Today is a milestone. The 14th anniversary of the day Mark and I were married and promised each other happily ever after. We had it – for almost 13 years. I am forever grateful for those days. We didn’t waste a single moment. It was as though we knew that our time was limited. We finally understood those sappy love songs and cheesy chick flicks. It’s been one year, three months, and fourteen days since he died, and I am still grateful.
I learned a lot. I learned to take chances and trust that things were going to work out; and to let go and expect that things were going to be okay; and that if there were two ways to take something someone said, to just take it the good way until or unless proven different. And to relax and stop worrying and enjoy now. (Okay – that skill is still kind of new.)
And to let go.
Along the way, I gained two more children, albeit mostly grown, DeLynn and Patrick, and added them to my brood of three, Jenni, Sterling, and HalleyAnna. And today, I am so proud of each of them for who they have grown to be.
And a perfect dog, Barkley: a three time recidivist at the local animal shelter. Mark picked him out, despite gentle warnings from the staff of his “rap sheet,” and from the day he came home with us, he has been The Perfect Dog. Kudos go to Dog School Austin, for helping him along. More on him in a later blog.
Today is also tax day for millions of Americans. As a recovering worrier, I went ahead and filed and paid my whopping tax bill at the beginning of this month. But that didn’t stop me from thinking about today with a sense of closure and finality.
This was our last “married-filing-jointly” tax return. I know that actually I could have set this date as January 1, because that was when I officially became “single-filing alone” or whatever that designation is. But I am making the rules here. So today is a good day for this transition.
There is no doubt that I am a better person for having loved Mark. I am stronger and more resilient, and maybe I am starting to experience that concept of post-traumatic growth that I have been reading about.
The last year and three months and fourteen days have been a roller coaster. Or maybe more of a Tilt-A-Whirl. The year began with Mark’s sudden and unexpected death and ended with the release of the Delbert McClinton biography, One Of The Fortunate Few, with celebrated reviews and book tours. I could not have written a better ending for the hellacious year than spending it celebrating the book with Delbert and Wendy.
Through the year, I stumbled and mumbled my way through one son’s heart transplant, one daughter’s divorce and another daughter’s job loss. And was able to celebrate another daughter’s engagement, and a son’s new job and relocation to Austin. Today, Sterling is healthy and taking great advantage of his second chance in life; Jenni is happy and strong; DeLynn has an amazing new position with a “the sky’s the limit” firm; HalleyAnna is writing sweet love songs; and Patrick is settling comfortably in to a South Austin lifestyle. Here’s to finding your happiness, kiddos.
Through the last year, my mantra has been,”It’s going to be okay.” I said it to myself about 3 million times. Thanks to those friends who managed to hang around when hanging around me was more than tedious and that mantra became more than redundant. Thank you to those patient souls who propped me up and gave me something to lean on, and made me laugh and let me cry.
And among those friends, there has been a handful who have let go of the bicycle and showed me that I can ride it by myself – but hey – thanks for running along beside it, just in case I fell. You are my champions.
I could have done some things differently in the last year. I could have been smarter and more frugal and and and… Hindsight being 20-perfect, and all that. But I wouldn’t wish for a do-over, thank you. And when it comes to some of the missteps and mistakes – in the words of Guy Clark, “Maybe I can paint over that…”
So today is a transition. I celebrate our anniversary – and tax day. And prepare to move into the next chapter. I hold on to those precious memories and look forward to what is around the bend. I am moving from that mantra of “It’s going to be okay,” to “It IS okay.”
It really is. I find myself feeling happy without even trying. And I am grateful. And I am not feeling guilty for feeling good again. It’s been a long time coming. I’m grateful, and kind of excited, wondering what is up ahead. I’m open to suggestions.
Delbert McClinton says that he doesn’t write blues songs that are sad. He writes blues songs that offer hope that it is going to get better and be okay: “…It’s all right, cause it’s midnight and I’ve got two more bottles of wine.”
So here goes.
Hold my wine glass and watch this.
Listening to: One of the Fortunate Few by Delbert McClinton