Later, without prompting, a text from your husband confirmed the same.
A whole year. And so much has changed.
Most importantly, you’re getting another grandson any day. You would have been over the moon; I know you would have cherished him exactly the way you always did his big brother.
Your devoted husband—what can I say? Surely you knew about his quiet strength. But did you expect him to fulfill those last wishes you said on a whim? Did you think he would brave that lonely journey to Hawaii to lay you to rest? Probably you knew he would have done anything for you. But did you think he would be able to find so much beauty there, tangled amidst all the memories and pain?
Did you expect him to carry on, following the same path you had always planned, but alone? I wish you could have seen him fixing up the house to sell, the way he cared so deeply about the people who would buy it, how he proudly showed them every detail, like how you carved your initials on the bottom of the first bath tub that was finally yours. I wish you could have seen the way your loss brought him closer to your children. How the neighborhood and family gathered around him before he left, to hug him and send him off with love.
You would be so proud of the way he has taken care of himself this year. Oh, I thought of you often as I fussed over him, making sure he had more to eat than just salad or microwaved burritos. As the weeks went by, he not only accepted help, but he even asked for it when he needed it. He did not allow himself too much time for retreat, but sought community and friendship and support. He began attending church and serving the people there faithfully.
Our kids still miss you. You were the first person they loved and lost. You’ve made them wonder about God and Heaven, and they talk about it—and you. They remember how kind you were to them; I remember how your face always lit up when you saw them. I will never forget the gift you gave me in the middle of a particularly hectic afternoon: a dish towel with the words “Pardon the mess, the children are making memories.” You were always quick to remind slow down and see the beauty of this stage of life, and your husband now does the same.
So, a year after your passing, we prepare to spend time with your husband, whom we haven’t seen since he drove across the country four months ago. He comes to welcome your new grandchild. Of course his presence, though appreciated, could never make up for your absence. It is still felt deeply. I’m sure it will always be. I think of you as I put fresh flowers in your blue and white vases that now sit on my mantel.
The love of your life will join us around our kitchen table and in our living room; he will stay in our guest room that overlooks the yard and garden that used to be yours. Though you’ve been gone a year now, you have never left the minds and hearts of those you touched while you were here. Know that you are loved and sorely missed; know that your people are carrying on bravely and beautifully; know that we are profoundly grateful for having known you and for the gifts you left behind.