In that last week of my husband’s life I was keeping track of what time I gave medicines. My daughters had set up a spreadsheet for us to monitor everything. Medicines to try to keep my husband out of pain in this wretched losing battle with pancreatic cancer. In two and three hour intervals I gave him the tiny pills with sips of water to try to ease him into sleep and ease his pain.
Many years ago, on the back of an envelope, we wrote down times. These, too, were times of pain, but pain that led to great joy, the birth of our firstborn. I still have that envelope tucked away.
Across the years we counted minutes, hours, days and years. We counted minutes for steaks on the grill to be ready. We counted hours until the kids arrived for a visit. We marked off days in anticipation of our trips to Montana and California. We looked back at years of marriage, and so often my husband would choose the perfect gift accordingly : pearls, agate, ruby.
On June 15, 2020, my world was turned upside down. Less than three months earlier we were selling our house and planning for retirement. Now, two months after his diagnosis, he was gone. I moved, with my dog Ruby, three times in less than a year and started a life without the one who has been by my side for over 41 years.
I stayed up until 3:30 one night, reading all the texts on his phone. All the little conversations we had about what to eat for supper, reminders to feed the dog, ideas for the weekend, don’t forget eggs. Then I found a 43 minute clip that was unknowingly recorded. I’m pretty certain he never knew it. It was us – going through a drive-thru near our house, eating fries until we got home, talking to the dog, laughing, burping, just being. Just being together.
And though in the weeks after the funeral I couldn’t find words, my seven year old granddaughter found some. Beautiful words. This is what she wrote:
You’re the sunshine in my heart
I wish you never left me…
I sometimes wish you are here
Why wouldn’t you stay?
Wait until dawn for you to arrive…
Sunset – you should be here!
I guess you don’t belong here
My heart is beating hard as a drum
Sunshine in my heart