It's been two years now since I last held his hand. It's been two years since I looked into his eyes and said goodbye. It's been two years since I left that hospital room without him. The memories I have of that last week, of his last year and a half, are so vivid it's as if my body has an internal clock that memorized every moment. It brings me such sadness that when I am asked about him, my first thoughts are of his battle with cancer. That even though that fight was such a small portion of our life together, that is the part that got deeply imprinted on my heart. When I close my eyes I can picture his face so clearly, though it quickly morphs to the picture in my mind's eyes to him with the oxygen machine attached to it.
Reflecting on our time together it makes sense to me that I would remember those last months so vividly, but not just because of the trauma involved. From the moment he brought the diagnosis home, we finally stopped taking each other for granted. We stopped focusing on the logistics of caring for three little girls, and spent time with them. When we went to dinner, we actually took in what the other was saying. We stopped expecting that we would have decades to spend together, and enjoyed the gift of the present we had. So when I look back at the landscape of life we created together, I am now choosing to focus my energy on the moments that passed us by as we took our life, love, and health for granted.
I remember how amused we were that when he proposed while at a camping trip, the ring box that had been given to him with the ring had a small light in it that lit up when the box was opened. Perfect for proposing in the dark..... I still have that box.
I remember our wedding day. After reaching the end of the aisle where I met my soon to be husband I saw my father's orchid that served as a boutonniere (a harlequin phalaenopsis) on C's suit, pinned upside down.... and I could barely suppress my giggles. After the ceremony I told him, then we decided to keep it that way for the pictures simply because we found it funny.
I remember on our honeymoon in San Francisco, we managed to snag a silver Chrysler Sebring convertible for our week long trip. We lucked out at the unseasonably warm weather and enjoyed crossing the golden gate bridge with it's top down as we headed to enjoy wine country together.
I remember having a difficult delivery with our oldest daughter, and being in and out of consciousness for the first two hours of her life. C spent those two hours holding her 7lb 9oz body, in a chair with no arm rests. Even though he was offered the option of putting her in a bassinet if he needed to give his arms a break, he didn't want to. He treasured that time, he always felt so strongly bonded to her and contributed it in part to those first hours he had with her.
I remember our one and only overnight trip without the two girls, before discovering that a third would join our family the next year. We headed north to see Falling Water in Pennsylvania. We both enjoyed craftsman architecture, having a special fondness for Frank Lloyd Wright and got to geek out together on the tour.
There are so many of these little moments we shared. I spend a great deal of time focusing on those memories that make me smile, the ones that make me feel loved, the ones that make me feel lucky for having the time together that we did. So today, as the girls and I follow our traditions that honor his life, I won't be checking Facebook nor will I be answering texts..... I will focus on our time together, stories we will share, answering questions the girls have about Daddy, tears and smiles.... and I will remember it because I will be fully present for them and not taking the time I have with them for granted.