“Do not be dismayed at goodbyes. A goodbye must happen before you can meet again. And meeting again, whether it’s after days or lifetimes is certain for those who are friends.” —Richard Bach
My husband and I were one of “those” couples. We were joined at the hip and preferred to do most things together. I knew what he was thinking and vice versa. We went to bed together at night and made the bed together each morning. Growing together over the years with a person like that is nothing short of a miracle. It’s a gift.
He was a gift.
I said a sorrowful goodbye to him recently, but I prefer to think of it as an, “Until I see you again.” We even expressed this sentiment in our wedding vows. Instead of the traditional, “Until death do us part,” we opted for the phrase, “All the days of our lives.” Even back then, I didn’t believe death on earth would separate us. We would live on, and eventually live on together. He is still with me now. I don’t feel his presence (yet), but he is here. He lives on in my heart. He always will. I am so thankful for the bond that we had and that we have still.
If I had to describe him in three words they would include: kind, loyal and loving. He was the smartest person I knew, but that trait couldn’t compare to the three I just listed. I know if it were up to him, he’d pick kind over smarts, and loyalty over power any day. He was a good man.
We raised a family of one daughter and three boys. We were busy, but it was a good busy. The best of busy.
He and our boys were football fans and they tuned in during the NFL season on Monday nights. During the game, I typically spent some alone time upstairs with some other show. As an introvert, this was just fine with me. Often, when it wasn’t an exciting football game he’d come up at halftime and want to watch with me. I sometimes saw this as an interruption to my alone time and I’d be a little bit (silently) annoyed.
I’d give anything to have him annoy me like that again.
While dating and over the course of our years together, we wrote each other love notes. Corny, I know.
Today (most randomly) I stumbled across a book I made for him shortly before we were married. I’d forgotten about it, but there it was 30-plus years later, not a week after he passed away. There are no mistakes in the cosmos.
I read the pages, reverently, remembering. The words and ideas and love were young, philosophic and precious.
Some of his thoughts were so very tender and eloquent. At one point he contemplated love. He wrote:
“About love. Love is one of the only things in this world that isn’t relative. Everything else I can think of is always relative when compared to circumstances. But not love. Love is joyous. Love is kind. And love is always constant in my eyes. Love is uncompromising and everlasting when it’s right. Love is not relative to me. It is beautiful and enduring. That is why my life is so meaningful right now. Because I love you.”
Back then, he went on a nine-week trip to Europe (without me). I couldn’t imagine that expanse of time without him (sigh). Now the words I wrote as he left mean even more today than they did then:
“As you are leaving, do not be dismayed by our distance apart. Distance is relative. Realize that in our short time together we will learn to appreciate things some people never learn to recognize. As you are leaving, do not worry about the future. We have no way of knowing the direction our travels will take us. As you are leaving, trust in what is yet to be. Believe the best is ahead of you. Laughter is just around the corner. Believe in that.”
Until we meet again, Thom. Watch over me. Until then, I will always love you — all the days of our lives.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.