No, I’m not crazy. Yes, it might appear that way to anyone observing me last night in my daughter’s living room. She was there. My daughter, I mean. Last night was 10 weeks since Handsome Husband died. Since my life changed forever. Since so many lives changed forever. Ten weeks. 10 weeks. How many ways are there to write that and what do those simple numbers really reflect? Ten weeks of pain and grief and hitched breathing and achy body and turmoil and doing what needs to be done, and confronting change on a daily basis. Since this dear man died in southern California, I’ve given away many of his possessions, I’ve brought a new car, sold our old one, traveled to Arizona, stayed for a month in the final place where he’d made reservations for us, welcomed a new grand-daughter to the world and…well, now, I’m with my daughter and son-in-law and organizing for the next part of my life on Thursday when I’ll leave here and drive to Colorado. None of what I do is done willingly. Everything is done under the cloud of grief. No, I don’t feel hopeful for my future. No, I can’t see my future at all. No, I don’t want to see my future, because it is a future without him. No, I don’t feel any excitement about, well, anything. On the contrary, I’m either numb or in extreme emotional pain. I’m enduring. And, in a convoluted way, that’s kind of okay with me.
Which brings me to last night and why it might seem to some that I’ve tipped over the edge. My daughter and I were talking about Handsome Husband and I played some of the voice mails I’d saved to my hard drive. Our grandson Soren telling his papa how he was the best grandpa in the world, and wishing him a Happy Veteran’s Day. I found that message on his phone and thought well, if he wanted to save it, then I do too. Another saved message from our older son wishing me happy birthday a few years ago when death wasn’t on my radar and I was, yes, happy. And I played for our daughter the barely able to be heard last message that Handsome Husband left for me on my phone, telling me how much he loved me and that he would always, always be with me, no matter where I was and that he would see me again, no matter how much time passed. And, “P.S. I love you.”
We both cried. The missing of him is so deep. And then talked about his memorial service and what music we might choose, what were his favorites, what did he love? This younger daughter is a hoop dancer and I suggested to her that she might like to do a hoop performance at his service. Grief is a spiral, and hooping is up and down spirals and so appropriate. Maybe some wild music for the hooping. He and I used to go to the PA RenFaire and there was a tribal drumming/bagpipe band there, called Albannach. We loved them, and would catch every performance. It’s wild, primal drumming that makes you want to spin and whirl and be nothing but energy. Whatever she does, it will be beautiful.
From there, I played some of the music he and I danced to, music that I’ll put together for the memorial service. He loved Clint Black and Alan Jackson, and we’d play their tunes as our tires trod the roads. He loved dancing to their music. He’d put one on iTunes-maybe “Easy For Me to Say” by Clint Black. We really loved that one.
So, last night, I put that one on my iTunes. I pictured Handsome Husband coming over to me, holding out his hand to me, pulling me up from my seat. I rose and stepped to the middle of the room and felt him in, my mind’s eye, put his arm around me and take my hand in his. I placed my hand on his shoulder and felt him wrap his hand warmly around mine and we started moving together. He used to tease me about not letting him lead, and he was right. I’d been on my own for so long as a single parent that it was a new for me to learn that it was okay to lean on a strong man, to allow him to take the lead, to trust. It was a lesson I learned and, ultimately, loved, and I especially loved to dance with him, to feel his strength radiating to me, enveloping me. Feeling his love enveloping me.
I danced with Handsome Husband last night, with his spirit, with his love. I followed him within that small space, moving my feet forward and back as he gracefully turned me and guided me with nothing more than familiarity. My eyes closed and I felt his body against mine and I remembered his love and our love and how we danced over the years-in the kitchen, in the living room, at AA dances, at our daughter’s wedding, on the side of the road in Death Valley. He and I will always dance. Our love called for the movement and the music and the magic of dance. Nothing fancy, mind you. Nothing even near Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but more than just standing together and moving our feet back and forth. (Though, if that’s all you know how to do, then do it, because dancing together is, I think, a necessary component for expressing love and passion in a marriage).
Handsome Husband showed his love for me in many ways on a daily basis, over our lifetime together. Dancing together was just one of the ways, one that I loved, one that I will always remember. Dancing with him last night was the closest I’ve felt to him since he died and I’m going to dance with him again as my days and weeks and months without him continue. I’m going to play our music and I’m going to take the hand he offers me and close my eyes and turn and spin and find his magic again.
My husband, my lover, my lead. Always loved. Always missed. And always my partner in dance.