As the days have crept toward June 26th, I’ve been slowly weighted by sadness. This should have been my 11th wedding anniversary—it would have been, but I got divorced earlier this year, and a day that should have been cause for celebration has thumped hot and heavy in my chest where my heart should be.
I’ve anticipated crying endlessly, overwhelmed with disappointment and uncertainty and bittersweet memories. But today had other plans.
I woke up and dragged my laptop onto the bed with me to answer e-mails. I welcomed my sweet little puppy-niece onto the mattress next to me. I sent two, three, four booking proposals. I contemplated making toast.
Then I saw the thing I’ve wanted to see, the thing I never thought I would see in my lifetime, the thing I’d forgotten might be a game changer for this Wonderful, Terrible Day.
Nationwide. For all of my friends. For all of my family. For all of the couples I’ve photographed in under-the-radar ceremonies overlooked by the state. For all the human beings in love who have fought to be seen.
When I got married on June 26th, eleven years ago, I thought the day was special because we said it was so. I thought June 26th would be a day of forever celebration because two people were in love.
Turns out, June 26th is special because we all fought together to make it so. June 26th is a day of forever celebration because we are ALL in love, and love is the only reason to keep on keeping on in this irrational, painful, beautiful life.
So the next time someone looks at me cockeyed because I still enjoy brunch with my former husband, because we still text several times a week, because I still know exactly where he’ll be when the next big Xbox game is released, because he still knows precisely how much cheese I like on my sandwich—I’ll tell them this:
June 26th was never a mistake. June 26th was the day I married my best friend. June 26th was the day I dove headfirst into joy and pain and happiness and sorrow unlike any I ever could have imagined. June 26th was the day I first chose love over reason, love over doubt, love over guarantees.
And June 26th is the day when love overcame.
I may not be married today, but today I will celebrate love in all it’s outrageous, unexpected iterations.
Let’s pass the torch.
Featured image by Alex Jackman