Cigarettes, Juicy Fruit Gum and the Beach

While walking the Beach Trail, between T-Street Beach and San Clemente State Beach, I spotted a crumpled Camel cigarette pack lying alongside the path, and just like that an immediate picture of my departed husband came to mind.


Photo Circa 1970s

As a widow of a 50-year plus relationship, it happens often.  And it’s always the little things that trigger a memory  – waves lapping the beach, the smell of Juicy Fruit gum, a favorite song on the car stereo ……

Don’t get me wrong, ours wasn’t a perfect relationship by any means. Like most, we had our good times and our not so good times. In fact, hubby often said, “If we hadn’t married, we’d probably both be very different people.”

As usual, he was right. Without him I am a very different person, not better or worse, just different.

I have always been a pretty independent person, one of my attributes hubby struggled with. But I have to be honest and say that when I was no longer half of a couple, I was truly terrified, wondering where I would now fit in. After all, we are definitely a couples society, and without my other half the future looked pretty daunting.

One of my widowed friends asked me recently how I got through it all. Frankly the only thing I remember about that first year of widowhood is working. Luckily I had work that required me to get up and be somewhere everyday. I arose at 6 am, to be at the Laguna Niguel Racquet Club by 8 am, where I worked until 1 or 2 pm. Then I came home to write and edit for my freelance writing clients until about 4 pm. After that I was off to the Maranatha Travel Agency to help a friend with her start-up  company. At  about 2 am, I stumbled into bed and repeated the cycle the next day. On week-ends I traveled to Oceanside, CA to be with my oldest son, daughter-in-law and new baby or spent time with my middle son and his family in San Juan Capistrano. It was a vicious and grueling cycle, but it served its purpose. I probably wouldn’t recommend that regime as a solution for others, but it worked for me.

This December marked 15 years since hubby’s passing. In the interim I have done a lot of traveling, something hubby wasn’t very interested in.  As usual, he was correct … unmarried I am a different person … much more independent now. However, I am not so different that I have forgotten him nor the years we spent together. They were some of the best years of my life and I miss them, him and being a couple. There is an intimacy you have with someone you love, a strength you can call upon when you feel weak, a knowing look shared, laughter and sorrow experienced on a deeper level.  Those are the things I miss the most … missed most especially when those “little things” manifest themselves, breaking into the rhythm of the new life I have unwillingly been forced to accept and to re-create for myself.

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