Today would have been our fifth anniversary.
5 years ago today, Craig and I stood on a beach in Maui at sunset, and promised each other forever. I love our wedding vows. They were so simple, but so perfect. Today was a good day to crack out the old wedding album and remember what he said (mine were pretty much the same):
"There are no other human ties more tender, no other human vows more sacred, than these I profess this day.
I Craig, take you Emily to be my wedded wife, to live together in holy matrimony. I will love you, comfort you, honor and embrace you, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to you all our married life together. This is my solemn vow.
Emily, I give you this ring as a sign of my love, and with all that I am, and with all that I have, I honor you. Let this be a reminder of all that I have pledged to you today."
When I think about that day I see little flashes. Craig helping me zip my dress in our hotel room. Our bare feet burning in the sand. Our little minister having to stand uphill from us so you couldn't see he was at least a foot shorter in all the photographs. Craig staring so intensely because he was trying so hard not to tear up. Us laughing over the staging of the photographs, how they sucked the romance right out of the moment. The crowd on the beach that gathered and cheered (and the lone woman who broke out 'Another One Bites The Dust' when we finished. Later, when my family asked me what 'our song' was for the funeral, this was the only one that came to mind. Needless to say I thought it a touch inappropriate to use). Going to dinner in our full wedding getup, too giddy to even eat. Falling asleep in a heap, barely making it out of my dress.
One year later Craig took me to the Calgary Tower for dinner to celebrate our first anniversary. I remember the frustration of this, thinking, this man doesn't know me at all! Has he forgotten already I'm terrified of heights!?! He told me that day that when he had taken me up there for one of our first dates, he had looked at me and truly thought I was an angel. That he had never felt so blessed and so loved. That was the day he knew he'd marry me.
And then just last year, for our fourth (and little did I know, final) anniversary Craig took me to buy a proper wedding and engagement ring. When we got married we could afford little more than a cheap and mismatched set (from two different jewellery stores) and he had promised me the most dazzling ring imagineable by our first anniversary. Well, life happened. Bills came, we moved, Craig went to school, we could never quite afford it and never quite got around to it. I had pretty much given up on getting new ones. But he surprised me with a trip to not one, but FIVE jewellery stores that day. We shopped for hours and hours, me trying on everything in every store, him sitting patiently, gently making suggestions, hiding his exasperation when I finally chose the very first ring from the very first store we had gone to.
I love those rings. In all honesty, I'm pretty sure he took me because he couldn't think of anything else to get me for our anniversary. But I don't care. I don't look at those rings and think about how he left these things to the last minute or how it took so long for him to buy them for me. I think about how I didn't have to ask, but he knew and understood how much I wanted them. I think about how much he hated malls and hated shopping and went with me anyway, never complaining, not even once. I think about how for the first time in his life, he was the exact opposite of cheap, how he let me break the bank, and was just damn proud to be able to buy them for me. I think about how much he loved me, for almost a decade, and how he loved me more and more each year. How in the end, we were so happy together, best friends for life, finally at peace in our lives.
It seems unbearably unfair that I only got to wear them for a few months. It seems even more unfair that I only got Craig for a few years.
I cracked out my box of cards (yes, I have kept pretty much every card I've ever been given) and pulled out a few gems from family we received for our wedding. My favourite was from my oldest sister:
"This card is a happy wedding card! Congratulations and may God bless you both, bro and sis. I am so proud to have family like you. You rock! On a more serious note, I have discovered the key to a long and lasting marriage. It appears to be... um... popcorn. It is good for eating and also for throwing at your spouse if he/she does not pick up his/her socks. Keep it handy."
Solid advice. Popcorn fights are waaaaaaaay better (and tastier) than pillow fights, hands down. But to be honest, not the best remedy for socks on the floor.
And of course I pulled out the ones I have gotten from Craig over the last 4 years. I won't include them all, just a couple of my favourites (and yes, these are quoted exactly so I take no credit for the grammatical errors):
"We had a pretty good year. Good vacation (Maui love), bought a place to live, didn't kill each other (ha ha you could never kill me!). I am really happy to be with you. We've got everything because we've got each other and its all we'll ever need. I love you with all my heart."
"Happy 2 year anniversary, Emily. It's been a good time being married to you. Your very important to me even if I don't tell you all the time, but just know that you are. I love you, Friend. Ever since we said 'I do' I'm so glad we did. For real."
"I love you sweetie. With every year that passes I find more and more reasons to commit myself to you. Your my best friend and soul mate. Me and you, baby."
"Roses are red
Violets are blue
I'm a diabetic
And can't live with you.
(that means your my sugar!)"
When I think about what we would have been doing today, it tears me apart. I'd had the week booked off work, and Craig was actually going to book it off when he got into work the morning of his accident. We were going to go to Radium, as we did most years. We'd probably be finishing up supper at our favourite pub there, then heading off to the hot springs for a sunset dip. Going to bed, curled up next to each other, so content with one another and trusting entirely that we would both be there the next day.
The very thought is almost too painful to speak out loud.
But not as painful as this one: Five years ago today, if you had asked me where we would be in five years, this is the very last thing I would have imagined.
That for our anniversary I would be remembering alone.
That there would be nothing to celebrate.
So please, please, please... for those of you married or engaged or with anybody at all. Tell them you love them, hug them, kiss them goodnight.
Because five years from today, you just never know where you might be or who you might be without.