February 13th was probably the worst day I have had so far since Michelle passed away. There really wasn’t a particular reason why, my heart just hurt on that day more than I could bare. I missed her and my step daughter with all of my heart, all of my soul. I had made dinner plans with an old friend about a week prior and I forced myself to get out of bed to go through with them, even though I just wanted to sleep – well, attempt to sleep – all day. Before I left I went to my mailbox, grabbed a handful of items and went to my car. I sorted through to see if there was anything other than bills, and there was. A card from Michelle’s good friend and former boss, Lisa. I opened it and I remembered why it was all worth it. The two and a half years of pure hell we went through, the aftermath of loss and the stresses of the current situation with my step daughter. It was all worth it, because I got to be there for Michelle, and for Emma. During her worst moments, I got to take care of her and show her the love she had never known before. During my worst moments she got to teach me how to ‘Man Up’ as she would say and how to not feel sorry for myself, or for her. I got to call the love of my life my wife, something that seemed completely implausible before, seeing as though we had that long eight year gap without seeing each other. The truth is I had never loved another woman even in all those years apart. It was always Michelle, even when I forced myself to push her out of my mind and heart. The truth is she was always there.
I read the letter and, yes, I cried. Maybe my step daughter is right, maybe I am a cry baby. I sat there for a few minutes and just thought about Michelle and smiled. I then took a deep breath, turned on the car and Rachel Platten was on the radio. ‘Stand By You’. The song had come out while we were at hospice (three weeks and a day). All of a sudden people kept telling me, one by one, how they heard this new song on the radio and how it reminded them of Michelle and I. I didn’t listen to it, I was sad enough, we were in hospice for God’s sake. Finally one of the hospice nurses came in and told me she cried all the way to work listening to this song and thinking of us. I said to myself OK I guess I should listen to it. I did. I cried, yes again – don’t judge, as I laid in the hospice bed with Michelle, who was incoherent by this point. This was a hard cry. The type that makes your stomach hurt. It was morning still and we didn’t have any visitors yet so I could really let it out. I thought about our youth together, our adult life together and how much I would miss her when she eventually passed away. I thought about how much I loved her. With every inch of my mind, heart and soul.
From that moment on ‘Stand By You’ by Rachel Platten was one of our songs. I added it to the song list that we played at the wake after I gave the eulogy. So here I am, just having read this letter that gave me a sense of hope and meaning after having a God awful day, I turn on my car and our song comes on, and I know Michelle is with me. I smile and I tell her that I love her and that I miss her so much. And then I feel it. Maybe I’m completely bat shit crazy but sometimes when I talk to her now I feel like she’s kissing my right cheek. Like she does it over and over again – a lot of kisses, not just one. I wish I could kiss hers back.
Here is what Lisa’s letter said:
What does one say to you?
No words can bring her back. No words make it easier. Does one really find ‘comfort’ with words?
This is what I know:
You swept Michelle off her feet not once, but twice.
The second time you thought you needed her more – it turned out she needed you more.
What you did for her during her fight was something I have never seen before.
The way you were there for her the last month – I have never witnessed before.
Your happily ever after was taken away 50 years too early however you were her Prince Charming to the end.
Thank you for giving her true love she deserved.