Love Songs From The Attic!
After my husband died of a heart attack in 2002, I never would have believed how difficult it would be for me to accept the loss of Tom. Looking back to that Christmas, a Christmas spent alone in tears, since that day three more Christmasís have come and gone. Though itís been said that time heals all wounds, my heart, my mind and my very being aches and misses him more than any words could ever express.
In the beginning, I pushed away friends, distant relatives and neighbors. I stayed to myself, comforted by memories and photographs of moments shared over the course of 16 years of marriage. In truth, our life together was much more than a marriage. It encompassed everything that other couples wished they could nurture and watch grow between two people in love. Tom never hurt me once and not once did he ever say something hateful towards me if we disagreed.
For those two acts of kindness I will never forget my husband. Sure we disagreed from time to time, but what couple hasnít? He shared his compassion, his smile, that look in his eyes that showed me that what I said was understood. He had a way with his eyes, his smile and touch that whispered I was desired even without my make-up on or when my hair looked a mess, as I sat on the couch in my pajamaís.
He made our life together feel new in a way like newlyweds feel during their first year of marriage. Perhaps what made our love more special and meaningful compared to other couples was the awareness inside both our hearts. ďWe didnít ever want to be apart or alone, to look back with regret at what we once had and the stubbornness that made love die.Ē So often couples donít discover what they really had, until after theyíre divorced.
We were partners and in the best of ways made each moment count, even more so after Tom had his heart attack. Those eleven days in the hospital seemed too short a time to say ďGoodbyeĒ to Tom and at other times it seemed that those eleven days were actually a year. Tears fall again as I pen these thoughts in this diary. A book I open each day and read my feelings once kept bottled up inside.
Many times Tom slept or was too weak to speak and when he would squeeze my hand, his eyes looked into my eyes so lovingly. I didnít see pain in his eyes, but happiness in knowing I was near him. When he could speak to me, it was with softness, and concern for the suffering I was going through, rather than what he was going through. His optimistic outlook I confess rubbed off on me, supported by Dr. Anderson and of course the nurses who practically never saw us apart.
I saw awe in their eyes when they would softly knock and enter to administer medicine, bring his meals or check his vitals. I wish I would have known that Tom would pass away in that hospital bed on December 21, 2002. I would have tried twice as hard to help him feel as loved as he made me feel. But I also quietly felt relieved that I hadnít known because I would have fallen to pieces with grief and he wouldnít have wanted to see me like that.
Couples donít know when a partner will Ďbe called home by Godí and many are cheated of the opportunity to say goodbye to the one they love. After the funeral, the hardest part wasnít driving back home alone with tears flowing so heavy I could barely see the road. The hardest part was turning into our driveway and seeing his red Ford F-150 truck parked in front of the garage. Oh my God, how my tears did flow.
It took several attempts to get the house key into the door lock and even more strength to turn the knob and step inside. Before I could lay the key ring on the stand beside the door, I fell to my knees and cried until I could cry no more. I donít remember much of that first week without Tom. I guess I was just overwhelmed knowing he was really gone.
Gone from my side forever. I moved out of that house a few months later and found a cute little house on the other side of town, close to the cemetery where Tom was laid to rest. Such a move was necessary both my heart and mind. I decided to walk every day to the cemetery, to kiss Tomís headstone and to sit beside it and share with Tom what I had been doing. It was good therapy for me or at least I hoped it was.
Slowly I was able to come to terms with my loss, but one can never fill the void in oneís heart from the loss of a spouse. The most we can hope for is to look to the future with hope rather then back to a marriage with regrets. When December 25, 2005 came around, just as I had done with each Christmas past, I put up no decorations, no tree and no lights in the front yard. Instead, I got out the photo albums that captured past Christmas moments with Tom.
Through the tears that I shed, I also smiled because the old saying, Ďa picture is worth 1,000 wordsí is absolutely true. But without me knowing, my life was about to suddenly change in 2008 in ways I could never comprehend or prepare myself for. For reasons I canít explain, in October of that year I moved out of that house by the cemetery and bought a tiny one bedroom house on a small twenty acre lake just outside of town.
I had been reading the newspaper and my eyes barely noticed the real estate photo but I couldnít look away from it. It was if I was being drawn to that house. But why? I called the realtor, got the specifics about the house, property and of course the non-stop sales pitch. To them, itís all about commission, commission, commission. This particular house had no bells and whistles charm. In fact it looked very unassuming to the eye.
Even so, there I sat in Mr. Richardís office watching his eyes sizing me up for his next sale. Things seemed to be going well, until I stated that I would like to look the house and property over. His smile suddenly faded and the once sparkle in his eyes vanished instantly. I felt uncomfortable. He was hiding something. I could see it written all over his face. I just didnít know what it was.
Was it a bad neighbor? Perhaps it was bad wiring. Perhaps a leaky roof. Maybe wood rot or the house being close to the lake? Nervously, I pressed him for an exact time that I could inspect the house. When I asked him if there was a problem, there was only silence. It was as if he knew there was something sinister about the house. He looked frightened. When I began to stand up, he motioned for me to stay, putting on his best fake smile re-assuring me there wasnít any problem with the house.
He offered to show me the house that afternoon, if it was convenient for me. Call it curiosity or foolishness, but I chose to see the house that afternoon. It was almost noon and I was hungry, so I asked if 2 pm was a good time for him. He told me that was a good time for him, but I still heard hesitation in his voice. As I sat in Millieís Cafť eating a BLT on rye, with my small green salad, I looked down again at the photograph Mr. Richard had given to me.
Physically inspecting a house really is no different than checking out a car and kicking the tires. After lunch, I could have driven home, to a park or gone shopping, but instead, I decided to drive straight to the property that seemed to call my name. As I parked in the driveway, my eyes gazed at the front yard first, then to the house and finally to the lake.
Golden leaves fell from the maple tree in front of the house and as they fell, the sunís rays of light made them look like angels falling to earth. It looked like it was going to be a cold crisp clear fall night. Right away I spotted the fireplace chimney and I felt a smile come across my face. Tom loved to watch the glow of the fireplace on cold winter nights as we snuggled on the couch, listening to love songs on our stereo.
I felt my heart skip a beat, a beat of sadness, reminding me Tom wouldnít be next to me when the fireplace was glowing if I bought this house. Houses look so sad when they are empty. Itís like they have a life of their own and are happy when someone lives within them. I shook off thoughts of winterís past and stepped out of my car into the brisk air.
I didnít plan on staying out in the cold until Mr. Richardís arrived, but I did want to snoop around without sales pressure. I also wanted to solve my curiosity as to why Mr. Richardís seemed so apprehensive about showing me this house. What was he hiding? With my coat pulled up tightly around my neck, I walked around all four sides of the house. I stared at the walls, the foundation, the porch steps, the roof and the electrical lines going to the house.
I did the same of the two car garage and even looked inside the garage since the door was up. Nothing seemed to look odd or out of place. All I could think of at that moment was the septic tank. Perhaps it needed to be pumped. Besides the house and garage needing a fresh coat of paint, everything looked normal. If there wasnít anything unusual on the outside of the house, then something inside the house must be the cause of Mr. Richardís nervousness.
No matter, I said to myself, I would check the inside of the house just as closely. Just as I was about to walk back to my car and turn on the heater, I looked up and noticed the attic window with a white lace curtain. Funny how I hadnít noticed it before. I glanced down at my watch and saw I had about 15 minutes before Mr. Richardís would arrive. As I sat in my seat enjoying the warmth of the heater, it wasnít long before I saw My Richardís car pull into the driveway and park next to my car.
His beautiful blue Mercedes made me and my Chevy Lumina look poor. When he stepped out, he held a large folder of papers in his left hand as he waved hi to me. As I stepped out of my car, he was already headed up the sidewalk towards the front door. That was when he stopped and glanced up at the white laced attic window curtain. I saw his optimistic smile begin to fade.
There was something wrong with the house. But what? That was when I reached his side and he looked down at me, smiled and headed up the porch steps to the front door. He unlocked the door, turned the knob and stepped aside, allowing me to enter the house first. As I opened the door I was caught by surprise with a gust of cool air. I stopped in my tracks. Not because it was a bitter cold air, nor because I was afraid either.
I donít know what my first impression was at that moment. Mr. Richard cleared his throat as if to encourage me to step inside and I did just that. Immediately a smile came across my face as I gazed at the living room that opened up into a beautiful, but small kitchen. I was captivated by the comfy, welcome home feeling that this room made me feel.
I know it sounds corny, but now I knew why the picture of the house in the newspaper seemed to call out to me. Patiently Mr. Richard let me wander through the house room by room without his memorized sales pitch to my relief. I have always hated sales pitches from people when I wanted to buy something. When I had finished looking at the pantry, my eyes turned to the ladder attached to the ceiling with a pull down rope hanging above my head.
Before I could ask him if he could pull the ladder down, I could see the apprehension in his eyes. I had to ask him twice if the ladder led to the attic. Without speaking, he nodded his head. ďI suppose youíll be wanting to look at the attic? Thereís not much to it, just a few boxes up there and dust.Ē he told me hesitantly. He was hoping I wouldnít press the matter further, but I did.
ďOf course Iíd like to see the attic Mr. Richard.Ē I told him. Reluctantly, he nodded, reached up and pulled on the cord and the ladder slowly came down. Mr. Richard went up first as each step on the ladder creaked under his weight. When he reached the top step, his huge hand opened the attic door and immediately a warmer than expected breeze caressed my face.
That breeze seemed so odd given how cold it was outside and that there was no warmth downstairs to warm the attic. As I looked up at Mr. Richard, he stepped into the attic I saw the light of the attic window filling the room with light. The warmth I felt must have been the sun against the window. He motioned for me to climb up the ladder, asking me to please be careful.