Today marks a sad day for me. It’s always over Labor Day weekend that my mind turns to my first husband, Michael. He passed away 20 years ago this weekend. I always think about how lucky I was to have known such a wonderful man. He was one of a kind. He showed me the value of life. I have gone on with my life. I still give homage to who he was and what he taught me. Even in this picture, you can see the carefree attitude. That rebellious streak that he had. You see when you are young; you don't think it’s possible to lose the one that you love. You don't think it’s possible to die yourself. I learned the hard way that it is possible.
We got married on my sister's birthday, December 14, 1985. I was so in love with him. We had a quiet wedding with the justice of the peace and a few family members. It was so simple and so beautiful. Michael in his own way knew that he was going to die. I didn't realize that at the time though. He would later tell me that he wanted me to have the wedding of my dreams when I got remarried some day. Michael went blind a month after we got married. I learned to work around his moodiness. He began to drink very heavily. I finally got him to quit after threatening to leave him and I would have with no remorse because at that time I knew I couldn’t help him if he didn’t quit. (A couple of years later, he drank one beer and couldn’t stand the taste.)
As our marriage went on and he got sicker, he became very possessive. He couldn’t stand for me to do anything without him. I basically gave up everything to be with him all the time and I became angry about it. I tried to leave him, but he tried to kill himself so I went back to him. When he died, I felt a sense of relief that he couldn’t hurt anymore but I also felt lost, non-existent like I was nobody. For years, I struggled to put on a front for everyone.
From my journal on June 27, 1991: Oh Lord, why do I feel this emptiness inside me? Why do I want so desperately for what I can't have? Why do I crave for only Michael? Since Michael died, I have left a path of destruction. I have torn friendships apart. I have used many people including my friends. I wake in the morning and sometimes I don't want to be alive. I want to lay there and let myself die. I want to join Michael. I never let anyone know how desperately I miss him. I can't stand to be alone to hear his words in my heart. Every day I see him walking up to me as he would if he was still alive. Sometimes I wear his shirts to feel his presence. I've dated men to forget him but I never really became involved. He was my friend, my lover, my companion, my everything. I would rather be dead than to live without him. May God take me away because surely I am living in hell now? Lord, find it in your power to let me be with Michael again. I don't deserve anyone's friendship right now because I don't know how to be a true friend anymore. Until I get some things straighten out I can't continue to be around anyone. I have to settle in my heart and mind that Michael will not be coming back and that I can continue with my life. I know I'm trying to replace him but I can't. I loved him so much more than anyone can begin to believe. People talk about how you can truly be in love and then later there are no feelings. My love for Michael has never changed. There are still many nights I cry myself to sleep because he is gone. There are nights that I put some of his clothes on to feel close to him.
When I met my current husband, Ken, in 1998, I felt very confused. Even though it had been almost ten years by that point, I still loved Michael. I still felt in my heart that I was his. I was slowly opening up to a new love with Ken. Ken understood how I felt. He told me that I am who I am because of my past and that includes Michael. It was hard to even accept that he understood.
Some things I take as a fact now:
• Life is worth living.
• Friends come and they go... Life goes on
• Love everyone.
• Don't hold resentment in your heart. It only hurts you.
• Try not to complain. People need to know who you are inside.
• Don't be afraid to be yourself.
• Hug the ones you love.
• Hold the ones you love close.
• A kiss is an endearment.
Now what I ask of each of you is that you stop a moment and remember what makes you happy. Remember that your children's laughter is medicine to your soul. Hug your children and be thankful.