I used to drink a ton of coffee, but in January, for health reasons, I switched to herbal tea. One morning, about a week and a half after I’d stopped drinking coffee, my husband said he didn’t like drinking coffee without his coffee-drinking partner, so he, too, switched to herbal tea. He became a tea connoisseur. One of our favorite teas was a tea he found—a rose, chamomile, and lavender tea called Love. He brought home the pretty pink box one evening along with a bouquet of flowers. He could make anything romantic.
My heart aches for him, my body aches for him. And as I sit here and drink my tea, I wonder—did I take him for granted?
This wondering feels less like pondering and more like screaming. But not the kind that’s an audible AAAHHHhhh where everyone turns to see who screamed and why. Not like that. But something like that. I know that sounds crazy. It feels crazy, trust me. I don’t know what else to use as a comparison. It’s not something I could have understood two months ago. Who am I kidding? I’m not sure I understand it now, but I’m definitely experiencing it.
I tell myself I didn’t take him for granted; I always knew we had a wonderful life.
It’s a wonderful life was a saying we both loved. I had it engraved inside his wedding band. It hangs as a plaque in our home, and it’s what he titled the huge collage he made for our 11th anniversary. We didn’t need Clarence Odbody or any other guardian angel to show us we had a wonderful life; we knew it.
But now, when I sit and stare off into space, there’s the screaming in my head.
If only I had him back, I’d appreciate him even more. I swear I wouldn’t take a second for granted because I’m sure I did allow seconds to slip by unappreciated. If only I could go back in time. If only I could have more time.
So I stare off into space, trying to ignore the screaming. But there’s also the echo bouncing off the walls of my heart saying, live every day as if it were your last. I want to shout back, That’s so stupid!
If you knew you were living your last day, or if you knew the love of your life were living his last day, you wouldn’t concern yourself with going to meetings (like I did on his last day) or grocery shopping (like I did on his last day) or any other routine things we do as responsible people trying to make a life.
I fantasize about holding him and never letting him go, but in order to have the life we had, the life we both loved so much, we had to do things like raising and loving our children. He needed to go to work so we could have food and a home to come home to. I needed to grade papers and figure out how to teach all the things. We needed to have clean clothes and the oil in the car needed to be changed. We had to make a life not just make love.
I have to remind my heart that if we were just wrapped in each other’s arms all day, we never would have had the life we had.
And the life we had is the life we loved. The life I miss. The life I desperately want back.
I need to listen to the logical part of my mind. I need to listen to the part of my brain telling me that making love on the last day but not knowing it’s the last day is actually more beautiful than making love all day because you know it’s the last day.
I tell myself I didn’t take him for granted, but the screaming in my head is so loud that logic is drowned out.
It’s so hard to quiet the scream that comes from the pain, the ache, of having this amputation without warning and without anesthesia.
What’s worse is this scream can’t escape through my mouth—it’s just part of me now.
Previously published on the author’s blog