That farewell kiss which resembled greeting, that last glance of love which becomes the sharpest pang of sorrow. ~ George Eliot
The last time we saw each other, the last time we touched each other, was on November 21, 2011, on the dock at Big Bay. You were about to start a ten-day rotation at the island hunting camp where you’d recently started working. When we kissed goodbye, you said with a mischievous twinkle in your eye, “Live five years longer than me!” This was an expression you’d made up, based on a study that said partners who kissed each other every day when leaving for work lived on average five years longer than those who don’t. How you turned that idea into your bizarre parting expression I had no idea. I’d long since stopped trying to figure out how your brain worked.
Three days later, you were gone. A candle in the wind.
As of today, I have officially outlasted your final blessing, if one could call it that. Five years. Feels both shorter and longer than that.
Confession: I’ve ignored my blog this year. Totally ignored it. I’m done with grieving, done with looking back, done with the past. Until tonight. I feel I need to revisit it, to be the Rambler one last time, to mark this significant anniversary, this passage of time, this continuing existence without you, my sunshine, my once-upon-a-time wife. So I’m going through old notebooks and photographs, as well as old blog and Facebook posts, meeting up with familiar strangers and trying to reconcile the past with present day me. I’m not sure I can effectively integrate all that though, and probably shouldn’t even try. You are in the spirit world. We did the ceremonies and let you go. You are at peace. And me? Day by day, life is getting better, with joy outweighing sadness.
Interlude: from a recent trip to Cuba. An amazingly powerful song, sung to me directly, in a famous music den in Santiago-de-Cuba called Casa de la Trova. The song felt very raw and personal. My Spanish isn’t good enough to tell me if the singer is singing about love, or revolution, or both. I just know, she sang directly to my heart.
I shared my Cuban adventures with a new partner. Yes, life has blessed me with another wonderful love, another chance to live authentically and love completely, to feel joy in my heart again. I’ve been blessed recently with frequent reminders about giving back, learning that to be self-absorbed is, ultimately, to be lonely; to avoid contemplation and silence is to court chaos and dis-ease. Fortunately, my new love and I are very sympatico about these things, just as you and I were, Traci.
(Some people would find it weird that I mention a new love in a blog filled with memories of my late wife. But you would understand, and that’s all that really matters. You taught me so much about how to love. Why waste all those lessons?)
A few weeks after your death, I wrote in a journal to you, “My love, there is so much to say, and yet so little that needs to be said.” Since then, I wrote so much, at first to you in our journal, and then sharing with the world through this blog a bigger picture of how wonderful you were, hoping my words would bring solace and hope to others who are grieving, trying in a very public way to make sense of it all, and sometimes – let’s face it – rambling on a bit too long. I felt compelled to write and share, and from the feedback I received, I feel some good was achieved. But life moves on, all things must pass, and all that jazz.
This may be it for the Valley Road Rambler. Hard to say. For now, I’ll just sign off with, as you and I always said to one another,
See you when I see you … Love you til then.