Warning–This is a long one.
Yesterday, April 21, was my birthday. I wish I could say it was a happy day, but it wasn’t. Except for the great time I had with my wonderful students, it was one of the saddest days of my life, and not because I turned 60.
I was looking forward to turning 60—age doesn’t bother me, never has. I’ve never understood people getting uptight over “milestone” birthdays beyond 16 and 21. Maturity, and the experience that builds it, is something to celebrate.
For as long as I’ve known my husband Bill, he has spoiled me with love and treats on every birthday and anniversary. Flowers and cards sent to the office. Candy. Gifts like jewelry, Hermes scarves, camera equipment, you name it. Every birthday and anniversary was an event.
Bill hasn’t known when it was my birthday or our wedding anniversary (May 1) for several years now. Valentine’s Day comes and goes. Christmas and Easter mean something because of the special liturgies at church, but half the time he doesn’t know what day of the week it is.
I truly don’t miss the gifts, the cards, the flowers. I miss the companionship. I miss the stimulating conversations over dinner, or a TV show, or while cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry. I miss him responding intuitively with a hug or sympathetic look when I’ve had a bad day or don’t feel well. I miss reading the Sunday New York Times out loud to each other and having a good-natured argument over some stupid politician. I miss sending him out to the store to pick up that one ingredient I didn’t realize I’m missing until I’m half way through preparing a new recipe (Now I have to drop everything and go myself).
And yes, I miss the affection.
My soulmate is gone and what’s left is the physical shell of the guy I married (although that physical body is in better health than mine). The memories of all our travels, our happy times, our plans for the future, are mine and mine alone. He can’t remember the cats’ names. When will he forget mine?