Sunday, July 28, 2013

Requiem of marriage and of blog

I believe I am going to make this the last post I place here.  Am I done blogging forever?  I don't know. I just know that I feel I need a clean break from this.  I had planned on taking a long trip overseas or at least someplace isolated in order to grieve and make sense of my world.

As it turned out I didn't take the trip.  There were a lot of factors (work, family, etc.) that made me decide to put it out either into later this year or early next year.  How ironic then that since my son is away during this period with his grandparents that I should have that cathartic experience just sitting in my house on a Sunday.

I was reading a book and enjoying the quiet - then suddenly I smelled my wife's scent...nothing overwhelming, subtle, but after 18 years of marriage you know your spouse.  I then found myself thinking of her and suddenly I could see her clearly in my mind smiling - with the little crinkles she used to get around her eyes, and then I saw her crying - something she did a lot more towards the end, then I remembered carrying her up the stairs and bathing her, and then I remembered feeling her pulse ebb away as she took her last breath with her eyes wide and staring.  It was as if I had experience our life together in a Persian miniature - it was an experience akin to being struck by lightening.  And in that moment a wretch came from my throat and I howled and then cried as I have never cried even when she died.  And I let myself go and I cried and cried.  And when I was done, the weight on my chest felt almost exactly as if she were embracing me - the way her head tucked neatly under my chin.  And then it was gone.  I cleaned myself up, I felt light-headed - but I also felt strangely good.

And then like I was on auto-pilot I walked upstairs and got the only letter she wrote which had written on it that it was explicitly for me.  I had planned to save it for the 1st anniversary of her death in December, but something had propelled me upstairs to get it - and I knew I was meant to open it today. Here is what I found:

"My love Alan,                                                                                  26 August 2012

You've left on another school outing with J.  I've missed more and more of them these days.  I see life continuing on through him and I've finally started to see life continuing through you.  The hummingbird will come back to my sambagita.  The birdfeeder is again half empty because of the goldfinches, my birds will be back again hitting the window to get more seed out for themselves.  And, God willing, I will spend another anniversary with you.

It is so hard to write a letter like this to you.  To try to encompass all our life has meant to each other and to think of what more time would have meant.  I've reached my expiration point sooner than yours, which means I won't be getting my Porsche.  I should have picked out a make and model so that anytime you saw one you would think of me.  Nah.  Material things were never part of my happiness.

I would have followed you wherever you went.  There was never a place that I wanted to go unless you were there with me.  Europe, UAE, Saudi, the Philippines - I never would have gone unless you were there.  I would've been happy staying home but you made it better by taking me on your travels as well.

Funny how we met in New York and made the succeeding years full of travels and adventures.  These last few years I wish we had done more.  I always enjoyed avoiding Christmas at your mom's house!  This last Ramadan I didn't even get to put up the lights.  Such is life.

I hope you will marry.  I can't really see you spending 40 years or probably 50 years of your life without a companion.  It breaks my heart thinking of it like that, but you don't deserve to be lonely it would destroy you.

This letter began with me crying from the get go, missing you.  For some reason I could never stay like that though.  I could hold a grudge and then some, but being miserable and upset was never a part of me.  To you I entrust my son because he can only reflect that love of mine.  The life we've made I hope you don't compromise and take the easy way out because that was never me - and it is not you either.  My disease held you back from pursuing more of your dreams.  I hope it no longer will.

Writing this seems so short to me - like life itself.  So many memories should fill these pages I have in front of me but it could never be enough for me.

I have and will always love you Alan Howard.  My soul will be with God, but a part of it is yours to hold and carry as you make your way through this life.  You have filled me with pride being married to you.  I love you.

Notes:  Joan always made the joke that if she beat the cancer that I was required to buy her the Porsche of her choosing.

Both Joan and I always disliked how my mom made a big deal over Christmas but studiously avoided celebrating our household's non-Christian holidays or even mentioning them.  So we found schemes (ever more elaborate as the years went on) to avoid being there for the holiday.  We still celebrated it with her, but just not in a large way.  Ironically Joan died on December 23rd so she got the ultimate scheme going to avoid it at the last.

There was a bit more in the letter, but that is deeply private and I am keeping it that way.  But the above is an important footnote for this blog I think.  I will leave it up for a few more months at least.


  1. May ALLAH Almighty grant her Paradise

  2. I was here and read your words and felt your pain.
    And I am in your corner, cheering you and your son on.