I reached for the pipe and stuck it in my mouth, I yearned for tobacco. “I can’t. I promised Patty…” Tears stained my cheeks; the holidays are so hard when you’re alone. My children had families of their own. I received invitations from all of them to come visit, and I will. After, I write and post it for review.
Patty died on a cold January day. The wind howled that day, the flags on my porch whipped from side to side and banged off the tin with a thud. Patty grew so uncomfortable, that I slept on the couch. All through the night she whimpered from the pain.
At midnight, I slipped into the room and sat beside her. She always kept the blinds open. The silvery beams of moonlight filtered in and highlighted the tears on her cheeks. She groaned and tried to smile at me. I pulled over a chair and took her hand in mine.
“Hey beautiful,” I whispered.
“Shush, I’m no longer beautiful. We had a good life together, didn’t we?”
“Of course. You brought completeness to my world.”
She sobbed and groaned. I held her hand. Neither of us hid our tears that night.
“I’m afraid, Fred.”
“I am too, Patty. I don’t know if I can live without you.”
Patty gripped my hands and tried to lean up to look me in the eyes. The moonlight lit her eyes with an ethereal glow, firm in their resolve.
“Yes, you can Fred. You must live for our children’s sake. They will need you when I am gone.”
Her words broke me. I sobbed and put my head on the bed and cried. “God don’t take my love from me. You know I can’t make it without her.”
At 0300, Patty slipped away from me, and went on a solo adventure somewhere beyond the stars. I cleared my throat, wiped my tears, and called the hospice center who cared for Patty. They had worked so hard to keep her comfortable. I told them Patty had passed, and they sent out a nurse. The mortician and a chaplain followed shortly after.
Then, I called my children. They dressed and rushed to my side. While the mortician and nurse worked to remove Patty, the chaplain came and sat beside us.
“I know this is tough, but I would encourage each of you to remember that the Lord doesn’t put any more on us than we can bear.”
It took time for me to fully appreciate his words. While I knew his words were true, his timing was off. My heart felt ripped in two. My daughter Beth and Emma, plus their husbands and children, all wept at our great loss.
This Christmas makes our third one without Patty. For my children and their families- life moved on. That’s not to say have forgotten Patty, rather it’s a testimony of how resilient my children are. They wept, but then they focused on healing.
I haven’t healed, Lord knows it’s not because I haven’t tried. Through my tears I begin to type:
Three years ago, I lost my one great love, her name was Patty. Our romance, if you can call what we had a romance, was not some Hollywood story. We never had caviar and wine, and we never splurged on the most expensive resorts and hotels.
Our story consisted of tacos and Dr. Pepper. We wore old jeans, battered shoes, and flip flops. While many in the world rushed from one job to the other in hopes of keeping up with the fabled Jones family, we filled our house with laughter and old movies.
Patty loved the holidays, and while I would never match her fondness for them, she showed me the reason for such things. Patty would dance to White Christmas and Jingle Bell Rock, her eyes lit up like the Christmas tree she insisted we put up the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Patty was all the things I ever yearned for throughout the years. She loved people, loved church, and loved God. Patty had a thing for the underdogs, which I guess explained her love for me.
Together, we stood strong in our beliefs. She taught me to show mercy, to overextend myself with kindness, and to open my heart to everyone with no expectations.
And now that she’s gone, I am afraid of what I will become.