I sit here on my little patio, rocking back and forth, reading my favorite Psalms over and over to comfort myself. I know I should be able to apply the balm of the beautiful sunshine and warmth, of the pretty place I now live, of the many gifts God has given me, but it won’t soak in. There is some type of repellent in my soul refusing to allow for the fact that you are really, truly gone and I will never walk along these cobblestone streets adorned with patio lights, in the dusk of the day, with my hand in yours. There is a vice grip around my heart that squeezes so hard it takes my breath away as I walk the streets of my life alone. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but I know I have. As it turns out, some people are more patient and understanding, while others seem to expect more of me than I have to give. I cannot figure out how to go on, even after 4 ½ months. I don’t want to go on, but I am afraid to say it. Scotty, my darling, my dearest love, I was not prepared for you to leave so early. I realize now how much you protected me. Your love was a banner over me, shielding me from the storms assailing our lives. In the quiet of the night, nestled within the warmth of your embrace, I would cry out all my confusion, hurt and pain, and you would whisper sweet sentiments softly as you kissed my hair. You’d brush the tears from my eyes and tell me it was all going to be alright. Then we would pray together, often for hours, until the storm in my soul subsided. You did this for 36 years, and now the depth of my loss and loneliness defies my ability to articulate it. So many who are safely within the arms of their loved ones fail to understand this. But who can blame them? It’s not like losing a parent, which is horrific. It’s not like losing a sibling, which is horrible. It’s not like losing a child, which is atrocious. It’s not like anything else. When a marriage is as deep and eternal as ours, it is losing yourself.
When people needed to share with me about losing their spouse of so many years, I would cry right along with them. Because I couldn’t bear to even imagine the pain if I ever lost you. And then I did lose you. I’m trying darling, I really am. I go out walking with the dogs. I ride my bike around. I paddle the little kayak around Lake Carillon. I redecorate the little condo. I even go out to dinner…alone. Sometimes I have to run to the car or into the apartment because I lose it. The future stretches out like a dreaded eternity, banished to this Earth so full of people and yet, so very alone in it. No one can fix this. I am fasting and praying a lot. Some people say I am showing some improvement. I hope they are right. But as I stand here alone by the fountain in the little Carillon Beach Market place, and throw penny after penny into its crystal clear water, I can only wish for hope. It’s a funny thing to wish for hope, isn’t it? I walk out onto the little fishing pier and watch the sun sink, orange and soft behind the shadowed palms, but it brings me no solace. I cannot stop noticing that the seat next to me on the bench is empty and it is too eerily quiet.
Let me tell you, as I did when you were with me, but once again: You were the best thing that ever happened to me in my life. You were the knight in shining armor that I refused to believe did not exist. You were my believer, my strongest ally, my deepest soul mate, my best friend, my sweet lover, my coach and mentor, my godly spiritual leader, my wisdom in want of it, my joy in sadness, my balm in pain, my laughter in depression, my other half. I had a crush on you from the day I met you leaning over the balcony at Wendy’s house, watching you mow the lawn on a Sunday. You looked up and stopped the mower. I looked down and my heart skipped a beat. We never stopped looking at each other that way; not for 37+ years. My heart still skipped a beat every time you peeked your head around the corner of my office door at the clinic with that ever-present smile, and those dear brown eyes that crinkled up quite a bit around the corners as we grew into our senior years together. What adventure was next as we grabbed the last three little Gordon girls up and headed out to hike, or kayak, or go to one of the million little fair days they had around Rangeley, or maybe a romantic dinner at table 10 at Forks in the Air Mountain Bistro? If I am very brave, and I seem to have some control of myself on a particular day, I go down to the new restaurant in the little town of Carillon where I now live. They all know our story as one of our littlest shared it all the first time we came. You know how much this dear child loves to “share!” At the restaurant they look at me sadly and take especially good care of me, which is a little embarrassing but still very nice and kind of them. I don’t get to see the little girls much now, though. They are happy and living busy lives with Jake and Alli, going to school, involved in their activities, and living almost an hour away. So I go alone.
I wish you could tell me; does it really get better? How can it get better? So much has gone wrong since you left. Sometimes I hear the Lord saying He has something for me yet to do, and then I wonder if perhaps I heard wrong. I am failing in so very many ways. I am so weak physically and emotionally. Sometimes I fear I cannot lift up the little dogs to put them on the bed at night. I shake. My body hurts so much.
The stones shimmered in the hot Florida sun as I walked alone down the pretty sidewalks bordered by white picket fences aligning pristine, beautiful beach homes. Lollie and Bandit pulled hard on their leashes and stopped to smell every vestige of prior canine signage. Even with the leashes putting pressure on my palms, my hands felt empty. I tried not to think of the past but, of course, I did anyway. Reminiscing about our life together is still so very raw in its stark contrast to today. I cannot stop the constant flow of tears initiated by the inevitable realization that I will be alone, without you, for the remainder of my days. Things have not been good at all with our children. I can’t seem to be able to make it right, and so I am more alone than ever in these twilight years between the dusk and nighttime of my life. These are the years when we planned to sit on one of these comforting benches along the azalea lined promenade, holding gnarly, arthritic, hands and looking lovingly into each other’s rheumy eyes, as the younger world passed to and fro. My hands are not yet gnarly, nor my eyes rheumy, and the days alone on the bench stretch out before me like the endless sea. Remember how we planned to get a house on a lake in the Tennessee mountains with a little beach and dock slide, and have Noah and all the other grandchildren come and spend summers? You were going to take him out on a little skiff and fish for our dinners. He likes me now. Noah, that is. He runs to me, crying “Gigi” and throws himself into my arms. He is the only one whose warm little body, when held close, reaches beyond the pain and touches that hidden, broken place in my heart with the balm of healing and love.
When I was on the cruise; on the ship, (not a boat…I remember!), I went to see a band play one night. It was not really one of the “dancing” clubs on board, and the musicians were playing reminiscent ’70’s music; our music. They played the Beatles’ Yesterday, and I began to tear up and feel that old familiar clutching in my chest. But it was bearable until the older couple sitting a few seats away stood and lovingly held one another, and began to sway gently together, as one, to the music. Strains of Color my World wafted around like a swirling mist of memory, and it was too much. I began to cry inconsolably, uncontrollably, and fled to my stateroom. I was happy for them, but not for me. Assailed by that realization that I would be alone for the rest of my days, I sat in my dark stateroom and cried off all my carefully applied makeup, looking out at the dark night and the turbulent seas churning beneath the keel. I was that ship; alone on a dark, turbulent, endless sea with no other vessels or safe harbor in sight. But as I sat, I heard that still, small voice again: I am with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong in Me and in the power of My might. (Heb.13:5, Eph.6:10). But I don’t want to be strong Lord! I want to go home and be with You, and Scott, and all the beloved who were faithful to the end! Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine, be done.