There is a Funky Winkerbean cartoon taped to the file cabinet next to my desk. I look at it every day. Les Moore lost his wife to cancer and he is driving with his daughter Summer. She asks, “Dad … Do you still miss Mom?”
Next frame, Les responds, “There hasn’t been a day. But after a while, you begin to understand …” Jump to frame three. “That you can’t let your grief become the substitute for the one you love.”
It took me a while to take that in, to understand it, to make it make sense.
Six years. It has been six years to the minute of this post since I changed my status from married to widowed, from husband to widower.
To be honest, some days it doesn’t seem like six years. The events unfold like they were yesterday. On other days, it seems sooooo long ago. But the reality is it has been six years of mood swings, of moving on, of holding back.
Don’t let anyone fool you into believing life goes on after the death of someone with whom you intimately shared your life with for any length of time — in my case 40 years — dies. It doesn’t go on … it changes. There is a piece of you that dies as well. It’s not all gloom and doom. It’s just different. Her imprint remains throughout the house and indelibly on my heart and life. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about her … sometimes with a smile, others with a grimace when I remember where I failed and still others with a tear or two.
I don’t want to be melancholic. After all, we had 40 amazing years together. And I don’t want to dwell on the months leading up to Karen’s death. She showed amazing grace during that time. I chronicled it if anyone is interested in reading about it (Amazing Grace, https://wisdomfromafather.com/2012/09/27/amazing-grace/). And I expanded my reaction over the last two anniversary years with https://wisdomfromafather.com/2012/09/28/more-amazing-grace/ and https://wisdomfromafather.com/2013/09/27/899/.
This year, I am going to borrow words from Gloria Gaither, as performed with her husband in the song, We Have This Moment Today back in the late 70s. It’s one track on the Then He Said Sing! tape.
Does love have a beginning that a meeting’s measured by? Does it happen in a moment like white lightening from the sky? Can you tell me its dimensions — just this wide and just this high? When did I start to love you?
Were the days we just talked the beginning of it all? Or the times we just walked in the park. I remember just how timidly you first shared your feelings — and how timidly, yet easily, it was for me to share my feelings. It showed you cared. Your dreams became my dreams. My dreams became your dreams. When did I start to love you?
As we walked together through life, expanding our two to three and four and five and six and seven. Was that our love story? Was it the arrival of our grandchildren, who you loved to spoil? Was that our love story?
I so looked forward to “our” time over morning coffee and after dinner. I reveled in your development as a writer and editor, blending your faith into everyday life. You were a great prayer warrior and roots of faith went deep. You prayed for each child and grandchild – me, too, many times – through every calamity from bumps and bruises to addictions, pregnancies and divorces. Were those the moments when love began?
Was it when there were no words for grief — just an urn that gaped at all I called belief. When the “amen” was so final. Was it then I came to love you?
It is all those moments we shared individually and collectively that intersected two individual lives into one. I love you because I love you … and nothing can ever change that. Not six years. Not sixty years. Not eternity.
We always kidded each other. I would say “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone” and she would respond, “No, no, no. You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.”
Once again, she was right.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.