Libby battled breast cancer for five relatively healthy years but her health declined rapidly in the last three months of her life. During those final months it was painfully obvious to both of us that although she won a few battles she was not going to win the war. Because of the time we had together toward the end everything that needed to said between us was said, but that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about spending just one more day with her.
Now, I’m not delusional enough to believe that God will give me a day with Libby; I am, however, sufficiently deluded enough to write a few letters to her:
There are so many questions that I need to ask, but I fear that this communication method is going to be a little one-sided, if in fact you even get to read this. It may be like that marriage conference that we attended where we were asked to write out our concerns and exchange letters instead of talking to each other. That’s where we learned that the very act of writing things out often helps the writer more than they help the reader. Could that be the case here?
Things have been really busy around here since you’ve been gone and I wanted to fill you in on some of the happenings. I’m sure you have missed me but I’m going to predict that you have not finished talking to everyone in heaven that you wanted to talk with, even after 28 months, in fact you may not have even finished talking with your dad yet.
After you left in the early morning hours of March 25th, two years ago, everything changed for me down here (and by “down here” I mean of course, down here on earth… not …. well… you get the idea). I’ve had the normal depression, loneliness, anger and jealously of other couples (maybe I still do ) but the most difficult thing that I have had to overcome is the urgent need to call you immediately following an exciting event that I hear or see. It took months before I stopped reaching for my cell phone to call you when I heard something that I knew you would enjoy hearing. I miss that child-like excitement and pure joy that you always showed when good things happened for your friends or family.
Since I can’t pick up that cell phone and call, I decided to write a letter and well, I guess I just need to start at the beginning:
That Celebration of Life service that you requested was a tremendous success. It was standing room only in the sanctuary and we added video screens in the gym so those in the overflow area could watch the service. I may have been experiencing some shock during the visitation portion of the service because with each new face that I saw I thought, “I need to tell Libby that they are here, she will want to talk to them”.
After the service I began looking through old pictures and letters that we wrote to one another. That’s when I decided that our grandchildren should know their grandmother and “our story” so I began writing about how we met, our first date, etc. which eventually led to a blog. Maybe you’ve even read the blog? See, once again, I’m not sure what you guys can see and what you can’t see.
I was writing in my blog the other day about the arguments we used to have, some petty and some were serious. Although we both matured a lot in our 35 years of marriage, in the beginning, at least, we both insisted on getting the last word in and always being “right”. In one of our “discussions” when you thought I was taking you for granted, you made the comment, “If anything ever happens to me you will be find someone else, forget about me, and be remarried within six months!”. At the risk of once again sounding petty and immature I have to say: ” You were wrong…I won that one! ”
Since we are keeping score (or at least I am keeping score) I also remember a discussion we had one night just before you left when I said, “Libby, I’m so sorry that this is happening to you, I wish there was something more I could do.” I’ll never forget your reply: “Are you kidding me?” you said, ” I have the easy part. I just have to lie here and let you take care of me for a little while longer and then I’ll be in heaven, but you have to stay here and live without me”.
OK, I’ll have to give you that one, you were right. Although I’m not sure how hard it was to die, living without you has been harder than I ever thought it could be.
You also used to tell me that I was way too independent and that I really didn’t even need a wife. Well, you were wrong on both points becasue I can tell you from experience, independence is not what its cracked up to be and although I didn’t always say it, I always needed you.
Now (and this is totally off of the subject) speaking of needing things, where did you put the vacuum cleaner bags? I’ve looked in all of the obvious places.
There are so many things that I would like to talk to you about, some are monumental things like two of the most gorgeous granddaughters in the world who have their “PaPa Bear” wrapped around their fingers. Then there are the not-so-monumental things that I need help with, such as: Is there some kind of code to match up the right Tupperware top with the bowl or do I have to try every single, stupid, plastic top in the stupid Tupperware drawer?
Can you see us down here? I’m not sure if you guys can see us moving about on this earth? There are versus in the Bible that are very likely meant to be a mystery, but I have read about “a great cloud of witnesses” so there is definitely something is going on up there. Anyway, if your can see us, I’m sure you noticed that the wedding ring which you put on my finger, is now gone. But wait, there is a story: You see, Nathan put his wedding ring into the pocket of his surgical scrubs and then forgot about it when he threw them out, so I thought you would approve if I gave him my wedding band. It still feels awkward and many times I feel guilty not wearing a ring but I guess I’m slowly getting used to it. Sorry.
A lot has happened in 28 months and I have a lot more questions and things to tell you, including updates on our church, our friends and even politics ( You will not believe who is running for president! ). I’ll write again soon.
I love you more,