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!