Monday, October 17, 2011

In Memory of Connie

During our courtship 1970
Yesterday (8:30 P.M. last night to be more exact) marked the fifth year since I lost my best friend, my most avid fan and my wife of over 35 years. As I sat in the dark listening to old rock songs from the 1960s and 1970s, I let my thoughts drift and found myself recalling many of the high points in our life together.

Connie and I first met when she was 5 and I was 9. How can you recall that you may ask. Well, she was the aunt of one of my best friends. The very thought of anyone having an aunt younger than them was unique enough to linger in my memory for years. After a brief encounter at my friend's house, I did not think about the little blond again. (She however, went to school with my younger brother and over the ensuing years heard many of my crazier escapades--although I'll never truly know how much embellishment my brother added.) Connie and I met again when she was 19 and I was 23, recently discharged from the U. S. Marine Corps and still half crazy from my time in VietNam.

Once again, my friend and her nephew was the catalyst in the meeting. She was looking for him and found him with me at my mother's home, where he and I were pondering what we should do that evening. As soon as he introduced us, she said, "I've heard about you..." At that moment I thought she and I would never get together. I was wrong...

Two nights later I asked her out and she and I spent every day and evening together after that. We married five months after that fateful second meeting and the next year we were the parents of our one and only child.
Muir Woods, California 1999
Last night, my thoughts were a mish-mash of what we did right and what we did wrong; of all the times we unknowingly hurt each other and how much we grew up together. There were good times and, of course the bad times, still throughout all of it she stayed by me. When I was carousing and drinking, she was there when I returned to my senses; when I battled a severe case of PTSD in the late 1980s, she weathered the storm with me. More than anyone I've ever known, Connie had an immense capacity to forgive (something that I lack, especially when it comes to forgiving myself). She was truly one of God's special people.

Connie was weak in many ways and oh so strong in others (I am still astonished how this woman, who was terrified by the smallest bird, kept her sense of humor throughout her final battle against cancer and faced death with a strength that I can only hope to have myself). She always had the ability to keep me balanced and was the one constant bond that kept our family together on those times when my insanity threatened to tear it apart. Since her passing our family has become scattered and disjointed--something that I know she is not pleased with as she watches over us. Throughout her six month battle against an aggressive form of cancer, she did her crying in private and hid her fear from her family, sparing us as much anguish as possible.

Over the course of our marriage, she many times expressed to me that I was her source of courage and confidence...she had no idea that she was also my font of strength (truthfully, neither did I). If not for her continual support, I'd have spent my life at menial, low-paying jobs. Her presence spurred me to obtain three degrees and a career in hi-tech. When I mentioned to her in passing that I was thinking of writing a book, she encouraged me; the result was Elephant Valley (available as an ebook through Barnes & Noble and Smashwords). When I was discouraged by the rejections from agents and publishers, she again urged me keep submitting and work on something new; the result was The War Within, which was awarded second prize in a major literary contest (soon to be released as an eBook).

Connie's passing rocked me like nothing else ever has and has made me come to grips with one fact about myself...I don't appreciate anything until I lose it. I was once told by a therapist that I walk around with a hole in my chest that I believe only a woman can fill. Well, I now walk around with a canyon in my chest that will never be filled until she and I are reunited again.

Darling Connie, I love you, I miss you and I'm being good so I can join you in the afterlife...

2 comments:

Lisa-Marie said...

I came across your blog after typing in 'writers blogs' on google and I'm so pleased that I stuck around to have a look. This is the post that came up on google and firstly, I am so terribly sorry for your loss. You and Connie must have had such a wonderful life together and it's clear to see how much you miss her and how that hole in your chest could never be closed until you are once again united. My thoughts are with you now. I hope you are able to get by every single day remembering all of the happier times you had, until you are able to see her again. Take care :)

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