Somewhere, wherever they are today, if they are together, my parents are celebrating their anniversary. It's strange, this place.
I live in this world where they aren't here anymore, but the days on the calendar that once belonged to them still come relentlessly.
38 years ago, today, they got married.
I arrived 11 months later.
Their marriage was a complicated one, though at this point in my life I no longer believe that uncomplicated ones exist. We all have our issues, our spouses all have theirs and we manage somehow to create new ones together, stacking them upon one another as the years go by.
I've realized a lot about their marriage since my father's death, even more since she died too. So many things seem to make more sense now, though for every issue clarified, there is inevitably another one that pops up, more questions asked that can never be answered.
Part of me thinks they're up there fighting.
Part of me thinks they're up there reunited and happy.
Part of me thinks they kept the good and discarded the bad.
Part of me thinks they've gone their separate ways.
Part of me thinks there is no way their relationship could have survived what happened after he was gone.
Part of me knows that most of that all happened in part just because he was gone in the first place.
Part of me knows that as dysfunctional as they were together, she clearly couldn't function without him.
Part of me knows that they loved/hated each other, but it was just what they knew.
The thing about death is that it's final. Brutally final. It's just over. No more opportunities to make things right, no more chances to fix the mistakes, no more time to apologize.
It's just, well, over.
In a strange way, that truth has brought me comfort. I know that it probably doesn't make much sense, but I'll do my best to articulate it.
Any hurts, any pain, any scars left are necessarily in the past.
Any arguments, any conflicts, any fights, over and done.
I can ask all the questions I want, I suppose, but there will never ever be more answers.
Death assures that. It tells me that there is a line, a clear line, and we're on this side of it all.
The possibility for things to be different, better, on the other side, trapped forever in the past.
I am left with two options.
Either I could torture myself with the questions left unanswered and the pain left from the past. I could try to rationalize what happened, I could look for the reasons, knowing that I'd probably come up forever empty.
Or I can just accept it.
All of it.
The good, the bad, the horrifically ugly. The pieces of who they were that shaped who I am, for better or worse. The things that were wrong with them, the things that were right.
I can't pick and choose which pieces to accept. It's all or nothing.
It means accepting those questions that will never be answered, accepting the unknowns, accepting the truth that I will never know the truth, not fully anyway.
I can accept them, all of them, for who and what they were.
And I do.
Because I have to.
Because I don't have a choice.
Because this is what life is like when both your parents are gone.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Wherever you are, I love you.
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