The other day I was in a store, and I walked by a display and caught the scent of amber and sandalwood, and you were right there next to me. Scent does that, you know—just like the perfume of jasmine floating on the wind takes me back to the seaside, sitting on the trestle with you while we watched the sunset, talking about God and the paths of severity and mercy. I don’t know who I would be without you.
Jon, with his vast and generous heart, recently suggested when I refer to you that I do so as my “late husband” instead of as my ex-husband. I was perplexed at first—we were divorced when you died, and I do not claim the space of widow. I know I looked confused, and he continued, explaining he felt referring to you as “ex” somehow diminished the deep and complexly beautiful relationship you and I had created with our lives. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. While our marriage dissolved, the bonds between us simply continued to transform, as they did our entire lives, and am beginning to suspect, they continue to beyond the veil of your death.
You always told me to write, so I started to do so seriously this year. In the first few weeks of 2017, I wrote a rough draft of my first actual book. It’s a tiny slice of our story, the sadder parts and how they transformed us. I cannot write your perspective, so I fear it’s mostly from mine, but the responsibility of painting you as a whole, complex person—despite how things looked from the outside—weighed heavily on me.
I want to attempt to tell more of your story, if nothing else so the kids will have a fuller picture of their father. Abby has so little functional memory of you, Bean only a little more. Jeffrey remembers the most—but those memories are fractured, dotted with sorrow and terrible images of overdose and loss. They are incomplete. The kids didn’t know the David I knew, and I want them to know why I loved you, and how remarkable a man you were before the demons chased you down and the physical world broke off pieces of you. I know this is pretty much an impossible task, but if we’re all stories in the end, who else can even begin to tell yours if I don’t? I hope I have your blessing, I hope you’re with me in some small way; I cannot bear the thought of your stories never being told.
We’ve decided to celebrate your birthday every year with a dinner you loved- Papa’s Pappas from Hobbee’s and Red White & Blue power smoothies. Then we’re going to walk to 7-Eleven and get a Blue Thing, while we tell stories about you. Last year, it was a lovely night, and we laughed a lot about funny stories, and there were a few tears, too. I hope keeping you a normal part of our lives will help the kids as they continue to process your death.
We miss you. Every day. Happy Birthday, dear one.