Fifty (Almost) Years of Marriage
By Barbara Fox
Tomorrow is our fiftieth wedding anniversary but my husband isn’t here to celebrate it with me. He died in May after fighting a really good fight against diabetes, congenital heart failure, a foot amputation and a myriad of other medical problems.
Damn it, he was supposed to make it to our anniversary, he intended to and he promised me that he would. We had so many problems the past nine years, medical and legal and financial but we had so many joys too. We moved to Florida, lived on the beach, went on cruises, made new friends and spend time with our kids when they came to visit.
We used to say, in spite of all the crap, (hospitals and emergency rooms, lawyers and doctors), we had such a good time. We could always laugh. We sunbathed at the pool everyday and went to Lincoln road for dinner several times a week; I got really expert at popping the wheel chair into our convertible car, We went to the movies and the theater; we saw Mama Mia at the Jackie Gleason three days before he died. Shelly always looked good too, sun tanned and strong, even when he resorted to using a walker or finally, sitting in a wheel chair, He had a beard and mustache, bushy eyebrows above dark sun glasses; he lifted weights and exercised all his life so he had well defined muscles. He swam (okay, very slowly) several laps of the pool and, when I did it with him, exercised and even jogged in the water.
I can’t stop crying while I’m writing this, I want to scream and yell and get all hysterical. I want to stamp my feet and pound pillows! I have to say it; I hate every middle aged man I see. Why are they healthy and still here when my husband is gone? Where’s the justice, where’s the fairness? We said good night at midnight on May 6th and he was gone at eight am on May 7th, three weeks before his 76th birthday.
“What a blessing” people tell me, “he died in his sleep in his own bed at home” Well, excuse me but dying isn’t a blessing; it would have been a blessing if he hadn’t died. if he was here with me on our anniversary.
I’m tired of being good and brave and of being alone. My kids and my friends say they are amazed at how well I am managing. Well what would they have me do, spend my days weeping and wailing and moaning. (And how do they know that I don’t?)
“At least”, they say, “you have your acting and writing and dancing. You have a life.” Yes, I do, but, I have no one to share it with. I didn’t mind being a care giver for Shelly because he never complained and he gave me so much He was a great listener and an even better hugger and he was always, always on my side. He was my love and my best friend.
What in the world should I do tomorrow on what should have been a celebration of fifty years of marriage. My daughters and I talked about it and I finally told them not to do anything because anything they did would be wrong…There isn’t anything that would be right. I doesn’t want flowers or cards. I don’t want to write Shelly a letter and put it into a bottle in the ocean. He was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea. It’s what we planned when we moved to Florida. We used to joke about it, say it was like a cruise for eternity.
I don’t want to look at our wedding album or at family pictures and I don’t want to reminisce and tell stories about Shelly. I want Shelly and I’ll never have him again no matter how good or brave I am or what I do.
I don’t know a good way to end this, so, just as our marriage ended abruptly….
By Barbara Fox