Today, April 26th, is the 40th anniversary of our wedding. Nellie Katherine Kyle and James Atticus Bowden.
Frequent readers of Deo Vindice are saying, “Uh oh, another sentimental journey for the widower Bowden.”
We’ll see. Yes and No.
Our 40th wedding anniversary is blog worthy. But, simply because I could mark enough anniversaries – from seasons, holidays, birthdays, memorials to mutual loved ones, memories we made, etc. – to crowd the calendar, I won’t. I’ll keep these myriad private anniversaries that come throughout the year to myself. When an anniversary serves others, I’ll share. It’s private when it just speaks to my heart about my late wife’s absence. For the most part in the future, I’ll keep our private memories in my heart.
We had known each 31 months when we got married. We had an on and off again, up and down, roller coaster relationship. Through it all, we were involved with one another. We had a great caring and desire for one another.
We scheduled the wedding to mesh with my duty calendar. I was a Company Commander in the 82nd Airborne Division. The alert roster changed as Vietnam fell in 1975. My battalion got put on alert. I reported to my Battalion Commander to request permission to go get married. I was allowed to leave Thursday late and report back on Sunday – with the understanding I could be summoned at any time. It all worked out.
We were married on Saturday in Beckley, West Virginia. We spent the night at a motel – I had made reservations – in Bluefield, West Virginia. That was it for honey moon. I signed back in on Sunday. Went to the field for a week on Monday.
We talked about our wedding night for all the years afterwards. Commitment as man and wife made life different. It made us different. We were one. Through real conflict and challenges – we were us.
38 years, 7 months passed.
We shared every single season of my adult life – she was 2 years older – until she died. Our marriage was almost the whole of our grown up days. Marriage was our life.
Marriage and family – we got married to have a family – gave meaning to our life.
Our marriage was life.
I was my beloved’s. My beloved was mine.
What Was Supposed to Be
Nellie was supposed to retire in September 2014. We were supposed to be in Italy tonight – on our 40th Anniversary.
We finally took a real honey moon trip for our 35th Anniversary. I was in England on business for over a month – March 2010. I planned a grand trip. Her first to the UK. We went to the Cotswolds in the West Counties, Scotland – including the village of Bowden, Northern Ireland and London. She loved it.
We planned on going to Italy – a first for us both – for our 40th.
Nellie died December 9th, 2013.
Last year I felt crushed. This year I feel like a hot knife cuts across my chest sharply and deeply. I am broken-hearted, but not crushed.
After teaching Sunday School I drove 2.5 hours to speak to the Fredericksburg Tea Party meeting on behalf of Ted Cruz. Knew one old political ally there. Spoke to the friendly face of political buddy and challenger to the Virginia Speaker of the House. Long meeting followed. Drove home on what I’ve called “Therapy Road” for many years. It’s US Route 17 from Fredericksburg to the turn off 3 miles from home in Poquoson.
I’ve driven Therapy Road for 25 years. I wrote about that here as my vol de nuit –
I’ve driven it in every season and weather, quite literally, at every hour of day and night. The road carries the memories of 25 years even if the road doesn’t know it. For all those trips save the sad journey up and back to Arlington National Cemetery, Nellie was on my mind – as I was part of “us.”
I thought driving Therapy Road would be good medicine for today. It was therapeutic, but not a cure.
It was a beautiful, bright green, chilly afternoon set below a mix of clouds moving across a bright blue sky. I smelled Spring out in the country – Virginia fields and woods.
I recalled so many things from the 25 years traveling – to reach some new clarity. Searching some soothing conclusion.
I started crying around Port Royal, Virginia. I keep thinking, “She is gone. I am here. How can this be?” “It doesn’t make sense.” I kept thinking, remembering and praying. Tears came and went.
I thought about my family. How the human heart expands to care and love anew. How when I see, hear, feel, smell, sense her – I feel the knife searing across my heart – and tears flow. I know why people grow weary of living.
Yet, I felt such a sense of purpose. How much more there is to do. Family duties. Citizenship. The Great Commission. How I need to get about getting things – reading and writing – done.
When I got home, I sat on the dock at Sanctuary at dusk to recover myself.
So, here we are. God makes all things new, every day.
God is good. All the time. No matter what. No matter what.