December 1st, 1990 was the day that I got married. It was a cold, quite grey but thankfully dry day. Our families gathered in a churchyard in the English countryside and watched as the woman I loved became my wife for ever. It was a joyful day, a mixture of traditional white wedding dress and morning suit fussing, mixed together with a desire to keep things low key. We enjoyed the day - it was wonderful, and I felt very happy and very lucky. That was twenty five years ago today...twenty five years!!!
Of course that means that today is my silver wedding anniversary - but before you condemn me for being a forgetful/unthinking/heartless swine, I should point out that I have not been married to that lady for more than five years now. The marriage that was supposed to last for ever (aren't they all?) simply didn't, and of course the reasons and details are strictly private.
I've since remarried, and very happily so, and this fact leaves me wondering about how I'm feeling about the date today. It's a day for reflection - or is it? I am, after all, married to someone else now; someone whom I love unreservedly, and earlier today I had a nagging worry that even remembering the significance of this date is somehow a betrayal of our relationship. I was concerned that even mentally marking this kind of landmark was inappropriate or insulting to my wife. Since this morning I've been working my way through my feelings about the date and my reaction to it. I've been exploring. I've been thinking upon feeling guilty about having positive feelings about that day.
It's taken me a while to find the truth of it, and I'm actually at peace with it, perhaps for the first time since our divorce. I've finally come to a place where I can allow myself to admit that - especially in the long shadow cast by the joyous event of a wedding - it's OK to feel sad about a relationship that ultimately stopped working. Acknowledging that sadness is fine, and does nothing to harm or bring disrespect upon my marriage today. I was married for very nearly twenty years to someone else. It was not possible for us to be married for longer, and that's simply a truth.
My sadness stems from the knowledge that our dreams in that churchyard - our dreams of being together until death did us part - were destined not to come true. The man who stood at the altar that day and slipped the ring upon his wife's finger would be devastated if he still lived today. That thought brings sadness, because the memory of him lives on within me, and I am sad for both of those young people who launched themselves into a future together with no idea of what lay ahead. It's OK to be sad, though. It's OK to acknowledge that there is sadness, and that we can carry on with life without trying to hide from it.
I am a very fortunate man. I am married to a wonderful woman, and while I may reflect upon the past, my life lies in the future (the present, of course, disappears with every moment, faster than a blink). Twenty five years ago I did a thing: I got married, and I was overjoyed to do so. It was an important day - no, a HUGE day - and I will remember it always. It's OK, then, to remember a thing that I did, and to acknowledge a life that I used to live alongside another person. It does not intrude, and it does not diminish what I have today.
It follows, therefore, that I can mark this day - even smile about this day - and what it recalls: a very happy time of my life. And now that this door is opened, perhaps I can come to terms with a great deal more.
Getting older can be so very interesting...