"I am still missing having a husband—now defined by me as 'someone who has to love you.' ... How much a widow misses even the faults of her husband.... I miss the diversion his interests provided me from my heavy melancholy over-serious thoughts....
"What I've discovered about [his] continuing presence in my life ... is not its strength (that ebbs and flows), but its depth.... What seems most alive about [him] is not our conversations ... (although I remember many of them) or mutual interests, but the subflooring of what we were, are, to each other. The gift of self that we gave each other—that still lives, something to be relied upon, called upon still.
And I do."
—Ronda De Sola Chervin, Becoming a Handmaid of the Lord
A little over a week ago, my husband's mother died—three and a half years, to the day, after David (whom I've written about here and here) left this layer of existence and entered a layer that we usually have only inadequate means to perceive.
This past Tuesday morning I drove south a hundred-plus miles to attend the funeral. Traffic was lighter than what I'd expected. Almost there, I did manage to miss a left turn and had to backtrack about five miles.
The last time I'd been in that chapel was to attend David's funeral—an exceedingly painful day, for both obvious and personal reasons. Walking into that space on Tuesday felt like stepping through a time tunnel—even more so than I'd imagined it would. And I had.
Here was a mourning family that I'd once—a long once—had a place in—as a wife, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law. I hadn't seen any of them for many—too many—months, and suddenly here we were, together again—because another one of us had left—in search of, broken-hearted, the one who, too soon, had gone before us.
Hours later—after a timeout with a cup of decaf at Starbucks and a long detour after turning right when I should have turned left—I finally arrived at the cemetery where now the bodies of both David and his mother are buried. The work of returning the earth to the place from which it had earlier been removed was just being finished. I stood awkwardly over David's stone as I waited for the workers to leave. When they were gone, I let go: I hadn't realized how much grief was still in me. I cried out to David. I cried out to his mother. And I'm not done yet.
A couple of days ago I wrote here about needing an angel of the Lord to say yes to by means of writing here. One of these angels has spoken, I think. This angel has said, write about David. So that's what I will do, every day, for as long as it takes, for as long as seems necessary: I will write what I remember. I will write what I mourn. I will write what I celebrate.
To begin (and to end today's post):
At the funeral on Tuesday, one of David's brothers shared that something their mother said to them repeatedly while they were growing up was, "Don't interrupt!" This is why, he said, they are all such "good listeners." David, indeed, was that. (And he remembered everything he heard.) In fact, it's one of the primary reasons I miss him. During the years of our separation (those before his death, that is), we spoke frequently by phone. I remember at least once when, after I'd talked for a couple of minutes, I asked him, "So, what's happening with you?" and he replied, "No, no, this one's all about you. I can talk about me next time. It's your turn." I realize now that he often did that without announcing it.
As I drove around lost on Tuesday, as I wept at the cemetery, as I inched my way toward home during rush hour (a normally two-hour drive took nearly four), and as I crawled into bed alone that night, I wanted that part of David more than anything or anyone.