Last Monday was just an average day. I had some running around to do and appointments to attend. A pre Vegas hair colour, a dentist appointment... that sort of thing. Nothing too crazy or anxiety inducing, and the panic I tend to experience on the daily remained at a reasonable low for the most part.
I ended the day by attending a relaxing yoga class with a friend of mine. It was exactly what I needed to wind down and I was well on my way to feeling the zen when, for no reason at all, a most unwelcome memory popped into my mind.
The memory was of a text Ben sent me from the hospital shortly before he died. Death was inevitable and it coming fast, and every moment felt like we were staring down the barrel of a shotgun. I had spent the entire day with him and had gone home in the middle of the night to be with the kids and make sure they were safe. I crawled into bed, texted Ben "I love you" and he texted back saying “I don’t want to die. I have so much to live for.”
At that moment I felt as though my heart had been ripped out of my chest and thrown across the room. I texted back and told him that I didn’t want him to die, but i did not say “You aren’t going to die.” To deny his pending death seemed wrong to me. It just seemed so dismissive to say “oh, don’t be silly...you aren’t going to die.” He was indeed going to die. So many people had spent the nine months after his diagnosis in denial, and that had angered me to no end. There was nothing helpful about denying what was to come, because denial has not been proven to be an effective method of curing cancer. So instead I told him that he was leaving a legacy in his three kids. And he responded that “legacy or not” he still didn’t want to die, he wanted to fight. He didn’t want to die.
The American Chestnut is a large, stately, useful tree. At one time, over a quarter of the eastern American woods were populated by this tree. The wood is rot resistant, the nuts are delicious, and even the oils in its bark has medicinal properties.
Nobody wanted to see the Chestnut go away, and it didn’t want to die off. Over eons it evolved into the strong, prolific queen of the forest. It provided shade, shelter, and nourishment for the rest of the woods, and it provided it’s resources for the native Americans and settlers in the areas in which it grew.
But it got a raw deal.Read more
Two people, a man and a woman, sat down to have a drink with a group of mostly strangers. At the time, the two of them were strangers to each other. After a brief introduction, and some small talk, that group of strangers, and those two people, became friends.
The evening was spent talking, laughing, and sharing stories. Humorous anecdotes were being tossed around by all, and the table went from a slightly awkward social gathering to a night out with friends that seemingly all knew each other for years. Those two people however, seemed to connect more than most, and a stronger bond started to form.
The people at this table were all widows. Some were newly widowed, like the man was, and some had been widowed for decades. The woman had been widowed for a few years. That was the similarity that brought the table together that evening in Florida. It was a shared trauma amongst everyone.
The man and the woman, both widowed, struck up a deeper conversation, and got to know each other’s past, without ever pondering how much it would become their future.
I’m going to get straight to the point. Tomorrow, I am boarding a plane, flying to Texas, packing Sarah’s possessions, and driving her back north to Ohio. I am incredibly excited, anxious, and happy about this.
But, I’m a widower. I have a beautiful 8 year old daughter who has lost her mother. I miss my wife, and I want nothing more than for both Megan AND Sarah to be here. Shelby is the same. She asks multiple times a day “how many more hours until Sarah gets here?”, and in the very next breath, talks about a fun memory with Megan.
I haven't balanced that out yet. As I write this, I am sitting ten feet from Megan’s ashes. I am surrounded by pictures of her, us, and her family. I know she’s gone, but it’s still weird to think that I’d love her to be watching Sarah and I turning the page to a new chapter. I can only imagine her joy when she sees how Shelby’s face lights up when the three of us are doing something.