On this day back in 2005, it was the Sunday before Christmas, just like this year. It was very very cold – somewhere in the low 20’s. It was windy. We were in NYC and standing beneath the base of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, when Don Shepherd got down on one knee and asked me to make him the happiest man in the world and marry him. There was hugging and kissing and taking off mittens to put on a ring, and there was hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy canes, phone calls to family and friends to announce the news, there was cheers of joy from hundreds of total strangers around the tree that felt like friends, there was pure joy and wonder and love. NYC was ours that night, and nothing could stop our love.
Today, all these years later, I am so thankful that Don chose me to be his life partner. Im so grateful and filled with pride to have been his wife, and to now be connected to him forever by having the title of his widow. For the longest time, I hated that word – widow. But its what connects me and bonds me to him eternally, and so I no longer can hate it, because my love for him shines brightly in and through all things.
As I put ornaments on the Christmas tree tonight that Nick and I picked out for our house, I will think about that time in my life, and remember that feeling of possibilities and of looking forward to decades together and a lifetime together. I will be sad for that life cut short, and also feel honored that I was the last person Don Shepherd loved and will love – that he loved me until the end of his short life, and I will keep loving him too, in all the many ways that keeps evolving.
I wish I could be in NYC on this day. I always wish this. I just want to sit by the tree, our tree, and reflect on all of the beautiful ways we changed each other forever. Maybe next year. Maybe one day. For now though, I will keep honoring him by living love forward, by taking in each moment of each day, and by knowing how incredible it feels to have been loved by him – and with that knowing; loving my Nick in the best ways that I know how.
Merry Christmas, folks. Life is full of conflicting emotions. Embrace them all with love.