Maryclaire has now been gone for two weeks: How can this New Year's Day be so different from the last one? How can one year make such a difference in the lives of so many?
I text Maryclaire's husband Jay from the Chicago airport as I wait for my transfer to San Diego. There, I will begin to train seriously for the 10 K for Claire. But just because I am "escaping" from the mundane to a condo right next to the Pacific Ocean does not mean that I have shut down my grief or forgotten that Jay and his family still suffer.
I want Jay to know that I am thinking of him, which is exactly what I write: I am still thinking of you and wanted you to know you and your family are constantly in my thoughts. I AM going to run a race for Claire on 11 June in Portsmouth. My training officially starts tomorrow. I miss her so much and am filled with regret over time lost. Running to raise money for her scholarship will help me. As for you and the children, I wish you peace. I am a phone call away. Let's talk soon.
My text is wandering thoughts, but Jay's response is short and pointed. It gives me chills: June 11 is our anniversary.
There were five bridesmaids serving Maryclaire at her wedding, keeping her calm and generating laughter. Jay's young sister Eleanor joined four of Maryclaire's friends. Three of these friends--myself, Susan and Cindy--had known her since high school. As to the other, Deb, she had met Maryclaire in the Boston days of the 1990s. (It was Deb who would keep Jay company ten days after Maryclaire's death, on the day that was to have been her forty-ninth birthday.) Looking at the photos of the wedding party I notice that our smiles were so wide it seemed our faces couldn't hold the happiness of that day.
I look again at Jay's text, and it still reads June 11 is our anniversary. I see a sign. The universe has endorsed my decision to run this race. I convey this to Jay, who agrees. And so I will--at least in my own mind--assume again my duties as Matron of Honor on the Paullis's twenty-second anniversary. I will convince Jay and the kids to come to Portsmouth for the Market Square Day race. In that way, Jay will have company on his anniversary as well as a Claire-oriented way to spend the day.