The half-life of love is forever. ~Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her
Eight years after my husband’s death, I carry our love in my heart pocket. I’m used to the ache. Longing doesn’t surprise me. I don’t need to get rid of sorrow or move on. This inevitable aspect of love is mine to hold and share.
Vic lingers. Not out there in an embodied way, but as a reassuring inner presence. In dreams, he drives my car in blinding storms or helps me find a lost passport. In my waking world, I consult him as a positive inner masculine or animus figure. After forty-two years together, I know what he’d say. Where should I plant the new trees? Does the back porch need painting this summer? What part of my new writing works and what should be ditched?
Where are you? To that, there is no answer.
I don’t wake up sobbing. I don’t expect him to call. Grief doesn’t stop laughter and joy. It’s a quiet daily companion in a rich life.
I miss walking on our land together, admiring hawks and buttercups. I miss knowing Vic is working in his office while I work in mine. I miss the times when he read me poems. I want to show him the fat pollen sac on the bumblebee hanging from the bleeding heart. I miss having a clarifying disagreement. I miss watching sunsets side-by-side.
I miss being loved when my worst flaws are obvious even to me.
I miss the companion who would help me carry new sorrows like my brother’s death. I miss long hugs and tender pats. I miss his smile.
Good things have come from life on my own. I became a better and more focused writer. I shared what I know about the ingredients of a strong marriage during good times, hard times, and lonely times after a spouse dies. I’ve become comfortable speaking publicly and leading groups. I’ve become a decent amateur photographer. Despite hearing loss and white hair, I take more risks.
I’ve learned to hold the opposites of joy and sorrow at the same time.
Last week, I borrowed the children’s book Miss Rumphius from the library. She planted lupine seeds to make the world more beautiful. It’s a lovely award-winning children’s book if you don’t know it.
Vic and I planted lupines in our fields when he was here. They greeted me with tall purple spires on the day of his death. After he died, I planted more.
On June 3, I’ll pick a bouquet of lupines and take them to the place where we buried Vic’s ashes. I’ll read a poem and give thanks for the goodness of love. I’ll sing “River,” the song we sang at my brother’s death. I’ll welcome the feelings that come.
Without planning on it, before knowing the book, I became a member of the tribe of Lupine Ladies, doing my best to sow seeds of beauty in a struggling world.
This year, I took a silent gardening retreat before Vic’s death anniversary. I needed to assess where I am in life. Which goals are realistic and serve me? What can be left behind? Is a pause to consider and reconsider where you are in life part of the way you celebrate meaningful anniversaries? For other posts about creating meaningful anniversaries and rituals, see Flowers for the Living, Flowers for the Dead or A Personal Grief Ritual of Remembrance and Relief.