Considering Loss on the Eve of Our Wedding Anniversary 2020
11 September 1965
Fear of loneliness
Drifts in and out unbidden
Heavy eyelids droop
Head hangs low over keyboard
Tangled thoughts intrude
Try to distract me as though
I were the intruder
I am not.
Pulling myself together
I rouse myself to the occasion
Reaching for stars and light
I do not own.
What if he dies first?
What if I die first?
I don’t know.
So what do I know?
Only this –
That if he dies first, I will grieve.
And what will be the shape of that grief?
A hole that stretches from here to eternity
An unreachable planet long ago and faraway
A place I can no longer visit
An ocean of heaving sobs
Seaweeds of bitter regret and sweet longing
Washing up on the shore of each long day and night
Tomorrow David and I will celebrate our 52nd (now 55th) wedding anniversary. I thought I knew a thing or two about love the day we married. I did not. Nor will I know all about love the day one of us dies.
The older I get, the more precious each day becomes. I remember dreading retirement. Not simply because I would miss my colleagues and students, but because I would be spending much more time with D. More than I’d spent with him most of our married life.
Could we live with each other in the same house, including the same kitchen, every day? Would we get bored out of our gourds without deadlines and meetings and endless reports? Would one of us decide to find a part-time job just to get away from it all?
Happily, we’ve survived so far, including Kitchen Wars. But that would be another story.
I’ve had death on my mind in the last weeks, given events here and around the world. Death is about more than statistics, more than a moving memorial service, more than a huge display of candles and flowers. More than a gut-wrenching news story of the moment.
Somewhere, each moment of every day, someone is grieving. I want to honor the value of just one person’s life and the value of grief. The kind that can soften us, making us more human than we were before.
It looks like Monday, our anniversary day, will be a beautiful Longwood Garden day. Maybe another walk in the Meadow? We’ll see.
Thanks for reading!
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 September 2017, reposted for our 55th Anniversary, 11 September 2020
Photo taken at our wedding reception, 11 September 1965
Believe me, Elouise, your poem rings true to a lot of us old married folks. As does your thoughts and fears about tomorrow. I think even without the nightmare of today, I would have much of the same thoughts, questions, and fears of the tomorrows of our our remaining years.
My sister lost her husband of almost 60 years a year ago. She seems to be taking it well, but I will bet she has an occasional tear-stained pillow/
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Thank you, Don, for your comments and affirmation. Of my three younger sisters, one is gone (her husband is not), and two lost their husbands a number of years ago. I never thought I would become this dependent on the presence of another human being. Not because I’m helpless, but because after so many years I can’t imagine life without him. Also, you’re correct–these feelings didn’t come over me because of today’s nightmare.
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