It is September 11th again. Fittingly, it is raining. This is one day that sad people know they are not alone in their sadness. You and Mike did your best to try and “reclaim” this day … to make it a day for joy and happiness again. You were brave enough to get married on this day — 5 years ago. It was nice to have a happy thing to associate with the date of September 11th again. Although I was initially skeptical about you guys choosing this day for your wedding, I came around. I think it is good to remember the good with the bad. I liked having a happy thing to remember on this day — along with all the tragedy this day brought us in 2001.
But now September 11th is back to being a sad day. Because yesterday was your funeral and burial. You aren’t here to celebrate your 5th wedding anniversary. You should be here, Beth. You were only 35 years old. You and Mike should have years and years and years of anniversaries stretching out ahead of you.
I won’t lie to you, Beth. It is hard not be angry with God about your death. It is not right. You have a 1-year-old daughter and a newborn son — a son you never got to hold or see. I’m angry about this. Very angry. And very very sad. You probably didn’t know my dad died recently — I think you were fighting for your life about that time. I was so depressed and upset about my dad dying. But one of the comforts we had was that he had a full life — he packed in a lot of stuff. He got to see his children grow up. He got to meet all this grandchildren. He had 43 years with my mom. It helps to have these things to lean on when someone we love leaves us.
But it is hard to find any comfort in your death, Beth. You didn’t get to see your children grow up. You and Mike didn’t have years of happiness together. You didn’t get to do all that you hoped and planned. I’m finding a hard time finding comfort about your death. If you’ll excuse my language, it is pretty fucking unfair.
I know you lost your dad at a young age, and I know that caused so many problems for you. It is hard to lose a parent when you are young. And to think that your children won’t know you makes my heart heavy and sad. So I will do what I can to make you alive for them. I will write about you and what you were like and I will make sure they get this information when they are ready for it. I will sit with them and tell them everything I can remember about you. Every scrap of information I can dredge up from my brain. That is about the only thing I can think of to give to them that is meaningful. I will try to give them an image and a picture of their mother from her friend’s viewpoint.
One of the first things I’ll tell them about is your wedding day. You were a beautiful bride. Your joy was a palpable thing. You swept around the church and the reception with your gorgeous dress and a smile so wide that you glowed. (I know everyone says every bride is beautiful on their wedding day. But, let’s be honest. That’s not true. You, however, were beautiful. Your happiness just radiated all over the place.) Your children will be able to see that in the wedding photos, but I’ll be there to tell them how good the tortellini was at the cocktail reception. (I still remember that tortellini!) I’ll point out to them how two of the tuxedos in the wedding party (including my husband’s) didn’t match the others — stupid tux shop!!! I’ll tell them about how your friends put rose petals around the room you guys stayed in that night. I’ll tell them how even on your wedding day, you were worried where I was because I started bleeding right before the reception and was talking to my OB/GYN in a panic because I was nine months pregnant. (Sorry I missed your first dance as a couple due to that. I was such a worrywart at that point.) The rest of it — well, that is up to Mike to tell them as I wasn’t privy to your dream honeymoon in Hawaii. (I’m glad you guys decided to spring for that!)
I’ll tell your children how I was on your and Mike’s first date. The first date where he brought you to a party with his friends … to play charades. We all loved you right away because you were such a good sport. You joined right in and played along — even though you didn’t know any of us and didn’t really even know Mike! (But I’ll be sure to tell your daughter NOT to show up at a date’s house out in the middle of the woods alone. That was kind of dumb on your part, Beth. As we always said, “Thank goodness Mike wasn’t a psychopath.”)
I’ll tell your children about our glorious spa day at Elizabeth Arden. That was a fantastic day. Massages, manicures, pedicures, getting our make-up done, lounging in the pool. I felt like a Hollywood Star that day, Beth. I hope you did too. I learned the fine art of treating myself to spa days every so often from you — and every time I go to a spa, you will be on my mind. I’ll take your daughter one day — my treat.
I’ll tell your children about the Cruise from Hell that we took. The cruise that was supposed to be to Bermuda but got diverted to frickin’ New England and Canada due to a hurricane (first one to hit Bermuda in 70 years!). Nothing against New England and Canada, but when you’re planning for a tropical vacation in Bermuda, suddenly going North isn’t quite the same. And you and Mike had just gotten back from Maine a few weeks before — and then you ended up back in Bar Frickin’ Harbor! That sucked so bad, didn’t it? Were you ever glad it happened so we had an “amusing anecdote” to tell? Yeah…me neither. And remember when my husband got so mad because you and I disappeared into Filene’s Basement in Boston and didn’t tell them where we were going? Was it for two hours that he gave me the silent treatment or just one?
I’ll tell your children about our year of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker nights. I really do think you were one of the better players, Beth. I know the guys thought all of us girls were idiots when it came to betting and bluffing (and I’ll admit it, I was) but you were always tricking them and taking the big pots. It always gave me great satisfaction when you did that — even when it was my husband’s money you were taking!
I’ll tell your children how you helped me that first night my Little One was born and I was shivering and vomiting from the anesthesia. Your nurse instincts kicked right in, and you knew just what to do to make me feel better. I know Mike was horrified. I mean, nothing like visiting a new mom in the hospital and then watching her vomit all over herself! You were so comforting. I know you were a great nurse, and I was always a little sad you decided not to pursue that career anymore.
I’ll tell your children how their mother was possibly the oldest sorority girl in the history of the world! I just thought it was hilarious that you pledged a sorority when you were in your 30s and going back to school to get your teaching degree. But I admired you for it too — it was something you wanted so you did it. And I know your sorority sisters thought the world of you. I’ll tell your children how you and your sisters went to a concert (was it Bon Jovi?) and stayed overnight at a hotel and you were the only one with a credit card in their own name (and a husband). I know you had a lot of fun with the sorority and I’m so glad about that.
I’ll tell your children how we had play dates when your daughter was just a baby and my son was 4. I was always so impressed how relaxed and natural you were with Em — I wasn’t nearly as calm and confident as you. You were even able to breastfeed in public using the Hooter Hider (I still laugh over that name.)
I’ll tell your children how we always felt we were married to the same man — cheap, anal-retentive, OCD computer geeks. Neither one of us could buy premium tissues with lotion without getting a lecture about unit price!
I’ll tell your children how Mike dragged you to seemingly millions of concerts — including way too many by Hall and Oates.
I’ll tell your children how you weren’t scared of roller coasters.
I’ll tell your children how you loved the Harry Potter books and the movies. How you went to the book store at midnight and waited for the last Harry Potter book to be released. I’ll make sure they read all the books and see all the movies as I know your husband is a Muggle. I’ll give them a copy of each book on their birthdays and tell them that these were books their mother loved and wanted them to read. I’m sure that will be a small comfort to them — to have books that they know their mother adored.
I’ll do my best to make you come alive for them, Beth. I’ll tell them what a loving, calm person you were — and how being a mother was the thing you wanted most in life. I’m glad you had those few precious months with Em.
I know you are with God now. You were a good person who always put others before herself. You were loved, Beth. I’ll miss you.