Tuesday, March 28, 2017

An open letter to my husband, three years after your death

Dear Kevin,

Here we are, March 28th. It's astonishing to me that it's been three years. It seems impossible that you've been gone so long. My life is at once rich and barren, familiar and unrecognizable.

I'm in the office of my apartment, a place you never saw. While it's only six blocks from our house, I don't know if we ever walked down this street together. My home looks like the homes we shared because it has much of the same stuff, but it's proportioned for me. At 5'1" that is quite different than the choices we made to accommodate your 6'3". This room is full of windows and I look out to see the forsythia and the neighbor's project truck. It is a place of great comfort for me, where I have written and thought well, yet you've never seen it. You've never read the writing that happened here, never heard the stories I mused on while looking out these windows.

This is an impossibility, a flaw in the universe, yet here it is.

Beyond my office is my kitchen, smaller than even our old kitchen, yet proportioned well for me. I don't cook like I did before you got sick. That you had a GI cancer manifested first with stomach and eating issues has changed my relationship with food and cooking. I still cook some and I've made some good meals here, but it's not what it used to be. I miss it and hope I eventually find my way back to it, but I don't know if I will; there is some fear associated with good food equating illness. I've tried new recipes (I need recipes now, I never really did before) that you never tasted. I've shared those meals with people who love me, people you've never met though they have heard about you over and over again. You would have enjoyed those meals and conversations yet you weren't here.

This, too, is an impossibility, a flaw in the universe, yet here it is.

I have a light work week in front of me, but next week I have paid work every day. The next few months are busy. My business, though not making me rich, is supporting me. I work harder now than I ever have and most days I love what I do. You and I talked about what success meant as a self-employed person and I have passed those initial criteria. I pay my own bills with money I have earned through freelance storytelling, consulting, teaching, coaching and writing. I am making it. I celebrate every single check that comes in. You aren't here to celebrate with me.

An impossibility. A flaw. And yet...

This is life three years after your death. I believe you have continued in some way (you've made it abundantly obvious) yet wherever you are now, you are not physically here. I am. And I've done exactly what you asked me to do: I've lived. It's taken me awhile to learn how because in many ways I died with you, but life in the afterlife isn't bad. There are great sweetnesses here. I love and am loved. I work and am recognized. I create. I laugh. I play. I cry sometimes. And I miss you every damned day.

In those desolate months right after you died, a number of widows who had been at this life longer than I told me that sooner or later the love would be bigger than the pain. I believed them while I couldn't imagine it. I knew that the pain was a reflection of the love. Now there are days when the love and the good memories are more present than the absence and the loss. Not every day, but often enough.

It bothers me more than I can say that you are part of the past and not the formative part of my future. I hate the sense that you are now part of my story and not the focal point, as you were for so many years, but I am so grateful that you were that guiding force and still are a part of who I am now.

I am so different. I look much older. My hair is about to shift to more gray than brown. I don't smile as often, my sense of whimsy is less constant and my introverted streak is broader than ever. Many of the changes in who I am are good. I am more independent and confident than I ever was. The worst thing that could happen to me has happened, so very little scares me now. I am more comfortable with who I am, more willing to fail and make mistakes, less worried about what anyone thinks of me.

Everything relates back to you not being here, even as everything is also pulling me forward. All of this is because you were in my life and believed in me. And because you are in my life and believe in me. And it's also because you died and I had to learn how to live without you.

Today I will work. I will go to the gym. I will look at your picture and likely cry. I will remember the warmth of your skin, the light in your eyes, the attention and care you gave to me and to everyone you loved. I will have flashbacks to your last day and I will remind myself that your death does not define your life. I will be okay, for all that it will feel like hell sometimes. (If I've learned nothing else about grief I've learned that I can survive the worst storms even as I think I will not.)

I will celebrate you as I mourn you, just as I do every day. I will live. Because I can think of no better way to honor you than to continue, just as you asked, as you made me promise.

I love you, Kevin. You are in my every cell, every motion forward in my life bears your fingerprints and whispered support. I will watch for you today, as I do every day. I will reach for gratitude and tissues, forward to love and grace, back to connect with you and how you help me live.

Thank you, always and forever.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

Laura

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18 comments:

  1. Wishing you MANY cardinal sightings this week...

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. There is so much I can relate to in your words. You honor him so beautifully, in your living, in your surviving, in your writing, in your carving out a way forward, with him, without him, with him.

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  3. Gratitude and tissues....
    Touching your heart with mine.
    Kay

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  4. How loving, how sharing, how profound, how balanced you are. It is always equal parts pleasue and pain to share in your love letters, love reflections.

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  5. I pray for your peace and serenity. Kevin was one in a million.

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  6. So beautifully stayed with such honesty and depth. Much love to you as you continue your journey.

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  7. Many hugs and thoughts of support. Kevin remains in your heart and ours, and there will always be a place for him as we grow and change. I'm so proud of you, Laura, for being able to do the hardest part, but I also know that Kevin knew you could live on and do it with grace and strength. Love you, and love is forever.

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  8. You are the one telling the stories that keep Kevin alive and present for all of us. I remember him with love. I continue to hold you with love.

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  9. Laura, your words wrap around the memory of Kevin, his shadow falls over us still. When I see his smiling face in that old Corn Party photograph I smile back at him. So much happiness rubbing up against so much sorrow. The happiness rubs harder today.

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  10. So beautifully written- your love story continues daily. Sending you much love to help you through this rough patch. ((HUGS))

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  11. Just read this again, this time out loud to Ken. It's so powerful, and I realize in this moment, it's also so much about what love really is, and perseverance, and life. Thank you for this gift.

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  12. I am so moved by this. I also love a man named Kevin, and that e.e. cummings quote is one we have often shared with each other. I wish you great comfort on your journey, and send gratitude for your work in the world.

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  13. This, like all your writing, is so moving. You put into words feelings that are often so hard to express. I am sorry for your pain, for your loss but today I will think only of your love, the way you two looked at each other - like you had a secret only the two of you shared. I will remember Kevin's warm bear hugs that greeted me every time I saw him and how you would simply glow the moment he walked through the door. I miss you my friend sending you love. (Nancy - no idea why it says robochic)

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  14. You put in words so many things I am feeling. Thank you for that. Tears are in my eyes as I am missing the live if my life as well.

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  15. I'm so very moved by your words, touched by the depth of your LOVE and thankful for the HOPE that I now feel in my heart from your letter because you shared this LOVE with ME, with US. Mahalo. Love and Light to YOU now and ALWAYS.

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  16. It has been 17 months since my husband passed away after a 14 month battle with esophageal cancer. I am putting our home on the market tomorrow, not our home anymore, "the house." I am learning to live in a new way. You spoke to me like no one else has. Thank you for taking the steps ahead of me and breaking a path that I can follow.

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  17. Your posts are so beautiful. I find some hope in the fact that you feel somewhat better, or at least differently, than three years ago. At the same time, I worry that the same will not happen for me, and that you are just exceptionally strong. Either way, I am sending lots of love your way.

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