Three-hundred-and-sixty-five days ago, on a morning very similar to today—clear skies, little wind, a fresh, crisp whisper of fall in the air—the first rays of the sun entered a hospital room in Lubbock, casting a golden glow on Judy's relaxed, almost happy face as she left me and us. Her physical time on Earth came to a peaceful end at ten until eight.
One year can be such a long time, and yet it is nothing but a brief interval. Even though September 29, 2010 is completely clear in my mind's eye, I was not myself as it all seemed so surreal. I have looked back on the minutes and hours and then days and weeks and months after Judy's death, and I have come to the conclusion that our life is, indeed, surreal. Read that however you want.
For the past year I have continued to do what I had promised Judy: to go on living and to be OK. Judy was so full of life that it would have been an affront to not follow her steps and courageously build on what she and I had been working on for such a long time. I'm not just talking about the "retirement" aspect, because that could be misunderstood as saying that we worked for the "golden years" without her being able to enjoy them. We lived the "golden years" as everyone who knew and knows us will attest. No, what I mean is that we worked on our humanity and our zest for life and our love for everything and most around us. And I have continued that path.
I have not lived the life of the typical widower—I didn't wear black, either physically or spiritually. I didn't sink into the doldrums of despair. I didn't change my life for changing's sake. What I have been doing is embrace life, realizing more than ever before how little time we have here. My friends have helped me along in untold ways, being there for me, no questions asked. I've stayed busy, which undoubtedly has helped—traveling the way I have certainly makes it easier to forget the sorrow.
Not everybody may agree with my lifestyle or my relationships. That's OK. We are who we are, and this is now my life. Judy is with me, as I can honestly say that there has not been a day when I have not been thinking about her and there have been very, very few days when she hasn't come up in conversation. And that's how I want to continue: with her at my side, in wonderful memory, continuing the path that we once walked together but that I have to explore now on my own.
Here's to a wonderful woman.