In September 2014, I wrote in this space that life was not only a balancing act but sometimes a roller coaster ride. At the time, I reported that my husband Bill Hurley and I had fast-forwarded our wedding plans so that he could have a malignant tumor removed from his esophagus.
Optimists always, we hoped the surgery following our “medically induced rush to the altar” would quiet the roller coaster and we could return to our happily out of balance lives.
Not so. In late August, after a two-year raucous ride of dazzling highs and disquieting lows, the roller coaster screeched too soon, to a halt.
Bill’s death came, as death always seems to, unexpectedly – 14 months after a recurrence and just three weeks after a victorious, arm-in-the-air ride across the Pelotonia finish line.
After nearly 18 years writing about the “balancing act” that is life and two widowhoods in the last seven years, I’m still struggling to answer the widow’s most dreaded FAQ: How are you doing?
In my more honest moments, I confess to punctuating stretches of impressive productivity and apparent lucidity with periodic cries in the shower.
I accept invitations conditioned on actually wanting to go when the occasion arises, i.e., not crying in the shower in response to not remembering on my own where Arcturus is. (He was an amateur astronomer.)
And to my friends, also widowed, who would understand, I admit to wild swings of guilt and anger and relief and sadness. Sometimes on the very same day.
In my less honest moments, I decide the best response is About what you’d expect considering… followed by whatever is going on at the time. This instantly – and thankfully – turns the conversation in a different direction.
The possibilities for considering… are endless, particularly in the computer age:
He didn’t write down all his passwords but bless his heart, he left a map of our modem/router system.
My e-mail just got hacked by somebody touting a weight-loss program adored by country-western singers.
I can’t find either set of instructions I had him write out for the remote but maybe that’s a blessing considering the political ads.
The fact is that, as I had already experienced, a Renaissance man is not easy to lose. And this one, a poet who meditated his way through pain and discomfort in pursuit of a bucket list of travel and adventure, was a Renaissance man on steroids. A Renaissance man with a looming but unspoken deadline.
“It was a rich marriage,” I sometimes say, “but too short.” And I suppose that conjures up images of more trips, more nostalgia concerts with aging rock stars, more of his beautifully worded poems about the way life is a labyrinth we simply have to trust. More of his lively posts – to cheers of likes and comments – of our made-for-Facebook romance.
But actually, I am thinking more of those text messages. The ones we would send coming home.
On my way
I miss the Yay.
Copyright 2016 Pat Snyder