Yet Another Trigger Date and How I Have been Kind to MyselfBy Emma Pearson
December 6, 2023
On the 13th April 1996, Mike and I got married.
On the 13th April 2017, we held Mike’s funeral, five days after he died.
It was such an impossibly hard day. It was our 21st wedding anniversary (what should have been). And yet it became the day we held your ceremony and you were cremated.
How those two days came to be the same, I still don’t understand. Though I do know how it happened – it kind of had to be that way. (More on that below).
But that 13th April one year was exquisitely exciting and happy, full of fun and laughter and joy and friends and family and champagne with strawberry liquor and good food and double chocolate cake and speeches and love, and even some snowflakes in Grasmere, England…
…and 13th April another year was achingly painful and traumatic, numb, sombre, also full of friends – a good number of whom had been at the 1996 date, (family not so present for reasons that still baffle me), more champagne, decent-ish food, loving speeches, though this time bathed in glorious sunshine in Geneva, Switzerland.
Why the heck did I choose 13th April for Mike’s funeral service, (yes – realising that it was our wedding date)?
Days and public holidays fall differently each year. In 2017, when Mike died on Saturday 8th April, I had to wait till Monday 10th to see the funeral directors. They need a few days turnaround time for booking and organising (as do guests). Thursday 13th April was the day they recommended as a first ceremony date option. Failing that we would have to wait till Tuesday 18th April, because the intervening days were Good Friday, Easter weekend, and Easter Monday which are public holidays in Switzerland.
Our middle child Megan was going to turn sixteen on the 17th April. She was due to go back to school in the UK on the 18th. She’d missed so much school already in a critical exam-full year, coming home before the Easter break to spend precious time with her dad. I didn’t want her to have her 16th birthday one day and her dad’s funeral the next. And I didn’t want her to be missing more school.
So the 13th April it was.
Dates that will forever be joined in my mind and heart as the day we married and officialised our love (even though we’d been together for 9 years already). And the day that, on paper at least, our live love, our two-way love, our reciprocal love, our living, breathing love, was laid to rest. With your body.
Such a horror.
And oddly, 13th April swings around with stunning regularity, and frequency. This is the second one now. So fast. So relentless. I still feel like I am catching my breath.
13th April 2019 – today, two years on, and I have been gently kind to myself all day.
First of all, I turned down not one but two invitations for outings. That’s self-care. I know better than to over-plan, to over-book, especially in this tsunami of dates period. I explained the reasons. “It’s a tricky date. It’s our wedding anniversary and it’s the date we had Mike’s funeral. I might just spend the day in bed with Netflix”. No-one pushes me on it.
Secondly, I engaged with gusto and vigour in a celebratory Park Run in Divonne – the 100th edition. Running in Spring sunshine, temperature at the start was about 4 deg C only, but I wore shorts and t-shirt rather than winter running kit. Almost 150 participants – 3-4 times the usual turnout. Gently jogging around a pretty lake with the Jura on one side and intermittent views of the Alps on the other. Coffee and hugs and chits and chats at the end. Light. Easy. Nothing heavy.
Thirdly, I saw my sister and her family for a fleeting visit.
Fourthly, I cuddled the dog a lot and took him for a short walk.
Fifthly, I skyped with two widow friends in the US who are oh-so-special to me and who “get” the whole date tsunami thing; who also see and feel loaded-ness in dates that seem innocuous and innocent to others.
Sixthly, I went to my lovely friend Marianne’s wine shop on the day she was closing down. I drink so little these days but still managed to walk away with 12 bottles (screw-top only now so that it lasts as long as I need it to…. Hard to find in France which is still very cork-y).
Seventhly, I made TWO cakes. Yum yum. I usually average about three in a year, and those are birthday cakes for the kids.
Eighthly, I played some piano – new pieces that are just lovely.
Ninthly, I arranged to speak tomorrow with a school friend from too many decades ago. He doesn’t know too much yet but I am planning on cooking up some good summer holiday plans that involve him and his lovely, exotic, country.
And Tenthly, I am writing this, which is soothing, and in bed at a decent time.
13th April will forever be a trigger date. But I know I can get through it with extreme self-care, and a little love from my friends.