Anniversaries, of course, don't change anything. They don't fill the yawning gap or take you back to those "before" days, when we simply didn't know any better and didn't - or wouldn't allow ourselves to - think about what lay ahead. They don't change the varied directions our lives have taken since.
Nor should they. If I've learned anything in the ensuing 7 years - and after my wife lost her mom - is that we have virtually no control over life-wrenching events. We can't stop them from happening in the first place, and we can't spend every day thereafter pining for what we did or did not do beforehand, during, afterward, or for what might have been. Regret means precious little, as does the concept of closure. For there is none.
Life can be ugly at times. It tests us, it drains us, it leaves us wondering what might have been. But it's also insanely beautiful if we allow it to be. It connects us, gives us moments of indescribable joy and accomplishment, and gives us the opportunity to spread all that goodness to those around us, to take what we've learned and make it live beyond ourselves.
It is, in a sense, the only thing we've got. We get one chance at it, with no returns, no give-backs, no sense of what else there might be. We take what we can, absorb as much as possible from the experience, and cherish the fact that we had that experience in the first place. We have no right to ask for anything more.
So rather than simply marking another sad milestone in a series of sad milestones, I thought I'd try to find some new way to grow from an experience none of us ever wants but all of us must experience in some way. I can't change what's happened because that's how life is supposed to work. You don't get people back.
What you do get is a responsibility to somehow apply those lessons forward. If I somehow carry what I learned in that house on Canterbury Street through today, tomorrow and every day in my own home, my own family, my own life, then perhaps that yawning gap of a life ended won't feel quite as yawning after all.
It isn't much, but it'll have to do.