The Saddest Day

Today is the saddest day of my life.
Let me explain.
Yes, my husband’s completely sudden and shocking death happened on July 13, 2011.
That was the worst day of my life.
That was the day that changed every single thing about my world forever.
It changed the very way I breathe air.
It took my life and split it into two seperate lives – before and after.
July 13th was the absolute worst day of my life.

But this day is the saddest.
I don’t know if this will be true forever,
or if in time,
things will change,
as grief-related things often do.
I don’t know.
But right now, here, in this moment – today is the saddest day of my life.


It is October 27th. My wedding day.
The happiest day of my life.
The day that every person in our combined world,
came to New York to that beautiful venue on the water,
to witness our love and dance and eat delicious gourmet food,
and to laugh and laugh and laugh.
Every wedding picture I see of us,
we are laughing.
Smiling.
So very much in love.
With each other.
With our life.
On that day,
I sat inside of every single moment and took it in.
I knew how special and priceless it all was.
I knew.
Which is why it hurts so much today.
This day.
The saddest day of my life.
Because Now,
when I think about that day,
I think about those moments,
and I think about my husband,
Alive,
laughing,
breathing,
dancing,
saying to me at the top of the Bridal suite stairs,
“We did it, Boo!”

I think about watching as our Best Man and Maid of Honor signed that wedding license.
I think about the vows we wrote for each other.
I think about how, at age 35, I had finally found my person,
and how ecstatic and calm I was, to be with him forever.
Then I think about how forever was only 4 and a half years.
How we never bought a home together,
how we never had a family together,
how he was robbed out of his forever, and I was robbed of mine,
and handed a brand new life that I didnt want and had no idea how to live.

I think about what marriage is and what it represents,
and how safe I felt about getting old, or getting sick, or facing hardships in life,
knowing that I had made the absolute only and right choice in a husband.
Then I think about the word husband,
how much I loved saying it.
How I cant say it anymore, but say it anyway.
Husband.

I think about how incredibly hurtful it is to see and witness other people having Anniversaries
and vacations
and retirements
and children
and grandchildren
new jobs
and new homes
and holidays
and innocent laughter
and ease at the knowing that they think they know,
about their own safe and happy futures.


So far, in this awful grief catastrophe (I refuse to call it a journey),
I have done quite well with feeling my emotions.
So far, I get them out and when I want to cry or it just happens randomly, I let it happen.
I write everything down and I sit inside of the massive pain until it passes.
Until next time.
Because I know that doing so will help me heal.

But not with this. Not my wedding.
So far, my wedding and Christmas are the two things I cannot handle.
Just cant get a grasp on them.
Perhaps it is because they are forever linked.
Christmas was always my favorite day of the year.
My husband knew this, so he proposed on December 18th,
underneath the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
The fall was always my favorite time of year,
so we had a Christmas-themed wedding, in October.
The happiest day of my life.
Today.
The saddest day.

Even the very thought of thinking about Christmas and how I will deal with it this year,
sends me into panic and anxiety and hurt.
The first year my parents and I ran away to Foxwoods Casino,
pretending it wasnt Christmas at all.
Last year, I stayed in NYC and saw Les Miserable at the movies with my friend Bobby.
This year maybe I will hop on a plane to Saturn, or the moon, or Hollywood.
Anyplace where reality doesn’t exist.

And my wedding day. Just typing it or talking about it or thinking about it makes me sob.
Still. After 2 years and 3 months.
The hurt over my wedding day is not any less intense.
This whole week leading up to it, I have had this inner-sadness,
just sitting there, like a heavy meal,
making me uncomfortable and void of purpose.
Walking around with that much sadness feels awful.

Even my subconscious knows the deep sadness.
The denial and the pain.
My heart knew that I just could not go there.
Not yet.
Not now.
Not today.
It knew, because last night I had a dream.
The dream was not about my wedding day.
It was about the day he died.
The dreams details are not important,
because they are too sad and too complicated,
to fit on this page.
But it was the kind of dream,
where you wake up and think how great it feels,
to wake up from that dream horror,
and then you remember,
that you are awake and living,
in this new horror.

What is important,
about this dream,
is this:
My brain and my heart would rather take me back
to the pain of my husband’s death
than to the pain of our wedding day,
and all that it represents.
All that is gone.
Just gone.

Because today
is the saddest day.
Today,
on the day I walked down the aisle,
to meet my life partner,
in what I thought I knew
was forever,
I will instead,
walk down the sand,
in the bay,
across the street from where we married,
and visit his ashes that were sprinkled there,
and think about everything that this day means,
and everything that is gone,
and sob.

Last year, on this saddest day …

It shouldnt be happening,
and it isn’t fair.
But here I go anyway,
off to be with myself,
and my husband.
And Im still calling him my husband.
My beautiful, wonderful, perfect for me, loving, husband.
My dead husband.

And today is the saddest day.

&nbsp

Chicken Noodle Soup

There is nothing that will make you feel quite as tiny and insignificant in the universe as when you are completely alone in a room, choking. 

Nothing drives home the very smallness and randomness of your purpose here on Earth, than almost being taken out by some chicken noodle soup.

Yup. You heard me. You read that correctly. On Monday, October 21st, this week, I almost died. For real. I was very, very close to choking so badly, that I could no longer speak, breathe, or function. Very, very close. 

It all began innocently enough. I was sitting here in my home office, where I am right this minute, where I do all of my many writing assignments and projects. I’m writing this book about my husband, and our love story, and the brutal and often hilarious truths about grief. In addition to that, I also write a monthly humor article for Modern Widows Club Magazine, and I write weekly funny TV reviews of shows like Dancing With the Stars for an entertainment and pop culture site called poptimal. I also write weekly Friday blog pieces for the Soaring Spirits site Widows Voice, and I write in my own personal blog too, this very one, which is what I was doing on Monday when I almost died. 

So there I was. A widow, writing one of her many widow-related assignments in the middle of the day, just an hour before leaving for the city for my weekly grief-counseling session. I was just getting over the flu or a really terrible cold, so I had picked up this really yummy chicken noodle soup they have at a nearby deli on my block. Their soup is very good, as Ive had it before, and I wanted something to soothe my throat as my appetite hadn’t fully returned yet. So there I sat – sipping my soup and writing my widow words – when suddenly, instantly, shockingly – something extremely sharp and painful got stuck in the exact middle of my throat. 

I felt my face flush red as I pushed back from my chair at lightning speed. Somehow, I thought the object may be far enough back that I could finish swallowing it, so I grabbed a water bottle from the fridge and drank fast, trying like hell to get it down. It remained in the worst part of my throat possible, and it was soooo sharp. It felt like there was a needle or a thin piece of wood splint inside my throat. My insides made scary noises and I gasped for air as I leaned forward over my kitchen counter, trying to recall the lessons that my paramedic husband had given me on how to give myself the Heimlich Maneuver if I ever needed to. 

Why didnt I listen??? What did he say??? How do I save myself??? Somehow, I panicked and took action at the exact same time, not having a clue what I was doing or why. My eyes watered and I coughed and coughed and coughed, and then continued to try and push the foreign object out of me, hoping and begging and praying that it would shoot out of my person like some animated alien, emerging out of the dark. 

You know, it is absolutely stunning how many billions of unrelated, disconnected, anxious thoughts can go through one’s brain, while simultaneously choking and gasping for air. As I struggled to stay alive over my kitchen sink, this was my ridiculous inner-monologue: 

This is it. Im dying today. This is how it all ends. Just like my poor husband. Collapsing. Alone. This is what I have been panicking about since his death. Dying randomly and by myself, nobody finding me for hours or days. And now here it is – it is happening. Where are my kitties? When did I feed them? Oh shit, they need water in their bowl. Where is my phone? I have to call 911. But I cant speak. There is a glass window inside my throat. That is what it feels like. It feels like an ice-pick. WHAT THE HELL IS IN MY THROAT??? This is like that time at mom and dads house on Easter, when I choked on a potato cube in my potato salad, Except Don was there on that day, and he stood right next to me, ready to go into action should he need to save my life.  I wasn’t scared because he was right there. Always. Oh my god, where is my phone? Is it even charged? I don’t think its charged. I really should keep it charged. I’m going to die right here on this hard kitchen floor. Its dirty. I cant die on a dirty floor. It will be hours before my roommate returns and finds me. Hours. I wonder how she will get my share of the rent next month if I’m dead. This is so embarrassing. I was eating soup. What the hell did they put in my soup? WHO CHOKES ON SOUP??? I can just see the headline in tomorrows local newspapers: “Widow Chokes and Dies While Writing Widow Blog.” Ironic, isnt it? Alannis Morissette would have a field day with this one. Oh who am I kidding? This wont make the NEWSPAPER. Who am I? Im nobody. Im not famous. Wow this is a really long time to be choking. I really think Im dying. This is the end. Shit! I havent even finished my book! I really wanted to see this week’s episode of NASHVILLE on my DVR. Dammit! This is really what it was all about? Soup? What is the point of all this? You try and live a life and have goals and dreams, and in the end, you can just disappear in a nano-second, because of soup. What the hell is in this……. 

And just like that, it was over. My gasping and choking and coughing and watery eyes had started to calm down. The last big cough had catapulted the enemy right into the sink, and the enemy was a goddamn bay leaf. Not a big juicy chewy steak or some rubbery calamari, or even some grains of rice. Nope. Not me. This widow almost gets taken out by a friggin’ bay leaf. A BAY LEAF! What the hell was this ginormous bay leaf doing in my soup? Im a pretty good cook myself, and have often used whole bay leaves to flavor a soup or stew or sauce. While it simmers. While it cooks. You are supposed to REMOVE IT when it is done cooking, so that widows like me don’t swallow them whole and choke on them while alone in their apartments with pointless cats. 

I gathered my things and headed into the city to see my counselor, and when I got to her, I asked her to please make me some tea to help soothe my throat, because the chicken noodle soup obviously didnt accomplish anything other than almost murdering me –  and then I told her my story. After that, I proceeded to sob for almost the entire session while talking to her. Sobbing about being a few days away from my “would have been” 7 year wedding anniversary. Sobbing about leftover feelings of guilt and regret at the last weeks and months of my husband’s life. Sobbing because life is so goddamn fragile, and because I still cannot comprehend that my husband left for work one morning, and never came home. Just like my family wouldn’t have been able to comprehend me being taken out by a bay leaf.  

I did learn something though. Something very big. While I was choking on that bay leaf – inside all of those other disconnected thoughts that were going on inside my brain – one thought repeated itself over and over and over, like a chorus: I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die ….. 

A lot of times, after we lose the person we thought we would spend our life with, there are many days and nights and hours, that we just dont feel like living. There have been so many times when I thought to myself: “Wouldnt it just be easier if I could just sleep and not feel this horrible pain?” I didnt want to actively end my life. I would never have done that. But I didnt feel like being alive either. 

However, when you are choking on a bay leaf, and you cant speak words and your face is bright red and you’re scared you will lose consciousness, one thing goes through your heart and then travels to your mind and your soul: 

I dont want to die. I want to live. 

There is no way that my life ends at the prickly hands of a bay leaf. 
It ain’t happening. I am not going down that way. Try again.

Actually, please don’t. 

Please leave me alone. Please remove yourself from my soup and go pick on some other fool. I don’t want to die. I want to attempt life. Heartbreaking, painful, beautiful, wonderful, breathtaking, miraculous, unfair life. 

I choose Life. 

 

67%

I am never 100% anywhere.
Not possible.
Not ever.

Pieces of me are out with my friends.
Having fun.
After 2 years and 3 months, I can now have fun.
I am now out of the fog that prevented me from fun.
Mostly.

But this fun differs from that fun.
It is different.
Just like everything is different.
Changed.
Forever.
In this “after” life.

That fun was just fun.
Simple.
This fun strips my heart into fragments.
Tears it open.
So that some of it is there, in the room, with my friends.
My friends, or my family, or whoever Im with, gets a fraction.
of my Heart.
A percentage.
of my Heart.

67%.
of my Heart.
Approximately.
Sometimes exactly.
67%.
The rest is divided into several different areas.
Like a pie.
Portions.

Some of my heart goes to missing him.
Just missing him.
Thinking about it. Feeling it. Knowing it.
Sitting inside that hole,
that crater,
that is reserved for missing him.

Some more of my heart goes to triggers.
Triggers are everywhere.
Triggers of sudden death.
Triggers that poke you in the eyeball,
like a needle,
rapidly,
and in slow motion,
to keep you aware,
always,
of Who is Boss.

Forcing you to re-live a moment,
or a feeling,
or a life,
or death.

Triggers are everywhere.
In the air.
An ambulance going by.
A man that looks like him.
Vaguely.
Or exactly.

Something that somebody says.
A laugh.
The scent that smells like his laundry.
Or walking by the row of busses,
in the city,
that you used to take,
together,
to get back home to New Jersey.

The food.
The drink my friend ordered, that he ordered once.
The live Jazz music we listened to and watched,
in the same club where he and I watched.
Long ago.
In our life.
Was it yesterday?
Or 5 years ago.
In the corner of my heart,
It is now.

Triggers are inside of a touch.
Like when my friend taps the rhythms of the drumbeat or piano,
onto his wife’s shoulder,
using his fingertips,
as Instruments.
Just like Don used to do.
With me.
Playing his guitar.
In our apartment.
On the couch.
On the bed.
Or hanging out with friends,
or just us,
In a Jazz club.
Tapping the rhythms to the music,
that sat inside of his soul.

Some of my heart goes to Pain.
Just pain.
That deep, aching, gut-wrenching pain.
It steps on my feet and punches my face,
from the inside.
It rotates between fighting and napping.
from the inside.
But it’s there.
Always.

The rest of my heart,
what is left,
maybe 14% or 8%,
depending on the day,
the hour,
the second.
The rest of my heart goes
straight to my husband.
To his soul.
His being.

While I talk to you, my friend
Im also talking to him.
While I hug you, my dad,
Im also hugging him.
While I walk with you, my mom,
Im also walking with him.
At home.
At work.
Out with friends.
Everywhere.
Everyday.
Every. Single. Moment.
I am with him.

All of this happens while Im laughing,
Living,
Being.

It happens inside me.
Nobody notices.
Nobody says his name, or mentions him.
Now and then,
Sure.
Somebody might mention him.
And I love that.
But usually,
Generally,
Nobody mentions him.
But he stays inside me,
where he lives now.
And I keep him alive.
Alone.
With you.
But alone.

I keep him with me,
and I make him relevant,
and I give him breath.
Because I want to.
I need to.
I give him breath,
so that I can breathe.

It’s like I’m walking around with him,
physically.
Sometimes I can see him.
Feel him.
Next to me.
Beside me.
In the moon.
In a song.
In a star,
where I sit with him,
resting my head on his chest.
Painting the sky with our love.
Living together,
in endless time,
Forever.

I might feel him in the rain,
or in the silence,
or in a joke.
And I laugh with him,
even though you think I’m laughing
with you.
And I am.
Mostly.
67%.

I Am Alone. I Am With You.

Here is a riddle:

What is more sad? Going to the movies alone, or going to the movies with a group of friends, who barely speak to each other or acknowledge each other’s existence?

This past weekend, I had lunch with some new widowed friends in the city, and nobody else wanted to see a movie afterwards, so I went by myself. It was 3 blocks away from where we had lunch, it was a gorgeous day, and I really wanted to see Gravity. So I went alone. Going to the movies, or anywhere really, by myself, is not a big deal to me. I left my small town home in Massachusetts at 18 and moved to NYC – alone – to go to college for theater and pursue a career in entertainment. Then I lived in different buroughs throughout NYC for years, and was single, for years, and had many roommates and apartment changes, for years. Then I found my very own place in New Jersey and lived there – alone – for 3 years before my husband, who was then my boyfriend and about to be my fiance, moved in with me. And even then, after we married and shared our life together, I did lots of things alone. And he did too. We were two very independent people, who each loved and valued our time alone, and who also loved and cherished spending time with one another. We loved each other’s company, but neither of us had any issue with doing things by ourselves sometimes. So, I have been to the movies, several times, alone.

But here is something that the “non-widowed” world doesn’t quite understand. Going to the movies – or anywhere – by yourself, because you feel like it and because it’s a choice while married or partnered up – is completely different than going places alone because your husband is dead, and everyone else is coupled up, or has plans, or doesn’t want to – and so you have to. The first one is a decision you make within the luxury of a relationship. The second one often results in severe loneliness, intense sadness, guilt, anger, annoyance, and the kind of soul-crushing isolation that not many people comprehend.

And if you’re thinking to yourself right now: “What’s the big deal? It’s just a movie!”, then clearly – and lucky for you – you must still have your soul mate walking this earth with you, and so you don’t really get it. But that’s okay. Because it is impossible to get it – until you get it. Until you have been forcibly inducted into this horrific Widowhood Club, be thankful that you couldn’t possibly understand how seeing a movie alone when your partner is dead can play with your insides; churning them and spitting them out into the hot, humid universe, until you are left in a corner, weakened and defeated yet again by your new life.

That is how it was for me. In the beginning. The first year and a half or so of this new “after” life. Every time I left my apartment to venture out and do something, was like being dropped off inside of a haunted house. My heart would race, not knowing what emotions or unexpected terrors would be lurking in the corners, waiting for me. I would panic that the movie or the dinner or the Broadway show or the night out with friends or the whatever – would bring up flashes and scenes and fragments – that would further put the focus on my own solitude, or my marriage that was gone, or my future that would not be, or the day that I woke up and he had already gone to work, and then already gone from earth.

So I would go out into the world during these early days of grief, and after awhile, the panic and the earthquake brewing inside of me, just became part of my new normal, the new me. And sometimes I would get so tired of sitting in the apartment alone and feel so suffocated, that I would force myself to take a walk or see a movie down the street. And then sometimes that walk or that movie would just make things worse, watching the couples laugh hand in hand or having a storyline in a film take me to a place emotionally that I was not yet ready to go to.

And in those early days of grief, people everywhere, all the time, constantly, would say to me, in response to me saying that I feel so alone: “You are not alone. He is always with you.” Most of the time, this remark would be coming from someone who was probably typing or saying those words while their life-partner stood right beside them or sat in the next room or nearby – breathing air and living life. And so, most times, when this was said to me, my immediate reaction (privately) was that I might enjoy throwing this person into the nearest lake or hitting them repeatedly in the eyeball with a 2×4, because it is such a lame and cliche’ and thoughtless thing to say to someone, and the fact that YOU think he is always with me, means absolutely nothing if I can’t feel it.

 And I couldn’t. I couldn’t feel it. I could not feel him with me, no matter how many times people said it, because the pain and the grief and the thick fog of the air I now breathed in this new life – was too overwhelming to let anything else in. Nothing could get in. Only pain.

But then, with that pain, something happened during grief. Time. Time happened. And time does not heal all wounds. That is more bullshit cliche’ said by those who don’t know what to say. No. But time happened, and while it was happening, my heart and my brain and my skin and my toes began to finally process what had happened. Really, actually process it and sit with it and watch as the fog lifted, up up and away from my soul. And once that happened, the pain was still there – but I was no longer terrified by it. The grief monster still lurked – but I stared him down and waited. The sobbing still took place regularly, but I stopped fighting with it and let it flow through me like rain tap-dancing on an umbrella.

And once all of that happened and that shift occured, something else did too – I could feel him. I could feel him with me. Not all of the time. But some of the time. A lot of the time.

And so, that brings me back to Saturday. At the movies. Alone. I sat there, on the end seat of an aisle in a very crowded theatre – feeling peaceful and anxious to see the film. A group of 4 girls all sat down in my row, one of them next to me. They were loud and obnoxious and rude and clueless about life’s struggles. They all took out their phones and put them on silent, and began texting and playing games and using Apps and shoving their teenage faces into their devices, never once looking at or addressing one another, the very people that they chose to spend time with and see a movie with. One of them looked in my direction, and then texted the other one, and they both giggled. I can only imagine that she was texting about me, saying something like: “Who goes to the movies alone? What a loser.” 

And yet, as that movie went on and it became clear that floating around in space was being used as a brilliant metaphor for living, dying, and then living again, I actually started to feel sorry for these idiotic girls next to me. Because here they were, in this beautiful theater, in the greatest city in the world, lucky enough to have a group of friends to spend time with, and to be seeing this film that had so much to say and teach about finding the strength through pain to live again – and they didn’t get any of it. They were right there, inside of it, and they were missing it. They were missing all of it. They couldn’t see any of the beauty or the pain or the truths or the glorious, ordinary moments that were surrounding them right that very minute. Their eyes were glued to their phones, and their souls were lying dormant.

In my chair, something else was happening. Something that felt like home. I was watching a beautiful and thrilling movie alone, and I was watching it with my husband. His entire spirit and personality and being felt like it was inside of me, like it had entered my veins and sat in my bloodstream. I could almost feel his touch next to me. Almost feel his arm brushing up against mine, see him smiling at me, hear him sipping his root beer and leaning over to whisper like he would sometimes: “This is awesome!” 

And for the first time in a long time, instead of me thinking to myself or telling others: “He would have loved this movie so much! I wish he was here!”, I had no need to tell anyone anything, because he did love the movie, and he was there. Not because someone told me so, but because I could feel it.

And no, feeling my husband with me in spirit or soul is not even close to the same as him actually being here with me, for real, in our life together. It’s a pretty shitty substitute, honestly. But it’s a hell of a lot better to feel him with me, than to not feel him with me. And it took 2 years and 3 months for me to feel him around me on a more regular basis. For me to talk to him out loud and not feel like a complete jackass, or like a lunatic talking to myself. It took all of this time just to come to a place where my insides aren’t spinning, and where the dizziness stops. The pain and the grief that was once pounding on my temple and stabbing at my heart – now lies a bit further away, like background music  that I hear faintly as I live my life. Finally, the noise has been turned down enough to let other things in besides pain. Things like laughter that feels real again, taste-buds that crave foods again, and eyes that see the fall colors again. Now that the pain isn’t pushing its way into every available crevice, there is room for me to feel my husband. To feel and know that he is with me, even though he can’t be with me.

So back to that riddle. What is more sad? Going to the movies alone, or going to the movies with a group of friends who barely speak to each other or acknowledge each other’s existence?

Well, the answer is a matter of opinion, so I will leave that one up to you. But the question itself is not really valid, because it’s a trick question. I went to that movie alone, but I was never really alone. None of us are. Not really. Not entirely. Not truly.

For when I close my eyes really tightly, and I push away the hurt and the fear and the death, I find that there is just enough space leftover, to let one more thing inside.

You.

Come sit next to me now. For I am alone. I am with you.

What If I Forget …

What If I Forget ….

His smell. His funny lips and the way they turned up at the corner. His skin.
His dry skin that always needed chapstick, and his back that always needed to be scratched.

What If I forget …

Those piercing blue eyes that became someone else’s eyes when he donated them to the eye bank. The way they looked at me. Through me. Into me. The way they saw my soul.

What If I forget the way he held his guitar pick, or how he looked so focused and intense when playing a new chord – a new song. What if I forget how he would make me sit on the couch next to him and listen to the music he had just created, or how he used my knees and legs as imaginary drums – playing each beat on them with his fingers and thumbs. The way my voice sounded when I sang with his melody. The way we harmonized in song and in life. The way that our marriage was like a duet. What if I forget ….

I’m scared. I’m terrified of forgetting. Living in constant fear of not recalling the large and the tiny moments of our time together. The only thing I have now – moments. Moments that are gone. Past tense. They live in my memory, and what if my memory were to fade away like the wind, like some thin tissue paper disappearing into the wind …

What then? For what is a life except for what it leaves behind? We have no children. No legacy to live out his name. No son or daughter to be like their daddy. Just me. The wife. The widow. The responsibility – the honor – falls upon me to make sure he is remembered, to make sure that his spirit and his beautiful soul lives on, to make sure that his kindness and his humor and his epic love of animals is seen somehow, in the world and the universe around me. So what if I forget? I could never forgive myself. To forget anything about him – anything at all – would be like a betrayal to our love. To his life. The worst thing I could ever do would be to not recall a memory. A fraction of time. A molecule in the days and months and years that we had with one another. The worst thing would be to go blank.

Will the memories fade with time? With age? Will I always be able to see him when I close my eyes? Can I shut off the world and just imagine all those times that he would slowly cover me with a blanket, or hold my hand while humming to himself softly, or pout his bottom lip at me when he wanted something? Will I be able to pull up, from the file cards in my brain, the silly songs we made up and sang to each other? How many times will I have to keep singing them to our kitties, pretending that they are him? Trying like hell to keep it burned in my mind, for all eternity …

It’s been 2 years now, and his clothes no longer smell like his clothes. They are just clothes. His guitars remain sitting in silence, because the music is not music without him, and I don’t know how to play. He tried to teach me a bunch of times, but I didn’t have the patience. He told me stories a bunch of times too – about his childhood, his days in the Air Force, stuff that happened at work while being on the ambulance. I never paid enough attention. I should have listened more. I didn’t know that I needed to imprint it into my heart. I didn’t know that his heart would stop beating.

I carry with me the 7 years we spent dating long-distance, and the almost 5 years we spent together – here – happy and engaged – and then married. So joyously and wonderfully married. My favorite word was always husband. Nothing I loved more than calling him my husband. So now, I must carry the sacred pages of our marriage with me in the spaces of my heart – and treat them with the most fragile touch. For if they should break or tear or get lost in the cruel, cold wind – and I cannot get back the pieces – I will have to re-trace each chapter, bit by bit – until I am able to find the things that were once our life. Our beautiful, precious life.

And what if I forget?

I will not forget.

I cannot forget.

Because the second I forget, is the second that he truly, really dies.