Hello Dennis, my dear love.
Three years now since the nurse led me back behind the swinging doors and I wondered why we were passing the emergency room. I wanted to see you. I wanted to to touch you and talk to you. It’s been three years since they led me into the chapel instead.
You were declared gone at 7:43 p.m. July 20, 2011. One more year I feel I leave you behind and it hurts so much.
Something that feels like terror jolts me out of my sleep about twice a week. Ever since you died. It’s that feeling you get when you’re not quite awake, but you know something terrible is waiting for you that day. It’s always one more day without you.
But I think you would be proud of me. I am living. I am living with as much joy and meaning as I can. It’s the best I can do to honor you and keep those moments of stony emptiness at bay.
I had my birthday last week. I made it a point to celebrate all week. I gathered up every sparkly moment. I went to Las Vegas. I’m seeing my dad and Carolyn now in Rancho Mirage. I had brunch in Santa Barbara with my mom and Jeff, the man in my life, while we drank champagne by the ocean. We had dinner with Mike and Colleen at the Lazy Dog, a place we loved.
I am collecting moments because I know that’s all we have. Frozen moments.
Remember how we walked on a trail through the woods onto a grainy beach in Juneau? Above it was the mighty Mendenhall glacier. It was another birthday. My 50th birthday cruise to Alaska, in 2005.
I went back to Alaska again two years ago. I retraced our steps.
While I was admiring the glacier, I saw a man pushing a frail woman–probably his wife–along the path in a wheelchair, until the wheelchair hit the beach. She kept her eyes straight ahead, on the blue sky and the spill of ancient glacier. She was smiling, her eyes bright.
With her wheelchair ground into the sand, the man knelt, and looped her arm over his shoulder. Then he lifted her shuddering body out of the wheelchair and half-carried her to the very edge of the glacier. Her face was a wash of delight.
They looked together at centuries locked into cobalt blues and turquoise layers of the ice.
Time locked in those layers, moments frozen.
On those days when the terror of life without you rips at my peace, I can feel you lift me and walk me to something I could not see without you.
Please don’t ever leave me Dennis. Lift me and help me. Meet me in those moments.