What is it with this silly holiday? Mushy hearts, stinky flowers, fluffy cards, over priced jewelry and fattening chocolate confections (ok, I could go for that last one). Keith and I never celebrated today. Ok – once, we celebrated it – kinda – well, I guess I better explain.
A few years ago, my niece was working on a school project and her subject was Egypt. It was natural for her to think of Uncle Keith so we got a phone call from Michele asking if there was anything he could share with Bekah to enhance her display. Keith promptly got out his mother’s jewelry box to locate a few scarabs and evil eyes for Bekah to borrow. As we were going through everything, he pulled out a little velvet bag and dumped out the contents – that being one very shiny large diamond solitaire ring. He held it up and announced that we should sell the thing. Those of you that know me, know that I’ve never been a bling girl, keeping the jewelry to a couple of rings and some hoop earrings. But this sparkly was just too much even for a keep-it-simple girl like me so I grabbed it out of his hand and announced that he could sell it after I got to wear it for a while. Mind you the band was sorely worn and the ring was a tad too big for my finger but I wore it anyway. Yep – for days afterwards, I was like a little girl who got into her mother’s jewelry box, wearing the crown jewel on my finger and catching sunlight in the stone so I could throw thousands of rainbow lights across the walls around me.
Valentines day rolled around that year, and Keith and I were hanging out in our office. He was yacking it up on the phone with our friend Agent Jay (remember Agent Jay) with his feet up on the desk, leaning back as far as the chair would let him. In the course of his conversation he announces that he gave me his mother’s diamond ring for Valentine’s Day. I just looked across my desk at him in time to catch this total look of mischief on his face and then he smiled and winked at me. The next day I took it in to have the worn band replaced. So that is how this little hemp wearing hippie chick ended up wearing the forgotten Housewives of Beverly Hills ring.
Usually, Keith celebrated Valentines day with a quick “thinking of you” email exchange with MaryAnn, his first wife, whom he married on February 14. I believe it was 1981 but don’t quote me on that. She was on my mind so much over the weekend so I shot her Keith’s “thinking of you” email as his proxy. I had the opportunity to meet her for the first time in September. There was this connection that I felt with her right away. She was so warm and lively. It was not lost on me that she was the spirit of Keith’s young love akin to my spirit of Keith’s last days love.
This morning I went to counseling with Brandon. I put aside my own selfish weepy self to really listen to what he was saying to the counselor. I am starting to understand the depth of his own pain. His father, his anchor, is gone. I am just a stepmom. I can not change that for him. I can not stop the pain, give him back what he has lost, fill the void in his life. I have to accept that. This evening, he shared the lyrics to the first song he is writing. It is about Keith – and it was emotionally rich and deep and poetic and I feel privileged that he shared it with me. I have asked him to share it on the blog when he has it finalized.
After he left for school tonight, I wept. Big, crumpled on the floor, sobbing cries till I couldn’t breath, see. It started with a sad sack comment I made about losing Cow on Friday. I know he’s just on a walkabout and I have already found a new cow to take his place. I had no idea that my little bovine muse would have been my undoing. The flood of comments on Facebook about our lost Cow hit – – hit hard. I get it now – all those who have widowed before me tried to explain that this would happen. But until you are there in the moment, it can’t be comprehended. I had to get in my car and just drive – – I went to my old homestead where I grew up as a child, on Choptank road. The lights were on and the house looked so inviting. I drove out to the old Davon Crest homestead, and stared down the old lane. As I was rolling down Pine Top Road, all I could think of was Keith and I dating. I would be on the phone with him, sitting in front of my computer and we would test how much faster his DSL internet speed was from my dial up speed. This test was conducted under strict standards. We would both be on EBay and would look at the same item. Then Keith would count to 3 and we would both click on the detail button. Shortly after, Keith would yell “HA! Loaded!! Where are you?” to which I would reply “loading . . . there’s an hour glass”.
We spent so many nights at that farm, just the two of us hiding out in the house, our own secret world. Now I sit in his house without him, hearing some of the last words he ever spoke to me in my head . . . “I miss you”. There’s a creature gnawing on something in the attic and I want Keith to get it out of there. He’d know what to do. I can’t stop the tears, not for me, not for any of the children – Brandon, Christie, Zach. I can only whisper back “I miss you, too.” One more deep breath, one more step forward . . . I can do this, I know I can.