Nine months ago today we spent our last day together. Everyone else had gone away; it was just the two of us. I spent the day holding your hand, feeling helpless while watching the spasms that yanked at your body, talking to you about everything - even though I couldn't tell if you heard me or not, wiping up the bile that you were unconsciously spitting up, and loving you as deep and fierce as I could.
Tenacious as ever, you were fighting as hard as you could to stay and hold my hand. It wasn't lost on me. I needed that day with you as much as you did. In the afternoon, I put on one of your favorite movies, The Last Samurai, and told you what was happening in the movie. When Katsumoto died, I couldn't help but let the tears fall. I turned to you then, and said, "My dear sweet Love, you have been so brave, and you've fought so hard. It's time to rest. It's time for you to find The Beautiful. I promise you, I will find a way to be ok. And I will love you always in all ways. Thank you for all the good and precious gifts you've brought to my life. I'll do my very best to be a woman of honor, and I'll carry your banner forever. It's time to stop fighting, Sweetie. Be at peace."
Three hours later, you surprised me by opening your eyes for a brief moment. Then you were gone. I bathed you in warm soapy water and tears, and I unhooked all the tubes before I called anyone. You deserved at least that much dignity. After that, it's a little blurry for me. I don't know who I called first, or what I said. Vicki and Gary rushed to be at my side. I recall feeling numb and just wanting to be alone. In the days that followed (most of which aren't very clear in my mind), I went on a manic cleaning binge and rearranged our bedroom and the living room. Wendi helped me with ideas of where to put furniture. I couldn't handle going to work - kindhearted Rich told me to take whatever time I needed. I think I took another week. I planted the garden in your honor and you sent the eagle. I ate ice cream for breakfast and sniffed your shirts. I took low doses of your morphine when it got to be too much.
Dr. West called to say he was sorry. He also said he wished all of his patients could have someone like me by their side. Good ol' Jack, huh? I just said, "Shit, Jack... what other option was there? That's what love is about."
In the months that have followed, I've tried to live up to my promises to you, just as others have. Your family has pulled together in a truly astounding way. They've surrounded me with their love (no escaping the Johnson clutch, eh?). I've made friends with Kris, and I love her dearly - whodathunkit, huh? I think you'd be very proud of her now. And Timothy. What can I say? You've left me to carry on an amazing friendship.
Time bends, folds, and unfurls - it seems like years since you've been gone; it seems like hours. I'm getting stronger every day. I'm working toward the goals we talked about. I'm living my life wide open. I'm stretching my creative soul to its limits. I'm breathing in and out. I've had great adventures and I'm ready for more. I discovered your Joe Bonamassa cds, and I rock out to them all the time. I'm learning, always learning. But I miss your smile, your silly emails, your laugh, your voice, your eyes, the smell of the back of your neck, your hugs... a million things, most of them little things. All the little things that add up to a measure of love.
I miss you Swee'tader. Seems like such a ridiculous thing to say, but it's the sum total of it all. I hope your journey in the past nine months has been as rich as mine... richer. Thanks for that electrical hug the other day. I have no idea what it took for you to be able to do that, but...wow.
I've met a guy who's a blast to talk to, he makes me laugh all the time, and he knows how to hug like nothing else matters. I don't know where it's going, and I don't care. I enjoy it for what it is, for as long as I get to. You'd like him, I know. Very often I can picture the two of you together, talking endlessly and cracking each other up. It's strange to think that way, but it's truth.
I love this life, and I really am doing alright.
I love you,
PS. Thanks for the great hat!