I met him the day after Christmas. He was a college student visiting a close friend of his, my roommate’s fiancé. From our first meeting we were drawn together. Soul mates. We wrote letters. We telephoned. In those pre-Internet days, over an 80 mile distance, we courted.
The day he graduated from college, he proposed. Foolish me, I thought he was joking. I mean, I always just knew we’d eventually marry. Why did he need to ask? Somehow, I was wise enough not to say so. After a stunned minute, I simply said yes. A planner, he later said proposing to me was the most impulsive thing he’d ever done.
Before we wed he had to answer Uncle Sam’s call to duty. He did a tour overseas. Daily letters helped bridge the distance and gave us time to deepen our friendship. A month after his discharge, we married.
We saved for and bought a small home. Later we became parents of a beautiful son. In three years another fine son followed and I relished motherhood. He worked hard and also earned his CPA. He took a job transfer, 400 miles south. When he went to grad school nights for his Masters, I typed his papers. I gave birth to our third, another wonderful son.
Another job transfer, this one to the east coast. A few years later we moved a final time, this time building a house, instead of buying an older one. We were determined not to move again, to keep our sons in the same schools. The time sped. I returned to work. Our sons entered high school then began to graduate and go on to college.
He continued to work, with a commute that grew ever longer as traffic increased. During this time he also ran for School Board. He served as Treasurer and won election after election over a period of 12 years. He earned the title of fiscal watchdog, working toward financial responsibility, unafraid to cast a dissenting vote when one was called for.
We spoke the same language, liked the same movies, and music. Though born of different backgrounds, we shared the same values, the same beliefs. And we talked together, not just the necessary chatter of two people who live in the same house, but deeper conversation. He was my best friend, and my one true love. And yet, he could still surprise me.
Always we saved and found time for trips together, to the East (when we lived in the Midwest), to Florida, the Grand Canyon, Quebec, England, and other shorter trips. It was important for us and our sons. We loved the adventure. We loved seeing new places, immersing ourselves in culture and history.
With our sons grown, in late 2010 we flew to Paris and spent a magical week wandering museums, dining out, attending a French mass at St. Eustache, visiting Versailles, cruising the River Seine. Months later he spoke of returning in our retirement to play an i-Pad accordion on the banks of the Seine. Other trips also lay before us – Rome, a train trip across western Canada, and a Baltic cruise to Norway and St. Petersburg.
In the pre-dawn hours of November 30th, I woke to a still silence in the house. I found him laying on the bathroom tiles. The coroner called it a massive cerebral hemorrhage. I could not speak. “There are no words,” said some, writers all. No words for the shock, and grief. No words for the unfairness. His whole life he worked hard, giving of himself for the good of others. No words, except it shouldn’t have happened. He should have had more time.
Wrapped though I am in the comfort of family and friends, I feel I’m only moving through life, doing only what is needed. At times I think I’ll walk into the next room and find him there, reading his newspaper, talking to our sons, laughing. The tears come and go but I’m learning to anticipate them, to sometimes even welcome their healing power.
He is ever in my thoughts. On Thursday he woke me with a simple word, as he did so often on days he left early for work. “Debbi,” he said. And I woke, knowing he’d been there.
On Saturday, for the first time this season, I ventured into the stores with their Christmas mania. As I roamed the aisles only pretending to browse, I listened and watched. A mother tugged hard on her daughter’s arm. A father sternly directed his son to follow his list. A woman’s harsh voice spoke to her cell. Part of me ached to tell them, life is fragile and so fleeting. Nurture and love it.
Love one another. ♥
As you said, Deb, there are no words. Instead, I’m sending a warm and loving hug.
I’ve been checking your blog almost daily waiting for this post! I am happy you found words to share your love story with us; the story of Tom and you. Writing like tears is healing, and for those of us whom read your stories embrace you from afar sending you love.
What a beautiful love story. Thank you for sharing it.
Deb, I devoured your post, anxious to get to the ending paragraphs. I wanted to hear how you are dealing now with the loss of your beloved, particularly in the context of the ‘holiday’ season. Sharing stories helps us feel not quite so alone. There are differences in our situations but there are also profoundly common elements. Thank you for “no words”. I send you warm best wishes, David
P.S. the two most recent posts on my blog site describe how I am trying to cope http://authordhallman.posterous.com
Deb, I am SO sorry. I can only imagine what you’re going through. But remember your friends are here for you. May he rest in peace.
Tom was looking over your shoulder as you put these words on paper. Over and over as people have contacted me to ask how you’re doing, they related their belief in your personal love story. And now the skeleton is there for more words to build upon.
No words may be appropriate, but not when you use them so well and with the right touch.
Hugs, my dear friend.
Deb, you have been in my thoughts often these past few weeks. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing the story of how you met your hubby and about the wonderful life you had together. Sending hugs to you and your boys.
Deb, I am so sorry for your loss. But what beautiful words to tell of a wonderful love.
Like you, I just want to take people aside this holiday season and tell them to enjoy every moment. We don’t know how many moments we get, enjoy them all.
All of my love is sent to you and your family right now. You have been so fortunate to have spent your life with such an honorable man. And, I will most definitely look at my husband with more appreciation today and in the future.
Take care of yourself!
Thank you for sharing, beautifully written.
Thank you for sharing. Life is so very short and fragile. May your memories soon bring you comfort instead of sorrow.
Thank you for sharing your story, Deb! My thoughts and prayers are with you! I know it doesn’t mean anything but I’m deeply sorry for your loss! Love & gigantic hugs! ♥♥♥
Oh! Deb! We are never, ever prepared for life’s tests and challenges, are we? I always ask why such bad, sad events have to happen to such good people. You are so good at sharing – thank you. You sincerely do have my deepest sympathy now and for the long future. Your wealth of experiences will keep you moving on albeit the scar will always remain.
Your Friend, Linda
Shedding tears with you.
Lovely memoriam, Deb. I’m glad you had so much time together, but the pain must be so intense now. I love that photo of the two of you on the park bench.
I am so sorry for your loss. You gave us a portrait of a wonderful man.
Thank you for sharing the story of your love. I am so sorry.
There are no words. but prayers and hugs and love coming your way. thank you for sharing this most intimate glimpse into your love, life and grief.
take care of yourself and keep in touch
Deb, I have tears for your loss. Thank you for sharing with us and reminding us to cherish those we love every day.
Deb, what a beautiful tribute to your lovely man. I’m so sorry that he had to leave you so suddenly. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us about the things that really matter. (((HUGS)))
I only know you from the Indie loop, but I wanted you to know how much your post touched me. I’m so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful man, father, and husband. It also sounds as though you have many amazing memories to treasure. Thank you for sharing your story and pictures. I’m sending you big hugs.
Deb, I am so very sorry for your loss. Your story is so beautiful, showcasing a life of laughter and love, and I hope your memories give you comfort. Thank you for sharing your moving tribute. My thoughts and prayers are with you. ((Hugs))
Deb, I am sending prayers and hugs, even though I know they can’t fill the void. My husband and I are like you and your husband were and I cannot imagine having to face that day. May God give you comfort and guidance in the days ahead.
Dear, dear Deb, The tears on my face are for you, for your wonderful love that will endure– and for me. I can’t imagine losing my husband–ever. You have described all the reasons why a marriage can be beautiful, why a lover can be your best friend. I wish I could help your pain go away…
Deb, you’re right, there are no words. This is a beautiful expression of the love the two of you shared. You evidently had an amazing husband and father for your boys. When I see others being so thoughtless toward their loved ones, or even a stranger, I want so badly to tell them, in one split second everything that matters can be taken from them. I don’t know you, but you are in my prayers. May God wrap you in His loving arms every second of the day. I pray you’ll find grace and understanding one day at a time. One breath at a time.
What a beautiful life you have shared with your “soul mate!” You are so blessed! I feel awe and thanksgiving that you have had Tom in your journey through life. I imagine you feel vulnerable now. Lean on your sons, your family, your friends. None of us know exactly what you are going through, but we all want to help, we all want to support you.
Thank you for sharing your amazing love story.
Deb, there are no words. But I am ever thankful you knew such a love and shared such a life with your Tom. You are, and will continue to be, in my prayers.
A beautiful tribute. Your love shines through and it will help you now and in days to come. Embrace it.
Dear Deb, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I found this saying and I don’t know who the author is, but it has brought me comfort in my grief and I wish to share it with you. “Grieve not…nor speak of me with tears…but talk of me…as though I were beside you. I loved you so…’twas Heaven here with you.”
Hugs to you, Deb and to your family. Bless you.
Deb, I’m tearing up. What a wonderful love you had. And you still have. Love doesn’t go away. I’m so glad you had Paris together.
Oh Deb. Sending you warm hugs. You’re right, there are no words. I’m so glad you had a wonderful life together and were lucky enough to have had such a lovely husband, partner and friend. I’m so sorry you lost him far too soon.
Love from across the Pond.
My heart goes out to you, Deb. Thank you for this wonderful post.
This is such a touching tribute to your husband and your amazing relationship together. My heart hurts for you. Hugs.
Deb, I am so sorry. I just met you on the Indie loop, and I wish I can hug you in person. Hold on to the beautiful memories. It’s his legacy to you. Nothing we say will ever make a difference. You are giving us an important lesson: to savor and enjoy every moment with our loved ones. Hugs and prayers for you.
Deb, words, as you so eloquently put it, cannot express how sad I am for you. I’ll have the biggest hug for you the next time we see each other. Please take care of yourself.
What a moving tribute. My heart goes out to you and your family.
So sorry for your loss, Deb. As you say there are no words to fully express such feelings, but your blog is a wonderful description of your life together and it is obvious from every word how much you loved him. My thoughts are with you and your family.
Debbie, what a beautiful love story. You are one of luckiest people to love and to be loved and no one ever will take this away from you. Thank you for sharing your story.
How fortunate for you that you had such a love in your life. So few people can claim to have been loved so well and so long. Your heart will always be filled with him, even when your arms aren’t. Thoughts and prayers to you and your sons during the holidays, may you find comfort in the love of family and friends.
Posted on I’ve been absent for a while, but now I rmmeeber why I used to love this site. Thanks , I will try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your web site?
What a special post for a special person. Hugs to you and your boys. Remember his love and joy for life.
I am so very sorry for your loss. There is nothing that prepares you for what you are going through. I pray that God will give you the strength you need today and ever day. Sending you hugs and love.
No Words… how very true, yet your eloquence touches my heart and brings me to tears. Please accept my deepest sympathy.
How beautiful and sad. I’ve been married nearly 40 years and can fearfully imagine your sorrow. My thoughts and prayers go with you into the future.
I’m overwhelmed by your comments, and your caring. I believe that writers and readers are the best of people. I take comfort in what each of you have said. Thank you all.
I didn’t think I’d write about this, not for a long long while. How could I when my heart is broken? Then, in the early hours Sunday morning I couldn’t sleep and the words began to flow. I’ve learned to listen when that happens.
Deb – You describe the inspiration moment of writing well. I have a similar experience, especially with my blogs. We have no intention or expectation of writing and then something happens or the ideas unexpectedly jell and “the words begin to flow.” What emerges in those instances is, I believe, the most authentic because it is flowing from our “broken hearts.”
Everyday is a heart-wrenching challenge for us who have lost our beloveds. Special times, even more so. I’m thinking about you on this your first Christmas season without him.
We all find our unique ways to struggle with our loss. I pray that your way may provide some measure of comfort for you.
Warm best wishes,
Your story is beautiful and something to cherish always. You have my heartfelt sympathy for your loss. May you find comfort this Christmas season with those who love you.
My heart aches for you, Deb. How blessed you and your husband were in your relationship. How blessed we are who’ve read your beautiful words of tribute, celebration, and caution. For them to have come from your pain is amazing and speaks of the strength of your spirt. My prayers are with you and your family.
Deb, I am very sorry for your loss. I have tears running down my face. It sounds like you lost a wonderful man. I’m glad you have so many great memories. Thank you for the reminder to enjoy our family members while we have them close by.
I’m so very sorry for your loss, Deb. As others have said, my heart aches for you and your sons, and I can only hope/pray that with time the good memories and happy times will be foremost in your mind. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us all how precious each day (even each minute) is.
Deb,I am so sorry for the tragic loss you and your sons are going through. Your love story brought tears to my eyes. Every time I sit down to write out your sympathy card – I just can not find the words. My heart just aches for all the hurt and heart ache you must be feeling. To feel Tom in every room in the house that you built together and is filled with so many happy and joyous memories – it must be very hard. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers during this sad & lonely time. Sending you hugs ~ I wish I was closer to give you a shoulder to cry on and just be there for you. Love you Deb!
My heart goes out to you, Deb, and you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers. You are so correct when you say that life is so precious and fragile. I know that each moment is special, it happens only once but the memory it can bring fill one with wonder, delight and love over and over again.
I’ve been wondering how you are doing. I’m glad I finally thought to check here. What a wonderful tribute and loving story. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your boys.
Deb i was there myself 7 years ago I wept as I read your post.. I feel for you the pain lessens, but never goes away.
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What a beautiful love story, I am not sure why this popped up today on Facebook, but I sure am glad it did. Your blog will let me get to know you better. Thank you for sharing your story.
Deb, I know you must grieve, and also feel happy, too. When you feel you can, prepare to travel. You and your husband had wonderful plans. When my dad died, my mom traveled and loved it! Find a friend who can travel, too. Go and enjoy!