I found myself weeping unexpectedly this morning. People gave money when Tom died to fund a scholarship for a graduating senior at his high school alma mater. This year’s recipient sent me a lovely thank you note and I felt compelled to write back, proving once and for all that I am the daughter of Irene Robertson who was once accused of writing thank you notes for thank you notes!
I always feel vulnerable this time of year as it was right about now in 2014 when we got Tom’s diagnosis. He stayed positive throughout, but I was steeled for certain defeat from the get-go and watching chemo sap his strength and joy did not help a bit. Early June is such a beautiful time here, iris and peonies in full splendor and the temperatures usually perfect, but I still remember walking around in a fog for weeks. How could my strong, handsome, brand-new husband have cancer that was “treatable, but not curable”? It seemed like a bad joke and in some ways still does. Wait 55 years to find true love and have it snatched out of your tight grasp while still a honeymooner.
I wrote to the scholarship girl about Tom. I told her he would be pleased to be helping someone headed for a career in Interior Design as he had the soul of an artist. I told her a few stories about him and the beautiful house in Davisburg that he designed and built with his own hands, the watercolors he painted, the exquisite boats and guitars he made. I told her he could fix anything and shared the story of our trip to France where he immediately endeared himself to the large family group we were staying with by fixing the broken dishwasher. Didn’t matter one whit that he couldn’t speak a word of French. They loved him anyway, as pretty much everyone did.
Just last week my niece told me some great stories about her boys, both of whom loved Tom dearly. She found her son singing away on head phones to the song “My Old Man”. He asked her if she could guess who it reminded him of and she said “Your dad?” but he said it was actually Tom. He has also stopped playing tag because Tom once played it with him and now it makes him sad. The amazing thing is that these boys were tiny when they knew Tom. The fact that they remember him at all is miraculous and that they remember him so fondly is a thing of beauty and makes me feel so much less alone in my grief, which has more staying power than I ever would’ve guessed.
So, when exactly do you stop loving someone you have lost? The answer, of course, is never. Love has no beginning, it has no end. I’m sure that’s a song lyric, but it’s true. I will love him until our souls do their happy dance in heaven and will then love him all the way through eternity, whether that means coming back to earth as a bird or a cow or an Oak tree or if it means floating somewhere like a wisp of cotton. I don’t care, just as long as we are reunited in one way or another. Because this love we had, this great big huge, breath-catching, life-giving love is not over. Not by a long shot.
It felt ok to cry while I wrote about him. It is very sad that he isn’t here anymore. Not just for me. For his friends and his family and Alyssa and my niece and her husband and boys. For the neighborhood boy he wanted to help make guitars. For his best friend who could talk to him about anything. For the family he lived next to briefly and impacted forever. Every life he touched he made better. His core of calm and kindness just made you want to be and stay in his presence. I knew it when he was here, but I know it more now.
I miss you sweetheart. Alyssa’s playing your guitar and singing Cat Stevens while I type this. Just another way your love lives on in our lives. Keep spreading love up there. Or maybe that’s all there is up there? Just love. Endless fields of love. I hope so.