As some of you may have guessed, and others know, my wife died physically April 22 at 8:24 a.m, a Sunday, although I suspect her spirit left a few hours before. Two funerals in two states followed (one for our friends where we’ve lived for 30+ years, one 400 miles away for our families, some of whom were too elderly to travel here.
I’m home again, beginning the process of adjusting. A good friend warned me: “It will take a year. A year before you don’t imagine hearing the absent one speaking to you; a year before you don’t look at the spot on the bed where she passed and expect to see her there again. A year for shopping for one instead of two. A year for not accounting for the other in everything you plan to do. A year for everything. Be patient.”
But my own life goes on, too. She tried not to resent that she was ending but I was not, but it wasn’t easy. She was angry at times. It’s a bleak thing to know the world you loved will go on without you. But we had not written this script, and could do nothing to change the outcome. In the end, she came to terms with that, and we had time to talk of our life and the future I would have until she grew too tired.
She was known around here for a long list of community beautification projects, but none went with her name more than the daffodil project, where she and I and a small group of friends saw more than 111,000 daffodils planted all around town and in neighboring villages and roadways. “Bellefonte In Bloom”.
But spring was late this year. I know it was probably due to all the smoke and gunk in the atmosphere from smokestacks and last year’s forest fires in the West. But I entertained a little fancy that it was also delayed for her, so the daffodils would rise up in brilliance just as she was leaving us, to honor her passing. Because that’s exactly what happened. Everyone remarked on it, and thought of her.
Spring was late this year, and perhaps this had something to do with it, too. Every spring will be, in some way, her memorial until all who knew her are also gone.
This was a poem I included in her services:
Death of the King of Terrors
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again