The love of my life chose to end his life two weeks ago today. There are no words to convey the loss and desperate emptiness I feel. He has struggled for years. I share here the words that I wrote during his last attempt, in August, as he struggled on a ventilator. I could do nothing but alternate between simply staring and listening and scribbling each moment as they came, clinging to each memory, as I feared that it would be our last.
He had threatened so many times that, sadly, the last time I saw him, I did not truly believe that it would be the last. You had to have seen the movie “Where Dreams May Come” to truly understand his final words to me.
“We are soulmates. I will always find you.”
We had a standing promise that no matter where life or death took either of us, we would find some way to find each other. This movie resonated strongly with us. For now, I digress and share my sad, almost prophetic words from my last experience as a tribute to him, as I know nothing else to do anymore but preserve and express my love for him and privately and also as publicly as possible.
I write this as I look at you. Rise and fall. Mechanical clicking partially drowned out by The Fray’s “Happiness”. I thought I had felt pain before. Well, I have. This surpasses pain. Just like “love”. I don’t know the appropriate word to convey this emotion. If I were Catholic, I suppose I would be sitting in Limbo. Joy on one side, torture on the other. Once again, these words do not fit.
I write these words not knowing if you will ever hear them. I suppose either way, you will somehow.
I have had so much to talk to you about …so much to say to you. I began it in a text, which sits unread on your phone. I couldn’t wait for today, but to be sitting here now? My heart can’t handle it. It’s laying trapped in a chest two feet from me, still keeping the rhythmic pumping and it dances with yours. For how long?
I have told you before, but I couldn’t feel it like this until this moment. I am connected to you. I can’t come up with the words to explain how. I watch my own life hang in the balance. I know that if you die, I do, too. Maybe not my physical body, but the part of me that matters.
I knew that this would be a horrific feeling, but I had no idea how badly someone could hurt on the inside. I feel like I am being turned inside out. The world stopped turning. Perhaps literally, as there was an earthquake and pending hurricane. Perhaps, the earth itself groans in pain. The sun does not shine. There is no light. It has lost its meaning.
Being separated from you before was terrible, but I could still feel you out there. You were and are omnipresent to me. You are in the air. I never comprehended that something so simple as the scent of your hair could impact me so much. Colors fade. Light is darkness. But the music, I still find you there. It is something that is somehow not taken. The emotion with it is horrible right now, but I find you there, and so that is where I will stay for now. As I listen, perhaps you are the DJ. Every note, every word somehow fits each moment. “If there is no one else beside you where your soul embarks, I will follow you into the dark.”
I would still follow you if I had a choice, but perhaps the only clarity of the moment is that I do not. I will be taken, and I will go, but I hope that we do not have to.
Perhaps, this is paraphrasing, but I believe that is was F. Scott Fitzgerald that said, “I wish I had done everything in the world with you.”
I suppose that is still possible, regardless of what happens here. The world does not end at death, but mine does with yours. And so, as I know that my journey continues here for now, I can only hope and pray that you will continue to be my co-pilot.
Somewhere between the mechanical world and the spiritual realm that surround me, it is the organic that brings me the only comfort. The rise and fall of your chest may as well be a million seaside sunsets. I catch myself drifting, lulled by the peaceful repetition of each movement.
Again, I never fathomed that something so “simple” …how quickly and unexpectedly things can gain or lose their meaning.
I made sure to eat three times today. As I am not sleeping, I need something to keep me going for you. I even got some cookies. I tasted nothing. My stomach cramped. I didn’t feel it. The road poured ahead of me. I didn’t see it.
Nothing. There is nothing but this music and the rise and fall and the feeling that I never want either to end.
I am not sure where these words are coming from. I have drawn deeper into myself than, perhaps, I ever have. My motions are mechanical. I’m not sure what is guiding my physical movements. From soul to paper, I don’t feel attached to the space between, and, as I write, it takes me further and further away.
Where am I going? What is happening? Are you taking me with you? I am coming. Wherever you are and wherever this body is, I feel myself drifting somewhere in between.
I’m not sure that these words will make sense to anyone else at any other time, myself included, but, as I write, it is all I can do.
I have been emotionally stripped down. This is as raw as I come.
I’m not sure when they will pull me from your room. It may literally take that. I don’t feel capable of leaving you on my own.
I have no concept of time. I know that a good bit of time has passed from my first word to this one, but it could as easily been a minute as a year. What does it matter?
The rise and fall. The steady rolls of your breaths and the jumps between of your heart. I may experience the beauty or profundity of such things, but, as I bear record here, it will always serve as some form of remembrance in the future, whether it is a tear on my cheek or a curl on your lips, only time can tell.
Time. Time. Even letters look foreign. Words sound garbled. I feel as if somehow I have already known you for an eternity. Or maybe it was only a second. What is time, anyway? It simultaneously means nothing and everything to me right now. As it carries on this moment, it means nothing, but thinking moments into the future make my head spin. All I have is this one, and in this one, you are here, and, for now, THAT is all that matters.
My head quickly fills with horrific thoughts if I let it ponder beyond this second. What if I never hear your voice again? What if you never even read these chaotic words? What if …blank. Fortunately, my mind has pulled me back to now. There is enough time to worry about the future if it comes to that. All that matters now is this moment and the fact that you are still in it.
My eyes draw up. In that instant, your eyes flutter open. I don’t know if you saw me. Words can’t describe what I saw. Not even now. I suppose that this proves that there truly are no words for what I feel when our eyes meet, and I think, no, I know that that’s okay. I know what I feel, and I believe that you do, too, so why waste time struggling with an explanation that surpasses words? Time. We’re back to that. I suppose the future could be worse. It could be the already determined past, and all those wasted moments.
“I want to feel you. I need to hear you. You are the light that is leading me to the place where I find peace. You are the light unto my soul. You are my movements, you are my everything. And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you? You still my heart, and you steal my breath away. Would you take me in? Take me deeper now.”
I wrote as fast as this pen and hand would move, trying to pick up the pieces before they were laid out. I didn’t know the lyrics as well as I thought I did. Maybe that isn’t exactly what it said, but that was all that I heard.
And, now, as the physical sleepiness sets in, I feel myself being drawn back, back into this world, which somehow, stands still, suspended, and all there is is you. I don’t want these eyes to close. I fear the next thing that I see. But, for now…
You ARE the DJ! I should not have feared the next thing I saw. I looked up. Your eyes. I know that you saw me this time. I reached for your hand. You grabbed mine. I tried to adjust. Tighter. “My hands are holding you,” pour out over the speakers. I hear you, baby. I hear you.
I don’t know what is happening, but after these moments, I feel overwhelming peace. Somehow, it is okay, and I don’t know how, but it is.
I got lost in your blue eyes, your warmth, your touch, and I transcended. I’m not sure where we went, but it was not here, and it is okay. For now, at least, fear is gone. It is okay. Enough words for now. Time for some peaceful, quiet, wordless moments with you before sleep.
This is a very hard thing for me to admit.
I’m in love with two men.
I am a happily married woman. I love my husband completely and am fully committed to him. We have a great life together, three beautiful children, and a nice home. I have no complaints.
But my husband is sick. He has multiple health problems that could take him away from us at any time. He could live to be 90, or he could die next week. It’s hard to know. I know that his death will be heartbreaking. Every health scare brings me to tears.
There is a very dear friend of mine who I have known since childhood. He has been there for me through thick and thin. In our younger years, there was a time that he was in love with me. I didn’t feel the same then. He eventually moved on, got married, had children of his own. But every once in a while, I get a glimpse of the love he still holds for me.
I realized a few months ago that the feelings I have for him go deeper than just friendship. I am in love with him. I think the love for him has been there for a long time, I just didn’t see it.
I am very careful to make sure I don’t do or say anything inappropriate. I could never hurt my husband, or my friend’s wife. I don’t say things to him that I wouldn’t tell my husband, and I don’t spend time alone with him, so nothing could be construed as improper. This is not a case of physical or even emotional infidelity. I keep my feelings for him tightly locked inside my own heart.
The problem is each time my husband’s health sidetracks our lives again, I find myself daydreaming about a life with my friend – being married to him. My friend’s marriage has never been stable. I picture us in the future – my friend divorces his wife, then my husband dies. My friend and I get married and spend the rest of our lives traveling and enjoying each other’s company.
Maybe it stems from my fears of my husband’s death. Maybe I just don’t want to be alone. Maybe it’s just easier to imagine a life without that fear of death constantly looming over my head. Maybe I just need therapy.
It is what it is, and I can’t change it. I love my husband. I want him. But if I can’t have him, I want my friend.
…from the woman with the dead husband.
Not going to be happy and light, right? Well, you just never know.
This is my 5th Xmas without my love. He was a Xmas maniac, loved everything about it. Our house was lovingly dubbed (by me) the Xmas whorehouse, since it was so covered in lights and knick-knacks and crap, it was amazing we could even live in it; but we did, and loved it. Each year my husband lovingly put together a CD of Xmas music that we used as our card/gift. He collected Xmas music, you see, and, the more awful it was, the better…he LOVED bad Xmas music as much as he loved good. We had a lot of talented friends, so each year we’d also include one cut on the CD that someone we knew sang. The year Tom died I made one, final CD. It had a few really fun cuts on it, it had to, but it was mostly sad, aching, and a tribute to Tom. I included 3 songs that he sang on it, and every year, including this one, it catches me up short to hear his beautiful voice. I decorate the house and the tree (way less whorishly) and listen to the CD’s and have my self a merry little sobfest, replete with alcoholic beverage of my choice and a box of Kleenex.
It’s very hard on our son too. I think this year has been a little better because he is working at something he loves, and is working a LOT of hours. When he gets home though, he tends to close himself in his room and play piano, mostly sad, indie dirges he either writes himself or has learned to play. It’s good, it’s how he handles his feelings.
He’s the one who actually puts up the tree and lights it. That used to be Tom’s job, and then I’d decorate. But now it’s fallen to the wonder-boy, and he bitches and moans all the way through the process; his own little sobfest.
I miss him. I miss him so very much, more than I can express. He was my guy, and there is a vast, gaping hole where he was.
And so often I rail against the unfairness of it. It is so unfair that MY husband had to die! It is so shitty that MY kid has to live without a father, had to be a teen without a father. On and on and on…I could go on forever about the unfairness of it. About the goddamn WHY-ME-ness of it.
Lately, however, there has been this little, insistent-but-kind voice in my head asking me “why NOT you? What makes you so special that bad things aren’t supposed to happen in your life. Look around, look on this board you’re writing on, everyone on here has earned the right to SCREAM why me! Why are you not supposed to be going through this? Who of your friends would be a better choice?” maybe it’s just insistent and not so kind, that asshole voice!)
And, I’ve gotta say, I’m starting to listen, at least a little bit. I’m trying to measure my bitterness by tsp vs. tbsp. I’m looking around and seeing that others have it bad too, maybe worse.
I am sad still…grief doesn’t go away, it just is. Xmas is a hard time for me, and then in January it’s the dead date, so… I miss him. I’d kill to have our old life back. That’s all the truth, and has been for the (almost) 5 years he’s been dead.
But the house looks beautiful, and my siblings and their kids will come over on Xmas Eve, as usual. And I have a wonderful son and a great present for wonder boy this year that I’m so excited to give him. I had the best husband and the greatest love that I could ever wish for…why not me for all of that too?
Because that little voice is also there to remind me of the good things, if I listen.
And that’s my Christmas post, and with it comes hugs and love and peace for everyone here on Band Back Together (another one of the good things I have to remember).
The thing about my husband was that he was very talented. He was an actor/voice-over artist and a writer. He had some success in the real world. He also was an amazing singer. There are videos/recordings with him or his voice in them, and episodes of TV shows and movies that come on arbitrarily that he wrote.
Almost 5 years in, I still get blind-sided by these things. I lie on the couch on a Saturday night, watching a movie and am startled to hear his voice; I forgot he did voice-work on that movie. Or I’m flipping through the channels and, OMG…there’s a movie he wrote, or an episode of a television show. Often I just smile, sometimes the effect is a bit more disturbing. Tonight I was on FB, just trudging through, checking in, and there was a post by my (well, his) nephew.
He had found and posted a VERY old video by David Lee Roth (OK, Just a Gigolo, for those older than a minute). His comment was only, “miss you Tom.” Tom does a voice-over on it and appears in one scene. I had forgotten about it. It was really goofy. In the moment…it made me laugh, so hard.
BUT, I’ve been crying off and on all night. That’s the way grief works. It catches you unaware and knocks you for a loop. I can make it through his birthday with aplomb; show me a stupid video, surprise me with his voice..I’m a wreck.
I’m heading into what I call the “horror” months, because the holidays were his, our, favorite time of the year. Especially Christmas; the music, the activities. We always had a huge party. We went to many other ones. He loved carols; each year we’d make a CD for friends and family, with a theme, of Christmas carols. We have a lot of talented friends, so each year we’d include a friend singing on our CD.
Tom died in January 2006. For Christmas 2006 I decided to make one last CD. It is so beautiful, but one of the most precious parts of it was that I was able to add 3 songs that Tom sang on it. Every year I look so forward to – and dread so much – playing the CD. I know that I will listen to it Thanksgiving weekend as I decorate our Christmas tree; that’s when the CD’s come out.
I want to hear it, I dread it. I want to watch those movies, but I dread hearing his voice, remembering. The pain and the joy and the dread and the amazing gratitude that I have because i DO have these reminders…well. It’s hard to describe.
Grief sucks; life keeps moving ahead. And with it, I have to deal with the good and the bad. Tonight, though I’ve been crying most of the night, I’m clear on that. Maybe not tomorrow or Christmas Eve, but I don’t know. The way that this video surprised and delighted me even as it made me sad and feel my loss really points to the way that my grief, all grief, is a living, changeable thing. I will never not feel the pain, but as time goes on, I hope that initial jolt will be more often, one of delight and gratitude rather than pain and loss.
The day Tom died, I lost more than a husband. I lost a family. From the moment I turned on CNN, the family I loved, enjoyed and belonged to began to fracture, as if the second the plane crashed, it became more than tortured steel and shredded rubber.
Tom was from a large, German, Catholic family, where he was the baby of seven. There was quite an age difference between the oldest and the youngest. I’ve always believed Tom was the favorite, the golden child, because he was most like his father and was the last child his mother could ever have.
He loved his family, but they exasperated him. He was closest to his father and endured his mother. He once told me he loved his mother, but he didn’t like her. So, I shouldn’t have been surprised when they turned on me. There were signs over the years that I didn’t measure up. When we got engaged at graduation, she was planning a celebratory family dinner. I wasn’t invited, until she found out we were engaged, and then she felt obligated.
Tom’s first job took us to Fargo, ND. There was never any question I wasn’t going, although the wedding was 10 months away. The night before the moving van came, we moved my boxes to his house. As my boxes sat in their living room, his mother told Tom if I intended to live together, and then have a large “white” wedding not to bother sending invitations to the family, because none of them would come. Tom stood up against her and she finally backed down. She never apologized to me.
Years later, his family was incredibly supportive when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. They flew in for my surgery and sat by my bed. Seven months later when I ran the NYC marathon, they were wearing sweatshirts with words of encouragement.
But, when we announced we were adopting, his mother wasn’t happy. The rest of the family was ecstatic. Weeks before Tom’s death, one of his brothers call to try and convince him not to adopt, but hire a surrogate instead. I was the problem after all, and with a surrogate, the family genes would be passed on. Tom hung up the phone in anger. It was the last time he ever spoke to his brother.
If these memories of the past didn’t raise a red flag, how they treated me during the funeral should have woke me up. Tom’s memorial service was held in the church we were married. His family wanted to memorialize the child Tom was. I wanted to celebrate the man he became. They wanted to have the Stations of the Cross; I wanted to toast him with Scotch and cigars.
It didn’t stop there. His brother insinuated himself into the investigation of the crash, claiming I was overcome with grief and he was acting on behalf of the entire family. He was notified of official information before me, such as the recovery of Tom’s remains. When he knew about the recovery of Tom’s wedding ring before me, the shit hit the fan. My attorneys took on the Nova Scotia government and I tackled the US State Department. But, as soon as all of his remains were identified, I closed the door on his meddling family. They wanted Tom’s remain repatriated and buried in their small town cemetery, I intended to have him cremated and his ashes scattered over the crash site. They tried to manipulate me by playing the church card, but I stood firm.
The day I scattered his ashes, his family was absent. They didn’t know. They would have turned it into a three-ring circus, but I made it about Tom. I informed his father in a very difficultly written, heartfelt letter. His family never forgave me for that, but if I had to do it all over again, I would change nothing.
An uncertain truce was called after I adopted Elliott. Although they attended her christening and showered her with gifts, they were sharpening their knives. I sued the airline after Tom’s death. I was the only person who had the legal right, but they effectively counter sued me. They seemed to have forgotten at the moment we said, “I do” all rights shifted to me. They claimed our marriage wasn’t solid, Tom wasn’t Elliott’s father, and they disclaimed Elliott as family, and claimed breast cancer wasn’t an excuse not to have children.
By the end, his mother said Tom married beneath him, it was my fault we didn’t live near home, and if I read between the lines, she wished it were me on the plane rather than Tom. One of the very low points during this difficult time came when a brother told me “they” had decided it was harder to lose a son than a husband.
My attorneys tried to protect me from the worst, but the damage was done. I became so paranoid I feared they would have me followed by a private investigator. By this time I had met Colby and I wanted to move on with my life. The amount of fear and anger this family was causing me was overwhelming. The hardest part of it all was I thought they loved me, I thought they cared, but to discover how they felt about me rocked me to the core.
Four years after Tom’s death, we were summoned to federal court in Philadelphia. The judge clearly took my side, but he went through the meditative process. In the end, an agreement was reached. The lawsuit was settled and I could move on. I exchanged “pleasantries” with his parents on leaving the courtroom. His mother was not warm and welcoming, his father was in pain. He hugged me a long time and I could feel how much he missed his son. He asked after Elliott and I gave him a picture. It was the last time I ever saw them.
I remember getting in a cab bound for the airport when I turned to my parents with tears streaming down my faces and said, “I can finally marry Colby.”
I lost more than a husband the night Tom died. I lost a family I loved, a family I enjoyed, and family I felt I belonged to.
How naïve I was…
Let me be honest with you and give full disclosure. We were not together. But we were very much together. Not sexually or romantically – but in every other way possible. We were a unit. He was my husband and the father of my daughter. We were madly in love and we fought equally as hard as we loved. But we couldn’t make it work because we had separate issues. When those issues aligned, they exploded and caught our lives on fire. We were, as the prolific Eminem says, “what happens when a tornado meets a volcano.”
We were even openly dating other people. I would tell anyone who was interested in me, “If this is going to work, please know you’ll not only be dating me, but you’ll be dating my husband and my daughter.” I’d ask him who he was sleeping with and if they were any good in bed. No one understood us, not even ourselves.
We never divorced and we took our vows very seriously, even if we weren’t fucking. He was still wearing his wedding band when he was found unconscious on a basement floor. I was still wearing mine an hour later when his Uncle called me to tell me things didn’t look good.
Less than 12 hours before that phone call, he and I were eating dinner at a Japanese restaurant with our daughter. We both had soup and split a sushi roll like we always did.
Our daughter was 5 at the time and said, “I like it when it’s just the three of us. We should do this more often.” He and I both nodded in agreement and I told him I’d like that very much. Maybe we could have figured out how to fix the mess we’d made, but probably not.
He mentioned needing to the grocery store to get some things for our daughter since she’d be spending the night at his place the next night. So we went together. I remembered how out of it he seemed to be. After he put only one item (strawberry shampoo) in the basket, he shrugged and said he’d get the rest later.
By then it was raining and he walked us back to my car. As he walked away I said, “Dude, I don’t even get a hug?” and he hugged me in the rain. I told him to be safe. The second I got home I called him to make sure he was home safely. He told me he loved me. I told him loved him, too.
I didn’t hear my cell phone until the second time his Uncle called because it was on vibrate. When my husband didn’t make it to work that morning, they went to check on him and found him unconscious. Paramedics broke his two front teeth trying to insert a breathing tube because his teeth were clenched. They couldn’t determine how long he’d be without oxygen. They couldn’t figure out what in the hell happened.
The whole drive to the hospital, I was convinced it would end up being an overdose or alcohol poisoning. I yelled and I screamed the whole way there. I cried. I told the universe if it took him away from me, I’d fucking kill it.
As it turns out, his system was completely clean. No drugs and the only sign of alcohol was so trace, they said it could have been from using mouthwash after brushing his teeth.
They spent 4 days running tests on him to figure out what happened. Four days on life support. Four days of not sleeping. Four days of seizures, which I thought was a good sign (I was wrong). Four days for friends and family to trickle in. He was only 25 and none of this made any sense.
I rubbed his feet. I told him stories. I teased him. If he could hear me, I wanted him to know that, like I promised him, I wasn’t going anywhere.
On the fourth day, they fit us all into a little room and told us there was no hope. He was brain dead and, oh yeah, they had no idea why. They might be able to tell us once an autopsy was performed. We made the unanimous decision that he would never want to live on machines.
On that fourth day, they wheeled him into an OR and removed all tubes and machinery. They said I could stay until he took his last breath and at that time I’d be ushered out so they could retrieve the few organs I approved.
I held his hand and quietly sang to him. I told him I didn’t want him to go, but it’d be okay if he had to. My face mask filled with snot and tears as I watched his breathing stop and fade out into the silence in the room.
I went to the liquor store and the guy behind the counter said, “Jesus, who died?” Slinging my bottle of vodka, I crawled into bed until the world stopped making so much noise. It never has.
The days and months following I heard some lovely gems:
“You weren’t together anymore. Why are you so upset?”
“We should get the ashes until your daughter turns 18. Then she can have them.”
“You’re not his wife.”
“Why was he wearing his ring if you weren’t together?”
“Weren’t you guys dating other people?”
“Why are you listed in the obituary?”
So let’s get this straight:
I wasn’t really his wife anymore, but I was wife enough to pay the medical bills (because he was on MY insurance), pay for half the funeral service, get all documents in order and pay off all the remaining debt he left behind. I could answer any question you’d ever ask about him. I wasn’t really his wife? Fuck you.
I admit we weren’t normal or conventional.
But let me be honest with you. Full disclosure. I loved that man with a depth, passion, and ferocity I could never explain. I hated him because he was everything I wanted and we couldn’t make it work. He was my best friend and knew everything about me – and loved me anyway.
He loved the smell of pumpkin and drank coffee at all hours. He wanted tattoos but never got any. His entire life was dedicated to our daughter. He was a chef. He smelled like mint. He had the most beautiful brown eyes that he passed down to our daughter. He dressed really well, except he had awful taste in hats.
Losing him is the worst thing that has ever happened to me and it has stolen a chunk of my heart forever.
He was my husband.