Last night I was sitting on the front porch enjoying a gorgeous summer night. Wispy strips of clouds lined the sky and created a red and orange evening canvas. As the breeze blew over me I was reminded of the many summer nights I sat in the same place on the porch chatting with Phil. As I called up memories of July evenings past the driveway was populated with images and I sat back and watched them dance across the stage of reminiscence.
Phil loved to play basketball with the kids, and the images of them shuffling, stretching, laughing, and going in for the shot were heartbreakingly clear as I sat in my place on the bricks. We have an ornamental plum tree in our front yard that has grown from a sapling into a sturdy tree since Phil's death. Looking over at the beautiful purple leaves I could almost see him holding the base of the what looked like a stick in a bucket and wandering around the yard asking me what I thought of the tree here, or there, or how about right here? The year before he died we remodeled our home. Part of the building was the addition of the porch I sat on last night. Phil and I used to go on runs looking for specific things...doors we liked, outside house colors, types of porches, varieties of shrubbery; we called them remodel runs. On one porch run I made him sneak up under a neighbor’s porch to see how far out from the house the beams reached. He was always game for my crazy ideas.
Sitting quietly by myself on the porch that was built after several porch runs, I couldn't help but smile at the memory of my husband sneaking across the lawn of an unsuspecting home owner. My heart still aches when I consider what could have been. What would we be doing now? How would we have changed as people and as a couple? What adventures would we have experienced? The ‘what if’ questions multiply until I grow tired of trying to imagine a future that can never be. Four years ago getting tired of this game seemed impossible. Now I believe that enjoying the memory of what used to be is more comforting than wishing for a future that can never be. I don't think the pain of losing Phil will ever go away, but I am reminded of my favorite grief quote printed on a greeting card...In time, the warmth of every memory will transform your tears of sorrow into liquid gratitude...last night I was floating in liquid gratitude.