When someone you love dies, one of the condolence wishes you hear from so many is, “may the memories console you” or words to that effect. Now that I have been dealing with the loss of my darling husband for 21 months, I can say with some certainty that those words are not a platitude. They are, in fact, very helpful and so true.

Happy memories can be bittersweet, even painful on certain anniversaries, but they also bring back those feelings of love and happiness – feelings that are far too absent now.

Today is one of the happiest anniversaries of my entire life. It is both my late husband’s birthday – always a fun celebration with him –

Keith Birthday

— and it is the 22nd anniversary of the day he proposed to me. The first time.

I thought we were just going to celebrate his birthday with a fancy dinner, but … well, he was always great with surprises. And he was cheeky!

Keith & Connie 8-23-93

In fact, it was his sense of humor that finally caused me to break a cardinal rule – not to date anyone I worked with. To be honest, that wasn’t always a rule, but I’d learned my lesson from earlier missteps. I was pretty cynical at that point, fed up with men in general and pretty happy just to be a moderately successful single person, singly enjoying my singlehood. Having been burned before, when he asked me out the first time, I made him swear not to tell anyone we worked with that we had seen each other socially.

He swore, and we had our first date. Breakfast on a Saturday morning in early summer. Less than three months later, we made the birthday dinner date.

It was our pact to maintain some secrecy at our company that led him to give me this little, discreet ring with that first proposal. For the next month or so, I wore a family heirloom ring to hide this one.

To this day, I slip on this little ring and the thrill of the delicious secret is still fresh

To this day, I slip on this little ring and the thrill of the delicious secret is still fresh

The saga of my engagement/wedding ring is convoluted, so I’ll spare you, but when it was finally made, he proposed to me a second time and the next day we went to work and told everyone. Quite the hoopla, a fair amount of angst among some of the other single women who had harbored understandable designs on my true love*, but mostly it was a Big Thrill.

The following April we were married – 10 months and two days after our first date. Pretty fast work even for a handsome, funny sweet talker.

Wedding rings

So, today, I’m having my own little celebration, remembering happier times.

I recognize that I’m not the only one who’s dealt with the grief of losing someone they love. Many of you know just what I’m talking about. Have you found that happy memories make you feel better? Do they sometimes make you feel sad? I’ve experienced both reactions, how about you?

* He was a catch. When he told all his prior women friends around the world that he was off the market, there was quite a bit of teeth-gnashing and at least one, late-night, drunken phone call from the UK. Hey! Time zones, people??!!