My dear husband,
So much has happened. And you weren’t here for it. At least, not that I could see. Oh yes, I think you were here. I think you are the reason I have slept so peacefully and soundly at night. I think you have breathed your logic over me and enabled me to carry on into the wind. I think you are the reason for my sheer happiness instead of utter devastation after losing my job last month, when I, the breadwinner with a mortgage and bills, faced no income. But you weren’t here to physically hold my hand through it or to hold me and tell me it’s going to be okay. You were always my solid anchor when I would be climbing the walls.
Two Christmases, and you weren’t here. I bought myself gifts and drove seven hours to spend the holiday with my older son. The first year, the younger son rode with me. This past Christmas, I drove alone. The first Christmas, we put your favorite Vols cap on the top of the tree. This past Christmas, we didn’t.
Two Thanksgivings, and you weren’t here. Remember, oh remember, those joyous Thursdays when our house was full of family. We had honey-baked ham and a huge turkey roasted in Jack Daniels and apricot preserves, and you were the carver and ran everybody out of the kitchen out of your way. I know I fussed and grumbled about having to clean and cook all those desserts and side dishes, but how I loved it, down to the year I made that fancy pine cone spread out of cream cheese and pecans. The first Thanksgiving, it was just Corey, Leah, and me. You never met Leah. She came from North Carolina to be with Corey when you died and he was falling apart, and she came to your funeral and ordered the director to move out a TV and bring in a table so we could set out your pictures. You would have liked her. The second Thanksgiving, I spent alone, in Cleveland, in my mother’s empty house one month after she died.
Oh, and you weren’t here for that either. My mom died. It was a grueling death, and you weren’t here to hold me and tell me it was going to be okay. I did her eulogy, too, and you weren’t here sitting on the front row and giving me the thumbs up for being strong enough to get through it, like you did for my dad.
The twins will be one year old in two weeks. You never got to know about them. The process of in vitro was started a week after your death. My two grandchildren were born a few weeks early and unexpectedly last April and I had no one to share the joy with. I waited for the word once they all went into delivery, and I walked around the block, and when I got the text “theyre here” I was ecstatic and it was all stuffed inside because there was no one to tell and you weren’t there either to laugh with me and to hold me down on solid ground while I flitted and floated and danced around.
Two Valentines Days, and you weren’t here to bring a card and roses home, like it was going to be a surprise but I knew you would do it because you always did. A day for lovers, and I had no flowers.
And the job I lost…I went to work six weeks after you died because when you died, so did your company and the business we ran together. Last month, half of us were let go because of a client decision to pull their work. You weren’t here to listen to my daily tales about my colleagues. You weren’t here to provide footing when all that was gone.
Oh, and I sold your domain name.
After a trip last month, I drove back home up the Natchez Trace and cried like I have for the past twenty months. Then I decided I didn’t want to do it any more. I’m tired of crying. Just tired of it. Yes, I still love you, and I miss you more than anything in this whole wide world, and I will always want you back. But damn it all, you are gone. So I stopped at the Tennessee River, upstream from where I had dumped your ashes, and told you I needed to move on.
After you died I ordered a book of poems written by a woman who had lost her husband, and I read them all. And cried, and understood. Every word, every feeling of the grief experience. Until I got to the last poem…
“Suppose I moved your photo…”
“Suppose I liked the sound of his voice,
the way he kissed my shoulder?”
“Suppose I were walking on a bridge
that began to sway too much and I ran
to the other side instead of heading back.”
It rattled me. It cut me in half. It seemed so wrong. I felt sick. I couldn’t deal with that.
Time works its way.
And I want you to know I have moved your picture.
(Thank you, Stephanie Mendel, March, before Spring.)