I lived in the eye of a hurricane. I think this is the part that eludes most people. For many, aging can be a mellowing, an easing into a gentler, kinder lifestyle. This was not my experience in my marriage with Kevin. He was a man who was keenly interested in history, art, culture and geography. He possessed incredible energy and could go on very little sleep. He’d perfected this capacity through years of playing in bars to all hours of the night and then taking the party home afterwards. This happened before our marriage and it happened throughout our marriage. When we travelled he tried to fit in far more than was physically possible, at least it seemed so to me, but somehow he’d squeeze it all in. There was no time for rest, there were things to do and places to see.
Then he got sick. It frustrated him to no end that he was incapacitated. There were things that needed to be done before he could rest, finally rest. The list of items was long, and at one point included selling the house and moving into something smaller – more manageable for me. Problem was, he couldn’t do any of it, but he could think up lots of things to do. He pushed hard, and most of them got done with the help of friends and family. Looking back I realize all he wanted to do was take care of me and make sure that I would be okay. Kevin, whose self-proclaimed role in our marriage was “to socialize and protect”, was doing his best to protect me right to the end.
This is what I have to contend with. That palpable drive that filled the room is gone and I am left in an absolute vacuum. Kevin’s presence was so large, his spirit immense. As I walk through my house there is not a room that doesn’t have his unique imprint. His artwork, cds, tapes, books – they fill the rooms of the house. His opinions and interests fill my mind still because he was vocal and passionate and expressive. I don’t have to wonder what he would think, because I know exactly what he would think and say. I am confident our kids would agree with this statement too.
Today one of Kevin’s long-time friends stopped by for a visit. Over a cup of tea we talked about Kevin and my worry about retaining my memories of him. It was a comforting conversation from someone who shared memories that he had made with Kevin more than 40 years ago. A gentle nudge to reassure me that memories don’t fade unless you let them. It did ease my mind. I realize that my memories are mine to keep and share as I wish, and they will live within me for as long as my mind permits.