Saturday, February 05, 2011

in brief

It's been awhile since I've written. There are many reasons, the primary being that, at least since August, I have been paralyzed by a grief I feel barely able to survive, let alone write about. I have no desire to describe it here, nor could I. It is feral, personal and inarticulate. Sometimes the ache is so great I believe I could die of it. I will it. Some days are better or worse than others. I will either learn to live with it, or not. I state the facts here now not to elicit words of pity nor even encouragement; I've no use for the former and will only take the latter as a denial of reality as I've described it, and be resentful. It is what it is. I write only so that I might be able to use this space again without the sense that I am hiding a central fact of my life.

That life ended on a beautiful summer's day six months ago, the day my husband died. He had a massive coronary while mowing the lawn. We had had plans to go out to dinner; earlier that afternoon
I'd entered the den where he was watching golf. Looking up, he'd grinned broadly & exclaimed, "Hi, Gorgeous!" I laughed. Later, when I finally went out front to look for him, slightly impatient because he hadn't yet come in to shower and change I found him, slumped against a side gate in a corner of the yard, the lawnmower standing silently nearby. The police, paramedics and fire engines came and he was taken to the hospital, but I knew in my heart that he was gone when I found him.

He was my love, my light and my life. Whatever joy there was in this world ended for me on that sunny afternoon by the garden gate on an emerald green lawn, shielded behind a white oleander whose draping boughs I loathed to be trimmed.
His loss has been devastating.

My husband was a wonderful man, a true gentleman; funny and playful; honest, strong, smart and kind. As one speaker at his funeral put it, a 'real class act'. Everyone liked him. He was legendary for the stories he could tell about growing up in Chicago; stories about working the freight docks and railroad yards; the exploits of he and his buddies: Otho, Danny, Jake the Bake, Marco the Greek God Giannopolis; 'the one-eyed guy from the Three-Eye league' and all the boys of Red's Bar.

He served in the army and once had a tryout for a pro ball team. He was good too; he would have made it, but responsibilities back home beckoned and he chose to cut out early, losing his shot at the big leagues. That's just the kind of guy he was. He saw Ella and Duke at the Blue Note, Elvis in Vegas. He had an adventurous spirit, great intellectual curiosity and in his youth traveled solo to distant places. I fell in love with his stories and the man who could tell them with an easy, self-effacing charm. I was honored and grateful that such a man could love me so. I still am. I adored him. I still do.

My husband and I were selfish as a couple, in the sense that we never needed a lot of other people in our lives. We had no children, no relatives living close by and although we thoroughly enjoyed a small, amiable group of friends with whom we played, dined and planned parties, our lives revolved almost solely around each other. We lived in one another's pockets, I don’t think either one of us realized to what extent. We were enough for each other.

He loved baseball, golf, reading, crossword puzzles and me. Mostly, he loved me. He was my best friend, protector and number one fan. Alone, we were ridiculously corny, sentimental and happy. We made each other laugh. He brought me coffee in bed every morning and sang a song he'd made up to the tune of 'My Darling Clementine'. He loved it when I drew his picture; the painting above of him reading the paper in the blue and white tiled kitchen he designed was his favorite. I loved his gentleness, his strength and his passion; the way his face lit up when I walked into the room.
We rarely ran out of conversation; our silences were filled with the whispered dialogue of contentment. Our union was a joy and a gift and a refuge for 27 years. But now one is gone, and the other is left with little to live for. Except remember, and mourn.