Monday, March 2, 2015

Turning Back the Clock

Stan, age 10, circa 1960

I saw a grief post, recently, that resonated with me. It said "I wish I could turn back the clock: I'd find you sooner and love you longer."

When I read about other widows or widowers who lived with their spouses for decades, before they died, I feel sad for them. I think it must be so difficult to lose a partner with whom one has shared an entire lifetime. I think it must be very hard to learn how to be on one's own, after growing together, all those years. I feel for them.

But I must admit that underneath it all, there is a bit of envy, too. I met Stan in 2011, and he died three and a half years later. Barely enough time to settle in. They got to share young adulthood with one another, become parents, together, nurture each other through careers and middle age and perhaps even becoming grandparents. I had none of that with Stan. I only know the many parts of his life through the stories he told me, and through the memories his friends and family share with me, now that he is gone.

Stan led a colourful, varied life, with many incarnations. He never stopped changing and growing. There were people from all aspects of his life, at his funeral, from those who worked for him in the field of housing, to friends and neighbours who respected his volunteering in Glossop, to the close circle of friends that grew around bringing world music to our village, to the Buddhists who had become so close to him in recent years.

Most of those incarnations were lived before we met.

I wish I had known young Stanley, the boy, above, who excelled in scouts and had a paper route, who loved his four sisters, who cried when the snow melted into the ground. I wish I had met him when he was a teenager, riding his bicycle through the city of Manchester, picking up odd jobs, and dating pretty girls.

I wish I had known the Stan who was a young parent, taking his kids on holiday, traipsing up and down the hills of Derbyshire and the mountains in Wales, driving them down secret roads, entertaining them with his silly songs.

Or Stan, the gardener, who learned the names of all the flowers and shrubs in England, and how to nourish them, and make them grow.

Or the Stan who found reggae music, and fell in love with it, befriending the Jamaican community in their all night shebeens.

I wish I had known the fiery advocate who was a leader in the trade union movement, who organised and led a three week strike. I would have marched with him on the front lines, had I known him, then.

I used to tell him, often, that I wished we had met sooner, but he was not one to wish for things to be different than they were. He'd tell me that he was just so happy that we had found each other, when we did. He said that meeting me made him a lucky man.

I guess the Stan I knew was a combination of all those other Stans. He still remembered the names of all the flowers and shrubs. He taught me about the trade union movement, and the struggles of the working class. He shared his reggae and world music collection with me. He still drove down tiny 'secret' roads when his kids came to visit, and he still sang his silly songs.

I would have loved to witness the man he was becoming. He was delving deeper into the dharma and becoming more devoted to the Buddhist path. He had just begun to work as a part of the 'heart' team at the centre, and he was excited to use his management skills to help the centre grow. He was improving his diet, looking after himself, letting go of past indulgences, changing his life, yet again.

I like to think I had a little to do with his newfound transformation. I like to think that my love and support helped him to grow and blossom into the man he wanted to be.

I know that his love helped me grow. He helped me open to others. He helped me learn to be comfortable in my own skin. He taught me to treat myself with a gentle touch.

Meeting him made me a lucky woman.

I didn't get to share decades with my husband. I didn't get to know him in his youth, or grow with him through young adulthood and middle age. We didn't get to grow old together. But we shared a lifetime in our few short years.


  1. Tricia, thank you for that quote for it so resonates with me.. My husband died of a sudden heart attack in June 2011 next to me in the middle of the night. We met on a Friday night and were together from that night until the night he died 16 years later. Ours was a second marriage for each of us. I knew I was in love with him in less than 24 hours. We shared an instant chemistry. I felt as if I had known him my entire life or in some other lifetime. It's been three years and I cry at any given moment. I know this hellish grief will never leave me. I will love him forever; he was the other half of me. God, I miss him so much.

  2. Our love was like that, too, at least for me. It felt instantaneous. It is so hard when they die suddenly, isn't it? I am so sorry you lost the love of your life. x

  3. Dear Tricia,

    the ache in your heart, that one that so wishes you could have met your Stan sooner so you could have loved him longer must be so poignantly painful . I am so sorry you didn't have more time together with that gorgeous, instantaneous love you shared. that he died so suddenly only adds such a decimating layer of grief.

    thank you for sharing that darling little boy photo of Stan, and for letting us know more about his earlier life, his passions, his accomplishments, his bigger-than-life personality, his goodness, kindness, and the transformation path you were able to help him with. the beautiful and profound love you gave him and the support he needed to move forward to be the man he wanted to be was such a gift. perhaps you will feel that same profound and beautiful gift falling upon your shoulders to give you comfort and encouragement - and that in your heart you will know it is your Stan, always loving you...always...with love that never dies.

    much love,

    Karen ooxx

    1. Thank you for your beautiful words. I like to help people know Stan and it helps me to remember him in this way.

  4. I wish you had known Stan before, or had met him sooner, or had been together with him longer. The picture you paint of him is endearing, and it's no wonder why you miss him so. I have no doubt that as you think yourself as lucky for having met him, he thought himself lucky for meeting you. Everything you were met everything he was, and it sounds like there was magic.

  5. Thanks Mark. I think we were a good match, and we would have continued to help each other grow. It did feel like magic. Xx