On Thursday, September 28th, Rich and I would’ve celebrated our 27th Wedding Anniversary. As I’ve shared in my bi-line and bio below, we celebrated our 25th anniversary up at the Jersey Shore, also spending time cleaning out my family home in Hackensack to prepare for its sale.
It was a special time spent with people at places that held significant memories for us both. We hadn’t lived in Georgia for too long at that point and due to world events and personal obligations, we hadn’t yet truly experienced that retiree life Rich was hoping for. But in true Rich fashion, he made the best of challenging times, getting to know the locals in downtown St. Marys while trying to lose his Jersey Boy accent (not really) while crabbing off the fishing pier to some how find a place that felt like home. He once asked some of the locals if he could be a local, too. One remarked he could if he’d “loose that damn Yankee accent!”
It was on that ride home from New Jersey just days after celebrating our anniversary with close friends of his former waterfront community, that Rich declared that when we got back to our new life in Georgia we would reboot, start anew and make us a priority.
On the first night of our return home, we stopped along the way somewhere in North Carolina. We enjoyed dinner sitting at the bar of a crowded Olive Garden on a weekend night. In true Rich fashion, he struck up a conversation with the young bar tender who was having difficulty determining her life’s path. Also in true Rich fashion, he began to preach his mantra of becoming educated, going to college or trade school and reminding young people that life is shorter than they might think.
I didn’t know that would be our last meal out and I’m glad to be able to recall so much of it. The next evening we stayed at a “hub hotel” in Florence, South Carolina because there is a fantastic Thai food restaurant just across the road. We’d dined there a number of times and had gotten to know the owner who’d moved his family to South Caroline from Los Angeles. He and I had some deep talks about reincarnation and life path issues and one one overnight stop when we were returning from the Florida Keys, he had some interesting observations when I relayed that my sister was in hospice care. Following that discussion, my sister came to me in a vision and I believe it was her way of saying good bye as when I returned to New Jersey she could no longer speak and passed soon after.
But on our last visit to the Thai House we were greeted at the front door and informed by the owner’s wife that her husband was very ill. I recall getting a sad feeling like all wasn’t okay and as Rich had begun to not feel well, too I got an ominous vibe. The restaurant offered limited service, but Rich got his Lemongrass soup he so loved. By morning, however, he was too sick to drive so I took the wheel. I remember him asking if we could go to Tybee Island near Savannah. I’d told him he was too ill to go anywhere and we were going straight home.
He would pass just four weeks later on October 28th. We got 25 years and one month and what a time it was. Now I try to live the kind of life he wanted for us in a new version and in a new space, navigating a new path day by day. We may not be able to choose the events that affect our lives, but we can choose to celebrate and honor the people and places that have graced our lives and those who enter at just the right time.