You and I had only been married 3 short years when you died July 16, 1989. We both came from bad marriages, and despite our age difference of 19 years, we fell in love and built a happy life together. 18 months after our wedding, you were diagnosed with cancer.
On the night you died, I was holding your hand and crying softly. I muttered how I felt life wasn’t fair and didn’t know why this was happening to us. You had been fighting that damn cancer for half our marriage, and I felt robbed of the happiness that I believed we had earned. You were kind of groggy from the medications you were on, but I remember you looking at me so tenderly and saying, “We are building character”. It was the last thing you ever said to me. Shortly after, they wheeled you away to emergency surgery, and you died on the operating table of a massive bleed.
I have often reflected on your words to me that night. At first, I was angry that your last words to me weren’t words of love, but as I have matured and moved on and lived life, I realize how truly profound your parting statement to me really was.
We grow in the dark places of our lives. When life is at its worst, that is when we truly discover what we are made of. That is when our character is built. I look back on that time in my life, and I see so clearly where I began to really mature and grow as a woman and as a mother. I discovered a strength that I could never have dreamed I possessed had I not come out the other side of the most painful event in my life, terribly tattered but not completely torn. I don’t think I could have discovered this shockingly deep admiration for who I am today had I not gone through such a devastating loss way back when and survived. Despite the years that have passed, I still miss you terribly, but I am so blessed for the experience of you.
I am eternally grateful for everything you taught me. Thank you from the bottom of my soul for helping me to grow into the woman I am today, my love. You would be as proud of her as I am.