Tomorrow will be the 29th anniversary of the day Penny and I were married.
She died about a month before our 25th anniversary. So, four years.
I don't really talk about this a lot, but I have been informed that my childhood sucked. I can't say that it was worse than anyone else's really except that I do know that other people have a hard time dealing with stuff that I can shrug off.
Well, some things I can. It's not exactly full on dissociation, it's more, I feel things, but I don't really process the entire feeling, just the amount I have to in order to survive. Parts of it are saved for later. Parts of it I just endure and later, I figure out how to reconcile it in a way that doesn't leave me unable to think or function. People call this "amazing emotional resilience" or "you're so strong" ... not sure whether I would call it that, I simply have a coping mechanism for tragedy.
Apparently, some of this "saved for later" has been coming back to haunt me lately.
Sure, I grieved, I measured and quantified my pain for a year, I checked to see what was wrong.
But I didn't process the loneliness. I suppose, because it was new and I was dealing with the old.
I didn't realize even the thing I've been missing so much.
Penny kept me honest. She knew me well enough, for long enough, we'd shared so much of ourselves with each other, that she could tell when I was being cranky vs. when I was truly unhappy about something.
And she was honest. She didn't try to spare my feelings, most of the time. She didn't try to make me feel good to her own detriment, she didn't let me lie to myself ... she made me look at, and think about, what I wanted, what my goals and intentions were. She laughed at me without mercy when I needed to be laughed at so that I could see the ridiculous, without scorn, without useless pity. She still loved me when she told me I was an idiot.
I realized yesterday that I've gone for too many years without someone telling me, honestly and without trying to spare my feelings, what they thought, both good and bad. (This was because a friend online did that and it was a sudden "Oh... that's what I've missed.")
And it's not something you can get from brothers or sisters or mothers... it has to be someone who doesn't have any specific agenda or filter. Penny could take off all the filters. It was devastating the first time she did it too.
This isn't the post I intended to make. I was going to write about Lent. I'll probably still do that on Wednesday.
But this is me recognizing. Penny, I love you, I miss having you here to keep me honest, and to let me know why you loved me even despite my flaws. Thank you for staying with me all those years.
And after four years of this, I even found music to illustrate it.
So I'll close this entry with a link to a song which actually brought me to my knees the first time I heard it.
Please listen to Owl City, Vanilla Twilight on Jango, opens in a new tab or window. If you knew Penny, think of her.