It’s been slightly more than two weeks now.
My-Reason-For-Living-In-France died at home just after midnight between the third and fourth of January. I went into the bedroom to say goodnight and tell him I loved him and I knew the second I opened the door.
The image lingers, but slowly my mind is replacing it with the good, the best, and the extraordinary times we had together, those early days when I desperately wanted him to ask me to marry him. Those early days when he was the handsome, cultured, intelligent, funny bachelor who was sought out for the best parties in Paris.
He slipped as easily into his bespoke tuxedo for those soirées as he did into his worn corduroys, button-down oxford shirts and old cashmere V-neck sweaters (always navy blue or charcoal) to be with our dogs in the garden. He was intrinsically elegant. His exquisite manners, ever-present kindness, and gentle empathy were the very essence of his being.
In all the time we were married, which would have been 33 years this June 21, he never, not once, said an unkind word to me. He could be furious with me, well of course he could, but it was not in his nature to hurt someone. He just couldn’t do it.
He adored Andrea, he loved dogs, he loved me in a way that taught me the meaning of the word. Before the benediction in the tiny church in our village through tears that made it difficult to speak, I tried to explain to the priest that he truly knew what love is and he taught me that every day I knew him.
As I said in a previous post, we had some of our most beautiful conversations before the pain and the morphine took over. He spent that time preparing me. He even had bedside appointments with the people he asked to promise they would help and take care of me when he was no longer there to do so. He was obsessed at the end with technical details of the house, paperwork that he wanted airtight so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything, and more.
This is what he told me in one of our conversations:
“When I’m gone, that moment will be the beginning of a new life for you. I will always be with you. My hand will always be in your hand. Promise me that you will be happy.”
As you can see I’m opening up to you in ways that I have never done in this space, but I thought “maybe, just maybe” my sharing these precious moments with you, that you too will see how unimportant the annoying trifles of the quotidian truly are. It’s not solely “live in the moment” that we should remember, but more than that we must remind ourselves not to get bogged down with the nonsense of the every day. It’s essential to shift our attention to what makes our life have meaning.
Please don’t let the unimportant blind you to the essential.
Then he said: “Maybe I didn’t give you everything you desired, maybe you would have liked to have traveled more, maybe I missed something that would have made you happier. . .but know that there is no man who has ever lived who could have loved his wife more than I have loved you.”
He couldn’t have been more wrong. He gave me more than I ever realized existed.