Over the past month or so I have introduced Michael as my husband in a variety of circles. The responses to the word "husband" have been fascinating to me.
When we are out with a group of friends or new acquaintances, the response is enthusiastic and congratulatory. These folks are just happy to see love in action.
When in the company of people who have walked with me through loving and losing Phil there is a sense of wonder that life has made a turn for the better and that somehow I have survived the blinding glare of grief.
When at a training for bereavement teams in the Los Angeles area the response to announcing that my husband was sitting at the back of the room caused a group head turn.
When using Michael's new title one on one when meeting other widowed people there is a brief moment where our eyes meet and I silently assure them that love never dies. The feeling between us is almost electric.
I was stopped after the presentation I mention here by a man who was going to be working on a bereavement team in his community. He first congratulated me on my marriage. Next he let me know he is not a widow. Then he asked the million dollar question, "So, how can you talk about your dead husband that way in front of your new husband? I mean, I understand that life goes on but how does your husband feel about the fact that you are here tonight telling us how much you miss your other husband? Does that bother him? I mean, it must."
Well, believe it or not...it doesn't. Because Phil is dead. There are no two ways around that fact. I didn't choose to be widowed, and I feel confident in saying I'd still be married to Phil today if it weren't for the accident that took his life. But he did go out on his bicycle that day, and he didn't come back. So here I am five years later creating a sculpture from the ashes of one life that will speak to the love, the pain, the courage, the determination, and ultimately, to the eternal nature of love.
I have written on this blog in years past about my vision of Phil as a hawk. Over the years I have been visited by hawks at odd times, in odd ways, over and over again. My heart is certain that there is a message in these visits, and I usually have a chat with Phil whenever a hawk flies overhead. Michael and I saw a huge hawk on our first hike together in Australia, and since that time Michael also has a word with Phil when a hawk drops by. So the other night Michael and I went out for a walk after dinner. High up on a telephone poll sat a gorgeous red-tailed hawk. Michael pointed the hawk out to me and asked me if he'd mentioned that he has a stalker these days. No, I said you haven't. What kind of stalker? Michael answered, Phil. Huh?
So he went on to describe a moment last week when he was stopped at a traffic light. His eyes were drawn to a nearby street light, and there sat a very large hawk...opening and closing its very sharp talons as dirt and grass dropped to the ground. Michael got the message.
And though there are a million different ways to make the moment described here insignificant, I felt loved.