“The hardest thing I ever had to deal with was the loss of my wife.”
What a way to open a story about the best thing in the world. This is where the story begins. When we face a loss like this, it makes us take stock of what we had and where our life is going to go from there.
When I wasn’t looking, love found me and even walked through my friend’s door when I was visiting his father’s house. I had just graduated and went out into the world to join the ranks of the working class. Well, this isn’t exactly true because I had been part of the working class for several years already. But, that’s another story.
I had two weeks before a construction job was supposed to start with my friend, Thomas. His uncle had promised him work for the two of us. Naturally, you know about the best laid plans. We got to El Paso and were going to see one of my friends for the two weeks before we went to go make our fortunes.
Thomas had called home to let his family know that we had arrived here safely when he got the terrible news that his Grandfather had taken ill. Well, being from a small town where it seems that families are close, they sent him money the next day to go back home.
I had left home a year before I graduated and didn’t really have any ties to take me back there with him. We parted the next day, and you could see the concern for his family in his demeanor. It seems we all wear it on our sleeves whenever our loved ones are concerned. My heart went out for him as he drove off, and we never spoke again after that.
New beginnings. Finding myself in a strange city, I was able to get a job that first week I had arrived. Bill, my friend, was very charismatic and the girls just loved him. He was the kind of guy that was fun to be around, especially when you’re the guy that gets all nervous when a pretty girl walks into the room. You think to yourself, ‘wow!’ And then your brain decides to go out for a stroll without you. It’s a wonder I ever got a second date. Bill had invited a friend over, who luckily brought a very beautiful friend with her. Wow indeed! Not only a second date, but she and I eventually got married.
Somehow this beauty saw something in me. She had captured my heart, and there was nothing that I would not have done for her. How in the hell did I get so lucky? Not only was she beautiful, but she was also smart and a very talented artist. She was a person that strangers would just come up to and start pouring out their life stories. She always made others feel comfortable sharing their secrets with her. She never judged anyone and was always encouraging those that would confide in her. As a mother, she was very successful. Seeing both our son and daughter, you couldn’t ask for better kids.
Now being young and dumb, thinking I knew everything, like most teenagers, I found out that there was a lot I didn’t know. I don’t consider myself to be hard-headed, but she saw past my flaws and made me into the person that I am proud to be now. She was my best friend, and the last few years of our marriage was, without a doubt, the best of our thirty-two years together. Every week we would have our “date with love”. We would go out to eat together at a diner, or get something to go and just enjoy each other’s company. It didn’t really mater where we went; we were together. After being around someone for so many years, I think a lot of other people just take their partner for granted. But a long time ago, I had decided that I would not fall into that trap. She loved that I would take the time to write her a love poem, or do the same kinds of things a young couple does when they first start dating. I always showed her that she was appreciated: getting the door for her, a sincere complement, a hug, holding her hand, her feet in my lap when we watched a movie together when we would kick back in the evenings. My friends said I was “whipped”, and yeah, they were right. She didn’t really ever initiate being romantic, but I guess she always needed to know that I wanted her. Like I said, she was very beautiful to me and I definitely showed my interest. I suppose that’s the way it should be. There’s a lot I need to learn about, especially when it comes to what women want.
I lost her about three months before her fifty-first birthday. She had what seemed like minor health issues, and we were going together to see a doctor for treatments. Unfortunately, later she had gotten a blood clot and the doctors at the hospital were ultimately unable to save her life. Bless their heroic efforts for trying. The first night she was in the hospital, she seemed to have improved, so we had decided that I should just go to work and come see her afterwards. The kids had went to be with her in the morning after my all-night vigil with her. Of course, I regret not staying with her because I never got to speak to her again. That morning when the kids were with her, she said that she had a headache and lost consciousness shortly after. A week of seeing her condition deteriorating from bad to worse was very taxing for all of the family. None of us had any doubts that she would not want to be kept alive to be a vegetable. We said our goodbyes and removed her life support. When she stopped to breathe her last, the entire week seemed to hit me all at once. I was literally unable to walk for about an hour and a half.
The three days they give you off of work is definitely not enough. If you have never been a widow/widower you can’t begin to imagine the emotional rollercoaster. And we’ll just leave it at that, because even now the loss is painful. The only way that I have been able to cope is knowing that she would want me to just go on with my life and be happy again. There are many things that remind me of her all of the time: things like breathing, having a meal, waking up. Basically, everything reminds me of her. And now, instead of tears, it is a great joy to be able to still my thoughts and see life in a very different way. I am simply grateful for every single person in my life. Everyone. This universal love born from that loss of such a wonderful person in my life has changed my very being. I know that there is happiness waiting for me once again. Being married for so long, I have forgotten how to be single. I am not sure what the future holds, but every day has been a gift. And in the forefront of my mind is the idea that I should not take anyone for granted.
I once read a verse about ploughing a field and looking back. This is the wisdom that I have gleaned from it: When you stop and think about your past, just be grateful that it has brought you to this point in time. You may have taken a few hard knocks, but what would you be if the people in your life hadn’t given you some kind of experience from which you had drawn some kind of wisdom from? Even if you had in the past considered them to be your enemy, they have shown you something of yourself. Sooner or later we face ourselves, like the man in the mirror that Micheal Jackson made reference to in his song. Will it be someone that you love, and that others have loved throughout your life? If the world seems like a gloomy place to you, what are you prepared to do about it, other than complain?
Join me in helping to inspire everyone to see what can be, instead of looking at the evidence of how horrible things have been. We are making our own futures every day. Will we be happy with what we are creating now for ourselves and our progeny?
This one love is the greatest thing in the world. And, it is my hope that everyone here on earth will find their own “One Love”.