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Monday, July 08, 2013

One Last Love Letter - Third Way of Looking At Me

 Today would have been Colleen's birthday.  Today is also the start of my time at the summer institute for GMWP.  So, it seemed fitting to have the third way of looking at me be about Colleen.
July 8, 2013

My Love,

Today you would have turned 54, and you have been gone for over three years. You will never read this. You will never know these words just as you will never know so much about my life. There is so much I would tell you, so many experiences I have wished to share with you, and so many times I have longed for your trusted guidance and loving arms.

I know this is supposed to be a “love letter” but I need to first air some of my regrets. Perhaps on the screen, on paper, or simply out of my head they will not seem so bad. I wish I had convinced you to get medical attention earlier. I'm sorry you never got “Up North” for one more trip, though some of your ashes are in Lac du Flambeau and Lake Superior. I regret not taking more time away from work while you were in the hospital. I wish I had been more honest with you about how ill equipped I was to manage your home care; I didn't know myself until I saw how the nurses cared for you. I'll never forget how heart broken you were when I told you that you could not come home from the hospital; though I know it isn’t true, I feel like that disappointment helped to spread the infection already lurking in your system. I’m sorry your father wasn’t with you when you passed; I should have made them stay. I'm sorry I didn't hire professional mourners to stand in the back of the church to wail, rip their clothes, and pull out their hair.

Colleen, you need to know – I think you knew – I was ready to spend every day of the rest of my life with you. That was my plan. And I haven't exactly formulated a new one yet. In the weeks after your death I asked your friend, Betsy, about how she had moved on after the death of her Noah. She laughed at the potentially demeaning nature of her own comment, “You've had dogs die and yet you've been able to love a new dog right? Well, every person I've loved has been different in a similar way.” I laughed too because I know she wasn't comparing our lovers to dogs; she truly sees her animals as people, members of her family. And the people in our lives enter and exit at unpredictable times.

In the three years and two months since you died, I took a quick trip around the state and into South Dakota to visit places you loved and leave some of your ashes (sorry, I haven't gotten to Hawaii yet), my father died, your father died, your mother sold their house, she moved to Portage, your aunt Lorraine died, I bought a house, I self-published a book of poetry, I started a writing club at school, I've lost about 150 pounds (with about 40 or so to go), Mom has had the farmhouse repainted – blue, I've started to take my photography more seriously, Joe has been a good friend – you were right about him, I've went every year to see Marge Gibson release the eagles in Sauk Prairie, Dalton graduated from college, eventually so did Bug, Mikal started college working toward a nursing degree, Mikal is still driving your old car – she is taking good care of it, and so much more.

This verse from “Lost” by Amanda Palmer has been going through my mind a lot lately:

No one's ever lost forever.
When they die they go away,
But they will visit you occasionally.
Do not be afraid.
No one's ever lost forever.
They are caught inside your heart.
If you garden them and water them,
They make you what you are.

This is a song that you never heard by a singer you never heard. I think you would have liked it and liked her. And it is true. And all the sappy songs about loss are true. You are gone, but the love remains.

In my garden you are the oak tree with tiger lilies around its trunk. Tall, strong, and enduring with flashes of color in spring and fall. In my garden you provide shade to all and a place to live for all the little birds. I suspect there might be a cat in your branches as well – not the Cheshire cat Alice encountered but your cranky Punkin cat. In my garden you are one of the anchor points around which everything else must make sense.

Thank you for being. Thank you for being my love. Thank you for sharing your time.


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