Mark had been diagnosed the second time, and we’d been from doctor to doctor getting second and third opinions, all of which were terrifying. We kept going, grimly, mostly silent, both of us buttoned up tight. Until that one night when I walked into the bathroom and he was standing at the mirror. I lost it. I could barely get out, “I-I-I al-always thought that you’d outlive me….” Mark blurted out: “I’m TRYING!” Then we both busted out laughing. Crying and laughing. Gritty and giddy. Light and dark, dark and light, rolled up together.
Like most “old married people,” Mark and I let anniversaries become just another day. Sitting here this morning, I can’t remember any anniversary in the last ten years that was remarkable.
Except for a year ago today. On our 19th anniversary, I was driving Mark to the hospital for sinus surgery when he began having seizures. I got him to the nearest E.R. I sat watched the monitors as his blood pressure fell lower and lower, feeling the abyss grow deeper and darker and wider. Mark was slipping away. I didn’t pray. Prayer was useless. There was nothing controlling his life except the dogged determination of a veteran trauma nurse who refused to let him slip out of her hands. I wish I had her name. She was a fierce angel.
I don’t get why he had to go. I never will. Sometimes I know he’s out there, somewhere, loving me. Other times, I am completely numb. I think of Mark and feel nothing. Sometimes, it is frighteningly easy to forget that I was ever married at all, like Mark was a character that I made up in a story I never finished.
Thankfully, there are two men in my house who look a lot like him, talk like him, and act a lot like him. They help me to remember that it was real, and most of the time, it was pretty good.
Mark Daves and me, five years of cohabitation that led to a really great wedding that was followed by nineteen years and four months of marriage. We were luckier than so many, for so long.
Happy 20th, my love.