Two months ago, my husband bought a car. When we met, he owned a BMW z3 and now wanted a BMW 335is convertible; however, the price was around $30,000 for a used one. He’d have to make payments and he hated payments. Instead, he found a 2002 Mustang GT convertible with only 65,000 miles at a price low enough that he could pay cash. It’s in great shape (no door nicks, no rust, etc.), has a big, loud engine and a short-throw manual transmission. It’s a fast car and his dream was that he and I would drive down all the canopied roads in Tallahassee, top down and carefree, like we did when we were dating eleven years ago. We’d take long drives to nowhere, just talking, taking pictures of things we found interesting, and listening to NPR, the only radio station he ever listened to.
Our story wasn't unique. We met online (Thanks, eHarmony. It was the best $100 I ever spent.) After chatting on the computer, we progressed to phone conversations. After a month, we arranged to meet in Apalachicola, a neutral meeting place since we both lived in towns about the same distance away. We hit it off immediately and began dating, each of us taking turns driving to see the other. After six months of dating, I decided to move to Tallahassee. A job I wanted became available, my house sold quickly and I bought another one at the same price. Everything just fell into place, like it was meant to be. It helped that his house was now only three miles away, making daily visits easy.
We settled into a great relationship, one of true love for each other but also a respect and gratitude that we had found another person with whom we could get along so easily. We planned and hosted parties, we took trips, we helped each other with house projects – we came to each other’s rescue. Actually, he came to mine more often because he was retired and had time. I still had ten years of work to go before I could join him on easy street.
When we started our relationship, we agreed that we never would marry again. Why mess up a good thing? But after six years, we saw the economic savings of being married and making a true commitment. We eloped to Apalachicola on the anniversary of our first date and married in a judge’s chambers. Afterwards, we ate oysters and drove down the coast like we had done on our first date. It was a beautiful December day.
Everything about our life together was beautiful. He loved me and I loved him. We had been through bad marriages and didn’t want that to happen again. We worked hard to understand the other’s ways and to give each other space. He saved money and I spent it. He took care of house and car repairs. I took care of him and the others living in the house. He supported me with anything I wanted to do – sewing, photography, graduate classes, blogging. He was my editor with this blog, proofing for mistakes and making suggestions of how he would say things or something I should add. Sometimes I joked with him that he should write his own blog since he had so many suggestions for mine.
Our last trip together started a year ago when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. After radiation, two rounds of chemo and another of immunotherapy, his body began to wear down. He died a week and five days ago. We both thought we had more time, that he would die by gently easing into death with the help of morphine so as to avoid pain. It wasn’t like that at all. He had a heart attack on the way to the ER. He was in pain and was scared. His last words to me were, “I’m not going to make it.” As usual, he was right.
Richard drove that Mustang three times. Only once did we ride down a canopied road and enjoy the carefree, top-down openness. Our plan did not mirror God's, but really, does it ever?
I turned his cell phone off this week. It’s the last place I could hear his voice, even though it was only him saying his name on his voicemail message.
I know I will get through this. I know time heals. I have a huge support system and many people who love me and my family.