I really was resigned. I would do my best to raise my boys and then I could die. My younger son was 4, so 14 years, maybe one or two more. The only reason I would wait was that I was sure no one would care about them, like no one cared about me.
I had done everything I knew to do. I had finished High School, I had pushed myself through two years of community college. I had lived on welfare and foodstamps, only to see them reduced because of the educational grant I received, the grant that covered child care while I was in class. But I had done it, yet still I was finding no job that would allow us to live.
I drove my old VW across the desert, 50 miles, to my brother's house. It was new year's eve, 1981. My mom had volunteered to watch the boys, encouraged me to stay the night rather than drive back from the party. Still, the highway was as dark and lonely as my life. There was this one little light at the end. A few days before, at our Christmas celebration, I had met my brother's friend. He had asked me to come. I was unbelieving. A guy who didn't seem to be a creep had shown interest in me.
Later, hours into the first day of 1982, we lay together in the dark and made a promise. We had already talked about our past relationships, began to share the things that had gone wrong. We spoke the same language, and the promise may not make sense to people who don't. It was that whatever happened between us, we wouldn't play games with each other.
We were both incredibly broken people, and it made for a bumpy road. Abused and traumatized, each in our own ways, I struggled though depression and he struggled through crippling self-doubt. We went through many challenges, often angry and hurting. But we went through them together. And we always kept talking.
I have never been able to have the depth and range of conversations, on anything and everything, with anyone else in my life. Even when we were very angry about something, we talked about how we didn't want to talk about it. No, we weren't perfect people, but he was my best friend.
Twenty-three years was not long enough. Twenty three years and two months after our wedding anniversary his big old heart gave up. I understood; he was so tired. But even now, over 11 years later, I still miss him more than I know how to explain.
And for twenty-two years we both forgot our anniversary. We would think of it a week before, or a week after, and laugh about it. The last year, we remembered.
But always, always on New Year's, we turned to each other remembering that first promise. We we not perfect, but we never played games with each other's lives and hearts. We meant it.
Friends have gathered for parties tonight, I had a choice of a couple of different ones. Some years I have gone, but it really doesn't go well for me. I wish you all well with all of my heart, and I hope the year brings joys and miracles. I hope you will forgive me for choosing to spend this night reminding myself that, what ever else I can say about it, I did always do my best to keep my promise.