Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | March 31, 2015

love each other through it

Yesterday I had a medical appointment I had been dreading. It’s a routine procedure that shouldn’t be scary, but is. Suffice to say that the procedure triggers memories of a very bad time while Jeff was dying.

I put off this appointment for months if not years, finally made the call, and this was the day to follow through. As I left the house I was shaking, full of unreasonable fear that was no less real for being silly.

In the driveway I found two small hearts. One was was a heart shaped smear of mud on the pavement. Found in the afternoon, it definitely hadn’t been there in the morning. The other heart, a tiny lichen scribble on a piece of bark, lay right by the car door so I couldn’t miss it. I don’t know what these signs mean, but I always feel better when I see them.

Last weekend I combed beach after beach, looking-not-looking for hearts, as one does. Or is that just me? (I think it’s just me.) I found not a one, a rare occurrence. Since my husband died, five years ago and counting, I’ve continually found hearts, so many hearts. I’ve come to think of them as his communiques from wherever he is now. And yes, of course I know that’s not logical.

But sometimes the placement or material or timing of these hearts is so very perfect that it almost seems intentional. There was the day shortly after he died: I was stumbling along the railroad tracks, sobbing. I’d just been told by my mechanic that my car (our car!) wouldn’t pass inspection. I wasn’t working (or eating or sleeping), was deeply in debt, and was in no way capable of buying a new car. Hilarious erstwhile husband placed a rusty, pitted, heart shaped slab of metal in my path.

Another day in another town, I took the dog for a walk along a well-worn trail. Obeying a sudden inkling to veer from the trail, I found a five pound chunk, a rough red granite heart.

A few years later, I was walking on a quiet wooded path in a gentle spring rain, thinking to myself (and to him, in that way we do. If you’ve lost someone dear, you know well these silent conversations): “You know, I think I’m good. I don’t need to find any more hearts.”
The next step I took, there was a perfect heart shaped rock under my booted foot, gleaming white in the fragrant spring mud.

So the tiny growth of lichen and the muddy smear made me feel a bit better as I steeled myself for the drive to the doctor.

I’m not crazy enough to think that my dead darling has any say in the results of this test. He doesn’t determine the outcome of anything here on earth or elsewhere, any more than he did when he was here. He couldn’t control his own scary medical diagnosis, let alone mine. If he could, maybe he would still be here.

Horrifying and hopeless as it was, all we could do was love each other through it. And that we did, on the days it was easy and sweet, and on the days it was the hardest thing ever. Love is energy. Energy changes but does not dissipate. My love for him is still here, even if he is not. I still feel his deep, abiding love for me, even if he can no longer manifest it by shoveling the driveway. (Widow shakes fist at sky yet again.)

The sun came out for one brief shining moment as I drove to the hospital. The muddy, grassy hearts helped me take a minute, shake my shoulders loose, and breathe deeper and slower.

Maybe this is all just a reminder, as if I needed one, that life is short, can be so sweet, and that love is all there is.muddy heart


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