When Veronica and I met, she had spent almost a decade as "Jeremy and Veronica." It was who people knew her as. It was who she knew herself as. Anything different from that was... well... different. Not only did the names "Jeremy and Veronica" go together, but their relationship defined them as a couple. Had you spent enough time around them, were friends with them, and knew them at all, you knew "Jeremy and Veronica." When you talked about them you might talk about Rochester College, or singing, or (God help me) Rock Band (sweet Jesus I said it). They each had their own personalities, likes, and hobbies that were separate from each other, but in the end, they went together like ... peanut butter and jelly.
The moment that Vee and I started dating something very audible happened. It was no longer "Jeremy and Veronica" that people would say, but rather "Steve and Veronica." This was a huge change for people. It was a huge change for Vee. The change, however, was more than just names.... it was in the relationship that defined us as a couple.
While Vee is an amazing singer, I... well... I probably should be banned from singing anywhere, even in the shower by myself. Unlike Jeremy, I didn't go to Rochester College and I don't have a history with many of the people that Jeremy and Veronica made there. And, while Jeremy and I share some similarities in certain places (humor, music, a strong sense of self, and a good ability to judge character) we are very different in other places. Therefore, the relationship that "Jeremy and Veronica" shared looks very different than the relationship that "Steve and Veronica" share... but there are multiple reasons for this change.
First, Vee adamantly tell you that she is not the same person that she was before Jeremy died. And, its true. Grief changes a person. It breaks your heart. It opens your eyes. It stirs your soul. It causes you to focus on what really matters and live each day with that understanding. It places things in priority. It changes priorities. And the journey through it is ongoing. Vee's love is deeper now in the sense that she realizes that things can change in an instant, so the small, insignificant distractions of life are not as important as they once were. This doesn't mean that there is no fun, or that there aren't distractions - she is still human. But because grief is never far from her, she is continually reminded that life is short and to love deep for the time you can.
Second, our relationship is our own. Much like when Jeremy and Veronica met, they began and fostered their own way of doing things, their own traditions, and their own ways of communicating. Vee and I have developed our own unique relationship. We have different things we like to do together, different ways of communicating, and are continuing to build our own traditions as a couple and family. Our relationship is defined by us, our personalities, and our dreams. We bring our own unique personalities to the table and... whoa-la... it's a new creation.
Third, Jeremy is still present in our lives. Not in a creepy "marriage of 3" like I have heard some people talk about when referring to widows or widowers getting re-married, but more in the sense that his presence and memory is evident in our everyday lives. "Jeremy and Veronica" were always and only "Jeremy and Veronica"... but the truth is that sometimes "Steve and Veronica" needs to pause in order to reflect back on the memory and relationship of "Jeremy and Veronica." After all, it is only through the first relationship that the second existed and its only because of the love experienced through the first relationship that the desire for love was sought out in the second.
It took Vee time to adjust the new name and the new relationship dynamics as much as it did for others to make that adjustment. But as time goes on, "Steve and Veronica" feels more normal... like we are suppose to go together :) Maybe we are not the peanut butter and jelly that everyone was use to... but we are a new combination.... peanut butter and chocolate (and lets face it... who doesn't like chocolate?). And the great new is that Vee as "Steve and Veronica" continues to grow and develop and become the new normal, her identity as "Jeremy and Veronica" will continue to carry on in the stories, memories, pictures, special anniversaries, and faces of Faith, Caleb, and Carter.
PS - After writing this blog I am suddenly in the mood for peanut butter :)