Monday, January 24, 2011

I Just Need to Tell You Something

Hi honey,

You are probably wondering why I am writing this letter. Usually I save the letter writing for the anniversary of the day you died, sort of a look back on the year gone by, but today I ran into D at the grocery store and realized that there are still some stories that only you would understand. Since the celestial phone appears to be out of order, I turned to my old staple, the keyboard, to update you on some news.

Our friend D has put her husband M into a full time care facility. He has been diagnosed with a complicated mix of dementia and Parkinson's disease. I haven't seen D in years and as we stood in the aisle catching up on marriages, babies, business, fitness, and all things small town...I asked, "How is M?" Her face fell and she told me about his new home like she was confessing a sin. As she stood quietly telling me the story of their medical journey, my mind flashed to our dinner out with them at that Italian place. Remember the one where the portions were so big we nearly rolled away from the table? The next memory frame was of the four of us riding bicycles down the trail getting them ready for that trip to Holland. You were so patient with M who was already struggling with memory loss and a sinking self esteem. I remember the nights you and I wondered about how long D would be able to take care of him by herself. As we lay in our dark room discussing the inevitability of what D and M would eventually face, we held each other a little closer as if to ward off the coming travesties of disease and mortality. All of this flashed in my brain as I stood between the chips and the sauces searching for the right words to let D know that we believe she is doing everything humanly possible to care for M.

As I walked away from our dear friend I turned to talk to you. I felt you next to me, and knew that for a moment we were standing side by side reaching out to someone we care about who is in a pain we knew would come. All the way home from the store I felt this need to call you. I wanted to ask you how it could be so long since we talked to M and D; relay the ins and outs of the story so you could ask questions that would identify any details I missed, and I wanted to revisit the days when we held each other a little tighter to ward off the long shadow of future trouble. But you and I have come to know the unpredictability of the future rather well, and we have been schooled in the reality that sometimes the shadows we don't expect are the ones that overtake us. Would we ever have thought that poor D would outlive strong, healthy, prime of your life you? Six years ago that idea would have been unthinkable, but what did we know then?

After fighting with an unsettled feeling all day, I sat down here to let you know that there are still days when you are the only one who will understand what I have to say. There are parts of my history so intertwined with yours that no amount of explaining to another will yield the same result as a good sit down chat with you. For a long, long time this realization was a searingly painful part of my everyday reality. But over the past five years I have learned to be grateful that you and I share a portion of my life that will never be repeated. As I forge my way forward into a future that unfolds with new wonder every day, I take comfort in knowing that there are parts of my past that belong only to us.

I love you,



  1. Thank you for a very sweet and touching letter. It touched me on several levels. We met when we were 16 and 17 and have a long history together until he died at age 63, and now I am the carrier of our long history together, and that is a lonely job. Also, John was the healthiest person, and shockingly died before others who did not appear as healthy. He had a father who lived to be 97, he always ate healthy, didn't smoke, drank only socially on occaision, ran for 29 yrs, and didn't even drink soda or coffee. He went to his MD and dentist regularly for physicals and for all recommended checkups. Two months after an annual physical, he became ill and was diagnosed with Stage 4 gastric cancer, and was dead in 6 mo. He was a really good man. We did have 6 mo to say goodbye, and I am thankful for that. But all his energy was focused on trying to stay alive and enduring the side effects of chemo. That was 2 1/2 yrs ago and I will miss him and mourn him all the days of my life. Thank you for giving me a place to express these thoughts.

  2. Well said...and what I constantly feel about my DH Don! Intimacy isn't just about the physical, it's about SHARING on all levels, I miss the sharing and the 26+ years of sharing that produced a shared history...I miss that everyday!

  3. Thank you for sharing this. There are many times that I want to turn to my DH James and talk to him and reminisce. We had 18 and a half year together. There is so much that we shared together that I am grateful for.

  4. Michele, thank you for pouring yourself out to us. My forever love has only been gone 5 1/2 months and it still does not seem real. He was a part of my every breath for almost 30 years and now I feel like an alien on a foreign planet. I know that it was a great gift to be Steves' wife and I cherish that most of all, but I miss the small talk we had every day.

  5. what can I say, but i write letter to my husbands email, which I have never closed. Sometimes I email back what I think he might say. At times tto, I feel his presence and talk to hin like he is sitting right beside me. Who else shares our history with our children! No one else could care about them the way he did.

  6. Thanks for sharing such a personal letter. I can only applaud you for writing, as I am unable to do it myself and instead have hundreds of thoughts running all over my brain 24/7. Your letter's contents have struck me in the past couple of weeks. Missing the talks, sharing of ideas - and there is no one else I can do it with.That' what happens when you loose your spouse. You loose that connectivity.