So today is February 5th, which is the anniversary of the day that Don Shepherd packed up his entire life into a Penske truck, and drove from Florida to New Jersey to officially move in with me, and begin our life together. At the end of that same year, 2005, he would propose, on the Sunday before Christmas under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and in October of 2006, we would marry. Four years and nine months later, he would be dead. Its not a lot of time to have with someone. Its barely enough time to start building a life together. And I think because of that – because we never got to buy that first house together or have children together or grandchildren or retire together or even celebrate our first decade together or HALF decade together – days like today, these milestones, mean so very much to me.
Don showed up at my apartment in West New York, New Jersey, around 10 am on Superbowl Sunday. Our good friends also arrived around that time, to help us move all of Don’s stuff into my apartment, which would now become our apartment. It was a small place just 10 minutes outside of NYC, with a gorgeous skyline city view from our street which was right on the Hudson River. The apartment was cramped, old, and needed so much work done to it – but we were happy and in love and filled with the promises of tomorrow. We joked a LOT about the state of that apartment, how it was going to fall apart at any moment and how we couldnt wait to be able to afford something nicer one day. But at that time in our lives, that little crappy place was home. Our home. And on Superbowl Sunday, 21 years ago today, we went to sleep with joy in our hearts amongst the piles of boxes, because we were finally together.
There have been a lot of signs from Don today. I heard “Livin on a Prayer” twice already while driving. (he hated that song with a passion, and I always used to call him up and hold the phone up to the radio when it came on and BLAST it in his ear. He would say: “Really?”, then laugh at me, and hang up until the next time. ) I saw 2 PENSKE trucks while driving, and then when I was at work and sitting parked in the parking lot, a PENSKE truck pulled in, turned around right beside my car, and pulled back out. “Hi, Don!” I said, as I always do whenever I see a PENSKE truck. “I miss you!”
Not too much else to say really. The years go by – the emotions shift, but the missing of him is always there and always strong. I smile more than I cry though, these days, when I miss him. Yes, I still get very sad. I probably always will. Even though I am in love once again, even though I am remarried to a beautiful man – yes, that does not erase the fact that I very much still grieve and still think of him with a lump in my throat or a skip in my heartbeat. Yes, I still get triggered and still have moments where the trauma of his death or the impact of it takes over, and I feel that intense pain and I wonder how on earth people get through this.
And then I remember that I already know the answer to that, because Im living it and Im getting through it every single day. I miss you, Don Shepherd. And I will always remember with love that incredible Superbowl Sunday that was so filled with the hope of our tomorrows. Thank you for giving me that. I love you.