But the world is changed. For me, it changed irrevocably on November 9th, when cancer took my love, my best friend, my muse, my wife. Four weeks later, twenty-six families very publicly had their worlds changed forever, too. That put some terrible perspective on my laments of a life gone too soon.
Thirty years together is too short, yet it’s enough time to live a full life- if you are wise enough to understand how short life can be. She was that kind of wise woman. In the last few years, she chose to spend much of her time in the company of women older than herself. It was because those women were her peers, more so than most of her friends her own age. Many of them had raised their families, and were enjoying empty nests and being grandparents. A few of them were battling cancer and facing their own mortality. She didn’t know it, but she was too. The difference was she was only 49.
I can at least in my loss take no small comfort in the fact that she accomplished so much in the short time she had. We were looking forward to sharing a new chapter in our lives together, but we hadn’t even written the script for it yet. Now, instead I face the prospect of building a new life, not a life without her but one after her, on the fractured foundation of what we built together. I can still keep the memories, but I don’t get to live there.
Going forward is the only option because she was at the very core of her being a survivor, someone who chose to live in the present fully, and not be held back by the losses in her past. It’s a big part of why I fell for her like a ton of bricks. Standing still would be an affront to her memory, and an unforgivable waste of the thirty year long master’s class she gave me in turning loss into a motivation for growth.
As I was watching the Hobbit with my daughter last night, I was struck by the notion that Bilbo was only a couple of years younger than me when his cozy, settled life was forever disrupted by some unexpected and unwelcome visitors. He later said this about his trip to his nephew:
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,[..]You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”
This is the journal of my trip into the changed world. I’m writing this mostly for myself and if anybody else can get something of of it, that’s great, but it’s not really my intent. I hope to look back at this a year from now and see how far I’ve come down the road that lies ahead of me now. So, out the door I go, without my dear traveling partner by my side, but with her voice in the back of my head, always reminding me of what’s important.
What the hell, if I have to make the trip alone, why not have an adventure? I can handle the trolls, Silicon Valley is full of them. I just hope there aren’t any giant spiders involved….