My TEDx talk has over 50,000 viewers. The numbers keep growing. I’m glad it continues to help people who grieve. My husband Vic and I met fifty years ago this week. My love keeps growing, too. In honor of that talk and his gift to me, this post is a rewrite and update about a note from my (dead) husband found just before that talk.
My mind felt blurry, on the edge of dizzy. I’d practiced my talk for months. I’d presented it to a friend that day, but I was scared and uncertain. Dress rehearsal was early the next morning.
“Go to bed,” I told myself at 9 p.m. “If you get ready now, you’ll be asleep by 10.”
I couldn’t wind down, so I shuffled through a pile of papers on the kitchen counter and found a small photo of my first spiritual teacher Anthony Damiani. It’s a duplicate of the photo I taped to Vic’s chest after a night of cardiac arrests. Nine months later, I placed that photo over Vic’s heart when he was dying. The photo went with his body to cremation. How could I be careless with my only copy of a photo I want near me when I die?
I opened my worn red wallet to the hidden pocket where I hide treasures, the place where I usually kept this photo. Contents of that pocket varied over time: quotes by Rumi and the Dalai Lama, photos of Anandamayi Ma and Marion Woodman, and the photo of Anthony. In the bottom of the pocket, I noticed a piece of yellow paper, neatly folded and tucked inside a plastic card holder. Was it a quote I wanted to remember? I unfolded the paper and read:
You are the center of my life. Never doubt my love. V
A simple message in my husband Vic’s clear Catholic school handwriting. The words I needed that night.
When did he write it? He often wrote me notes. Had he left it on the kitchen counter or dining room table when he was alive over six years ago? Did he write it when he was sick and we were worried? Did I tuck it away knowing there wouldn’t be more love notes?
I don’t remember. So much was forgotten in those frantic days.
I needed his support when he was sick, and he gave it until his last days. He needed my support even more. I gave it and encircled him with love. As I faced this daring and scary presentation, I longed for his reassurance. Here it was.
How does the mystery of love continue even after death? I felt Vic’s presence in my heart every day, but this love note came from another realm. As I read the words, tears rolled down my cheeks. Thank you for your love, Vic. Thank you, frazzled Elaine, for saving this note.
The next morning, I stood on the TEDx Chemung River stage for dress rehearsal, ready to share what I’d learned about loss. Grief is an inevitable and painful part of life. Grief can teach us compassion and connection. Grief is another face of love.
Vic supported me across the veil of time. I didn’t need to remember when or why he wrote that note. I found it when I needed it, delivered on the yellow paper he usually used. That’s enough.
I slid the message into its protective folder and tucked it back into the bottom of my wallet pocket. At dress rehearsal, I carried it in my shirt pocket. During the talk the following day, I tucked it in my bra, right over my heart.
Have you received messages from someone after their death or found something that belonged to the person you love or a note in a margin of a book or a long forgotten letter? For other articles about the gifts of love, I suggest Languages of Love or a post about getting help from those who are still on this side of the veil, Traveling Solo, but Not Alone: Managing a Meltdown.