I Have Lost My Life
By Rev. Paul V. Scholl
I feel like the cloud that has just shed its last raindrop. Empty, floating and without direction.
It has been just over a year, but she was just here yesterday. It went from diagnosis to memorial in a matter of weeks, but they could have been hours.
Is this what it feels like when an oak tree finds itself cut down? Is this what it feels like when a creek bed finally goes dry?
When men die, it often comes long before their body is given up for dead. It comes when the only woman they have ever truly loved leaves them for another world. Death is not so full of regrets then, it is only full of sorrow.
I’m finding moments such as this so holy, and so alone. The pain is beyond any religious understanding I’ve been given. What faith I do muster brings me face-to-face with God, even if for just an instant.
It is only then that I realize it is not for me
to understand, it is only for me to know.
I remember being smitten by her, when
we locked eyes for the very first time. I remember our very first kiss like it was just last night, and my feet can still feel the sensation of our dancing. I can still feel her hands in mine, the smell of her hair, the redness of her lips and the pounding of my heart awakening me to a whole new world.
And when war came, we were scared together. The two years away made our commitment stronger. She grew to be as much the soldier as I, carrying a load of anxieties and worries with all the will and duty any basic training sergeant would be proud to instill in another human being. I’m sure she cried at night, but she never let me know. We just picked up where we left off when I got back home.
When the children came, she showed strength like I’ve never known. We were giddy when we held our son the first time, and again for my daughter just two years later, and again for our late surprise second son. Each time I worried about “how this” and “how that”, and she just held my hand and kissed me.
She never liked it much when I would have more than a second drink, unless we were alone and enjoying the front porch swing together. It wasn’t about permission, it was about being present in the moment. It was about letting her calm me without need of any vice.
There are things I wish I would have done.
I wish I would have bought her daisies just one more time. I wish I would have played one more trick on her in front of the children so we could have all laughed together one more time. I wish I would have planned that return trip to the south of France. I wish I would have cried more towards the end, not for me or her, but for the children and grandchildren who only know pain in that way.
I hear her in the daytime, sometimes calling my name, as if for lunch. I feel her at night, lying next to me in bed. I struggle to not wake up, not wanting the sensation to leave, not wanting to drift again through another day. It has become routine now, but it was never routine with her. We lived every day.
I’ve heard that sometimes marriages in this life are meant to go on forever in heaven, and sometimes they’re not. I hope ours is one that does, because it was heaven with her then, and I can pray for nothing better.
Dedicated to those husbands and wives from the greatest generation in our nation’s history, those who stayed together through struggles and hard times, and never gave up. It is also dedicated to their perseverance and lasting love for one another. We may never know all their stories or dreams, but we can honor them when they need us most.
~ Rev. Paul V. Scholl