Itís been nearly a year since I lost my wife tragically and unexpectedly. During that period of time, as you might anticipate, Iíve had my ups and downs. In total, we knew each other 34 years, 29 of which we were married. During our marriage, we only were apart three nights. Once when my wife was attending a business conference in Chicago. The second occasion was on a Saturday night when she drove her pickup truck and trailer to the northern part of the state to cut and haul firewood on her daughter and son-in-lawís property, and after an exhausting day of work, she was too fatigued to drive home that evening. The third time was nine years ago, when I was being held for observation at a local hospital emergency room for a heart issue. I suppose that sort of familiarity results in a strong co-dependence.
In the period after her passing, I recognized staying in my routines was necessary to maintain my mental and spiritual health. In addition, there were plenty of logistical issues to contend with, particularly hospital and doctor bills. One can assume they have excellent insurance coverage, but you only find out for sure when crisis situations like Iíve endured make such discoveries unavoidable. My own short-term goal was that if I could take things day by day, I would have weathered the worst of the storm by Memorial Day. As it happened, that timetable was fairly accurate.
I reached out to a lot of old acquaintances, and they reached out to me as well. I told many of them that it had been necessary to keep the home fires burning while I was married, so to some extent, I had neglected our friendships, which I again wanted to cultivate. But I should also mention that Iíve been bestowed the opportunity to meet new people and have new experiences. Relationships are the key to meaning in life. Someone can be surrounded by people and yet be lonely and unfulfilled, because their human interaction and spiritual dimension lacks depth. When you are widowed, that intimacy is lost in a profound way.
When I wake up at night, I often hear the ticking of a battery-operated clock in the master bathroom. The clock has been there for years, but I never noticed the sound before – it was masked by my wifeís soft breathing, or noise made when she was awakened to use the bathroom at night. Another odd realization happened while I was in the kitchen. My wife had a spice rack with several containers of food seasoning from a local grocery story that has been out of business for decades. I remember telling her to keep the containers when empty, since they might be collectors' items. Just the other day, I came home and saw her landscaping wagon and wheelbarrow in the yard I sadly considered that there is nobody here now to pull and push them. Any number of trivial incidences such as this bring upon a sudden assault of sadness or the temptation to be nostalgic.
One such event requires a little background. When I met Rita, she was an apartment rental agent. Her job didnít pan out and she moved in with another woman in a neighboring city. There was nowhere to go with her furniture so she sold it to a second-hand dealer. I bought her small grandfather clock because I had always wanted one. I joked that she married me, to get the clock back. On the day she sold the clock to me, I took her out for dinner, but had to borrow back some of the money I paid her, because the cash machine wouldnít dispense any additional funds to me that day. She moved out of town the following morning, thinking she would never see me or the money again. But I paid her back with interest and asked to see her on Saturday night. As I was searching in the dark for the new address, I was taken by the figure of a beautiful and elegant blonde-haired woman peering out the bay window to watch for my car. I suddenly remembered the old sixties song by Hermanís Hermits ďSomething tells me Iím into something good.Ē
Rita was born in Miami, and her biggest wish was to move back to Florida as a snowbird. We had vacationed in Florida many times during the cold Midwest winters. She was really in her element on those trips. My big regret was never being able to finish on my promise to bring her back there, running out of time together before I could keep my promise to her.
My step-daughter told me that instead of regretting, I should hold my head high. She told me that her mother may have appeared to have it all together, but that she was really struggling in her life when she met me, and my presence in her world brought great stability that she needed to flourish. I was reminded that her mother was in a better place than Florida: Heaven. One day soon we will all be reunited. I rest in the comfort.
Shortly before I met Rita, she wrote an adventure novel called ďEscape from Belize.Ē It was actually an autobiographical account of a trip she took to Central America. The vacation had been billed to her as the adventure of a lifetime, by a man she had known. In reality, it turned out to an unpleasant and potentially perilous nightmare. In the book, while flying back to the states, she mused that in life, when one door closes, another opens up.
For Rita, the last door was the entrance to Heaven. For me, itís the pathway to an unknown, but hopefully not unwelcomed frontier. In his providence, God has ordained me to be unmarried at this moment in time. I may never understand why, nor would it be productive to ask, but rather I must embrace an unknown future as a beautiful mystery.© Robert Meyer
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.