Sunday, July 24, 2011
The other evening I came home and opened the door to an empty house. Had it always been this way, I wondered. Silent, still, except for the cats rubbing against my legs. Had I imagined those years when I came home to the sound of computer keys clicking, the aroma of one of Ralph's cooking sprees? Had I fallen asleep every night with a warm body next to mine--not a furry one as I do now--but a hunan one? All the laughter, arguments, hugs and hand-holding--had they really happened or were they only dreams? Sometimes the memories seem blurred. I turn on the answering machine to hear Ralph's voice again. I look through photographs to see younger versions of Ralph and me, surrounded by our children, or arms around each other on vacation when another tourist offered to snap our picture. There we are in our parkas on our voyage to Antarctica, there in Paris with the Seine flowing behind us, or here at home, hugging each other on our thirtieth anniversary. I fear that these memories will blur and fade. I promise myself I won't let them go.
Sometimes the memories are clear and sharp. The evening I socked him in front of his mother (yes, I admit it)for losing a key. The night we woke up at 2:00, couldn't go back to sleep and drove to IHOP for a pancake treat. Thanksgiving Day, 1998, hurrying to the hospital to witness the birth of our treasured granddaughter. A walk on the beach in Cozumel, watching the Brady Bunch with our kids and comparing the Brady family to our own blended family, giggling over an oxymoron or a pun. We disagreed vehemently and continuously over politics. Ralph's "did you remember to vote?" really meant "did you vote the way I did?" Usually not, but that didn't stop him from asking.
Although we'd married in our thirties-- both of us divorced from our first spouses--we were certain we'd celebrate our 40th anniversary, maybe even our 50th. It was not to be. Still, I hold fast to memories...and the tears.