A letter to Carolyn, from Carolyn. That can sorta catch people off guard, including me. Why do we have to have the same name?!!
I’ll be honest here. I’m torn. I can only be deliciously happily-in-love because you died. And that’s totally messy, eh?
Last week, my fiancé was filling out a form to allow his youngest Junior Tribe Member to go to the U.S. with another teammate to attend a sporting event. The team made a form available giving signed consent to allow another adult to take him into the United States. I was at the desk doing some other odd job when he asked me to witness his signature.
I noticed then, that there was two lines for signing…one for each parent.
He signed the top line. The bottom line was empty.
It stayed empty…and instead of your signature as his mother agreeing to the trip, it remained blank.
And instead, he paperclipped a copy of your death certificate to the form so the border patrol would understand why that line was blank.
There’s something seriously very wrong with sending a child away on a fun sporting trip with a copy of his mother’s death certificate in his bag.
You should have been around to sign that. The line that begged for your signature looked glaringly empty. Shockingly empty. Wrong on so many levels.
I wept…for the JTM who couldn’t lovingly be sent off on a fun adventure with a hug and kiss…and your signature on his form.
I wept for you…who fought so hard to hang in there to be a part of moments such as that. Those ordinary, simple moments of motherhood…you got cheated of all of these now with your little one.
And that’s when my head fairly aches with the messiness of it all…cuz I so wish that they still had you.
But if they did, I wouldn’t be looking forward to the rest of my life with him.
You were such a part of his life…you come up in conversation pretty much every day. Naturally, without effort. How could you not? When I ask why something is where it is in the kitchen, or where one of the kids learned something, or when the kids talk about their favourite brownie recipe.
Like yesterday, for example.
We were setting up new bedroom furniture in what will soon be our bedroom, and putting the nightstands next to the bed. He giggled at how the nightstand’s height blocks the bottom of the window…he talked about how you loved huge windows everywhere, and how he couldn’t talk you out of enormously tall windows in a room that traditionally begs for privacy.
The conversation then moved on to talk about how that room used to be his and your room, and soon will become his and my room. You were already terminal when you and he moved into that house…but he was desperately hoping that you would living in that house for a lot longer than you did.
We talked about what it was like to have it be a different paint color and different furniture than what is was when you were alive. And how it signalled a new life with me…and how that was uber exciting on one hand, and yet acknowledging the sad end of an era with you on the other hand.
While he still misses you, he makes it very clear that he loves me. I can tell he does, and it’s wonderful.
He tells me that he can love me because of how well you and he loved each other. You guys were good together, supported each other, had each other’s backs. From experience in my work, I know how much easier it is to have a great marriage when you have had good examples lived in your life–and he not only has his parent’s marriage as an example, he has the lived experience of the one he had with you.
Husbands are a little like a comfy pair of loafers, I think. Sometimes they fit the best once they’ve been worn a while and broken in. There’s some advantages to getting a husband that has been happily married before…he loves working together in the kitchen, and it’s fun to prepare a meal together. Sometimes he’ll be especially thoughtful, or he’ll help me with something that I wouldn’t have thought he would notice, and when I thank him for it, he’ll say, “Car taught me that.”
I am loved, very much. And very much only because you’re gone.
I’m grateful to you. So grateful.
I can’t replace you. Wouldn’t want to. Couldn’t anyways.
But something very sweet tugged at my mama heart the evening of that blank space where your signature should have been.
The JTM called down from his bedroom and asked me to check his bag by the door that he would take to the tournament the next day to make sure he had everything packed for his overnight trip.
This love is so often untidy in life, isn’t it? So often, our greatest time of losing it is also the greatest time of experiencing the support of others. And loving is so often painful…being a mother has taught me so much about messy love–I would give my life up in an instant for a JTM, but so many moments I also want to yell and scream and pull my hair out in frustration at these very same JTMs. And then there’s the heartbreak of watching someone you love make decisions that seem doomed to fail, or to struggle with an injustice beyond their control, or to suffer the natural outcomes of their own choices. And now, for me, to find love only because of the tragedy of the cancer that was relentless. And to have richness in that love precisely because of how much your death affected my future husband.
We treasure life, eh?
Both of us have loved and lost painfully. And that changed him and me, too. We treasure the gift of each other.
We have both have experienced big things in life. Big hard things. And so, so many things that would have seemed big when I was in my 20’s, I know now are not big. They are not worth fussing or fretting over. It’s hard to be irritated when he’s a little late, cuz when he shows up, I can see how alive he is, and how committed to us he really is.
I have been given a gift that arose out of the tragedy of your life. The relationship I have with him is life giving and precious. The situation is hard and lovely, beautiful and painful, awesome and brutal.
Life is messy…and I’m determined to get in there and experience it fully…I wanna be a person who gets full on dirty in the messiness of life because therein lies the richness of it all..
Love is something that should not be squandered or lived carefully–life itself is something to value and treasure and be lived as a gift.
The last of a series: