The Altar of the Dead by Henry James.
The Altar of the Dead
HE had a mortal dislike, poor Stransom, to lean anniversaries, and
loved them still less when they made a pretence of a figure.
Celebrations and suppressions were equally painful to him, and but
one of the former found a place in his life. He had kept each year
in his own fashion the date of Mary Antrim's death. It would be
more to the point perhaps to say that this occasion kept HIM: it
kept him at least effectually from doing anything else. It took
hold of him again and again with a hand of which time had softened
but never loosened the touch. He waked to his feast of memory as
consciously as he would have waked to his marriage-morn. Marriage
had had of old but too little to say to the matter: for the girl
who was to have been his bride there had been no bridal embrace.
She had died of a malignant fever after the wedding-day had been
fixed, and he had lost before fairly tasting it an affection that
promised to fill his life to the brim.