Okay, so today they’re not fooling around. Right for the carotid. “Write about a loss…make it part of a series.” Like I need encouragement to write a series of screeds about my one and only topic of interest. Just when I woke up this morning thinking, no matter what they prompt us with today, I’m going to tie it back to literature and philosophy since that’s after all the purpose of my blog, and I won’t be seduced by personal reminiscences no matter how tempting or appropriate…and they pick LOSS. The universe is out to get me.
I lost my husband March 29, 2013. I first kissed him on May 25, 1984, married him on August 13, 1988. There are a lot of dates, and far more moments. A million phone calls and several thousand texts. Conversations, walks, household chores, house hunting, holidays and family visits and occasionally glaring at one another from stage to lighting booth and back because he thought I missed a cue, which I didn’t. Oh, I could go on. The time I stabbed his cigarette pack with a fork. The time he spent our whole vacation nursing me through pneumonia — or the time we both had pneumonia at the same time and ate only what we could unwrap after crawling into the dining room where we were keeping the Pop-Tarts, and of course Maggie-Dog ate a strawberry Pop-Tart. Or the time I lost my cell phone and I called him from school and he found it on my desk upstairs. On vibrate. In the Pop-Tart box.
I don’t want to do this any more. There are too many memories and yet still it’s never enough. The list of what I’ve lost is infinite. Some of it is quantifiable. In terms that matter to Planet Literature, what I lost was his unwavering support. In addition to moral, spiritual, psychological, this was also a logistical support that can’t be reclaimed. You see, he gave up musical theater – professional theater in general — more than thirty years ago in order to, you know, pay bills. He worked his way up through the muck of the financial services industry through the IT side, which is how I ended up in software when I, too, wanted to help pay the bills. But after i lost (more loss) a great job when a startup company went down, and lost my equilibrium because of a fatal car accident, the only work I felt I could face, wanted to face, was my original career path of teaching humanities in a college.
Let’s just save time and say: This Does Not Pay Well. A truly complex issue, and handled well by many other writers in various media; I won’t hash it now. But to do something I wanted to do and which would fulfill me, to live on Planet Literature, to read and write for a living, he opted to stay in financial services even after financial services decided they had had enough of America. It’s not that his job wasn’t fulfilling at all, because he was a workaholic and loved data for data’s sake, and was a natural leader and consummate office gadfly. But really. Making rich people richer…teaching Shakespeare. Do you see the disparity, the full spectrum? When I asked him (repeatedly) if it really was OK that I did this, he said that it was his contribution. The least he could do. And in return, he only asked of me that I share it with him. In other words, he not only supported me he let me talk about it, incessantly. Listened to taped lectures about Hinduism and Jainism on the long drives to Clearwater. Read my anti-slavery papers and presentations. Let me go to Oxford and to Concord and Hartford by myself. Leaving his mark on all the work I did and on the work I still do.
It’s a lot harder now without the financial services industry. Sensible, responsible logic says I Should Go Get A Job. But he gave up so much for so long so willingly, even gratefully, because he knew I wanted it so much. So I won’t pack up and leave Planet Literature for Data Warehouse Heaven. It’s still a struggle every day to justify my choice when dollars and sense say otherwise, because I have lost his unflagging validation. Technically, it still exists, I guess. It’s not like he changed his mind.