I find it so hard to believe it’s been three years since that sunny April afternoon when everything changed so irrevocably. With just a thought, I can be instantly transported back into nightmare: The 911 call as you lay at my feet, doing CPR—a skill I never thought in a million years I would actually use—while the heartbreaking wail of the ambulance echoed up the ridge; even as it raced closer, I knew it was too late.
How my world shifted on its axis that day, how my breath labored in my lungs as if I were drowning, how my heart stuttered as I found myself, between one moment and the next, a widow. Far too young, too soon, too much. Too…everything.
I got through that first year. Somehow. I spent hours, days, months wondering why. Why now, when we were just starting our Grand Adventure in America? Why was I alone on top of a mountain in a strange town when all our friends and family were 6,000 miles away? Why did you leave me?
Eventually, I stopped asking questions that had no answers. You know I’m not a Buddhist for show, I actually embrace the concept of living in the moment, I understand that life is just…what it is. You can’t come back no matter what I wish, and I can’t change the inevitability of death, no matter how cruel or painful. That doesn’t mean I don’t think of you, smile at our life together, talk to you when I hear something, see something that I know you would think was funny or outrageous or annoying. I still cry sometimes, though mostly these days it’s more because of a perfect, happy memory than a mournful sorrow.
It’s funny the things I miss. Your laugh, that quirk at the corner of your mouth when you tried to keep a straight face whilst winding me up. I miss your mind. I miss being able to ask you for a particular word I can't remember and you would know it immediately. I even miss your occasional irascible, bossy laird of the manor attitude, our quiet talks, our wonderful road trips. But what I miss the very most, love, are your hugs. You could wrap those arms around me like a shield, protect me from the world, warm my neck with your breath, your kisses. Oh, I miss those full-body, encompassing hugs.
Tonight I will raise a dram of Dalwhinnie—yes, that same bottle of whisky we brought with us from Edinburgh—and I will toast your life, our life, and the fact I’m still standing even without you at my back.
I hope wherever you are, you will know...