Our 12th Wedding Anniversary
Today was our 12th wedding anniversary. It was 12 years ago today that Miranda and I, with nearly two hundred of our friends, made our vows together at St. Laurence’s Church in Ludlow. It was a wonderful day and an extraordinary celebration full of joy, colour, and music. Everyone danced the night away.
I drove the children down this morning to Clandon Wood to spend some time at Miranda’s graveside. The sun shone – I am sure it does rain there from time to time, but I haven’t seen it yet – and my mind was full of the contrast between the permanence of our promises to each other and the permanence of Miranda’s death.
I’ve been reflecting a lot in the last weeks on an address that the Revd Dr Sam Wells preached at the wedding of a dear friend a few years later. His subject was “the three faces of marriage”. It resonated hugely with us and we asked him for a copy after the service. The first face of marriage is the “face-to-face”. This is two people looking at each other, seeing joy and desire, delighting in each other’s presence and touch. It’s often the first face of any relationship.
Over time a second face appears. This is the “side by side”; when you forge a new identity as a couple tackling life together. Miranda did the cats, while I did the electrics. She did the washing and I did the dishwasher. Many people knew us as a couple and watched how we shared and divided our lives.
The last face of marriage is the “back to back”. This represents the lives we led when we weren’t with each other – but where Miranda had my back and I had hers. When she had a difficult day at work, we’d have talked about it beforehand and we’d share the triumphs and disappointments afterwards. When I was nervous about a meeting, she’d lend me courage and support and advice. Nothing was done alone.
I feel so blessed that Miranda and I had all three faces of marriage in our relationship. Now that she’s gone, I feel acutely the lack of each of them. The face-to-face is the most apparent. The pictures of Miranda around the house act as a constant reminder that she’s not here, with her sparkling eyes and warm words. I can’t reach out and touch her and hug her in the evenings. I feel like a binary star must feel if its partner is plucked away, suddenly orbiting without a partner, spinning ceaselessly.
The summer just gone was a constant reminder of the side-by-side. We visited kind friends and had lovely days and weeks with them and their children. The dynamic was different because Miranda and I weren’t there together. There was no division of tasks or responsibility; now it all flows one way. I couldn’t DJ in the car while driving. We’ve finished the renovation of our beautiful home which we’d designed around the way we lived together as a twosome and a family of five – and we are not living in it together.
Lastly, now we are back into a more normal routine of school and work, there is no back to back. There are decisions about where Humphrey will go to school next year, about what kind of 8th birthday party to hold for Hester*. There are choices about how I ramp back into work, about when and how we holiday. We would have made many of these decisions independently but in the knowledge that the unstinting support was there, lending courage to go forward and act. It’s hard to make them on your own.
I don’t mean, by sharing these feelings, to downplay the support that we’ve received from all of you. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so many people and so many different kinds of help. I am simply working through how many ways my life is different without Miranda in it. I am sure many of you are wrestling with the same feelings. Grieving, it turns out, is a complicated process.
Much love to you all.
* P.S. Auntie Rose and our nanny Jess hosted an extraordinary explorer party for a small number of socially distanced school-bubble friends. Everyone had an amazing time. Hester loved it. I baked the globe cake and played a grumpy Passport Control Officer. Miranda would have wanted to be there so much.