Anniversary Gifts

Somewhere along the line, I picked up a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”. I don’t know exactly where I got it but it has occupied a space on my bookshelf for several years now. I suspect I pulled it out of a box of books someone was throwing away at my previous residence. However it came into my possession, I have yet to read it and most of the time I don’t even remember that it sits there unread.

Yesterday, scrounging around for a book to occupy a few quiet moments, I came across it again and decided to give it a read.  I got through a few pages and then dropped it on the floor for later consumption.

I came back to it today and decided to do away with the burdensome dust cover.  As I opened it to continue reading, I was struck by a dedication that had been hidden by the dust jacket.

May 31, 1977

Bill —

With all my

Love Always-

Ann–

Obviously, the first thing that struck me was the date. Today being May 31st, the inscription was written on this day 32 years ago. Given that this book has been on my shelf for a number of years, I find it an added coincidence to pick it up at just this time. I always remove dust jackets when I read a book too so it’s interesting that I left it on for the first days reading.

This all set me to wondering what occasion might’ve been celebrated 32 years ago.  I guess it must’ve been some kind of anniversary or birthday gift.  Which makes the cosmic coincidence all the more interesting. Had I not gotten divorced, today would have been my 12th anniversary.

As it stands, today marks the 10th anniversary of what was essentially my last day as a married man. My divorce was not official until 2000 but, ten years ago today, my then-wife and I celebrated our second anniversary together. We had a nice dinner and exchanged gifts and she left for an internship in Atlanta the very next day.  I didn’t know it then but it was the last day we’d have together as a married couple. One year later, nine years ago tomorrow, our separation became a divorce.

Naturally, I’ve been thinking of all the things that this day has meant to me over the years.

Five years ago, in 2004, Tiger was getting married. We had a tortured relationship from 2000 to 2002 but had managed to become friends by the time she tied the knot. All things considered, that one definitely turned out for the best. (You know I love you, T. Happy Anniversary weekend.)

Four years ago, C spent this day moving to Atlanta. I spent the time hiking around the Yucatan Peninsula trying not to think about it. I’m sure I was unsuccessful.

Three years ago, I watched my good friend Cathy marry. I read 1st Corinthians 13 at her wedding.  I am sure someone read the same passage at my wedding. A few months later, I would find myself following C’s footsteps to Atlanta, having learned the truth of the passage. “…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Two years ago, I was in Hilton Head celebrating Memorial Day. That was the weekend C and I rekindled our relationship for the umpteenth time. This day kicked off a great Summer, one of my favorites so far.

One year ago, I was in Destin, Florida, celebrating Memorial Day again, pondering the end of my relationship with C and the sparks that might’ve marked the beginning of another.

Today, I spent the better part of my day looking back at the last ten years with a mixture of sadness and regret. I have come a long way in ten years and I’m so much more happy and content with who I am now than who I was then. It took divorce to make me examine who I really was and what was really important to me. It took divorce to make me realize how selfish and uncommunicative I really was. Without divorce as a catalyst, I would not have been forced to address my own shortcomings, something which I hope I have done and something which I still strive to do.

But it’s been hard. Life hasn’t exactly worked out the way I wanted.  I never thought I’d still be single. I always planned on marrying again and still hold out hope for it some day. Though I’m a better person, relationships have not proven to be any simpler since my divorce.

I also assumed I’ve have kids by now.  I have a lot of great nieces and nephews though. I love those guys. They let me get my kid fix when I need it. They also serve to help me realize that maybe I don’t want kids just yet. They can be a handful, that’s for sure.

The bottom line is that,  life may not be what I planned or hoped for over the last ten years but I am a better person that I ever imagined myself to be. I’m stronger by far.  I’m more confident and sure of myself and I’m more at peace than I’ve ever been. Life isn’t without it’s abundant recompense.

My mind returns to a passage of scripture that has served as an inspiration to me many times over the last six years. Following the string of coincidences, it happens to be the passage of the day in one of my iGoogle widgets. The passage is Romans 5: 1-5 and it’s been a gift to me. It’s also the gift with which I’ll leave you. Goodnight, all, and happy anniversary.

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.