I asked Dave once, very early in our relationship, why he loved me. At this stage we were just starting out and so it was not a frivolous question.  I was genuinely curious because we were such an unlikely pair. So, why me? I was almost a foot shorter than him, nothing to write home about in the looks department.  Oh, I have a wicked sense of humor and am very smart but to look at us as a couple must have been an enigma for most people.   Dave was movie star handsome, with the body of an athlete, which of course he was. Dazzling blue eyes, the softest curly hair, strong chin, six pack abs and legs like a gazelle. He moved with the catlike grace of someone who was completely sure of every step he took.

He was respectful and polite, like most well brought up Southern boys. And he was extremely intelligent, you could see that in his eyes....this insatiable curiosity he had about everything (that was something huge we had in common, actually).  He was 7 years younger than me, but he looked even younger than he was. He was as wild as a mustang and as gentle as a lamb, the kind of guy that they write novels about. Women had no compunction about coming on to him, even in my presence, I was such a non-threatening companion.  So sometimes it made me feel a little insecure about why he had chosen me to be with.  

He was a little taken aback by me asking him why he loved me and at first he hesitated to answer me, other than to say it only mattered that he did love me and did the reasons really matter. He was actually a little bit offended because he thought I was doubting him. I explained to him that I was doubting me. I had been so hurt and confused when my marriage broke up I just wanted to make sure I understood where we stood on the whole "love you forever" thing, because I had been promised that before and we saw how that turned out. He had suffered the same fate in his previous marriage and immediately understood my need to have this question answered. After a few minutes of deep thought, this is what he said to me.

"I will only tell you this once because it the truth and you know I don't lie. Once you know this, you know it forever and you don't ever have to ask me again because truth does not change. Okay?  Okay."

"You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and you always will be. Because I see you with my heart.  From the moment I had that first conversation with you, I  knew you were part of my destiny. Not because of what you are on the outside but because of what you are on the inside. I love you because of your heart...it is the biggest one I have ever seen. When I look at you, that is what I see...I see how much you care, how kind you are and how strong you can be.You shine with such an inner light. It is like you glow...I see it every time I look at you.  You are the beacon that lights my path now. That is what makes you so special to me. Don't ever forget that.  I love you and that is all that matters to either of us."

I never had to ask him again.

In all our years together never once did I ever for one minute doubt the strength or depth of his love for me, nor mine for him. Do you know what a gift it is to be so completely sure of some one's love that you never have to feel doubt or fear? To feel complete acceptance for who and what you are. So many relationships are plagued by
 insecurities that they never have a chance to evolve to that higher level. Our relationship was founded on the most profound bond two human beings can share because it was grounded in pure love.

Fifteen years later, when he was so sick and we knew that he was going to have the fight of his life against the cancer, we spent a lot of days just talking about our life together. We were having one of those days when he said this to me. 

"Remember what I told you all those years ago? About why I loved you. I think sometimes that you think you have been the lucky one in our life but that is not true. I have been the lucky one, to have someone like you in my life.  Your strength has always come from you heart , from how much love you are capable of giving...and not just to me and your family. It is who you are, it is your life force. Your love is unconditional and you give it freely with no strings attached. Not many people can say that. 

 I have never known a stronger woman than you but you have to be strong for both of us now. I am sorry about that but there isn't much I can do about it. It is just how it is. But know this...You are the one, you are the only and I will love you for all eternity. "

 We were so deeply joined together that I occasionally I wondered how I had lived without him all those years before I met him or how I would live without him if something every happened, although those thoughts were fleeting and rare.  Sadly, I no longer have to wonder about the latter of those musings. Every day now I struggle with that reality and it is very, very hard.

On March 24th, 2010 the light that guided me was extinguished by kidney cancer.  Dave was right about my being strong but he was a bit wrong about assuming that his gift of love didn't come without a price. I am paying for it now with little pieces of my soul and sometimes I feel like that light in me is going out, too. What I wrote earlier is almost verbatim from that original conversation. I wrote down much of the words Dave said to me that day and kept them with me all these years. I kept them in my jewelry case but never really looked at them, until Dave got sick again. They are now etched in my memory and I don't really have trouble remembering the words because I read them so often in the few months before he died, to give me the strength I needed to hold him up through that hell we went through. I think I did a pretty good job, I tried to, anyway. 
"Lost love is still love. It just takes a different form, that's all. You can't hold their hand, you can't tousle their hair. But when those senses weaken, another one comes to life. Memory. Memory becomes your partner, you hold it, you dance with it. Life has to end, Love doesn't."

This was posted on  my Facebook page today...

I have been conspicuously absent (mostly) from Facebook for a while.   I haven't posted any long rants or philosophical meanderings in quite a while and it has been like a vacation.  I did this on purpose because quite frankly, all the negativity on FB was starting to drag me back into a place I didn't want to go.   I struggle enough with the sadness of life without my soul twin, although I do try very hard to find something to counter that on a daily basis.  The main reason I am now in Portland, Oregon, 3000 miles from most of my family and a lot of my friends, in a city were I knew fewer people than the fingers on one hand when I got here 4 months ago, is because I am searching for a LAD...Life After Dave.  

It is not easy and making this move was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done.  I sucked that fear up (because fear is the mind killer, after all) and moved ahead. I had a lot of support and help from some very near and dear people to take this step and I am making some headway with figuring out my place in this new surrounding.  I could not have come to a more healing place...at least for me...because this part of the world is the one place where all the memories I have of our life together are good ones. No horror show memories of my dying husband, no evil inlaws, no memories of the life I lost...and I lost so very, very much when Dave died. 

I will always carry this wounded heart with me, it is part of who I have become. But it is not a physical wound...it is a psychic, spiritual one, it goes very deep and I don't think that it will ever really "heal". Too much has changed and this knowing that I am no longer the same is with me all the time. It crushed me for a long time and I almost lost myself to it.  Now, I am simply learning how to live with the pain of it all...what was a raw throbbing bleeding hole in my soul is now a dull ache that is with me all the time. I can deal with that. And quite honestly, these feelings are a constant reminder of how amazing life is, was and can be, because for every sad, tragic thought I have, there is always a stronger one of love and joy and happiness, so I don't think I even want them to fade completely away.  

What this is, this journey, is an opportunity to reset my life...not to start over but to set my feet on a new path, although I really have no idea where it is going to take me right now.  Experiences have brought me to the edge of our final destination and I want my passage there to be on my terms for as much as I can control that.  I want the last leg of my trip to do justice to the life I have lived so far, to honor the people I love and to use the lessons I have learned to make sure that I arrive at that last door with a smile on my face and only love in my heart.  

Namaste, all my beloveds, namaste.  
"You have become my greater self;
how can smallness limit me?
You have taken on my being,
how shall I not take on yours?
Forever, you have claimed me
that forever I may know that you are mine."

~ Rumi

Yesterday was Bob Marley's birthday. He would have been 68 years old.  Bob was a personal favorite of ours, especially Dave because so much of what he (Bob) wrote resonated with him (Dave).  Anyway, these words say a lot to me...

"The winds that sometimes take something we love
are the same that bring us something we love.

Therefore, we should not cry about something that was taken from us, but,
yes, love what we have been given.

Because what is really ours is never gone forever."

~Bob Marley

Love isn't perfect

Love isn't perfect. It isn't a fairytale or a storybook and it doesn't always come easy. Love is overcoming obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on and never letting go. It is a short word, easy to spell, difficult to define and impossible to live without. Love is work, but most of all, love is realizing that every hour, every minute, every second was worth it because you did it together.

 I have always been strong, confident, almost on the edge of cocky. I have alway been completely sure of myself and since my Dave died I am completely lost sometimes. I have never had this experience before and I have a hard time dealing with it. Even when I was divorced, after 25 years of marriage, I didn't go to pieces. I just did what I had to do and get along okay. But maybe that was because I had two kids that depended on me still. Now it is pretty much me and my companion animals. My kids are grown, married with lives of their own. Dave was my best friend, as well as partner in all things and that has been a blow, too. I try to explain that to people sometimes....losing your husband, your lover, your champion and your best friend all in one fell swoop is very, very hard.

5 Months Living in My House of Pain

I used to look down that imaginary road toward my future and see nothing but a shining light at the end because Dave was walking beside me on that road, holding my hand. Now when I try to look into the future there is simply nothing there and try as I might, I can't conjure up any mental image of anything that looks remotely like something that might be called happiness. Maybe it is just too soon to feel any other way.  That is what I want to believe and that so that is what I will believe. Or at least, I will try to believe.

Yesterday marked five months since Dave died. Those five months will stretch into a year, that year will become five more and nothing will have changed. That is my biggest fear, I guess, that nothing will have changed. Dave taught me that "fear it the mind killer" (that came from one of our favorite movies) and he was right.  Most of the things I fear right now are in my head, things that I think about, not things that actually exist. He also taught me that the past is gone and the future hasn't happened yet, so live in the moment, live in the now. I know that he was right about those things but my "now" doesn't include him and it sucks and I don't want to live in it. Man, if he could see me wallowing in this grief he would be so pissed off.

Being this despondent is not in my nature. I am generally not given to bouts of depression or even extreme sadness.  I have always tried to be happy. Not the bubbly, smiley type of bliss that I think most people think of when they think of someone who is happy. Just not my style.  It has never been necessary for me to have possessions to make me happy, although I believe that anybody who thinks that any object is the key to happiness is a little off kilter anyway.  Happiness for me is a more serene state, one where I feel good about myself and others.

Having someone in my life to love and to be loved by has been the key for me. Practical, down to earth Me knows that nobody is responsible for my happiness but me. But romantic, love to be in love Me wants somebody in her life. But not just anybody. She wants Dave and she would do anything under Heaven and Earth if it was possible to get him back here. Well, almost anything...I imagine there are several things I would not even consider, but you get my drift.

So, what do I do with all that. I have a group of other widow friends who offer a hand or shoulder when needed.  Some are newer at this than I and some are much farther down their own roads.  No one has said that they are "over" their grief, only that they have learned to put it in a place where it is not so painful to deal with every day.  I guess there is some truth to the saying that "without the darkness we wouldn't appreciate the light" and so on. Maybe without the pain, we wouldn't cherish the love.  So much love brings so much pain.