Dear Gary —
One of the tools from a widow grief class was letter-writing, beginning with these words: “My favorite memory of you is …” The problem with that: There are so many favorite memories of you. In fact, there are entire categories of memories.
Being the overly efficient person you married, here are some of my favorite memories. By category. And alphabetized. Just for the fun of it.
Dear Gary …
Your adventurous spirit.
You and I planned a hiking trip to Switzerland for our anniversary—you even got your passport—when you mapped out a two-week road trip. “Could we do this instead?” you asked. Of course. Hiking in the Tetons; touring through Yellowstone and Cody, Wyoming; riding horses above Steamboat Springs, Colorado; and exploring through the orange canyons of Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion in Utah.
The cancer years made you more adventurous. You taught me that we should make memories and live while you still had life. And this Wild West road trip was my absolute favorite adventure with you.
I will never forget that you fought cancer courageously. You had just had a medical procedure — the insertion of nephrostomy tubes. We were flying to Seattle for your first clinical trial treatment two days later. You rolled me out of bed while it was still dark, we boarded a plane to Seattle, took a train to city center, and caught a bus up the hill to the hospital.
After sitting with chemo dripping into you, we made the reverse trip to the airport. It wasn’t until after we got through security and made it to our gate that I noticed the gray shade of your face, the dark circles under your eyes. You should have let me know how you were feeling, but you were pleased to be included in this clinical trial. So of course you weren’t going to say anything.
This memory describes how you handled cancer and treatment during the ten years. With hardly a complaint. With so much courage and hope.
I had always thought of you as a left-brained, analytical, computer-programmer sort of guy. And you were that. But you also had a creative side that showed up during the cancer years. Like, your interest in helping craft our tag-team presentation. Of all people, you—who would rather not stand in front of an audience—did an exceptional job of incorporating your dry humor as we shared our story.
And speaking of your humor.
Through the years, you said so many funny things with a straight face that caused me to throw my head back and hoot. Even as you were dying. Like when I sent our daughter Summer shopping for extra extra large pajama bottoms to fit over your swollen legs and abdomen. You held them up and said, without cracking a smile, “Your next husband’s gonna have to be XXL.”
Your unconditional love.
If any wife ever felt loved by her husband — warts and all — it was I. You never tried to change me, although heaven knows I needed growing up. Instead, you loved and appreciated me; and you supported my sometimes harebrained ideas (after first noting what could possibly go wrong with them).
* * *
I saw this quote on a meme recently:
In French you don’t say, ‘I miss you.’ You say, ‘Tu me manques,’ which means you are missing from me.
To be more accurate, it means, “You are missing to me.” But I rather like the You-are-missing-from-me sentiment. Because there is this important something that is missing from me, and it is in the exact shape of you.
I’m doing well, but somehow I think you know that. You told me that you wanted me to remarry (an extra extra large man, in fact). But I am very content, and keeping gratitude lists running through my head, and you are missing from me.
With all my love and … (warning: unoriginal line coming up) … thanks for the memories,
Who would you miss if he/she were missing from you?
P.S. If you found this post fun to read, or know of someone who is missing someone, please share, tweet or pin!
Peter Howe B.E.M.
As I said, ‘My thoughts of brother Dave bring him to me and through God’s good Grace I’m able to keep him with me’, in much of what I am doing. I recorded a CD of my/our songs not too long ago for our grand daughter Laura’s Toma Fund and dedicating it to ‘David’ plus my Barbara ‘and who wouldn’t’, plus others etc. He was a driving force to complete it and get it out there…. will be singing some songs tonight at a gig, so ‘he will be with me’. My diary of ‘Across USA cycle challenge’ is almost into book form, again there is a dedication for and to ‘David’, especially on his birthday. I’m singing songs of praise for folks this afternoon and ‘David’ will be there with me to help me through, he always is. Now there’s a title for a song……..’On days like these’… must give it thought. Bye and may you keep motivating folks, we appreciate the push. God Bless, Barbara & Peter.
Peter Howe B.E.M.
Failing to respond to your ‘I want you on my team’ has brought me here right now with ‘You are missing from me’.
I can’t be more sorry for not responding as above however my reasoning is the same reason. I/we lost my younger brother David when he was just 29, in 1977… he was my best friend, my pal, we played sport (soccer, rugby, athletics) at a very representative level together, we were police officers together, we sang and composed songs together and as families he and his wife and 2 children and our family used to holiday together where David and I would surf two or three times each day for hours. So, David was ‘on my team’ and ever since he left us he has always remained there in my life’s decisions, journeys, travels, turns and trials, so much so I deal with that ‘you are missing from me’ by including ‘him’ to inspire me with melodies and lyrics for the songs I/we compose and his presence as described is ever comforting in my earthly life and for this I thank God. Thanks once again for stirring positiveness. Bye for now, Peter.
Peter – Twenty-nine is too young to lose a brother and best friend. I’m so sorry for your loss in 1977. Someone’s been missing from you all these years.
You have amazing strength my friend. I’m happy to have walked across that Bridge in the photo with You and Gary.????
Juanita, my favorite creekside spot with favorite fallen tree and bridge! Sometimes when I’m hiking there and find someone else sitting on my favorite rock, I get a bit perturbed. Smile.
I think this is my favorite post of all and the title says so much.
Hugs, Terri, from one person to another who knows what it’s like to have someone missing from us.
As always another wonderful way to share your journey without your beloved ????
There are some things that surprise me, Margaret: How quickly the time has passed; and that, although I’m doing well in terms of joy and contentment, how strongly I still miss Hubby; how clearly I remember so many adventures and conversations and his facial expressions; and how often I still think of him. I guess I thought these things would diminish with the passing of time.
I always feel like I am a better person when I’m with my husband. I can’t imagine him”missing from me forever!” I think your story just gave me a glimpse of how you and others who have lost a spouse are feeling. Even though we are defiantly individuals, we are “as one”. Doing life as “one” while missing half of that “one”. You are sharing what most people will face at some point in their life. ????????
“I always feel like I am a better person when I’m with my husband.” Wise words, Jeannie. I know that’s how I certainly felt with Gary. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.