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When I met and married my soulmate, Peter, over fifty years ago at the age of 23, I knew I had found the person who would cherish me unconditionally in sickness and in health. We met on October 17, 1967.  We were engaged two months later and married two months after that.  I knew I had found the man who wouldn’t stop saying to me that he had lived life fully with the woman he loved.

Before Peter’s sudden and unexpected death, we had indulged in many a discussion about our impending fiftieth wedding anniversary.  We were so looking forward to celebrating this momentous occasion and had been buzzing with ideas of how we wanted to commemorate the date.  We thought of traveling, although Peter was not big on schlepping on planes and abhorred the hassle of the lines at airports.  He used to refer to the TSA as “thousands standing around.” I like travel although my packing skills are pathetic and I go by the mantra that “an item left at home is not a worthy item.”  This philosophy results in the unfortunate fact that my suitcase often outweighs a sumo wrestler which is definitely not a plus on my aching back!  We mused over throwing a big bash for our fiftieth, but that didn’t seem to be a proper way to honor just the two of us and our incredible union.  The option that seemed perfect was a road trip where we could relax and celebrate with walks on the beach, dinners with lots of wine, and just enjoy each other’s company to the max.

After Peter’s death, our wedding anniversary was forever changed.  The once anticipated event that celebrated our unique and amazing love was now a dreaded occasion.  We had both looked forward to shouting to the world that we had made it to fifty years and counting.  The second Peter died, February 11th had pain written all over it.  The days leading up to this milestone were the toughest to face.  I knew I had to confront the hurt head on, which took a toll on my sleeping, eating, and health.  I got a bad cold from the stress and was weepy which didn’t help the fact that I was already sneezing and dripping like a faucet.  Score one for tissues with extra aloe and lotion!

I knew that I had to formulate a plan to get me through this significant milestone.  I recently joined the board of a wonderful organization call Our House Grief Support Center which had been my go to place after Peter died, providing the grief support I needed in a group situation, as well as other resources.  The date of my first board retreat was, you got it, my fiftieth anniversary.  Being with people who understood my angst was actually a good way to honor the date.  I lit a candle and talked about Peter and our extraordinary love. In an instant I was comforted by a blanket of new, but amazingly caring individuals.

When I got home after a full day full of tumultuous emotions, I was filled with a sense that my love for Peter didn’t stop at forty-seven years.  My love for him has grown in a unique way.  If it is possible, I am more in love with Peter now than when he was alive.  I am keenly aware that keeping the memory of our love alive is in my court.  But, sometimes I feel him around me, helping me, guiding me, and pumping me up with enough resilience to move forward.

Peter was my prince, my knight in shining armor; my champion; my best friend; and my rock who I will love until I take my last breath.

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