My other ex-husband died a few months ago.
I felt… nothing. Blank. Flat. Unemotional.
No reason for me to be so indifferent about it. He was a good man. He played a pivotal role in my life, not as husband or lover, but as someone who ‘grew me up’. Who showed me a world I hadn’t known before. Who exposed me to things I might have otherwise walked past. And concepts I hadn’t given deep thought to.
We go back more than three decades. And yet I couldn’t muster a tear.
Maybe I’ve run out of tears. Understandable, given all the loss I’ve experienced in the past couple of years. Is that it? I wonder.
The crazy thing about it is that I had a vibe that he had passed. Yes, sometimes I know things. And I knew this. Even though we were not in touch.
But he didn’t have an online presence and I wasn’t connected with anyone currently in his life. So I went to the Facebook page of someone who would know and started scrolling and scanning public posts. I’d done this once. a couple months ago, too, about the time he died. Same vibe. But then? Didn’t see anything.
But still, the vibe nagged. So I tried again.
It was not obvious. The mention of his death was buried in a comment. But there it was.
I stared at it.
I felt nothing.
I paged back in my memory to when we first met at work and the many hours we spent in his office, talking about life and Jungian psychology. To his introducing me to lattes. Not Starbucks but a coffee shop near our office. The crazy way he told me he was interested in me. Literally crazy. Thoughts of our many trips to Europe, especially the cooking course in Italy we took with friends. I am the last surviving member of that foursome. They are all dead, now.
How is this possible?
I think about our living in Carmel and Pacific Grove. In Tampa. In San Jose. All the time we spent outdoors. Bicycling. Hiking. Exploring. Then driving the California coast. And across the country, listening to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road on tape, an entirely different experience than reading it, as we both had, years before.
Oh, and I can’t forget him and our cats. When BeeBoo died. And Cecily. OMG, I remember how he grew his hair really really long after early retirement and started skiing every week. He was a black diamond skier and he loved it. I loved the hair. AND he pierced his ear.
I remembered how kind he had been to my parents in their final illnesses. How gentle and considerate (and caring) he was with my father’s dementia. The laughs we shared and especially those he and my mother shared during her very long hospital stays. They enjoyed each other. Thought back to her telling me “He’s not much to look at, but he’s really nice.” I remember his borrowing my brother-in-law’s dark coat for her funeral. I’ll never forget how he sobbed at this verse of the hymn “On Eagles Wings,” as my mother’s coffin was carried down the aisle of St. Ambrose Church:
And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand
He rarely showed emotion. Besides her funeral, the only other time I saw him cry was at his youngest daughter’s death. It was heartbreaking.
After our divorce I recalled how weird it was that he ended up living across the street from me in Pacific Grove.
I remembered all those things and more.
I felt them.
And still, not a tear.
Do I dishonor him by not crying? I don’t mean to. There is nothing to dishonor.
Maybe I’m just out of tears.
And then…the night I wrote this, he appeared to me vividly in a dream. The feelings were warm and sweet. It was a visitation. And, felt like the postscript to this post.
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