Here is what I’ve learned as I approach the one-year anniversary of his death:

He is not coming back. 

At our beginning, we thought of travel and adventure and lots and lots of love and perfecting a martini, raising a nine-year-old, and training our puppy. We bought a house, played cards with my parents, and combined our Christmas decorations and our senses of humor. We explored American cemeteries for the history on the headstones, and then we went to Paris and did the very same thing. Our life was interesting and funny and we had sad days too, and little fights and pouts with simple resolutions. Sometimes there were stupid wasted days of silence. He usually just let me be right and he would be the first to say that I usually was. No matter who was wrong we were both capable of apologizing and therein lay the magic.

Now, I want to scream in agony. The scream I imagine will work better than the hot tears that come from my toes. But I don’t scream. 

No one will ever call me “honey” the way he did, and I am somebody’s “baby” no more. No one will ever tell me, ever again, that I make an omelet just like a restaurant…or that I do so much around here…and no one cares that I earned a 4.0 in my short, unfinished college experience. He did.

I want his arms around me when I fall asleep…I want to dance on our patio and I want to hear him mimic Bob Dylan’s voice when we listen to “Jokerman”. Oh, how we loved Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing “Islands in the Stream” and “Through The Years”. We’d look at each other with a silent intensity I will never know again. And he thought Willie Nelson singing “Rainbow Connection” was the most beautiful song he had ever heard and there would be tiny tears in his blue, blue eyes.

And he thought that I had velvet skin and beautiful hair and I was a great writer and none of that matters anymore.

I want to live his last day over and I want to live the day differently until it’s afternoon again and he is going to die anyway. I want him to die with full knowledge of how I loved him ferociously and how cool he was and how I couldn’t have had a better husband ever. Just one more toast where he’d say “Here’s looking at you, kid” would be enough…I’d clink my glass to his wholeheartedly and I would think of a great response, better than any response I used to say and have now forgotten. And as he died on our staircase…I would make note of every word I said to him…better, unforgettable words because all I can remember is his bewildered face as he slipped away. I cannot unsee the sadness there, even though he never opened his eyes.

I’m stacking up feathers I find on my walks…I pretend he’s sending them to me…a tiny shiny blue Jay feather contrasts with a brown striped majestic turkey plume…and all the others in between. Did he place them for me to find? What are the messages? Or are they only shed by passing birds with meaningless purpose as the feathers fall?

In the grass behind my house, a darker green heart of crabgrass has clearly appeared on the background of the lighter lawn. I’ve asked others to confirm they see it, which confirms my sanity…because it’s definite and real and I’m not crazy. Can one make magic grass hearts for one’s widow while spirit circling the universe? He was an artist, after all.

He is my first thought in the morning, he’s my final thought of the day, and he occupies probably 57 thoughts between those… every single day. I’ve made a little progress…the daily weeping triggered by the slightest memory has lessened. Spontaneously tearing up has replaced it and is the byproduct of a flash of a remembrance gently spiking my broken heart. I’m able to control it a little better. I rally as needed.

Oh yes, I also welcome heart shaped stones, cardinals, butterflies, and hummingbirds. I’m still seeking a perfect heart shaped cloud. I would actually prefer flickering lights and bumps in the night or his actual ghost. I wouldn’t be afraid. I love him and miss him so.