As of yesterday, it has been three years since that fateful day when my cell phone rang and I answered, and you said “Come home, Marg. Come home NOW.”
I left my groceries on the checkout counter and rushed home. One last kiss and you were gone.
I wasn’t sad then. I felt oddly congratulatory. As if you had escaped. You surely found freedom. Freedom from pain, from the physical limitations which your illnesses imposed upon you.
You were Chris, bigger than life and always wise and funny and “up” for us. Right to the end.
I couldn’t grieve for you. You were off on a whole new adventure, a new realm. It was we who found ourselves poorer for your passing, our lives less brilliant and comforting. Our ration of love depleted.
It’s hard to believe sometimes that three years have passed, and in other ways, it seems like a lifetime ago.
I will always think lovingly of you. How your greatest pleasure was taking care of people, whether it was our children and grandchildren, or the tenants at Mathew Court, or the kids who worked as painters for you.
It used to annoy me that you would dig into the garbage bin to collect and give refundable bottles to the homeless. But I was someow proud, too, of that and of how you came with me to help at the Sisters of Atonement, making and serving hot dinners. Or spreading butter and the nun’s special blend of fish or stale cheese slices or peanut butter on bread for lunch time sandwiches in the big soup kitchen.
I never sit in a church pew without remembering how you took my hand in yours and held it on your thigh. If I close my eyes I can still feel the smooth fabric of your slacks, the warmth of your body heat.
Whenever we went out, you always made sure we had fun. You could really dance. Before your arteries shut down, before your legs went, you danced up a storm. Jive, waltz, polka; it made no difference. You were graceful and strong.
You loved NFL football and world history and crime TV. You loved us. You loved me.
And that’s a gift that I will always be grateful for. A gift that I will take to my grave, regardless of where my journey may take me now.
And for that great love, I thank you. More than I can ever say.