Years ago I almost got married, but I ended up breaking off the engagement seven weeks before the wedding. The would-not-be wedding date was 8/20.
Prior to calling off the wedding I learned that my Dad was having an affair. It clouded the way I viewed marriage. At the time, my parents had been married almost thirty years.
For the most part I had a stable childhood, but when I found out about the affair that would ultimately lead to my parents divorce, I felt like the bedrock had pulled out from underneath me.
I felt broken.
Deciding to call of my wedding was the right decision. I wasn’t in love with the guy like I thought I was, and I was in no emotional shape to stand before God and take my vows in a marriage that I knew I couldn’t uphold.
Later I found out my Dad’s mistress, and now wife’s birthday is 8/20, the very same day of my would-not-be wedding date.
It was yet another sign that my relationship with my fiancé at the time was all wrong.
I mean, how could I let my Dad walk me down the aisle to get married to the wrong guy on his mistress’s birthday, as my unassuming mother stood by? How could I have shared a wedding anniversary with the woman who committed adultery with my father?
On my flight to Florida on Monday I started to think about my upcoming birthday. I remembered that I was born on a Wednesday.
At 8:20 p.m.
There’s those numbers again, I thought, as I made the 8/20, 8:20 p.m. connection for the first time.
What is it about these numbers?
My thoughts flitted to 8/20 this year. All be darned, if it’s not the date of the wedding shower I am throwing for my brother’s fiancé this year.
When she and I settled on that date, I thought of my now stepmother’s birthday, but my thoughts never went to my would-not-be wedding date. I rarely think about it.
But on the plane I thought about it because he and I lived together in the state of Florida for three years during our time together. Retracing steps often bring back memories.
I didn’t come to Florida to have these memories, but I think it would be impossible for me not to think of that time in my life. That time that feels like a lifetime ago. A whole different one, at that — one that doesn’t even feel part of me anymore.
When I settled into the guest room on the night of my arrival at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, more memories flooded back to me. I used to travel for my job when I lived in Florida, and I visited and stayed with them often during those years. Those memories are happy. The room is familiar and comfortable.
I changed out of my clothes and my eyes fixated on a picture on the wall for obvious reasons — the Robin.
In the morning I asked my aunt about the picture as we tried to interpret it. She said the words are from an old song. After we admired it for a minute, she casually said, “Yeah, Anette gave that to me.”
Anette is my stepmother.