So, here I am, writing my first blog right before Valentine's Day. Right before what would have been our 24th wedding anniversary. I'm getting ahead of myself, I know. I was going to introduce myself, give some back-story, and I promise I will. But maybe, because of the timing of this first entry, I'll give you a glimpse into the world that was mine with my beloved husband, let you peek through the keyhole so you can understand the missing-ness of him in my life. This, dear ones, is the memory I carry with me in my heart and soul. The only memory, really, that I can easily call to mind. (Why is that?)
As I remember him, and me, and our full-time travels of the last 4 years, this Death Valley dance lingers in the nooks and crannies of my heart. Exploring Death Valley National Park in California was a dream of ours, and for 3 days we drove up and down the Valley, exploring the muted colors of the Canyons. Chuck was already sick and in pain; we thought it was the die-off from a fungal infection. We thought it was a pinched nerve. So this last day was taken slowly. He'd managed a short hike back into the rocks. Our last hike, but we didn't know it then. All we knew was that it was getting late, he was tired, and it was time we returned to our ranch cabin.
But, as I steered the car over the road to the ranch, looking at the changing colors of the rocks around me, my instinct told me that here was a memory that we needed to imprint on our hearts. I'm relieved now that I listened to that instinct that made me maneuver the car to the dirt on the side of the road and say to him “Let’s dance”. We loved to slow dance, and Chuck was a master at it. He wasn’t quite sure of the footing on the rutted ground but I said let’s do it anyways. And he smiled and got out of the car.
It was that most beautiful part of the evening that the Scots call “the gloaming”. The quiet moment when the day is done but right before full dark sets in. Silence surrounded us as I met him in front of our Ford Escape. The strains of “You’re My Inspiration” by Chicago wafted from my IPOD. Our song. He put his right arm around my waist and clasped my right hand in his left, wrapping his fingers around mine. In spite of everything, his body was strong against me.
And on the side of the road, there in Death Valley, in the setting sun, we danced what would be our last dance.
Chuck's romantic heart met my even more romantic heart and we kept that passion alive for the 24 years we were together. This Valentine's Day is my first without him. Our 24th wedding anniversary is the 18th. I don't know if any one particular day is more painful than another because right now every day is filled with immeasurable pain. I miss him kissing me and holding me and dancing with me and loving me and that slow wink at me from across a room.
I miss him with every beat of my heart, with every painful breath that keeps me living without him.