Following Sandra’s death on February 27, I have learned and endured so much. Each lesson would be a long and revealing story about the love and life we shared, my own failings as a husband and person, what it means to finally be alone, and so much more. When you have no one, only “One” knows the true emptiness of being alone. I cannot describe it…only feel it!
Over the next several months, or perhaps my entire life, I will continue, or I hope to continue, to write about my journey down this old, unmarked road. Writing is my therapist. A therapist who never questions or offers advice.
One thing is for certain, “I am (now) not afraid to die.” Watching ‘Death’ pulling Sandra closer and closer every day has changed my life in many unexplainable ways, but one explainable way: it has taken away my own fear of death. Watching her lying there, that time together, made me angry at everyone from her doctors, the hospital, and yes, even God. Sometimes, especially God! “Why not me! She had so much to give so much left in her heart. God, you robbed your, our world, world of a beautiful piece of hope.”
For those who have traveled this road before me, you understand. For those about to travel this road… time together is precious. Presence is precious. When your time comes, you will find yourself saying and doing things for the one you love, that only a few weeks, or days ago, seemed impossible. You will find the strength to do, without thinking, because that love was, and will always be there. “Death’’ will never destroy that love.
As life slips away, the love shared over the years begins to become stronger. Oh, you will not realize it right away, but it will happen. I now know, I will never again love like that in this life. I will never again experience that joy and deep happiness. As my days now turn into weeks, then months, maybe, just maybe, I will smile and laugh again and perhaps even share life’s pleasures. Maybe around the next turn…? Maybe not. This ‘now’ might just be forever for me. Travelng with a head of emptiness on top of a body without heart.
July 1 would have been our 51st Wedding Anniversary. I remember in late June, last year, Sandra said one evening, “God, I’m not ready to die. I don’t want to die, just yet. Let me make it to 50.” We celebrated our 50th Anniversary in a much scaled-down way. We shared some bread, a little cheese, some grapes, and she even had a glass of wine. The conversation was not about the future but about the present. She knew much better than I, our future together would be measured in months, weeks, or days. Consciously, I was in denial, underneath, I knew.
It has been five months now, and I still do not know how I am doing. The so-called stages of grief visit, leave, and return to challenge my strength. Yes, I feel differently today than a month or two months ago. I am changing, or adapting…I am not sure what to call it. However, there is one well-defined feeling I can now embrace. That feeling is ‘Death.’ I am convinced, through reflection and dreams, that the only way I will experience true joy and happiness, like Sandra and I shared for almost six decades, is the day I join her in Heaven. That, my friends, is why I am not afraid. Hearing her voice once again. Feeling her soft touch. The smell of her hair. Only death will bring back that kind of happiness.
No, I have no plans to hasten our reunion. However, “I am not afraid.” That eternal reunion cannot be too far off. A reunion I will welcome. At 74, I celebrate each day and live each day as if it was my last. For some day (soon), ‘today’ will be my last. I just want the numbness to go away. The ringing in my ears is sometimes maddening.
For my days left, living a good life is now so important. With each dawn and sunset I hurt do bad and I hope God will forgive me for my past sins, which I have accumulated more than my share, way more. I also ask his forgiveness for questioning his decision to welcome Sandra to His home. A decision I will always question. God, If you took her to punish me, it is working. All I think about is her.
When our reunion comes, seeing her at the other end of that bridge, outstretched arms, and that incredible smile…that will be happiness. Finally, holding her hand again and walking the poppy fields, and gathering peonies for eternity, that will be true and my only happiness. Heavenly happiness. The only happiness. At least for me.
That, my friends, is why I am not afraid to die (anymore).