Earlier this week I had a work related dinner and I ended up sitting across the table from one of the guys that works in our office, but not in our department. We were talking about cars and I mentioned that I had finally bought a new car just a few years ago. I said that after Chris passed away, my old car just didn't seem safe. Brian, the guy sitting across from me, knew a little of my story, but he didn't know the whole story. So he asked me about Chris and I found myself telling the story of how Chris died for the third time in the last two days. My first thought was "holy goats! how can I still be telling this story?!?" I mean, come on. The whole me being a widow is so passe. My second thought was "man, this story has gotten really easy to tell."
When I was telling Brian this story, I could hear myself explaining Chris's illness and death in such a matter of fact way, like this is no big deal. People go to bed with Food Borne Hep A and wake up with inoperable tumors on their livers all the time. Except I could see Brian turning slightly red as tears began to well up in his eyes. In that moment I knew exactly what he was thinking. He had done the math. We're about the same age. I was married to Chris for almost fifteen years, the same length of time Brian and his wife have been married. He's thinking that this story could easily be his story. I looked directly at him and said "I have zero regrets. I cannot look back at a day with Chris where we did not laugh. We were happy and yes it sucks, but it is an unchangeable and unfixable event. I had a choice. I could give up on my life too or I could honor Chris's memory by truly living my life now. And then I met Michael. I fell in love and I am happy. Every moment matters."
I said those things to Brian for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's the honest to gods' truth. Every single word of it. In between times when life has been punching me in the face, I have had (still have) some beautiful, hilarious, happy moments over flowing with love. My life has worked out in a very yin/yang sort of way. Also, the poor man was on the verge of a melt down. He had not been prepared for the full impact of my story. I was making an attempt to calmly and rationally extinguish that melt down. Maybe it was a little bit on the cliche side to say that every moment matters, but at the very least Brian went home to his wife and told her how much he appreciated the life they share. Without it being an anniversary or a birthday or some other holiday.
I've said it before that I can not tell a story of how I came to this place without mentioning Chris. Terry pointed out Saturday night as we hugged for the millionth time while I was trying to leave the party, that all of this is because of Chris. The good parts and the bad parts. For a while there, I had to tell that story and end it with "it sucks, but I'm fine." Now I can tell that tale and tie it up with "I fell in love. I am happy."