We didn’t know it, but this time last year, Scott was living out the last days of his Earthly life. It wasn’t beautiful or poetic. I wish I could say we spent hours together, constantly saying “I love you” and reflecting upon the amazing life we shared. In reality, there was nothing beautiful or poetic about this week. Movies have death, mourning, and grieving completely wrong. On this side of Heaven, death is not beautiful, sweet, or perfect. The timing is never right, and life does not go on as effortlessly as the actors portray on screen.
His last week on Earth was too busy for this family that prefers a slower pace. It was full of radiation appointments in another town, teacher workshop days, open houses, master’s homework, school supply shopping, and every other busy, hectic last-minute routine before the beginning of the school year. It was week not lived to the best of our abilities, but one of survival.
Two events, before the beginning of the WORST WEEKEND of my life, stand out about that week. The first one was open house at the kids’ school. I was unable to go, which is typical for a teacher whose kids are the same age as your students. I told Scott to forget about it, but somehow, he fought his severe pain and took the kids anyway. I can only imagine the excruciating pain he felt as he took the MANY MANY MANY steps required during the event. It was the last big solo feat he completed as a dad; and I hope the kids hold that night in their hearts. Although I wasn’t there, I know that in that one hour, unconditional love beat cancer.
The second event is mine to cherish. One night, I collapsed on the couch after a day of setting up my classroom, teacher meetings, homework, and mothering. I was ready for bed, but I wanted to spend time with Scott before we both attempted to sleep, despite the medication alarms that went off every two hours. I was spent and extremely tired. “Oh no, I forgot my water bottle in the kitchen,” I whined.
“Let me get it for you, Babes,” Scott said gently.
“No, Babe, you stay, I can get it.”
He grabbed my arm, looked at me and in his firmer, there’s-no-talking-me-out-of-this tone, he said, “Please, let me get it for you.” It was the last time he ever fetched my water bottle, and I will always hold that memory close to my heart.
This week is here again, and as usual, I’m a flood of emotions, but mostly feeling more than sad, which is an emotion without a name. I’m a little less busy, and more present in my family than last year. Due to a new job assignment, I took my kids to open house tonight alone.
I think I looked OK, smiled during the right times, wrote the many checks, unpacked the supplies, and did everything I was supposed to do as a mom. Inside was a different story, as it usually is; I was empty, sad, and feeling so lost. I missed doing this with my husband, my other half, and soulmate. Scott used to go in his mailman garb, but we always went together. Tonight, his absence was severely missed by me, if not by anyone else. It took longer than it should have to navigate through the “to do list,” but we did complete it.
As we walked back to our car, I pretended like it was another wonderful Friday night. We talked about the pizza we ALWAYS eat on Fridays, and the newfound excitement about the upcoming school year. As we walked, I was sad and empty, missing the one person who made us complete. I wished more than anything he was with us. I started the car, and hooked up my phone to play our music over the speakers, a song quickly finished. Before I pulled away from the school, my favorite track played. The Artist is called Fitzgerald. The song is LISTEN TO ME. In eight seconds, we hear, plain as day, “I love you very much,” by the one person who is forever missing from our lives but somehow always making his presence known.