Today is the first day of June, and eight days from the first anniversary of my beloved husband’s sudden death. While last year, at this time, England was sweltering under a heat wave, the temperature has barely climbed above 55F (13C) this spring. I check the weather forecast obsessively, grasping for some sign of a sliver of warmth. I want to lie in a field of grass and let the sun shed light on the dark and frozen places inside me. I want to warm the parts that are numb.
It’s been almost a year since he was here with me, and sometimes that feels so long ago. I don’t want to lose the memories I have. I don’t want them to fade with the passage of time. But lately, I have felt him slipping from my grasp.
I remember his unique turns of phrases, his funny sayings, his mispronounced words. I remember his crooked smile, the right side of his lips slightly higher than the left. I remember how he laughed nervously when he was embarrassed, and how he rubbed his forehead with his right hand when he was upset. I remember his little dance, each forefinger in the air, when he was happy, and how his body leapt with joy and excitement when he’d see a rabbit on the hillside.
I can’t remember the sound of his voice. But part of me is afraid to hear it.
I have a DVD, here, of our wedding ceremony, but I have not been able to watch it. I am afraid that seeing him on video, and hearing him speak, would be too much. I can’t imagine listening to the songs we played, during the ceremony—“Is This Love,” by Bob Marley, (his choice), and “In My Life” by the Beatles (mine). I don’t know what seeing our first kiss as husband and wife would do to me.
I’m glad I have the video. But I have no idea when it will feel safe enough for me to watch it.
There are so many memories that I am afraid to revisit. I have clambered out of a deep, dark, hole, in the last year. I feel myself barely teetering on a precipice, and I am afraid to upset this tenuous balance. I have to be mindful of which memories my heart can absorb. One careless move could break it apart.
Every night, when I lie in bed, I ask Stan to come to me in my dreams, and last night, he was there. I was sitting in the back seat of a car, and I saw him standing with someone else, on the sidewalk, resting his hands upon a walking stick. He was wearing a pair of hideous polyester trousers that were pulled up high above his waist. I remember thinking he never wore his pants like that, and he certainly never wore polyester. I thought I was going to have to buy him some new ones, as soon as I could.
He saw me, and a broad smile crossed his face. He dropped his walking stick, danced his dance, and rushed to open the car door. He flew into the back seat and laid his head upon my chest. We were so happy to be in each other’s arms again. I kissed and rubbed the top of his bald head, and I felt so full and alive.
Then I woke up.
I have carried that dream with me all day—the feel of his head, his weight pressed against me. How he nuzzled into my arms, and how I rubbed his face lightly with my fingertips. How happy we were to be with each other. How we realised, in that moment, what a treasure we had.
On this first anniversary of my husband’s death, I’ll hold tight to this memory of him in my dreams—his dance, his smile, his head pressed against my chest—our love, so solid and strong.
It is a memory I am not afraid to revisit. It is a memory I’ll let linger, still.
It is what I have left of the man I loved–these memories of a life we shared.