I had planned to write this on March 12th, the date of what would have been our 30th wedding anniversary. I'm afraid that I won't have it in me by then so I am doing it now. Even at that, as I sit here in the quiet of the morning, I don't exactly know what I am going to say. I'm not sure what I want to say. If you were here it would be so easy.
We had talked about this on and off ever since our 25th. We tried to figure out what we could and would want to do and where we would be able to go. You dreamed of Greece and I being the realist, thought we might spend a few days in Charlotte or at least somewhere closer than the Mediterranean.
I should not be sitting here alone, without you, thinking of what could have been. But this is the harsh reality of it and there is no more denying that it is true. I tried that with no positive results. As I look over at an issue of Good Housekeeping magazine with your name on the label, it is a reminder that you are not here to read it. I keep calling them and telling them not to send any more but it is to no avail. Perhaps, like me, they want you to still be here.
I knew that this was going to be difficult to write. It is proving to be be more so than I imagined. My heart is heavy and I have spent many nights tossing and turning, thinking about this day. Some of my thoughts took me back to the days when we first accepted that we were in love....
As we walked around the department store where we both worked, everyone knew that something had changed in our behavior and the way that we looked at each other. Even on our days off we sometimes would walk into Burdines to see our friends and what activities they might have planned for that night. We would be holding hands now and people knew we were "a couple". Long before there was such a thing as the Hollywood power couples "Bradgelina" or "Bennifer", a friend coined the nickname "Jeffawn" (pronounced like Chiffon) for us because we were always together. I loved that nickname. It makes me smile to think about it and to picture us so young and with our whole lives ahead of us to spend together.
It was a struggle, no question. We barely had enough money between the two of us to pay the bare necessities, but we managed to have a wonderful cruise for our honeymoon and move into a small apartment. That was all such a long time ago but still feels like yesterday. How could almost 30 years of marriage pass so quickly?
I have come full circle now. I started without you and here I am again without you. Such is life I guess. I suppose it is unavoidable that sometime in the course of a lifetime, one of us would have to let the other go and learn to live that way. It is easier said than done.
As I write this, I ponder the vows we all take at the moment we are joined. "Till death do us part" does not seem to mean the same thing that it does now. During the days leading up to marriage, we may think about whether or not we will really be able to spend the rest of our lives living together. Those five words merely sound like a very long time. When you are 23 and 20 and planning a wedding, you don't think about 30 years down the road. Yes, that is a long time but you have no perception of what that will really be like. We have spent more time together than we did reaching those ages. More than half of our lives has been with each other.
There was a comfort in being married to you. When you know you've found the right one and you make that commitment no matter how much difficulty you may encounter, you were there for me and I for you. There was no more searching for the right one because I found you. There was no lust for the love of any other women because you were mine.
We've had difficult times and argued over the same things that other couples do. Those conflicts all seem so pointless now but they are part of life. It's so easy now, in retrospect, to see how useless they were. Arguments, though, are often how we learn more about each other and learn who we are individually and as a family. In a way, we need those conflicts to grow, even as unpleasant and hurtful as they are.
We have produced four fantastic children together. I never would have believed anyone if they told me I was going to father four children. It might have been five if not for the miscarriage. I was watching a movie a couple of nights ago where the wife broke the news to her husband that they were about to have baby number three. The husband was all happy and excited. As much as I love our kids and have no regrets, I never reacted that way, even as they were born. I did not cry or run around hysterically. I was such an unsentimental person. Now look at me. I cry and the end of "It's a wonderful life".
Honey, I am missing you more than ever. I can see you so clearly when I close my eyes. I can remember hugging and holding you, kissing you, what it felt like to touch your hair and your face and those times of intimacy. I can remember the sound of your voice and the way you laughed when something "tickled" you. I can remember what you looked like when you were excited and how much I did not enjoy looking at you when you were angry. When I open my eyes all I see now is an empty room.
Of all the people I have ever known if my life, if ever there was any one of them, who without any doubt, I could say is now in Heaven, it is you. I have never known anyone to love God more than you. His presence in you was so obvious and so strong. If there was no one else in Heaven but you and Jesus, it would be enough reason for me to want to be there one day. I look forward to that time. From the time I met you, your love for Him was written all over you. It was a part of you that could not be taken away or separated from you. Even as you failed to physically overcome the illness that sent you to Heaven, your faith was unshakable. As many times as my faith has been rattled by life's turmoil, you remained steadfast in your trust in God. I love and trust Him too and know that one day I will be with Him just as you are now. Then all this that I am writing now will be meaningless. Heaven erases any unhappiness or hardship that we are dealt in this world. I feel sorry for those who don't believe. What will they have in the end and what can they look forward to?
Again as I sit here to collect my thoughts, I look around at our apartment and see only shadows of what was and in a way it is good. We moved here when you were already ill but still full of life. One day I may not live in this particular place and when I look around at where ever that is, there will be no visions of your illness. I've rearranged everything so as to remove any reminders of that time. As I pull out photos of the past I will not keep anything that makes me unhappy or reminds me of the fact that you were ever sick. Why would I want to keep those? I may not be able to remove those memories from my mind, but I don't need photos of them. They will be locked up where I cannot see them by accident. I probably won't throw them away, not yet, but they will not be readily available.
In my room, I have a reminder of one of the greatest days in my life. That is the day we made our vow to each other. In a box, carefully cleaned, preserved, and stored, is your wedding dress and veil. I found it recently and sent it away to be taken care of. I keep it where I can see it, not hidden away in a closet. It has our names on the box and the day we were married. There is no end date. It does not have the date you left this world. The words, till death do us part, is meaningless to me. I know that in Heaven there will not be marriages but in my heart I will always be your husband. I still wear my ring and keep yours nearby. The restoration of your dress is my anniversary gift to you and to myself as well. It is a reminder of the vow we made and the life we shared. It began our life together, our children's lives and our grand children's. It represents all that we started together. So honey, even though our plans have had to change and we cannot go to Greece or Charlotte, Happy Anniversary.
As always I love you and miss you.
So this is where it stands now. You are in your world and I am in mine. Neither of us can cross over for a visit or a chat. If I am lonely it is only for you. If I lack anything, it is your company. I intended to post many more photos but I am not able to right now. Perhaps another time. I have such memories of us. I never want them to go away.
This was difficult to write. It will be difficult for some to read. I didn't write it to make anyone sad or feel sorry for me. It's just how I write. I don't disguise how I feel when I put my thoughts down. Make no mistake, we had a great life. I would not trade a day of it for anything. God loaned Fawn to me and I am grateful beyond words for the time I had with her. Now as I move on, I take the life I had with her along with me, as much as that is possible. All the writing in the world cannot do justice to the love we shared. I am happy to have known her. I wish everyone could have.