past few months (and had felt it since before I stopped posting on Rhymes With Drowning), but it felt good to hear my girlfriend say it.
And it's true. Things are on the upswing. I'm more than the sum of my tragedy.
But there are still some days when you remember, and you feel sad, and that's okay. Today is one of those days. It's a day of remembering a moment 24 years ago when two kids kissed in a driveway and kicked off a life together. It's okay to look back on those memories and get a bit misty. It's okay to take a moment or three of reflection. It's okay to mourn what was lost.
Because the tragedy is not you. It's okay not to dwell in the dark places. It's okay to count blessings and be happy for all the things going right in your life. And it's okay to feel comfort when the woman who calls you her man wraps her arms around you and kisses you, because she understands difficult anniversaries.