anniversaries


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My birthday present from Rob arrived just today. It came from Arkansas, which is fitting, by way of Florida, which is just odd. He’s been obsessively keeping tabs on it via the tracking number for  over a week, quizzing me daily on the contents of the mail.

“The package you’ve been waiting for showed up today,” I told him when I called his office after lunch.

“It’s your package,” he said.

“Should I open it now or wait for you?”

“Can you wait?” he asked, which was silly because of course I can, but I know he can’t.

“Okay,” I reply.

“Oh go ahead and open it,” he said, “and check to make sure that it hasn’t been tampered with. Remember what happened to Unbearable.”

Our virtual friend, Unbearable, lost a rare book in a tragic postal heist.

“I paid to have it gift wrapped too,” he added.

It was.  Both in the package and gift-wrapped.  And I pried the gift box open.  It was quite tiny and I couldn’t begin to imagine what I needed – or wanted – that would be housed in such a shiny red box.

Inside was an even tinier satchel of red and when I tipped it upside down, a silver chain and pendant dropped into my hand.

When he asked me weeks ago what I wanted for my birthday, I initially couldn’t think of a thing. I have everything I need and nearly anything it occurs to me to want. It’s a rare and privileged person who can say this, so I don’t do so lightly, but as far as the material goes – I am blessed, if there is such a thing. But when pressed, I did come up with a small list which included: an om sign for my yoga room door and a Buddha for the corner.

“They are incredibly hard to find,” he told me days later, “but I think the alternatives will suit you.”

Dee gave me a set of figurines made in Haiti that they discovered at The Ten Thousand Villages website. Each figure is performing an asana.

And from some vendor in Arkansas, a very special place in our personal lore, he found the pendant and chain.

If either of us believed in coincidence, we’d note the timing of his gift. The anniversary of him sending me a private message back on Ye Olde Widda Board was this last weekend. Neither of us believe in coincidence. Just timing, which has always been quite convenient where we are concerned.

Five years. While mostly it feels as though I have known Rob forever, and he me, the truth is that it’s just five years, which isn’t even forever in dog years. It only brings one to the brink of middle-age.

“It’s beautiful, ” I told him. “Thank you, Baby.”

“Well,” he replied, “It’s been five years and I thought you were due another piece of jewelry.”

The first piece of jewelry Rob gave me was a  gold double heart pendant with a small diamond in the crook of the uppermost heart. The occasion was our very first face to face meeting in Idaho Falls, the anniversary of which is a mere two months away. We’d been “dating” virtually, at his suggestions, for just a month when we met up. With only the rarest of exceptions, I have worn that necklace every day since.

His second gift of bling was my engagement ring barely a month later, which was joined by the wedding band three months after that. To say we moved quickly is overstating because I know couples who’ve moved at twice our speed, but I won’t be surprised if you clucked your tongue back then or if you marvel now. Both responses are within the realm of appropriate.

I am not a jewelry person though I have tried to acquire the habit on and off out of a sense that it is something women do, but aside from wedding rings, the occasional necklace and the odd navel piercing – it’s never took. Rob thinks I should just wear one of the other necklace or else,

“You will look like an old white lady rapper wanna-be,” he said.

I am loathe to give up my hearts but the om is quite becoming and I have already worn out one clasp on the heart necklace, so perhaps it deserves a break.

And I am a bit surprised to be surprised by a gift. Often, when pressed, I end up shopping for myself and letting Rob and Dee choose from my selections, wrap it and present it to me gift fashion. It’s not as unromantic or thoughtless as it sounds. I always get what I need this way and I learned it from my Dad, who used to assign each of us gifts to buy him at Christmas time.  Inevitably he would call me the week before Christmas and say something like,

“I need a new pair of jeans. Waist 34 and inseam 30. Don’t spend too much. Go to Target or J.C. Penney’s. Make sure the pockets are plain. I don’t want any of that damn fancy stitching.” I could hear his eyes roll across the miles as he uttered the last sentence.  He had a low opinion of men who had fancy stitching on their jeans … or wore them prison bitch style.

He was, perhaps, a bit more Virgo than most Virgo’s I know, but he also never had to return things the day after the holiday either.

Surprise isn’t necessary to enhance a gift’s awesome factor when it is from my husband or children, but it is sweet and wonderful and it is another reminder of how, truly, I have everything.


city in clouds

I “celebrated” the official end of the first year of widowhood, mourning or whatever one chooses to call it with lunch. I took a sick day and met my BFF for lunch at our favorite Mongolian grill.

It was a girly thing. The kind I don’t do anymore as my few girlfriends are scattered all over North America making lunch and window shopping dates a  bit hard to arrange. And being girly, all manner of girly things were discussed once she took my emotional temp for the day.

“How are you doing?” she’s a home health care nurse. Temp taking is second nature to her.

“Surprisingly fine, ” I said, though in retrospect it probably shouldn’t have been. The power of suggestion is strong and stronger when emotions are amped to the stratosphere, as mine were because I was an active member on a message board for widowed folk at the time. People in the first year or so were constantly bombarded with messages that probably led their emotions more than it helped them sort emotions out.

Being a nurse, the talk turned to the sinus infection I suspected I had and she applauded me for making an appointment for after our lunch with my doctor. I had a habit of trying to ride them out because they would supposedly peak and resolve themselves with OTC care – mine never did but I chalk that up to a run down immune system, among other things. I seldom run to the doctor for sinus now that I have discovered a few home remedies that I wish I’d had in my arsenal back then.

We talked kids and her husband, who was not stellar at the time until she turned the table and brought up Rob.

At that point, Rob and I had known each other a bit over a month. We were email pals and IM buddies. It was nice and though I recognized that he and I were quite compatible and scarily alike in more and more ways, I wasn’t inclined to pursue him. Mostly because he’d indicated that he was going to wait out his first year of widowhood before attempting to date and in some part because another widow at the message board where he and I had met stalked him for a while despite his point-blank refusal of her attentions. I liked Rob and didn’t want him to lump me into the same category with her.*

“I had a short note from him this morning,” I said.

“And?”

“And what? We’re friends.” I said, and not for the first time. BFF suspected he had feelings for me from nearly the get-go.

“I like him and sure, I could go there, but it would have to be his idea. I won’t spoil our friendship by introducing romantic intentions. He’s too sweet and he wants to wait until after August to start dating. I respect that,” I said. “Besides, he lives in Canada and I live here. Logistically difficult at best.”

“He’s going to make a move, ” she said with that sage look of hers.

“I doubt it.”

I was home on the 24th too. Sinus infection. My new lease on work included taking sick days when I felt like crap and I did. I taught too many years with the idea that I had to drag myself in because I owed it to my students and employer, but as a 20 year veteran, I was finally over that. The only reward for dedication in education is nothing. Truly.

Dee was at preschool. She attended an all day Montessori school run by my school district and I was damn lucky to have gotten her a spot. Her teacher saw them for a few hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon. The rest of the time she was in the daycare that she’d been attending since she was seven weeks old. An awesome set-up that made the whole single mom thing far less of a hassle for me than it was for most.

After I’d dropped her off, I hit the Starbucks at the grocery near home. The young man had my drink started even as I walked in. He smiled and inquired after me, and I admitted I was playing a bit of hooky that day. He just laughed as I paid him. I stopped at the Chinese deli in the store for egg drop soup and rice. I lived off that because in spite of the removal of my gall bladder a couple of months earlier, I still couldn’t eat much. In fact, it’s only just recently that my ability to eat has started to return to normal.

Sipping chai and scanning my work email – because even sick there was work I could do and I could never completely shake my keener ways – I noted that my personal email had a new note from Rob.

It was long – even for him. And rambling. Even for him.

And it radiated with “I have something important to say”, so I began skimming until I hit a paragraph many paragraphs in that proved to be the big reveal.

He admitted having feelings for me that were more than friendly and proposed exploring them if I felt the same way.

That was four years ago today and though I write about this every year, it never loses its awesomeness. Nor its wonder. If I were ever to come to a point where I believed the universe had no meaning or that destiny was a fiction – I have only to remember this one day to set me right in my thinking again.

Rob’s modest proposal kicked off a whirlwind of long distance courtship that culminated with our meeting in Idaho Falls a month later and the rest, as they say, is history. One that we are still working on and is destined for the books, in my humble opinion.

*Every new widower who posted on the widow board was subject to her “attention”. It wasn’t the good natured banter that occurs in co-ed groups. It was predatory Gone with the Wind style. She fancied herself a southern belle and I always pictured her a cross between Suzanne Sugarbaker and Dolly Parton. In reality, she sported the biker chick look complete with a mullet on top.


Lambeau Field, Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packe...

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I planned to sleep on the flight back to Edmonton today but about 15 minutes into a barely one hour flight we hit turbulence, the kind that rocks the plane from wing to wing and back while the body of the plane gives a good imitation of shaking to bits.

Jarred back to my usual state of being hyper-aware that I am not in contact with the earth, which I view as completely unnatural and totally in opposition with my self’s needs, I needed a distraction.

Fortunately, we were flying WestJet, which provides complimentary satellite TV. As Dee was using the only set of earplugs I can currently put my hands on (because she’s “borrowed” and lost just about every pair we have), I surfed the channels for something I could watch sans sound and nothing is more perfect for that than football.

It was championship Sunday in the NFL. Packers were whomping the Bears in their home stadium – so much for being the top seed. What was most interesting to me was that the AFC game to follow pitted the Steelers against the Jets.*

Back in the long ago day, I was a Packers fan and my late husband was a rabid Steelers fan.

In 2006, the Steelers clinched the AFC title the evening before Will died and went on to win the Superbowl a couple of weeks later.

He also told me that someday our teams would meet in the Superbowl. How odd that it such a thing has come to pass today.

Or not.

*Bret Favre had to be just eating his own heart with fries today with both the Packers and the Jets playing for the minor crowns today.