It is our twenty-first wedding anniversary, so happy anniversary to me. How will I celebrate today? I have a visit scheduled with our Hospice Social Worker who has been a life saver for me during this time. I might be a wreck, but at the end of our time together, after having shared some tears and sorrow, I will remember how blessed I am for having this date forever to cherish. And Marsha gives the best hugs anyway!
Today’s blog will be a bit different, in that you get to witness one of my continuing love letters.
My dearest husband Keith,
Twenty one years ago, after just 76 days of dating, we went to the court-house and in front of my two and your three children, we said I do. And so began a marriage so perfect that yes, we were a match made in heaven.
Is it wrong to celebrate? Can I go to our favorite steak house alone and enjoy our favorite foods? Doesn’t seem like much fun – last year we went even though you couldn’t eat and we enjoyed just being together. What can I enjoy today? I can enjoy reminiscing about how after the ceremony of our wedding we took the kids to an indoor play place so they could climb and crawl through tunnels … we were blended and blessed. Later that evening we went to a restaurant called the Atrium … we loved it there and we had the best time talking and holding hands and planning our future. Our future – It unfolded in front of us one day at a time. There was no real way to plan for life because it was always so rapidly changing. We think we can save for a rainy day but then life happens and those savings are used up either in taking care of kids, a house and all the incidentals that go along with that. From early on I guess we just knew we would take it as it came. For twenty and a half of these 21 years we did it together. So today I celebrate you, my best friend, my soul-mate and the keeper of my heart.
Yesterday was the first Father’s Day without you. To say it was emotional might be a bit of an understatement, but I’m sure you probably felt each one of those tears. I’m having some difficulty lately with the loneliness and not sure where to fill that gap. I turned on our favorite music station the other day, something I had not been able to do since you died. Most nights I would like to go to sleep and wake up next to you in heaven. That’s what (my heart says) would bring me the most joy now. How sad is that? We lived all those years not planning and now I want to plan my life so that I can just breeze through it because facing all the day-to-day stuff without you is difficult. It’s impossible to imagine what life is going to be like next week, let alone 10, 20 years from now. Oh Keith, what one more hug would do for me. What one more “I will love you for eternity” into my ears – just one more kiss and one more touch on the small of my back. I wish I could will myself to dream about you – instead I have daydreams that are but memories. I don’t feel complete. There’s a piece of my heart so empty and so painful that it often takes all I have to keep it together. And I know that all my prayers to heaven give me strength to make it through these days and months, but how, how does one just get up and move forward when all that was everything lies in the ground 14 miles away?
I’ve been reading different things lately about how others have experienced end of life and what they went through and I guess I always just thought the best thing, for you, was to keep it real. Now that I’ve had time to reflect on the time you fought so hard to live, I see more clearly what it must have been like for you. Every single day the sparkle was less in your eyes, but you continued to tell me you loved me and that we would be together for eternity. We cried every single day for those last few months. We cried together. You didn’t want to leave me and you were so worried that I would leave you. It hurt so bad to have you say some of the things you did because they were the furthest from my mind. I know you couldn’t help it and I know that what you were experiencing was something that you could not control. Oh honey, I love you and I miss you and I just need to tell you just how much I did not want you to die. But you did die, and now here we are with me left to celebrate this momentous day by myself. It hurts so bad in my heart that it really does feel like it is breaking. It hurts to know that what you wanted more than anything, a miracle, chemo, anything to work and it didn’t. It hurts to know that there is nothing that I could do to make things better except to pray that God give me peace. Prayer and our faith brought us through so many sad things in our life and it brought us happiness when we could thank God for another day. I try to carry on that tradition after my prayers to thank Him for another day, but it’s more like “thank you for getting me through another day”.
How do we do this? How do we celebrate each other today? Are you watching me as I write this? Are you still waiting for it to be tomorrow to see me again? Do you feel my love as strong as it ever was? What happens when I sleep at night? Is that when you visit me? I remember so clearly the night you heard and spoke to God and took me to visit your dad. I guess that is when it all became real to me. I know it wasn’t a hallucination but the preparation of what was to come. It was easier after that for you to accept the reality that you were going to die. I wish I could feel that comfort again and maybe I need to listen to Him more. Heck, we knew you were going to die. You fought and smiled through it all and were the most amazing patient. You never complained. In the end honey, we were both so tired. I prayed for your suffering to end and then when you went to sleep for those last 3 days, that’s when my suffering began. No longer could you feel the physical pain. I only hope that as I lay with my head on your bed and kept my hand on you that you felt my love with you as you were leaving your body. Sometimes, as weird as it sounds, I can touch your picture and still feel my hand on your body. I hope I never lose that sensation. I hope that your life lived with me was as comforting in the end as you made the 20 plus years of mine. To never have a doubt that I was loved so deeply and so strongly was the greatest gift you could have ever given me. To know that if I cried that you would make me laugh and if I laughed you would be right there laughing with me. I am remembering some of those long, long nights of horrid pain that you endured and I held you telling you it was OK to let go – that I would be fine and I am trying to be just that – fine. Abby cries so hard for you sometimes it is just heartbreaking. She and Ben miss you so much and they just want you to come back from heaven. Ben is angry and wants you here right “now”. I hope you can visit their dreams too and comfort them.
What an unbelievable time this is in my life. I am so independent, yet so dependent on you. I will always be dependent on your love to see me through.
I will never stop celebrating our day even if it is only in my mind – happy 21st anniversary.
I love you,
Your lonely wife, Therese