It was three years on March 29th. Kevin died peacefully at home, with all of his immediate family around him. How silly was I ever to think, to worry, that the memories I cherish would fade, that I would lose them. They are all still there, the good memories and the tough ones. It’s magical how the mind can transport you back; how real and fresh the images are, how sharp the pain still is. He was, for so long, the heart, the breath and the soul of this family, that I still struggle to move forward. Kevin was, quite simply, my purpose for being, he was my world.
I read the posts our friends put up on the anniversary of his death, and I received messages from friends and family. I reflected on what a huge loss it was when he died, what a tragedy that someone who lived life so fully lost the privilege of ‘being’ so early. Kevin had so many plans and dreams, so much passion and love – we were so blessed to have had him in our lives. He did the things he wanted to, without regret. Never could it be said that he let an opportunity pass by, he believed that you had to get out there and make things happen. I am a better person for having loved him.
I truly believe the person we are is the result of the paths we’ve chosen and the people who have crossed them or join us on them for a time. We can either learn as we travel or we can blindly go forward, that’s on us. For the last three years I have blindly gone forward, out of necessity since it was just too painful to look for any lessons to come out of this. But they are there, lurking around in my mind, waiting for me to sift through them. Maybe soon I will tackle that process, because those lessons are important and it is the final legacy of my journey with Kevin – so I owe him that, to learn from him one last time.
I hate the last week of March, it has such strong memories and my emotions are quite unpredictable at times. My wedding anniversary was March 24th, and more pointedly Kevin died on March 29th – two heart rending events that I still mourn. I know I go a little offside at this time, and so I have booked the week off work to save my peers the agony of having to deal with me, and to save me face since I know I go a little nutty. The plan, when I booked the time off, was to travel someplace, anyplace just to take my mind off things.
This leads to my current dilemma. After my last outing (November 2017) on the cruise, I didn’t fare so well. Got sick day one and actually stayed sick until Christmas. A head cold that morphed into the real-deal flu (despite my flu shot prior to the cruise) and then on to pneumonia. After this experience, I told my sister, who is my travelling partner, that I had no plans to go anywhere by plane or by ship for a while. A staycation was what I was going to do in March. Well a few days of minus 30 degrees Celsius weather had put paid to that. My sister suspected the extreme chill might change my mind and had sent me a few emails highlighting some sunny warm resorts. Now I find myself scanning the all inclusives, looking to spend that week someplace warm.
And so it is decision time: where to go? I am leaning towards Cuba. I’ve been there a few times before and am favouring it because of the beautiful beaches and the fairly consistent good weather. I recall from previous vacations there that the food was not spectacular, and the hotels rate themselves a little more generously than I would (a four star in Cuba is more like a three star in the Dominican and Barbados). However, it is a direct flight and there are a few good hotel chains located there. I want an all-inclusive where the biggest decision I make in the morning is whether to lay by the pool or out on the beach. And where nobody cares if the woman in the lounge chair behaves a little peculiarly – they just figure I may have had a bit too much to drink.
Will I pick up a bug on the plane? Maybe, but at least this time I will have packed a small stash of remedies to see me through!
Life goes on. A week ago I was worrying about my sister-in-law. Another surgery in the books, and not an easy one. A full five hour operation, so a lot of anesthesia that can make for a lousy recovery. She came through it okay, but nothing is ever easy for her. By day two there were some issues and worries, but here we are just over a week later and she’s home and on the mend.
It was tough walking into the hospital again. The last time I was there I was with Kevin, my Kevin. It didn’t end so good for him. Fortunately, the outcome was better this time. Still, it was an emotionally draining seven or eight days riddled by recollections of Kevin and worries about June. And so the memories are all back up and fresh in my mind. This has been a week of tears. A week where I have said his name so many times, hoping for a sign, a message, anything. I miss him.
It doesn’t help that there is also emotion and sadness in my workplace as one of my co-workers goes into her final decline. Not someone I worked with, but a person I knew of and admired for her spirit and determination. Her immediate team will be pierced by loss, and that loss is imminent. I recognize that this news has destabilized me, I feel so deeply for the family she will leave behind, even though I have never met them. My loss is old, their’s will be new. It has nothing to do with me, and yet it has the power to make my heart ache.
Kevin used to say he was a man of extreme highs and extreme lows, and he was. But really isn’t that what life is, a series of highs and lows. Sometimes it feels like the waves will pull you down and drown you and other times you just float on the surface and bask in the sun. We are all at different points and that’s all it is.
I think about the challenge it is to have a long term relationship end. In my case it was my husband’s death, for others it may be divorce. But loss is loss, and who’s to say how it should be, what one should feel, how one will cope. The thing is managing the memories. Memories that weave through families: in children, in places, in events. They are invisible, those ties, strands of emotion that can tangle you up before you know it.
I was worried after Kevin died that I would forget. Forget the times we shared, the life we led, his voice, his laugh, his presence. I realize now that I will never forget. The ties are just too strong. I’ve mentioned before that I hear him in my head, and I do. Sometimes not loud enough, sometimes too loud. Just like in life. Last night I had a dream and I woke up knowing he had told me to do something. But I couldn’t remember what it was he told me to do. If it was important then I suspect that he’ll be back to remind me tonight. I’d better put paper and pen beside the bed because I don’t want to piss him off by forgetting again! (It’s humour folks, I’m not losing it.)
These next couple of weeks will be tough ones. Our anniversary on the 24th, his death on the 29th. I find myself flashing back and forth between the present and the past. Unavoidably. I never would have ever thought he would have been my past, that wasn’t the deal, and yet now he is. But he is still my future, because life with him made me who I am, because I will always know how he thought and what he felt. Because the lives he and I created together continue to grow, more grandbabies – twins. Because he would have loved that. So I send you my love Kevin, and I say: ‘How I wish, how I wish you were here….’
Imagine that in life there was this amazing repository where we could store the best days of our lives. A sort of bank of those outstanding days where the world is right. It was only open one day a year for you to deposit your days, and you could only access what you’d stored on that same day. What would you put in there?
I think about things like this all the time. How incredible it would be to have a few of those days back, safely stored in all their dimensions. To relive as they occurred: in my youth and in my middle age and in my future when I am aged. A fantastic escape to what was, a reinforcement of all my life and experience.
Memory provides the shadows, this would give all the colours. Imagine that all those days are stored in space and time. Imagine. Love is never lost and youth is never gone. Joy surrounds us and serenity is within our grasp. Imagine.
Our imagination and our memories are gifts, for most of us anyway. Sometimes it’s good to relax and let go and just let your mind wander. That’s what I’m doing tonight – remembering and imagining.