Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lace Anniversary

In this difficult year of firsts -- first Mother's Day without Mat, first Valentine's Day without Mat -- today may rank as one of the most difficult.

Mat and I were married 13 years ago today.

Mat was a strict believer in traditional anniversary gifts. He would spend weeks searching for the perfect gift made out of the appropriate material, which was not always an easy task. The first anniversary, paper, brought the complete works of Shakespeare. For later anniversaries he picked out a sweater (cotton), a cherry bonsai tree (fruit), and the maple dining room table that he built himself (wood). The only anniversary gift he gave up on entirely was bronze, because the only bronze objects he could find were strange and expensive sculptures.

I have been dreading my thirteenth wedding anniversary for weeks. As part of my survival plan for the day, I decided to buy myself an anniversary present. I would look up the list of traditional anniversary gifts, spend the next weeks puzzling over what item Mat would have given me, and buy it. I told this plan to a friend, and she immediately emailed me a link to the list.

As soon as I saw the list, I knew I already had my anniversary gift.

Mat served his mission in Manchester and Liverpool, England. While he was there, a mill that had produced hand-made lace tablecloths for centuries closed its doors. Mat, who was barely past his teens at the time, bought one of the last tablecloths made in the mill. His mother used it on special occasions for several years, and then delivered it to Mat so he could give it to me.

When Mat gave me the tablecloth about ten years ago, I very carefully put it in a plastic bag and promptly forgot about it. Until I saw the list.

The thirteenth wedding anniversary is lace.

I felt as though Mat were giving me the tablecloth all over again, but this time I understood the value of the gift. Not as a rare and valuable piece of craftsmanship, although it is that, but as the tangible expression of Mat's love for me that stretches farther back than his teenage past and farther forward than I can imagine.

I love my lace tablecloth.

(Now let's be honest. With a sanctioned excuse to buy me lace, Mat would have gone straight to Victoria's Secret and we would have celebrated our anniversary properly. But under the circumstances, I much prefer the tablecloth.)

Well done, Mat. Happy anniversary.


One Woman's Thoughts said...

What a lovely post and warm memories you have shared with us.

I think sometimes the people in our lives that won't be with us physically for very long seem to be intuitive in making moments and gestures count in ways that we remeber them forever in our hearts and minds.
A very beautiful lace tablecloth with your love entwined in the fabric and design.

amydear said...

I love the traditional wedding gifts. I wish we had started that 13 years ago. Our anniversary is today. And Kyle served in London, and I have some Birmingham lace. Although I think Kyle would prefer the Victoria's Secret version too. I hope your tablecloth brings you wonderful memories for years to come.

Sarah said...

Happy Anniversary

EmilyCC said...

How lovely! I hope your day went well, my friend.

SLP said...

Stunning post.
I am weeping at work.
Sending you hugs,

Team Henderson said...

The 12th is our anniversary too. T is still here with me. Sorta. He is an addict. One that I am not sure will ever fully grasp recovery. I am pretty alone in the situation, because no one understands. Heck, I don't understand it myself.

Anyway, the last few years have been rough and I am not sure we even have a marriage left. So sad. Love of my life and all.

Thank you for sharing.. what a wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

oh kimberly! It is 2:00 am and I am in tears on the sofa, alone in my quiet house. This has giving me my only smile in a long time. This is perfect in so many ways, and you are lovely to receive this gift with such grace. I am so inspired by you. I am loving you and appreciating you from where I am== even if it can't be as close as I wish.

V.S. lace might seem like fun, but it is fleeting and really not comfortable. The beautiful tablecloth was the right choice all around-- PLUS it comes with a great story!

When i was 18 in living in South America I bought a beautiful, wool hand-knit baby poncho from a woman selling her things in the street, excited about my first purchase for my future child. Unfortunately I didn't know about moth balls back then and 20 years later when I went up into my parents attic to find it for baby Luka, there sure wasn't much left of it! But now I am smiling at the memory. Anyway-- you really can't beat fleece for comfort, but who knew that back in 1983? I like both of our stories, but Matt was smarter than me! xoxoLuna

lifeinredshoes said...

Amazing, isn't it :)

Purpletailgate said...

I just re-read this post and it gave me chills as well as bringing tears to my eyes. To think that on your first anniversary alone there would be a gift from Matt specifically for a twelfth anniversary. It's a miracle.
Sending you loving thoughts.

keila said...

Dear Kimberly,
even tousand milles from you we are touched by your suffering - sorry I am not prepared to write words like that in English but our prayers are all yours. I am proud to see what a strong woman you became! I miss you all so much and I hope to see you and your family someday. People we love are people to always remember - Take care and a big hug from over seas... Keila- Brazil

Rachel Morrow said...

Man, I am learning so much about Mat from your posts! I am so impressed that he put so much thought and preparation into anniversary gifts. I'm so glad you found a way to properly honor the day. Love ya,

Emily said...

that mat of yours is pretty awesome.

cheers said...

where is Mat...happy anniversary anyways.

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