In case you don’t know (although I’m fairly certain most of you probably do) Facebook has an “On This Day” function, which basically shows you photos and updates that you’ve posted in previous years on a particular date. Since A passed, this has been one of the things I look forward to most each day. The look back at little moments I may have forgotten or pictures of the two of us or places we’ve been often sparks a memory or brings a smile to my face or laugh to my lips even as it may bring a tear or two to my eyes.
Last year around this time, I was still in the midst of my widow’s fog and not really fully aware of things. At least, if I had been aware of them, the thoughts didn’t stick, much like the first gentle snowflakes on an otherwise mild day. This time around, I’m reading through past years’ memories and trying to absorb them, focusing on remembering the feelings of the day, or the look on A’s face, or even the sound of his voice. The longer it gets from the day he died, the harder it sometimes gets until I wonder if my recall can be fully trusted or am I looking back through the filter of lost love, their edges softened by time.
This year, when I stumble across a memory from the early months of 2016, I feel as though I’m witnessing the love story of a woman who had no idea how her life would turn upside down and inside out in a short while. I have a front row seat to the life of a long-time committed couple whose female half was completely oblivious to what was to come. She was utterly and blissfully unaware of the abrupt ending to her romance looming just around the corner.
This could have me constantly in tears and cursing the Universe and God, but instead I marvel at how often, after being together for more than 32 years, we would still send each other little messages of adoration, or proclamations of love, or even the occasional X-rated compliments. Who am I kidding? My husband made at least a dozen perverted comments a day; he still found me desirable after all those years, and did everything he could to make me feel (and believe) it.
In many ways, seeing these memories that were made just a short while before his heart attack are all the more special because we had no idea what was coming. We weren’t facing a fatal diagnosis and trying to “live like we were dying”. We were simply going about our normal lives.
In our case, “normal” was to spend a great deal of time together. The amounts of time most people generally experience in the early days of a relationship or after retirement. It is unusual for a couple who had spent the previous 32 years together to still want to be together as much as we were. But we were often uncomfortable if we weren’t spending time with each other. (I’m not bragging, but simply setting the scene for you.)
So watching our story unfold in this way, almost as an observer in the front row, is a bit surreal and often I feel I’m viewing it as an outsider. To then allow myself to remember that this isour story is almost mind-boggling. To witness the everyday moments of sweetness, tenderness and a deep, deep love only to then accept that I was the recipient of these moments astounds me. And makes me even more grateful and appreciative than when those memories were being made.
It wasn’t automatic, and it took me awhile to truly be cognizant of it all, but I did my best to acknowledge each sweet gesture as they occurred, as well as to show my husband what he meant to me – to the best of my ability. I’ll admit that I am only human and sometimes incapable of truly putting into action the feelings I contained, but I like to think with practice, I was at least moderately successful in doing so, and that A knew what he meant to me. I know he tried very successfully to show and tell me how he felt, although he, too, learned to do so through trial and error through the years.
So to see these expressions of love in black and white – these small moments that may otherwise be lost forever, overshadowed by the larger, more obvious actions and words – is a treasured gift and my front row seat to a life filled with love.
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