Perhaps it was a blessing that I did not pay attention to today's date until late this evening. Only then did I realize that this was Ray's and my 31st wedding anniversary.
No, going on alone is no fun. I still get drippy-eyed whenever I am reminded of the reality of his absence. I miss his level-headed practicality while at the same time being an incurable dreamer. Now there's an impossible combination! He used to tell me, "If common sense really were, more people would have it." He kept me grounded and real, not caught up in the abstractness of theory. He focused on the positive, convinced that anything is possible if you want it badly enough. I miss the companionable times, of walking together hand in hand almost anywhere, of sharing the beauty of the world around us. He even found beauty in the desert.
I miss the conversations, the teasing, his ability to find humor in everything -- even our own weaknesses. It wasn't laughing at, it was laughing with. We cannot take ourselves too seriously, he would remind me. He was intensely spiritual, but not enamored of institutional religion. He attended church regularly because it was important to me. Through the church he learned to accept unconditional love, to love unconditionally, and to forgive both himself and those who hurt him. Yet he was not tied to a particular church.
I miss dumb things -- my right-handedness to his left-handedness. Great for doing a 4-handed job in a tight space; we didn't get in each others way. I miss his love for long-distance driving, so that we could visit people and places more than 50 miles from Groveland. I miss his ability to strike up a conversation with anyone, to sell any idea that caught his fancy. I wonder if anyone in Groveland remembers that the two most popular exhibits in our little museum are there because Ray Stevens saw Stu Heller's working models of sawmills at a craft fair, then dragged me over to talk to Stu because "those would be really great in your museum". Ray was right.
I miss his spontaneity. I miss his eclectic taste in music -- although some of it now resides on my iPod. I miss his artistic eye, and his suggestions for when and where to haul out the camera and take pictures. I miss the days when he could turn handsprings and walk backwards on his hands. I miss the walks and easy hikes, fishing trips and fresh trout.
I remember the holidays when he used to go out and bring home for dinner the Highway Patrolman or Sheriff's deputy on duty -- on condition that THEY carved the holiday turkey! I don't know now many turkeys one uniformed officer or another carved in my tiny kitchen because Ray hated the task. I miss Halloween in Groveland -- first the kid parties that we (was that a Boy Scouting service project?) did at the community hall and then at the elementary school because it really isn't safe for kids to trick-or-treat in the country the way they do in the cities. That eventually grew into the trick-or-treat trek from merchant to merchant in town, with hot dogs and cocoa around a bonfire at the park. I miss the elegant pumpkins he used to carve, not to mention the holiday yard decorations he created for every season.
I told a special friend today, "Where ever you are, he is always with you." I need to remember that myself. But on this special day, the day that was ours, it's hard to be alone.
I give thanks for the time we had and the love we shared. I keep praying....