Good morning! Yesterday marked 8 months since my husband died. Those have been long months in so many ways, and short ones in so many others. Sometimes I just have to write a letter to him, and here is what I wrote for yesterday.
November 29, 2021
I woke up this morning and the first thing I thought about was you. That does not surprise me, as this past weekend has been an emotional start to the long “sprint towards Christmas,” fueled by the empty chair at the dinner table at Thanksgiving and the quietness of the car on the two-hour drive home without you. It all reminded me yet again that you were, indeed, gone from this world forever, and that my job is now to move forward on my own.
Thankfully I am doing better at accepting things the way they are, and, as I know you would want me to do, I am striking out on my own, so to speak. Last week I purchased the marker for your grave, or, more accurately, our grave. It was a rather confusing experience, I must say (not to mention, costly!) Why did I say confusing, you ask? Well, to begin with, while I knew it needed to be done, I didn’t want to do it. In one sense it seemed, and you will excuse the metaphor (but I know how well you enjoyed black humor!), just one more nail in the coffin that reminded me that you were gone. And then there was the expense. One tries not to be “cheap” when purchasing something that will serve as a remembrance for someone they love, but then, again, one must not let emotions overpower them and engage in “grief buying” and overdo things, hoping to somehow assuage the feelings of loss by leaving an elaborate, showy grave marker. I have been to enough cemeteries with you, Brian Gentz, to know how you feel about things like that. The other thing that was emotionally confusing about the experience was the fact that my name is on the gravestone as well. That was both a comfort, knowing that we would someday be together for eternity, and a reality check – something I seem to be having a lot of since you died. But, in the end, all of it — the expense, the emotions, the finality of it – were all good and an important part of building the bridge to tomorrow with the steppingstones of our life together: That part of my life with you in my heart instead of in my arms.
Sometimes I wake up with the start of a poem running through my head, and when I do I have to stop what I am doing and write. And so, here I am. I got stuck on the poem, but it will come eventually, if like they say about all good things, I wait. In searching for my latest writing notebook, I picked up the well-worn pink spiral notebook that said “Personal Journal” on the front. The entries began on December 11, 1991, nearly a year before I knew you would be in my life, when I was living in my little rented house, having filed for divorce that fall. I turned the pages until I found an entry from our first Thanksgiving together, November 26, 1992, and here it was it said:
“So much has been going on, and my nights have been so late that I have been remiss in writing! I am, however, much improved over the past! Progress!
Brian came here for Thanksgiving – a change of original plans, but a nice one, none-the-less! I don’t quite remember any Thanksgiving I have enjoyed as much as this one. It was very special. We spent the whole day here – together. At night we took a walk, came home, and built a fire. It just doesn’t get any better than this. We talked about us, our relationship, and where we wanted it to go. Each night in my prayers I thank God for you, Brian Gentz. Every time we are together, I become more a part of you and you of me. We are forming a bond for a lifetime – and it is wonderful.”
And then there was this poem:
The stuff of speeches, lectures, conversations.
The tools of writers, poets, and sages.
That inform, chastise, and congratulate us.
That guide, soothe, and instruct.
Sometimes futile, sometimes grand, and glorious.
Often inadequate and incapable of conveying the true depth of our emotions.
Good for saying, “Pleased to meet you,” or “See you later,”
But far too meager to express how much I care for you.
Words that say, “I love you,”
don’t seem to be strong enough to capture the essence of how I feel about you;
of how deeply I care, of how much I love.
Words. After all these years, I still don’t feel that I have the right ones. They are all too feeble to express the love I carry for you in my heart. And so here I am today. Instead of writing about the first Thanksgiving we spent together, I am journaling about the first Thanksgiving I’ve spent without you. And, while so many things are different now, there are still some that remain the same: You still make the top ten list of things I am most thankful for in my life, Brian Gentz. Above all, thank you for all the love you gave me, and for helping to make me who I am today. You will be forever a part of me – the better part, of course.