Since you went away…

A letter to my dear departed husband, Pepe

My Beloved ‘Pep’:

It’s taken me a while to manage this emotionally, but I think I might be up to it now. Numerous attempts have ended in tearful eruptions of grief and sorrow, but this is something I have been wanting to write since I let go of your body at the hospital. There was so much more I wanted to say to you, but under the circumstances, it wasn’t possible. Nevertheless, I believe you heard the things I did say to you. And you left this life wrapped in the warmth of my loving embrace. Knowing that you are loved.

For the first time, I will be commemorating our March 16th meeting day without you. Remembering that on March 16, 2004, seventeen years ago today, you walked into my life and changed it forever.

Pepe’s anniversary gift from me.

Remember how we always enjoyed reminiscing about that special day? With every passing year, your version of the details of our first meeting expanded more and more. I loved seeing how much you enjoyed reliving the history and having your ‘I told you so’ moment of proof, reminding me that you were right when you told me: “We’ve been on our way to each other all our lives.” It took a long time for me to believe you, but our life journey proved you right. And no matter what happened in the years before, I was on my way to you and you were on your way to me. Now, since you went away, I wish I could return to those days of doubting you. So I could relive each one, fully embracing and believing in the extraordinary thing we shared from the moment we met. The instantaneous connection. If only I could be granted just one more tomorrow. One more day. One more hour to fully appreciate all the things that I am missing so desperately now that you’re gone. The warmth of your touch. Your smile. Your laugh. Your silly moments. Like the day I heard you standing outside my office singing/serenading me with Y te amo tanto (And I Love You So) and I couldn’t stop laughing. Your Pepe LePew imitations when you were feeling especially “frisky”. Memories of these moments should sustain me, but they’re not enough to ease the unbearable pain of losing you.

I frequently read and re-read your notes and letters and the beautiful greeting cards you’ve given me over the years. Your E-Mails and Texts that could very well be included in a romance novel and published. My all-time favorite, as you know was the one you sent me on November 22, 2004, that I have committed to memory. We were eight months into our ‘friendship’, as I kept insisting. But you patiently took the lead and guided me in your direction:

“Aundra, my love, each time I think of you now, you become a greater picture and all my senses see you as brighter and as luminous as ever and my heart pulses inside of me. Thank you for letting me in to share what is a most wonderful gift I’m receiving from you.

Loving you tenderly, amándote tiernamente, Pepe”

‘I feel like half a pair of scissors.’ As we used to say whenever we traveled apart. Only now, in my case the other half, my better half is gone. I never ever imagined that I would miss you this much, or that missing you could be this utterly painful. I miss talking to you. Sharing thoughts and opinions and virtually everything that accompanied your essence. Your presence. Your voice. Your deep, resonant and gentle voice. The sound of your footsteps. Your endearing words when you called me “Sweetie”, “My Love”, or “Darling”. I miss the warmth and affection of your touch, always near and dear.

Remember our lengthy debate about the real meaning of the Aristotle quote: “A friend is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”? It went on for months with me insisting that our “soulmate” status need go no further, and you, ever so gently and patiently maintaining your belief that we were destined to be together. Forever.

I feel you near me. And I do love and appreciate that. Your familiar presence, though not physical, is still with me and communicating with me. Several of your notes and cards and E-Mails and Texts appear, seemingly out of nowhere almost every day, falling out of the strangest places. Long-archived pictures of you continue to appear on my cell phone and computers. And I am certain that it’s you selecting pictures and sending me music and song favorites of yours that we have shared and discussed over the years. Most recently, your Heavenly selections have included some real tear-jerkers, e.g. Andrea Bocelli singing You’ll Never Walk Alone and Billy Preston’s I’m Never Gonna Say Goodbye. Our favorite composer’ Ennio Morricone’s I Knew I Loved You brings back memories of the long drive we took up the California coast to Monterey when we played it over and over. Amazingly, but maybe not, another one of your selections, Talk To Me by Paul Carrack, captured my attention this evening, and as we discussed many times, the lyrics of this song are nearly identical to words you spoke to me when you walked into my life and convinced me that you belonged there.

I now realize how very unique our relationship was from the very beginning. We actually connected over words. Our mutual love and respect for the written word. You took me by surprise when you volunteered feedback for one of my articles in the newsletter. So I felt I could trust you to read some of my other work. And pretty soon we were also communicating on another level, not only with words but with a fleeting glance. A wisp of a meaningful smile. A word or phrase to be examined for its true meaning. I recall our very first lengthy telephone conversation when the battery on your cell phone died and you raced out and drove to the nearest pay phone to call me to pick up where we left off. I remember our first date. You had called me at work and invited me to a screening of the movie The Motorcycle Diaries, which you had already seen, but you wanted to share it with me because it was filmed largely in your homeland in Peru. After the movie, we went to dinner and sat talking until the restaurant closed. Then, while driving me home, you caressed my hand and said: “I really don’t want to leave you, Aundra. I feel like something has happened between us.” You were so right. And the rest became our history.

Our bed remains a comfort zone, and wonderful memories abound. Such lovely memories. The caress of your pillows soothes me to sleep and could perhaps be responsible for the dreams I still have of you each night. But by far, mornings are the most difficult, and one of the times when I feel your absence most acutely. Making my own coffee has been an emotional ordeal. After 17 years of you making me a perfect cup of coffee every morning, I realized that I had to create a new morning routine for myself. So I bought a new programmable coffee maker which I can set up at night before I go to bed and have it programmed to have my coffee ready in the morning without my having to linger too long in the kitchen.

My work continues and I know that you are pleased. You always loved my writing, and you were my greatest champion and best editor when necessary. Your constant encouragement and support as I worked on my brother’s behalf kept me focused and encouraged, and your faith in me was strong. Several of my projects appear to be coming to fruition lately and it saddens me deeply that you are not here to share the good news with me, but I don’t have the slightest doubt that you know. For in your new role as my Heavenly Angel. The Angel on my shoulder, I feel you and I sense your presence, and I will for the rest of my days.

I never imagined that the title: “The grieving widow” would be in any way applicable to me, but life is a great equalizer, and I had to learn that grief is part of the life cycle package, and there was no escape for me. As you recall, several years ago, when several of my close friends were widowed, I gave each of them a copy of Elizabeth Alexander’s Memoir: The Light of the World in which she writes about the sudden death of her husband and how she coped with losing him. How could I have known that I would need and find so much solace in the book for myself? The book is described as: “A deeply resonant memoir for anyone who has loved and lost…the deep pain that comes with such a loss, and the redemptive realization that such pain is a small price to pay for such a love.”

17 Years Together

We had “such a love” ‘Pep’ — and the pain of losing you may very well be a small price to pay for such an extraordinary gift. I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with you, but you spent the rest of your life with me. Your final years in the comfort of my tender loving care.

Having expressed some of my angst and thoughts, and missing you as I do, an old song from a 1946 Broadway musical, St. Louis Woman, comes to mind. And if you were here, we would be engaging in another one of our lengthy conversations, sharing knowledge and trivia. (How I miss that!) The song, written by Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer is: I Had Myself A True Love. Indeed I did. In you, my dear husband, I had myself a true love. A kind and gentle man who walked into my life and loved and valued me unconditionally and patiently guided me into his arms and changed my life forever. Eventually, I returned that love full-force and will continue to love him forever.

Your seven year-battle with Lung Cancer is over now, and you managed it magnificently with strength and pride and I was so very proud of you. It was my privilege to be by your side during the difficult journey, just as you were for me during my many surgeries and hospitalizations over the years. You never failed to express your appreciation for me and my advocacy on your behalf, and I know that you were sincere.

Rest well, my beloved. You’ve earned it.

With love as ever, until we meet again,

Your loving wife and partner, Aundra

Remember this one?: Once Upon A Time

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Freelance Writer, Essayist, Blogger, Curious Social Observer. E-Mail me at: aundra.willis@gmail.com or visit https://aundrawilliscarrasco.com

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Aundra Willis Carrasco

Aundra Willis Carrasco

Freelance Writer, Essayist, Blogger, Curious Social Observer. E-Mail me at: aundra.willis@gmail.com or visit https://aundrawilliscarrasco.com

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