Today is the day I choose to remember, because tomorrow never knows. One year ago today Melly and I had a happy Independence Day. We sold her old Honda to make room in our garage and our bank accounts for her new Honda. We went shopping for baby stuff together, picking out Matthew's first toys and clothes. We found our way to the small parking lot off of 7th street, just south of Camelback, where we set up lawn chairs and ate Whataburger chicken tenders while we waited for the fireworks to start. While we sat we watched an episode of the TV show Justified on my phone. The episode was about an escaped criminal who was tricked into thinking that someone had stolen his kidneys. Melly made me turn it off because she thought it was too morbid. As we watched the fireworks that night I looked over at her and enjoyed the wonder on her face as she watched the explosions in the sky.
I choose to remember these small moments. I hang onto them and turn them over in my mind. Sometimes I am looking for clues, sometimes for moments of strength. I think about her every day, She is never far from my mind. Coming to grips with, and slowly learning how to have a life with and around her has been difficult. On the eve of our first year apart I am more thankful for what I have found in this new life than I would have thought possible. I am happy and grateful for all of the love that is in my life, in the form of friends and family, new and old. I consider myself lucky to have a good support network and people that care, in part to continue to have Melissa in our lives.
For months I have had July 5th on my mind. I would periodically check the calendar on my phone, counting the number of days left until this the worst of anniversaries. Every time I would be greeted by the automatic calendar entry telling me that July 4th is "Independence Day". Every time I would see it I feel like it was some sort of cruel joke. Its purpose to serve as a demarcation point to my own unwanted sink or swim independence. Finally, one day I decided no more. I deleted the entry. The 4th of July is no longer independence day, instead it is July 4th. The same way that it is March 14th or August 27th. These things only have power over us if we let them have that power. I instead choose to celebrate July 4th as a day for family and a day to remember all of those times we sat on the sidewalk off 7th street. Eating take-out and watching fireworks.
I don't know what tomorrow holds. I don't know if it will be a heavy and sad day. I don't know if I will have any moments of small panic or if it will instead be a day to play miniature golf with my nephew, Melissa's favorite nephew. I am here in Waterville, NH with Melly's sister and her family. We are spending time together in the woods, eating grilled chicken and teaching the little ones how to fish in a creek. Its nice. It's what Melly would have had us do. Yes, it feels like something is missing. It always will. It always will.
We fill that empty spot with love and memories. We make new ones and we fit them into the narrative of our lives. We take the love that Melly gave us and that we have for our Matthew and we spread it out into the world. In the midst of death we are in life, and that is what we choose to remember.