Thoughts from Writing Chapter 1 of Suddenly Widowed: A Memoir of Survival
I could see myself, vividly, standing in the kitchen when I was writing this excerpt in Suddenly Widowed. The memory made me wonder about all of the ‘lasts’. The last meal we shared, the last family trip, the last birthday celebration, the last argument.
Mark kissed Jake on the top of the head and told him to have fun baking a chocolate cake with me. Then, as he always did whenever he left home, he told Jake he loved him.
I was leaning my left hip on the counter, my weight balanced on my right foot. Mark approached, and I stretched to give him a big squeeze and kiss. He told me he loved me, and I echoed back the sentiment as he headed out the door and hollered after him, “Be careful!
That was the last time I saw Mark alive. It was the last time I kissed him goodbye. It was the last time I hugged him. It was the last time I heard and said, ‘I love you’. It was the last chocolate cake I ever baked.”
This memory leaves me in silent thought, grappling for further details of that moment. How tight did Mark hug me? How long was our embrace? What else was said? What shirt was he wearing? Did we ever frost the cake? Did anyone ever eat it? Sometimes I wish there was a replay button, so I could remember more details. But, then I start to remember all the pain that followed that last good moment and I don’t want to relive that for any reason.
One lesson I learned from this experience is the importance of always saying goodbye to those you love and telling them that you love them. Mark and I were good at doing this, but I took it for granted and sometimes said it out of habit instead of emotion. Now, I tell my kids I love them with feeling and purpose every time, even if I find myself annoyed with something they did or didn’t do. I want my last words, every time I say goodbye, to be, “I love you.”