Wednesday, August 31, 2016

An Interesting Twist on Another Year

Twenty-nine years ago today was one of the worst days of my life, if not the worst.  As the sun set on August 31 in 1987 I was sitting alone in a police interrogation room when a brash detective, who I remember being a stereotype of a TV cop, told me Linda was murdered.  Most of the rest of the evening is a blur.  Linda and I were embarking on a life journey together and our plans were still embryonic.  We had been together for only year but that single tragic moment changed my life and the effects of that day stayed with me throughout the last 3 decades.  Certainly I tried to move on with life and did.  I married and had a child.  I made many mistakes.  I failed at marriage, more than once, but with time and understanding the death of Linda played a lessor role in my life.  However for me, Linda will always be part of me.  I remember resonating with images from culture that played on this theme of lost love.  On Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine, we are introduced to the leader of the space station in the moments of losing his young wife in the Borg attack.  Later in the episode he is being examined by the Bajorian prophets, aliens who live outside of time.  They communicate with him through images from his past.  They keep coming back to the moment of his wife's death and when he asks why they keep showing him that moment they say, They respond by telling him he lives there, in that moment.  I know what that means, I often over the years lived in that moment of the cop telling me what happened.  Sisko hadn't moved on.  He was stuck in the past and the prophets showed him.  Moving on is normal.  But even if we do move on, sometimes the past still is present.  Robyn Hitchcock captured it in the song My Wife and My Dead Wife.  In the song, the story teller is a happily re-married widow, but the images of his dead wife continue to invade his life.  In the song one scene is powerful for someone living through grief:

I'm making coffee for two
Just me and you
But I come back in with coffee for three
Coffee for three?
My dead wife sits in a chair
Combing her hair
I know she's there
She wanders off to the bed
Shaking her head
"Robyn," she said
"You know I don't take sugar!"

And so it is.  But over time the love doesn't die but new love can develop and often does. Linda's death was the end of her life and our life together.  But my life still goes on and over the years I changed, I found joys and new tragedies.  I have laughed, loved and built a new life.  Linda's influence and the parts of her she shared with me are still part of me and that will never change.  But there is a whole new me, different from one that Linda ever knew, but that Dianne, my current, wife has helped create.  So at the death of Gene Wilder,when people started posting pictures of him and Gilda Radner, his wife for a few years and the person most people associate with him, I had mixed feelings.  Wilder lost Radner to cancer and he worked tirelessly to use his and her celebrity to raise money for cancer research in her name, as well as awareness of the disease.  It easy to continue to see them as a couple for eternity.  But what some people may not know is that through the work to promote this awareness and to raise the money he had a partner.  That partner was his wife Karen Boyer.  As people posted pictures of Gene and Gilda from 30 years ago, saying "together again", my mind went to Dianne, or any spouse who joined someone's life after a tragic death.  It must be difficult in general to be the person living in the shadow of the lost spouse, but in this case with Gene and Gilda, their life was public, large and we suffered with him when she died too early.  But we didn't follow his life afterward.  He moved forward, fell in love, built a life with Boyer, and in his dying days she shepherded him into eternity.   I imagine she would be hurt by the sentiments of those that are thinking of that eternity with Gilda and not Karen.  This question of who we spend eternity with in the life after death goes back to the Christian Bible as Jesus is asked this question.  This weekend  I celebrate my new home with Dianne. Next week we will celebrate Noah making the Dean's List at the luncheon.  Today I said my prayers in memory of Linda, I still feel her influence on who I am today.  But I see my life apart from her and maybe we should strive to feel the Gene Wilder, who never stopped loving Gilda, built a life with Karen.  May Karen find comfort in her loss and may Gene Wilder rest in arms of the eternal.  We can leave it at that.

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