I have to be completely honest. I get ticked off. I deal with jealousy far too frequently. I wrestle with resentment. It’s not pretty but it’s real.

Last month would have been my 20th wedding anniversary. That same day was the 5 1/2 year anniversary of my husband’s funeral. I spent the day alternately in tears or just plain angry. Larry and I used to have a running joke that we had a 50 year contract that was negotiable for yearly renewal after the 50 years were up, and death was not an optional out. I feel cheated.

Marriage isn’t a right, it is a privilege. It is a gift that should be treated with great care. Having both had unpleasant experiences with our first marriages, I think this was a concept we both understood and took seriously. We made a conscious decision that we would never argue and we didn’t. I am in no way claiming that we were in constant agreement on everything, that is not a realistic possibility for anyone unless they live alone under a rock. We were however, intentional about communicating and working through the areas where we did not agree. Fighting was an activity that neither of us desired to repeat. We were serious about the business of being married.

For these reasons I get irritated whenever I hear others complaining about inconsequential matters where their spouses are concerned. Not serious matters, but matters that in the long run really don’t matter. I realize that whether or not the seat is up or down on the toilet can be irritating, especially in the middle of the night, but those are comments that have me screaming inside, “Just say a prayer of thanksgiving that you have a husband there to leave the stupid seat up!”

I get ticked off.

Jealousy rears its ugly head whenever I see the romantic vacation photos or dining out photos of friends, especially on Facebook. Dreams of travel were topics my husband and I often discussed. The places we wanted to experience made up an ever growing list. Unfortunately the only time we were able to visit Europe was during the last months of his life when we traveled to Germany in a desperate search for a cure to his incurable brain cancer. Not exactly the romantic vacation we’d dreamed of taking. I also fight the jealousy demon when I congratulate others on marriage milestones. Even last year when my parents celebrated their 60th anniversary the little green monster whispered in my ear, “not for you, never for you.”

I am a jealous person.

My battle with resentment is a daily struggle. I resent not knowing where to put the oil in the lawnmower or the snowblower. I resent the bills that I have to deal with by myself. I resent Father’s Day coming up and the fact that my four sons have to spend the day with only memories of the wonderful father they loved and who loved them so deeply, the father that was forced to leave them way too soon. I even resent meal time. My husband loved to cook. Me – not so much. I resent going from a table for six to a table for two, a table that is mostly covered with mail and other stuff to hide the fact that the number of its occupants has dwindled significantly.

Lest you think that I am allowing myself to wallow in self pity, I assure you that is not the case. I find joy in many ways, just not the ways I’d anticipated when I stood at the altar with my beloved husband 20 short years ago. Grief is my shadow and like all shadows its position is never in the same place for long.

Shelley Brandon

My bio is rather complex and like most people's starts at birth, or maybe before. I was adopted as an infant by very special and very loving parents. Pretty normal and average childhood with two younger brothers. Married at 22, motherhood at 25, divorced single parent at 29. Blessed at 31 with a new chance at love and the family I'd always wanted. Eight months later two of my sons lost their mother to pneumonia. Our blended family was tossed by the waves of grief from the beginning. The waves became a tsunami when my wonderful husband died 14 years later. Grief has been my shadow for nearly 20 years now, but life is still good when you're standing in the light.