My ex husband died suddenly in his sleep on Columbus Day. His death has turned my and my children’s worlds upside down. I read the piece below at his memorial service this past Wednesday. I’m proud of this final version, but it took a lot of work to get it down to this. The original version had a lot of anger in it that was cathartic for me to write but would do nothing in service to his memory for those in attendance. I am deeply grateful for the wise and caring words of a friend who helped me deal with those issues and edit the piece down to this. Ironically, the strength I gained having survived our divorce is what now allows me to be strong for our boys as we navigate the ever changing waters of life. The main things I want them to hold fast to now are how much their father loved them and that he only ever wanted the best for them.
I’ve started this letter to you
More times than I can count
And I still can’t find the words.
I got used to not being with you,
But knowing you were near by.
Now, I can’t wrap my head around you not being there
And having to say goodbye.
One of the hardest things
I’ve ever had to do was telling people
That you left so suddenly.
I had to tell your mom.
But when I told Grammy Sue
She reminded me of the time you took her skiing.
And how you took her up to the top of the slope,
And not the bunny hill either.
How you pointed her across the hill
Telling her to ski to the trees
And it took forever to get down that damn hill.
Skiing across, falling down,
Waiting for you to pick her up, turn her around.
But the part of the story that I forgot
Is the part where she hurt all over the next day
But wasn’t going to stay home and have you lord it over her.
So she crawled into work
Only to find that YOU called off.
She still curses you when she remembers that day.
And, man, did we laugh.
The laughter helps.
The boys are really growing up fast.
I’ve been so worried about them.
The past few days have felt like years.
And I swear Jake grew a few more inches
When he put on a black suit.
Did you notice they’re wearing your ties?
They must have chosen by age
Because Max got Spidey.
But Carter and Jake
Picked the two you chose
When your own dad died.
And how has it been ten years?
I’ve been looking through pictures,
And saw the date,
And couldn’t hold back the tears.
When the kids ask me how I’m doing
And I say, “I’m tired”,
Carter says, “Hi, Tired. I’m Carter.”
And I immediately think of you.
They make me laugh
And I’m so thankful for that.
Do they have a Disney World where you are?
Or some sort of equivalence?
I know how much you were looking forward
To that trip and your 50th birthday.
I guess there’s a first for everything.
You remember how you refused to turn 30?
But the earth kept spinning
Despite your denial.
Thank you for being my polar opposite.
I can’t imagine what life would have been like
If either of us was the same as the other.
I’d like to think that we balanced each other.
I will do my best to be more like you
In the hopes of maintaining that balance.
And maybe that will help me too.
Do you remember how we used to hold hands?
And stroll through the mall
Doing Silly Walks?
Daring people to say something
Or try to spoil our fun.
I’ll try to be more like that version of us
Living in the moment
Like we did back then.
I think I might keep writing to you
When the moment or memory guides me.
Jake will be an official teenager soon.
Not like he hasn’t been acting like one
Since he was three.
But, you know…a technicality.
I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories to tell you.
There will be triumphs and tragedies,
Dances and Braces,
And all the little in between places
That childhood and children go.
I’ll keep you posted.
I know how you hate not being in the know.
I’ll do my best to protect them and help them grow
As they finish becoming
The wonderful men we already love and know.
We had our differences
But none of that matters in the end.
You were and will always be their superhero.
Safe travels my friend.