Six years ago today, my first husband, Brett, died in my arms at Calvary Hospice in Bronx, New York. As many of you know, and others have read, he had a brain tumor that finally felled him nearly seven years after he was diagnosed in 1998.
Because this experience has profoundly shaped my life and my writing, it would be remiss of me not to write about loss and renewal, today, of all days.
Our twins, Casey and Rebecca, are now at the magical age of eight. They are clever, feeling, beautiful, loving and compassionate children. While they have no real memories of their dad, I make it a point to tell them that they carry his nose, his kindness, and his bottomless love for all things sweet.
In anticipation of today’s anniversary, I asked Casey and Rebecca what they would like Dad to know about them. “I LOVE cheese steaks and I’m a kick-butt skier,” Casey said. “I LOVE cinnamon rolls and I sleep with the blanket Mommy made of your clothes almost every night,” said Rebecca. Which she does.
As for me, my perspective has shifted, which happens, I believe, over time. Lately I’ve been thinking about him more often because I’ve been working on a memoir and have needed to dig deep into those hard years. Even when he’s not top of mind, Brett is always with me. The same is true for my new husband, Steve, who carries his late wife, Pam, with him, too. In our blended family, the past is still very present.
Mostly, I’m grateful today. Grateful that Brett and I married, grateful that we had children who bear his name and hold the best parts of him, grateful that in spite of his death we have had the courage to move forward in life, grateful that indeed I found happiness again and a wonderful man who loves me and our children, grateful for health and time and the gift of memory.
Recently I stumbled upon this quote from Vincent Van Gogh and it seems apt: “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”