It has been almost two weeks. In some ways it is hard to believe that you are gone. We were married for 12,577 days. Remember? I keep hoping that it is all a dream and I will wake up to see you again and be with you. But I know it is not a dream. At night I still fall asleep within seconds, like always, but more from exhaustion than anything else. Then I wait up around 3 AM and cannot get back to sleep again because I’m remembering.
I remember when we first met back in 1977. Do you remember? I was driving for my old house at Lehigh University bringing in a carload of girls from Kutztown College. (It was only a college then. Now it is Kutztown State University.) Lehigh had gone co-ed a few years before, but the number of women was far outnumbered by the number of men. So we would bring girls in from neighboring schools for parties. When I picked you up along with a couple of your friends, I could not stop looking at you and talking with you. Somehow I knew from the start that you were special.
I remember our first real date two weeks later. We went to a hockey game in Hershey, PA. Remember? Over the subsequent months we spent a lot of time together and it soon became apparent that we would spend our lives together.
I remember the day I asked your father for your hand in marriage. I remember going out to dinner that night and asking you to marry me.
I remember our wedding day like it was yesterday. I remember your dad walking you down the aisle. Remember I told you that I had a dream shortly after we met where I saw you walking down the aisle in that church which I had never seen before the first time we went there months later. I always believed it was destiny.
I remember our honeymoon in Hawaii. Do you remember driving down the main street of Honolulu the first night and I could not figure out how to turn the high beams off on the rental car?
I remember moving into our first house in Macungie. I remember our first Christmas. I remember when we moved to Reading and we built our first house. Remember Paulo, our builder who lived across the street? How about our first Christmas in Reading. That Christmas eve it started to snow and snow and snow. It was awesome. A few weeks later it snowed again. So much snow that we were all out shoveling the snow off the street. Then we found out that the township would not plow our street because it was not ‘finished’. Remember when Paulo organized the residents of the entire street to go to the township meeting to protest their refusal to plow the street and the resulting refusing of the garbage truck to go through the street to pick up garbage. Remember how Paulo asked the township commissioners where they lived because he had a big truck and he could deliver all of our garbage to their houses so it could be picked up. They plowed our street the next day.
Then came the day we found out you were pregnant. It was such a happy day. However, it was soon followed by your mother’s illness and hospitalization. She spent the next 8 months in intensive care on a breathing machine. You missed having her help during this time. But you delivered us a healthy baby girl. We could not take Natasha into the hospital to show her to your mom, but we did take pictures in. Shortly after seeing the pictures of her granddaughter, your mother died. Happiness mixed with sadness.
Remember our friends, Cathy and Jeff. Remember all those nights and weekends we worked with them preparing food for the church carnivals. They were and still are two of our best friends.
Remember when Natasha first started going to school. You use to take her to the school bus stop in the morning and pick her up at the stop in the afternoon. Then one day she did not get off the bus. You called me at work, panicked. I raced home and we searched everywhere, even going back to the school to see if she did not get on the bus. While there, the school got a call from the bus driver reporting that Natasha was still on the bus. Seems that she hid beneath the seat because she wanted to see where the bus went after it dropped all the other kids off.
Then we moved to Orlando, FL. Remember driving two cars down using walkie-talkies to keep in touch. Cell phones were still rare and they were huge. They were more of a status symbol then. Remember how people would proudly place them on tables at restaurants as if to say look how important I am? Now we all have them.
Remember all the good times as Natasha was growing up? The school events? The birthday parties? Girl Scouts? The vacations? You even got me to go on a cruise… twice. We were so proud when Natasha graduated high school, when she was accepted to college as a pre-Pharmacy student. Remember her first graduation with her undergraduate degree in 2010. You had just been diagnosed with cancer the previous October and your greatest fear was that you would not live to see it because the doctor only gave you 3-6 months to live back then, but you did live to see her graduate. You fought a hard battle just like your mom. You fought hard enough to be able to celebrate our daughter graduating from Pharmacy school with her PhD last June, almost three years after your first diagnosis.
There was so much more you wanted to celebrate. So much more that you will never get to see, at least not from this life. You made me promise to watch over Natasha and I suspect you made Natasha promise to watch over me because we are all we have left.
We had your body cremated just like you wanted. We found a really nice urn. It does not look like an urn. It is more like a Tiffany box. We know how much you liked Tiffany lights and the Tiffany shades we had for the living room lights. Actually Natasha spotted it and thought you would like it. We also got what they call a Keepsake. It is a small butterfly about 5 inches tall standing on a small rock that contains a few of your ashes. The butterfly’s wings are also Tiffany glass. If it is ok with you, we would like to think of those wings as the wings of the angel that you now are.
Later today, I will stop by the funeral home to bring you home. I have a spot on the fireplace mantel all set aside for you with a picture of your parents on one side and a picture of Natasha and me on the other. You will be with family again, like you always wanted.
We will always love you and remember you Susan. Forever.