No matter what else happens to us in this life, no matter where we go or what we do, we will forever carry the memories of our lost loves in our hearts. Even other widowed people will never be able to exactly understand all the details of our past lives with our husbands or wives who are now gone.
I can talk to my widowed friends about Mike, I can remember things with them, I can tell them stories, but nothing can really and truly adequately describe how it was. So as I move forward now I find I am basically, and constantly, just sharing with myself.
My life is different now. Over three years it’s been, since he left us. I can hardly believe that much time has really gone by. But the missing him, and our life together, will never end. We all talk about this a lot, the fact that grief is a never-ending process. We all know now that we will need to somehow learn to live with it. And we all do that in our own ways, and in our own time.
Every time I drive his truck I remember what it felt like to ride passenger with him driving; how he would exclaim joyfully about the beautiful place we live in, how he would always be trying to talk me into stopping somewhere for lunch.
Every time I reach for a spoon in my kitchen I remember how he preferred to use this one rather than that one; his favorite mug, the set of plates he brought into our marriage. I see him in my mind’s eye, standing next to the sink, tinkering with some gadget. I hear him calling to me from his bedroom. I sadly remember all his things scattered in his bathroom, things that are all gone now.
When I was in California last week I visited some friends of mine, one of whom is a costume designer I had given Mike’s aloha shirts to for a tapestry project she offered to do. I hadn’t seen his shirts in three years. When I walked into her studio and saw what she had done with them I started sobbing. There are many people who remember Mike in his favorite shirts, but only I remember how often I touched them, how often I washed them, hung them in his closet, picked them up off his floor…how often I sat quietly with him in the evening on our lanai, those familiar, bright patterns dancing in front of my eyes. I sometimes see people walking around town here wearing a shirt of the same pattern he wore and it always gives me a start.
But it’s not even all of that. It’s the in-between times. The quiet moments…just the feeling of being married to him, the spirit of our partnership…those details that are so hard to put into words at all. Those intimate, personal, indescribable and fleeting moments we shared. The spirit of him, the essence of who he was and how we related to each other.
If he were still alive I would not be doing the things I’m doing now. I would not be with my musician boyfriend. I would not be thinking about moving off this island. If he were still alive I would not know anything about grief like I do now. I would not really understand how precious every moment was. I would be seeing a very different world through my eyes, and envisioning a very different future.
I still feel married to him, strangely, even though he’s dead. I will always feel that I think, which is kind of a hard thing to describe to non-widowed people, especially in terms of other relationships. He’s still my husband, even though he’s not around.
I can write down words, but those memories and feelings that are unique to me and my dead husband will only ever really be shared and understood within my own heart. And someday, they will die with me too.