I wrote to her about that time we went to Paris, stayed at one of those grand hotels that face the Eiffel Tower. About the most amazing day of walking hand in hand. Talking about nonsensical dreams young lovers full of anticipation seem to find so dear. Tired to the bone but not caring. Thinking only of pleasing the other. Eating at quaint little restaurants, stolen kisses by unnamed historical sculptures and fountains. Of making quiet, tender, nurturing love in the light of the coming dawn.
She wrote back about that time we went camping high in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. The chill of the night negated as we snuggled together in our double sleeping bag. Star gazing, wishes on each shooting star.
Soundless forests giving way to animals and insects singing, sometimes both wonderful and a thrillingly frightening. She reminded me of that little pond we came across… the place where we went skinny dipping. Only to have some animal drag away essential clothing. Laughing at the thought that some “thing” had caught us in private moments of mutual enjoyment.
There was that movie she liked; “Pure Country”. My pulling out the guitar to sing to her “Cross My Heart”… But you see, these were all we had of memories… letters. Imagination was a place where we could be safe. Where we could talk about the things that we would never have together… except in our dreams. The movie; “The Notebook” has nothing on us. Tears of joy breaking their way through heartaches of loss and pain.
I had been married previously for nearly 25 years — to a good woman. I hadn’t wanted the divorce, but she needed it to find the happiness she felt she deserved elsewhere. In her eyes, I had never measured up to the man she hoped to create out of me. The stinging truth of our marriage in her admission that she wanted marriage — Just not to me. Her feigned proclamations of love for so many years, now exposed. She chose a new path. My problem? I loved her, still.
Then came Evelyn. She hated anyone to call her ‘Evy’. Except her father, long since passed — and now, me. A tender endearment that reflected hope and youthful exuberance not yet lost.
Evy had been divorced for 15 years. She had raised 6 kids, mostly on her own, in a three bedroom rented house adjacent to the Lagoon amusement park in Farmington, Utah. Her life was her kids. She was lonely, wary, and though no shortage of suitors, had not found her most special of relationships. Definitely not interested in one set up by her elder sister.
That suited me fine as I was angry enough that I didn’t want to meet anyone new. Let alone write anyone. Though by my loneliness and a good hearted friend, convinced me to write his sister-in-law. I wrote with a touch of humor. I guess some of my pain came through in teasing. She wrote back a playful letter endorsing all my views, including disdain for the dating scene. People pretending love. Infidelity that destroys worse than dealing with the death.
I never thought two people could grow so close by writing letters. Letters were safe, though. You can tempt the fates by professing, acting out, and exploring your hopes and dreams without having to face that other person — until you know if your ideas have made purchase. A little bit of fear returned when it came time to meet face-to-face. No matter how strong in other areas of one’s life, that moment in time where you hope to place your best “you” forward and not be rejected, makes you a teenager again. On a first date.
I looked into her eyes searching for that funny, quirky, woman (girlishly innocent and hopeful) found in her letters. The tension we both felt melted away when vulnerability made her ask why I was looking at her “like that.” She, too, was wondering whether she might actually like the “me” from my letters. Looking for lies, truths… something. I suddenly saw something special; “There you are,” I said. “Why are you hiding behind that stern mask?” What started in trepidation became giggles, laughing smiles, and full belly laughs as we ate (heaven knows what kind of food), talking for hours.
Time brought the easy comfort of holding one another. Hugs and kisses. The usual excitement of my heart beating faster when the very thought of catching sight of her came to my mind. Anticipation of each letter, each time we came together. Dates that came until, one day, I asked her to meet my parents. (Yes, I am a bit old fashioned. I wanted her to meet my parents.) Even as there was no doubt we belonged to one another. While we sat talking, I slipped a ring on her finger. My great grandmother’s wedding ring. Then asked her to marry me. She answered, quietly at first. Breathlessly, “Yes.” And the world changed for me once more.
Not too long after came another change. Evy sought to break off our engagement… There was a fear in her eyes I couldn’t understand. Not knowing what else to do, I took her in my arms and held her as she broke down and cried. She had been diagnosed with Stage 3-B (triple-negative) breast cancer. For me, there was no choice to make except to fight it — together. “NO!,” I cried and prayed to God. How I prayed. I love her. How could the Lord allow such beauty to be taken away?
This is where much cherished words of my first wife came back to help me. Before we married, she told me that breast cancer had run in her family. That her mother had had a breast removed. My resolve to love her remained. To support her and be there to fight. In that youthful certain belief in invincibility, I made a choice that would not permit abandonment… which was now preserved for my Evy.
Evy’s unselfish attempt to let me go was based on what she learned of life from her past marriage. That when you need someone most, they will seek to betray you for an easier road. She knew I wouldn’t want to be saddled with someone who was going to die. How foolish we are sometimes when the only road we have known is abandonment. But she was wrong.
Our journey here on earth lasted all of two years. Our marriage was for 2 months and 3 days. My Evy was 68 lbs when she passed. These two years were the most wonderful of my life. She had no property, no money, no assets. But she had love to heal the deepest wounds. She gave more than I ever believed any woman could give. She taught me to bless the life I had lived before. To let go those who had hurt me, betrayed and abandoned me in my time of need. And by her love, I married a woman who would come to know just how dearly loved, truly wanted, she would ever be. Blessed now to appreciate having loved twice in my life. Knowing what wonders exist that never pass away.
You see, I was fighting my own affliction of Coccidioydomicosis (Cocci – San Joaquin Valley Fever). My titer level was 1:256. A .05% survival rate for white males 25-60 (disseminated). Because of the love I had for Evy, I prayed to let the Lord take me that she would live. She prayed for him to let me live and take her. Both of us so scared. Trying to be strong for the other. So blessed to have one another. Believing we would be lost if either of us passed.
I choose to believe that the Lord took her because her love, her life, her spirit was so specially near perfect, that he needed another Angel more than my flaws could overcome. And in that time, she asked me to help her face her children. To help her face death. She asked; “How do you know there is more of life to come?” I told her of my life. Of the Lord’s audible words to me in my times of trial. Even when I couldn’t bring myself to speak of things I knew would separate me from family, friends and all that had been. I “know” what will come. I needed her to know as I do.
Before passing, my mother and father travelled to Utah to be with her. They brought a hospital bed into her living room and stayed to help her. Three nights before she passed, she woke and said; “Kirk’s here!” She was so sure, my mother went to the door and looked out. It was so dark. Snow was falling and hadn’t let up all day. No cars on the road. In my sickness I was hundreds of miles away, alone. But that night my prayers were answered in lifting her up. The Lord, in his goodness, gave us one night together. Apart we each felt the other… togetherness. I just knew then ‘everything’ was going to be alright. Even as I knew the end was near. Here on earth.
Two nights later, Evy came out of her coma. She took my mother’s hands, gripping them tightly. She said; “You tell him I love him.” My mother assured her she would. Evy, gripping every tighter, insistent; “Tell him… tell him he’s too young. He needs to live… Tell him… when he comes home… I’ll be waiting for him.” She closed her eyes then… passing a couple of hours later.
In that blessed promise, I strive to live again.
Two people. A man and a woman. Faith replaced by knowledge as we found love, once more. She gave of herself so unselfishly. My wife of only two months… We never shared a single night together, except in that magical place I cannot adequately describe. Where the Lord sent his Angels to grant us a place without time and space, where our spirits would unite as one.
We had much more than most. I would still give my life for hers. If God would be grant me this… for my woman. So, what happens the day after? Remembering our time. Like the time we took off to Fiji. An open cabana on one small island where someone showed up only to prepare our means. Thereafter, disappearing into the night.
The fragrant pleasures of island flowers… a slight ocean breeze taking away the heat of the day. The moon in the sky; so big, so clear. Remembering her tell me to continue to gaze at that moon. That she would be gazing also… and we could never then be parted. Whispering softly of things that have no more to do with cancer and dying. Moments shared… if only in our imaginations. Until I return home to her arms.
We can walk for life. We can wear buttons and ribbons. We can keep their memories alive by telling of dreams forever shared. Talking, listening. Being there for those who need not ask to be held.
Preserve your heart through those who love us back, especially when we’re feeling so helpless… Let your prayers, your time together, and every thought be of those things you can do — before the things you cannot pass you by. Replaced by a pink bracelet, with a name, a hope and a promise… of forever. Because “forever” is so very far away.
I will be there one day, Evy. Looking forward to your sparkling eyes, smiling face. Ready for adventures we have yet to live.
Because you taught me what it means to forgive. Seeking blessings, even for those not honest enough to speak the truth.
For good or for bad… It is a wonderful life.
Always and forever… supporting those who remain — ever hopeful of a cure. Reunited.
Your loving husband,