I have a bleak anniversary of my own coming up in a few days, so this one really hit home:
Tony Snow’s death packed a particularly hard punch to my gut this week. Because during the past year, Tony had been warmly and graciously corresponding with my precious wife Denise, who had also been battling cancer. When Tony found out about her diagnosis, he asked for her email address so they could exchange words of inspiration and advice.
They did. And she relished every word. Here was my wife, a frustratingly liberal-leaning woman and wife of a conservative radio host, sharing a bond with a fellow cancer fighter, one of the giants of conservatism. It was proof that a life-threatening disease is the great equalizer, a reminder that there are more important things than Democrats and Republicans. Denise loved Tony. She admired his faith, his optimism, and his “live-for-the-moment” approach to life.
I imagine right about now, they are arguing politics face-to-face. Because my beloved died almost two weeks ago.
It’s awkward to tell others that your spouse has died. Everyone becomes so sad and sorry, and you just hate like heck to have to break the news to someone who hasn’t heard the news. It’s as if you just know that you’re about to cast a pall over someone and you wish there was a way around it.
I suppose that’s why I’ve taken so long to write this column. When I first wrote about my wife Denise’s diagnosis of endometrial cancer last year, I guess I brought you into my family’s fight whether you liked it or not. And now that she’s gone, I feel somewhat obligated to finish the story.
I’ve been thinking along those lines myself of late, and may write something similar soon, if I can manage it. But not today. Heartfelt condolences, Mike; you’re now walking a very dark road indeed, one that nobody knows the agonizing twists and turns of until they’re on it themselves — which can happen in the blink of an eye, although it’s almost impossible to realistically consider it beforehand. More absolute, bittersweet truth:
One day, I’ll understand all of this. Some day, I’ll get to hold her again.
For now, I’ll just try and live the way she taught me to. When my kids ask me about a girlfriend problem, I’ll try to imagine what Denise would say. When I’m overwhelmingly sad, I’ll try and think about our happiest times together, like strolling hand in hand through one of her favorite places, Disney World or New York City. Or maybe my absolute favorite moment, on any given Saturday morning when we just loved running errands together. For us, going to Target was a blast.
I will never figure out a way to thank people for their overwhelming kindness. Total strangers have poured out their hearts to me and reached out to my family in ways I never imagined possible. Through my devastating sadness, I have been touched deeply by the kindness of so many.
And my message to them: live life the way my Denise did. Hold your family close. Treasure your child’s laugh, your wife’s tender brush of your hand. When you’re tempted to argue about something, think for a moment about what your life would be like without the person you promised to spend a lifetime with.
Believe me, it’s not fun.
Amen, brother. If you folks’re up to it, read it all. It’s heartrending, and essential.
(Via Michelle, who quite rightly suggests you read it before you read anything else this morning)