From a birthday celebration Monday to a different one today: my daughter's anniversary -- the fifteenth, I think. Unfortunately her husband isn't with her; he died of a sudden heart attack five years ago at aged 31. Michael was the love of her life and her loved her and their two girls more than anything. He was a good guy, and filled their lives with laughter. Then, suddenly, the laughter was gone.
It's been a long five years. At first Jessie and the girls stayed with us. We moved to Southern Maryland because Jessie couldn't face living in the town where Michael had died. She became active in the girls' school. Her Girl Scout leader training helped her segue into Sea Scouts when the girls joined. She discovered Amy was part fish and encouraged her when she joined a swim team. She took a number of terrible jobs, often with businesses that were on the verge of going belly-up. She was a cake decorator, a bookkeeper, a tax consultant. And every morning when she woke up, her first thought was of Michael.
After almost four years with us, she moved out and went back to her home town, got a low-paying job with a large hotel, watched the hotel go bankrupt, and is now back at the same hotel (under new management) and seems to be back on track and much better paid. The girls are beginning to get it together also. Both have made friends and are doing well in school. Amy swims at 0-Dark Hundred in the morning; Ceili has discovered she's fairly good at basketball and is into cosplay and steampunk. There's some light at the end of the tunnel.
Of course, when a spouse dies, there really is no end to the tunnel. But the light gets brighter and brighter. So today we remember Michael with love and respect, while also calling him a sonovabitch for dying. One of the best memories of him was a year before he died, when we took both daughters and their families on a Carribean cruise; our first look on deck, shortly before we sailed, was of Michael holding an umbella drink, laughing and smiling, in a conga line and dancing to a calypso band.
After his death, through organ donation, Michael gave people the gifts of sight, of mobility, and of life. He gave Jessie almost ten years of a loving marriage, and the two of them gave the world two beautiful and talented children. That's something some people don't accomplish through their three score and ten. So happy anniversary, Jessie. Hold on to the memories. And look toward the future. Life is for the living and it's an amazing thing. Enjoy it.
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