: a date that is remembered or celebrated because a special or notable event occurred on that date in a previous year

Even though the Merriam-Webste online dictionary doesn’t specify that the “special or notable event” must be a positive one, when I hear the word “anniversary”, I think of a happy event, one to be celebrated. Of course, the word can be used for sad or even tragic events, but in my experience those more somber events are more generally historic in nature. The bombing of Pearl Harbor comes to mind, for example.

So I’ll simply say that four years ago today, my husband passed away. Such a short, simple statement that can in no way come even close to encapsulating the magnitude of that day on my life and the life of my two children.

Of course, the day didn’t sneak up on me. Not at all. As soon as I turned the calendar to August, a vague but relentless countdown began. Every morning, when I glanced at the calendar on the side of my refrigerator, I would notice I was one more square closer to the last day of the month, the day my husband and I returned to the cancer treatment center where he was to get his 2nd round of chemo. And, of course, it went without saying — or even thinking — that 2 days later would be the day he passed away. The events of that week, from August 31 to September 5 (the day of his funeral), remain vivid in my memory; I believe they will remain that way as long as I’m alive or still have memories at all.

My daughter came to my house last night after she and some friends went out for awhile; she’s always careful to spend at least part of the more difficult days — today, our anniversary, her father’s birthday, etc — with me, and today was no different. We went out for breakfast and spent some time together before she had to leave. I spent the rest of the day here at the house, doing some chores, reading, and watching the Cardinals’ game on television.

I waited cautiously, but nothing happened. No tears, no heavy grief, no heavy weight of the blues. Instead, after I got home from breakfast, I searched in my photos for a few pictures to post on facebook, and I found some wonderful shots of my husband. In one, he and our children are on the train at, I think, Silver Dollar City. He has a quiet 1/2 smile on his face and is flanked by the children. My 3 favorite people in the world.

The other two are of him alone. The four of us — he, our son and daughter, and I — were in our back yard playing wiffleball. I had grabbed the camera on my way out the door and was snapping pictures more than I was playing. My then-12-year-old son had come up to bat; a great baseball player, his dad (also a great baseball player) was no longer able to strike him out when playing wiffleball. They always did the guy-thing — my husband always making “I’m going to strike you out” noises, and my son celebrating every hit.

That afternoon, though, the gods were smiling on my husband. I don’t remember the count, but I do remember the tension mounting as my son let some pitches pass by between fouling off several. And then my husband threw a pitch, my son swung, and he missed. Strike 3! I snapped a shot as my husband punched his elbow down, fist clenched and again when his face lit up with one of his spontaneously joy-filled smiles. If I remember correctly, he grinned and strutted around all day long!

I’m glad I found those pictures this morning — they set the tone of the day, I believe. This year, instead of my mind going back again and again to what is no longer, it was filled with thoughts of what wonderful memories there are

Yes, I realize that those two are actually one and the same, but the perspective is so very different. When I sat down tonight to write this entry, I originally titled it “What do I Call Today?”, and I thought I would talk about how the term “anniversary” doesn’t seem appropriate to me. But as I wrote the paragraph before this one, I realized that even this day — the one marking the worst day of my life so far — can be one of celebration. Celebration of the life of a wonderful husband, a fantastic father, and a man who was loved by many, many people.