It’s Been a Year…in Two Days: A Letter to my Steve

Dear Honey Bunches of Oats,

Day after tomorrow will be the first anniversary of your death.  How did that happen so quickly?  Most days, I can honestly say that I’m okay.  Not great, but okay.  Some days I’m even fabulous…the world is bright and cheery.  Sometimes it simply sucks wind.  

Today was a combo day!

I woke this morning to clouds with a promise of sunshine.  The pups and I went on a mile and a half walk, came home and ate breakfast out on our back porch.  Do you remember how this became our routine?  We used to stay out there all morning.  The dogs and I did just that this morning. I read the Bible, made plans with Lauren for the weekend and talked with mom and a couple of friends.  Ella and Darla just laid out on the sofa, heads hanging off the end, slept heavily.

Your turkeys made an appearance (well, I heard them in the creek).  A couple of cardinal pairs flew around the back yard.  Dove, mockingbirds and swallows sang and flew down to the ground right in front of me to look for bugs and our hummers literally made me laugh out loud as they repeatedly performed fly by’s right by my head!  The morning made me smile thinking at how you would have loved the bird’s antics and how you would have quickly reached for your turkey caller to try to lure the turkeys up into the yard.  I tried it out for you but I think I scared them off!  Antelope even passed through the back yard without the dogs seeing them.  

It was a great morning.

Do you know that I haven’t been able to listen to music this year?  Whenever I have tried it seems like every time, right In the middle of a song, I’d think of you and the tears would flow.   Every song reminded me of how we would sing in the truck while driving to and from the Hill Country.  If we couldn’t figure out who the artist was I would let the Shazam app do the heavy lifting to find the name.  We would both say, “Oh, Yeaaahhh!  How’d we forget that?!” And laugh.  I remembered dancing the two-step in the kitchen with crying babies while you were working late or at your extra jobs.  Dancing at our children’s weddings was so special. Music and memories made me miss you all the more so I just couldn’t turn it on.

After lunch today, I decided to suck it up and I turned on the Norah Jones channel on Pandora. I danced while I vacuumed the floor.  There was an occasional song that sent me over the edge for a bit especially if a song came on that we used to dance to.  Did you know that you were the only one that I could ever dance with? You and me…we just fit.

Floor cleaned, I decided that I would stop at a tasting room that we used to love to go to on Friday nights.  Wine, awesome munchies and jazz music used to make for fun date nights.  I showered and even got dressed up!  Upon arrival, the place was full of couples, most were our age and some much older.  I asked for a seat outside.  Although it was warm, it was comfortable. Better yet, I was the only one out on the patio.  I ordered a dish you would not have ordered in a million years but the wine would have made you happy.  I ate, drank and listened to jazz.

All in all, I kept my cool until check out time.  They couldn’t find my name on the member list.  I had to talk with the owner via phone to clear it up.  It was just a mistake but dammit! Of course, once I started with “he died a year ago this weekend” my bravado finally cracked.  I promise that I did not embarrass you!  I kept my relative cool and was nice to the poor girls who were feeling quite badly for all the trouble.

I made it outside to my car and bawled all the way to HEB to pick up groceries and then all the way home and all along the walk with the pups.  Maybe that’s why I missed the snake crossing the road!  It was as if my heart had been ripped from my chest and tossed into a wood chipper.

Damn, Steven, this is hard!

Wha a fricking mess!

Why aren’t you here?

I miss your eye roll and chuckle.  Your hands. rough and strong with those long fingers that held our babies, helped thread my sewing needles and held my hands when we promised to love each other forever.  I miss fussing at you when you let Darla lick you for far too many minutes.  I miss rubbing your bald head and laughing at the memory of when you used to look like Bozo the Clown!  I miss your stories and our dreams.  I miss planning our next adventure.  I miss YOU.

I miss telling you about the kids, their awards, accomplishments and their families.  I miss showing you pictures of the grand babies and watching you play Legos with them.  You know, both of the older ones still ask about you.  Leah looks at your wedding ring that hangs on my necklace and says, “This is Pop Pop’s ring.  Pop Pop is in heaven.”  She looks at me and I smile and say, “Yes, Lady Bug. Pop Pop is in heaven and he loves you very much.”  Sigh.

The list of things that I miss is far too long.

I look at photos of you with the kids when they were little, my 30th birthday, our wedding photos and I smile at the memories but regret that I didn’t carve them into my memory more forcefully…pay closer attention to the quiet moments. 

I know you’d be proud of me and of the kids because we ARE doing just fine.  We are moving forward.  Don’t ever think that you’ve been forgotten.  You will never be forgotten. 

This weekend, Lauren’s coming over and we will remember you the best way we can…at a winery drinking red wine and eating chocolate.  Matt can’t be here.  You know how that goes…work and little ones make travel difficult.  But he will be with us in spirit.  

We love you, Steve!  You are my heart…forever.

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