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A Missing Milestone

My parents would have been married 60 years today. Here they are, my mother laughing as she makes her way carefully down the rain-slicked steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, my father grinning, too. A rainy wedding day supposedly presages tears throughout the marriage, a prediction that came sadly true in my parents’ case.

I’ve often felt a tug of envy when friends describe fêting their parents’ milestone anniversaries with gatherings for extended family, gold decorations, laughter, toasts, displays of old photos, and tears. Both my parents are gone. But even if they were still here there would be no celebration, because they divorced after 26 years of alternating emergencies, grief, and estrangement.

I like to believe that somehow we are all joined together one day and that we will know each other again. So today I’ve been musing about what kind of conversation my parents might be having in the beyond. It’s a gauzy vision—I don’t really have a set idea of where they are or how they would get there. I picture them as civil and stiffly polite to each other, carefully inquiring after each other’s health but skirting all the mines that could detonate in recrimination. But I’d also love to imagine them laughing as they are in this photo, all the old sorrows fallen away, sharing stories and memories of sweet times, few as they were.

About treacycolbert

I make my living by writing about health care. I've always written about life's chastening effect, but just as a way of sorting it out for myself. After years of doing this and keeping these essays quiet, I decided to put some of these impressions out there on this blog. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think.

7 responses »

  1. I never realized the spirits had health issues! Something else to worry about in the hereafter… 😉

  2. What a gorgeous photo. It so captures the pure joy of love and commitment. I want to believe that if they have met on the other side, they are remembering this joyful moment and forgiving all the rest….Another provocative post, Treacy. It’s had me thinking, feeling, and remembering all morning. Another please…. 🙂

  3. I love this photo and the shear joy that it expresses – so many old wedding photos are stiff and formal.
    Your essay brings forth a frequent questioning of mine: how do we meet up after passing through this life? One happy topic for them will have to be the beautiful daughter they created – don’t you wonder if they are watching with pride?

  4. Once again I am so moved by your writing, Treacy…the openness and clarity of it, and your light, adept touch on even the most emotional of topics. You got me thinking about my own parents’ tumultuous marriage, and how its reality contrasts to the way my mother, in her dementia and senility, remembers it now. She seems to believe it was blissfully loving, and of course I will never contradict her. Maybe a gift of her being senile is that she has forgotten many painful things and invented some sweetness to comfort her in dreaming. (But I hope they don’t start fighting and get kicked out of heaven.)


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