Dear Gary —
It’s been four years since you left this earth for a cancer-free, pain-free existence in heaven. You were concerned about leaving me, so you hung on longer than predicted.
I have a sneaking suspicion you now know that I’m doing well.
There are a couple things I think you’d be proud of me for, things you did (or would have done) for me that I’ve learned to do on my own:
Like, now I almost always remember to check the gas gauge.
Recently the printer drum and toner lights both lit up. So, I ordered toner and a new drum and actually installed both when the printer refused to run any further. And now it’s working just fine, thank you.
I was in Idaho with your family for Thanksgiving — these amazing people who include me around their tables.
And then there will be a holiday table in New Jersey for an early Christmas with our daughter, son-in-law and the grands.
Later, in northern California, I’ll be part of the gathering around your youngest brother’s table.
Followed by another holiday gathering at the northern California coast with your sister and her family.
At all four family holiday meals, there will be a place missing at the table. A place you would have occupied.
I just wanted you to know that we who loved you best and most are all living forward, and memories and stories of you are still part of our lives.
Not long before you died, you taught me how to use the GPS on my phone, how to do mobile check deposits, how to manage online banking.
And you said in your deadpan way, “You’re going to need to look for a rich husband.”
At the time, I knew I’d never remarry.
And yet, this past year I’ve been thinking—as I hike alone and keep Friday date night alone—how nice it would be to do these things with someone who knows me well … yet still loves me fiercely.
While I’m not looking for a new husband, I think if the right person finds me, you would be pleased.
And I think there’s room in my heart for two very important men who will have played different roles in two very distinct seasons:
You, the husband of my youth with whom I had children, with whom we built a good life, who loved me unconditionally, who I fell deeper into love with as cancer was stealing you away from me.
And the new guy who will partner with me in ongoing ministry, because even though I’m old—according to certain unnamed, teenaged members of my family—I still have a good deal of hope and energy and creativity and enthusiasm and a ministry vision.
Other than that, the rest will be the same: I will love and respect him as I did you. I will roll my eyes at his corny jokes, and be his best friend, and establish a nurturing home, and feed him healthy stuff, and together we will enjoy the great outdoors.
And so, during these holidays—this favorite time of year—I hope you know I’m happy and deeply content and have much on my plate to be grateful for.
Oh, by the way …
In the spirit of full disclosure … um … there might have been a gas tank incident one time while driving home from Idaho.
I didn’t stop to fill up in that expensive, middle-of-nowhere spot. And I sweated those last miles into Bend.
One good thing, though: I now know I can go at least forty-two miles after the empty-tank warning light goes on. Good information to have, don’t you think?