During the year after someone’s passing, there are lots of firsts. Some of “the firsts” that have been significant for me are the first time grocery shopping (Herschel did most of that); the first trip – knowing he wasn’t at home waiting for me; the first holiday alone, and the first birthdays. And in a few days, there will be another “first” – our wedding anniversary. Or, more correctly, what would have been our wedding anniversary.

Almost six short years ago, Herschel and I married on 20 Elul, corresponding that year to Labor Day, September 6. We joked that we observed significant events in our courtship only on legal holidays: we became engaged on Independence Day and married on Labor Day. The joke still gives me a giggle – yet also brings up sadness. There’s no wedding anniversary to celebrate this Labor Day. This year there are only memories of the celebration that was.

Digging deeper into myself, I recall the “cloud nine” feeling. Our wedding was an incredibly joyous event for us and for all the folks who celebrated with us. Our happiness radiated throughout the wedding hall. Our dancing was so lively that we certainly got our athletic workout that day! As one young friend said, “I’m younger than you and could barely keep up with you and your friends!”

Then each year, Herschel and I would celebrate the anniversary – sometimes twice: the Hebrew date and September 6. We went out to dinner and exchanged gifts. Our gifts weren’t necessarily creative (gift cards to our favorite stores) – yet the exchange was heartfelt. I didn’t know that last year would be the last time we would do this exchange.

So this is another “first” – the first wedding anniversary without my husband. Will I celebrate it? Will I commemorate the day? And if so, how? I don’t have answers to these questions. I simply continue to pray that Herschel is in his rightful place in The Garden.

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