Jan 2, 2018

Losing the Love of my Life

Being sure is but the border-wall we place around a heart
to ward off the skin-stripping wind of the next living moment.

Joaquín Ramón Herrera

Day One.
Chaos cloaked as kind help.  Shaking dozens of unknown hands, all there to eagerly assist.  Signing endless paperwork, making someone else’s life feeling important, needed.  Translating help in a foreign country.  Hugs.  A simple offer of a green handkerchief wiping the tears away.  Amazed they are all available on a Sunday!
A process. 
A heavy bureaucracy. 
No control of the situation. 
They lead, I follow.
I am numb.  I can only cry out that I LOVE HIM. Final words I hope he heard.  I caress his lifeless body one more time,
one more time,
ok, just one more time.
At first sight, I knew it was over.  I had a premonition the night before.  A premonition I didn’t share with Mike, not wanting to ‘scare’ him.  Not wanting to face it.  We had been so connected for so long, my mind knew. A premonition, his daughter told me later, she had two nights prior.
What hurts the most or makes the least sense is that there is nothing I can do. 
I can’t change anything. 
I can’t do anything. 
I can’t help. 
I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.
That is so unlike what we’ve done for each other over these 28 years.  I want to help but suddenly I am completely useless.
Acceptance slowly sets in taking a part of my soul along with it.
As words from friends and family gradually trickle in they pick me up above the fog.  I move forward remembering Mike’s favorite saying:
If you don’t live on the edge, you are taking too much space.
I must find my new edge.
            In good time.

Day two.
I now walk this path alone.
Alone with my thoughts, alone, feeling hollow.  The streets we walked dozens of time now feel and look so different; gray, foggy, non-descript, the colors have washed away. 
No one close to share the new things I learn.
No one to cuddle in the dark of night or pre-dawn.
No one to surprise with freshly discovered delights.
No one to question why or what I am doing.
I had no plan B but who does?
Mike was to live as long as me, traveling this beautiful world but,
it wasn’t to be.
Part of his training for Ironman was to stay healthy so we could continue this adventure ‘forever’…  It was to ‘protect’ me.
We were in this together – supporting one another to the fullest.
I’m lucky I was there when it happened.
It was so quick.  Immediately his body stopped responding to his command, no longer governing anything.  Within seconds his beautiful bright blueish-gray eyes were dull, lifeless and without focus.  CPR did not help.  Within minutes his colors faded except for his now purplish-blue lips.  There was no coming back.
His last breath was filled with the smell of the delicious pesto, cheese, and sourdough bread we had for lunch that day.  The first time, in five years of being in Mexico, we were finally able to find decent homemade pesto and sourdough bread – oh the timing! 
The things one notices under duress.
His last moment was spent reading comfortably in bed prior to our late afternoon walk.  He simply bent over to pick up water and never made it back up.

Many days later.
I am at peace, but little things set me off crying anew, left with a sense of hopelessness.
The five o’clock alarm still chiming on his watch, ready for training. 
The smell of morning coffee we always shared.
Ripples on the pool’s water.
People walking hand in hand.
Someone brushing hair away from their lover’s eyes.
Driving to a new destination.
Why is it that it is seemingly easier to handle the big stuff like consulate, police, cremation, doctors but not smells, images, gestures, memories, or sounds?
            A dog barking.
            An intricate sculpture.
            An encounter with a decent person.
            Rereading what I just wrote…
All subtle reminders of my love for Mike. 
All friendly reminders that life is so short. 
All needed reminders that it’s easy not to be in the moment, no longer paying attention.
The previous day Mike had said I should take pictures of him by the pool to show that even though he was training for Ironman he knew how to relax, which he did. 
We didn’t take the time…  Now these photo ops are gone forever.
I don’t feel the need for the what ifs.  It won’t accomplish anything.  Time to honor Mike’s love of life by moving on.  I am undertaking an adventure that Mike would’ve loved – a 75-day African safari starting in January 2018. 
I’m incredibly thankful to all my family and friends.  You are my lifeline.  It would be a lot harder without you.
My sadness reflects the immense love I had for Mike, the heart remembering most what it has loved best.  I am lucky.  I am well. 
In his honor please live now. 
Take the time. 
Love and tell them you love them.
Finishing Ironman Coeur D'Alene, June 2017

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