When your person dies, whether it’s after being together five months or 55 years, it leaves a hole in your life that isn’t easily filled. And as I recently learned, it isn’t something that you “move on” from. You don’t “move on” from losing a piece of yourself. Instead you move forward with the memories and love of that person and it will affect every decision and every aspect of your life until you pass from this world to the next.
The list of things I lost when my wife Lisa passed away almost two years ago is longer than I can explain to most people. I miss her smile, her laugh, the inflection in her voice when she said “Hi” every time I got home from work, the way she hugged me with everything she had, the softness of her cheek. Those things I expected.
What I wasn’t expecting were the things that I also lost that you wouldn’t think of. Silly things that would make zero sense to anyone else but mean everything to me. Things that made Lisa and I the couple we were and became important parts of what made us “us.”
Like the movie When Harry Met Sally. I know that I will probably never be able to watch the movie again. I’ve come across it while channel surfing a number of times but cruise right by it, knowing all too well that I can’t stop and watch it.
When Harry Met Sally was the first movie Lisa and I watched together. It was maybe our fourth of fifth date and we decided to stay in and watch a video on her VCR (ask your parents if you have no clue what a VCR is kids.) I suggested When Harry Met Sally, which I happened to own and she had somehow never seen. I brought it over and we laid some blankets on the floor, made some popcorn and had an amazing evening together.
Asking me to watch that movie again would be like asking me to experience joy but know that I can never have it ever again. It would tear my heart out and leave me a sobbing mess. Hell, I can barely watch Notting Hill or Wall-E without crying like a two-year old.
Or Red Lobster. Yes, the seafood restaurant Red Lobster. I know there is a very good chance I will never eat there again. Because of what it meant to us.
Lisa and I both loved seafood and when we had a craving for lobster or crab or shrimp that needed to be satisfied, we would get a little more dressed up than usual and head out to the Red Lobster in North Whales. It wasn’t around the corner so it wasn’t a trip we made that often, maybe two or three times a year. Usually for our respective birthdays and sometime around the holidays close to Christmas.
It became something of a tradition for us. We would go there, have a couple drinks and almost make ourselves sick eating way too much seafood. Both of us loved the cheddar bay biscuits (who doesn’t?) and would go through two baskets, sometimes more over the course of the meal. Then my loving wife would make small talk with our waiter and get to know them a bit because Lisa loved talking to people. That would lead to him or her slipping us a bag with a bunch more biscuits to take home with us.
That was Lisa in a nutshell.
I’ve been able to go to a lot of places where Lisa and I went together and have managed to get through it. But going to Red Lobster would just be too much, which I’ve accepted and learned to live with.
Or how about the fact I can’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches anymore? Or listen to Gary Puckett and the Union Gap? Or read John Grisham novels?
People have actually told me to get over it and “move on” or some version thereof. And I will pleasantly smile and nod while thinking to myself that they should go fuck themselves.
These are the silly types of things that you lose when you lose your person that no one warns you about. The things that tear you up almost as much as losing the person themselves. On the surface they may seem like nothing but in the history of who you are and who you were in that relationship, they are everything.
I miss Lisa just as much today as I did the day she died. And I know I’ll also miss those cheddar bay biscuits almost as much. And I’m okay with that.