My friend Yvonne called me tonight. She was my best friend when I lived in NE Washington, and helped me through the 10 years of my first marriage. We had lunch every Friday, where she listened to my woes and gave sage advice, and helped me stay married through a bunch of hard years. She was there for me when I finally gave up on the marriage, and moved on.
That was over 12 years ago (I can’t even remember the date), and I haven’t had any contact with my ex since. Truth be told, I rarely think of him. It was indeed another lifetime. But tonight, it came back to me in a rush when Yvonne told me that my ex, Doug, had died.
I was shocked and saddened, even though this person hadn’t been a part of my life for a very long time. But he WAS a part of my life, every day, for 10 years. And although most of those years were tough, we did have a lot of good times.
He died the day before his 63rd birthday. Doug was a health nut. He exercised every day, without exception. He brought weights on road trips and the minute we checked into the hotel, he started working out – even before dinner. Which was frustrating, but there are compromises you make in a relationship. He took massive quantities of vitamins, adding new ones weekly after reading about yet another substance that would improve his X or Y. He didn’t allow any chemicals in the house – a bag of Doritos would quickly find its way back to the supermarket on those rare occasions that I tried to sneak one into the pantry. We were vegetarians because we refused to kill anything. Except that bear that destroyed our compost bin and threatened our home and our dogs. But that’s another story.
There were good times. We flew a kite on the beaches of the Oregon coast. Spent weeks in San Diego visiting his family, riding bikes along Mission Bay and eating phenomenal Japanese food. Hiked and biked and skied in the woods around our home with our dogs. Built our own home. Canoed under the full moon. Grew our own veggies in his carefully engineered garden. Spent time with a dear group of friends who were closer than family. Spent a summer camping all around the NW, looking for a forever home. Woke early one morning in our RV to a bump, and opened the blinds to find a mama moose staring in the window, as surprised to see us as we were to see her.
But in the end, all of his efforts to remain healthy were for naught. And now he’s gone.
Do I have regrets? Of course. Although I did all I could to make the relationship work. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be. I hope he had a good life after I left. I’m sorry that I didn’t know he was sick. Then again, I don’t know what I would have done, other than send a note reaching out to say I’m sorry, get well soon. Or – well, something to try to make another human being feel better, ’cause that’s what I do.
Anyway, it’s too late now.
Luckily, people tend to forget the bad, so the memories I carry forward hopefully will be the good ones. I’ll try to forget those last tumultuous months/years when we were strangers sharing a house, struggling to get along. Instead, I’ll try to remember the early days, when we were lost in the love fog and could do no wrong.
It reminds me yet again that life is short, and to do all I can to make each day count. Because one day, there won’t be any more days left. Hopefully that’ll be 50 years from now. But it could be 50 days. There are no guarantees. I remind myself each day, live like you are dying. Because I am. I just hope it’s very very slowly.
Rest in peace, Doug.