A Touch, a Feeling, a Smell

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year or so extolling the virtues of how my family has survived and how we’re moving ahead, trudging along, forging the path, rowing the boat . . . come up with your own metaphor.

All of this has come in the last couple years as I lost my wife, Andrea.

I’ve made a lot of comments: some about depression, some about loss, some about attitude and some about what went wrong.  I haven’t always painted a rosy picture of life with my late wife.  In the last year or more we’ve come to terms with the lack of certain virtues that my wife had as well.  My kids are seeing and struggling with life not having some of the tools other kids’ moms gave them early in their life.  They’re also struggling with living life at least a little better off than they were three years ago, which equates to a better life after their Mom has passed away.  That’s not easy to face or come to terms with.

But let me be plain and clear, as I’ve stated before.  I had a number of things that drove me bat-s**t crazy about my wife.  There were a million things that I loved, too.

But there are some things that I miss that are partially due to her and partially just the experience of loving someone.  A touch, a feeling, a smell are things that I miss swirling around me.  I face the pleasantry of my day being a good one, but I also see the things I don’t have and never realized were there to begin with.

I miss having a head on my shoulder.  I know that sound weird, maybe odd to envision, but I miss walking down a sidewalk and having a woman put her head on my shoulder.  It’s oddly intimate but in a secure kind of way.  There’s a closeness to it that’s not as heated as dancing cheek-to-cheek but familiar and you know there’s a comfort in their ease in doing it . . . in your ease in allowing it.

I miss holding someone’s hand.  I know . . . I have four kids.  I hold their hands.  It’s just not the same.  There are little things that happen when you hold someone’s hand.  When you walk and they reach, nearly instinctively for yours . . . and you just reach out yourself.

I miss someone lying next to me, falling asleep on the couch.  I know that’s kind of like a head on the shoulder, but this is just different.  The press of or the fit of her curves next to you as you sit there.  My wife never thought I noticed it, but I did, every time she laid next to me.

I miss the scent of a woman.  (Make your “oooh-ahhh” and Pacino jokes and get it over with)  Yes, I have daughters, but it’s not the same and you know it.  Not perfume, just . . . something about a woman’s presence.  Even after she’s gone a woman’s presence lingers.  The smell, the feel, all of it are there.  It’s not unique to Andrea, but I do believe it’s unique to women.

Now . . . since I’ve said all these things, let me forestall the pity.  I miss all these things.  I don’t say this, though, in some mad-dash knee-jerk reaction to being alone.  I’d rather be alone than just randomly casually looking for someone to replace all these things.  What I feel – what I miss – are randomly occurring nuances in my day.  Sometimes the feeling and melancholy linger.  Other times it’s a fleeting moment, the breeze wafting a smell or the sound of a bird’s chirp pulling me there just briefly.  Then I smile.  They spark memories.  They spark fondness.  I had them once.  I’m not rushing to find them again just because I miss them, that would be wrong.

I write this so you don’t get the impression that she’s gone and I’ve put her in a sad, angry, difficult spot.  Sure, anyone could fill those little things.  But those little things went along with bigger ones to pull me to love and then marriage.  My point in it all is that you don’t miss those little things until you don’t have them any more.  Our lives have continued and we’ve had to deal with the fact they’ve improved with her gone.  Some days I wish it wasn’t so.  Others I see it had to be so and wish it wasn’t.  But all of them push me to keep living and knowing that my kids will all experience these things in their own way.  That gives me great comfort.  I miss these things and there are days I ache for them…and there are days I feel them and smile.  That’s what it’s like to be with someone that long, I suppose, to suffer loss.  It’s hard to realize the Shakespeare quote is true – it’s better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all.  I always hated that over-used quote, but I do understand it now.  I miss these things, but I wouldn’t have changed any of it for having had them now.

Take the time.  Take the moments.  Hold your wife/husband’s hand.  Kiss them just a little bit longer.

Inhale, slightly as you do it, too, and feel them linger.

The things you will remember will sometimes be really little.  But little things have the deepest root in our memories.

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