It’s 5:00 am and I’m wide awake ready to start my day. This was my routine for years. As a woman who juggled a busy career and a family, I claimed the early morning quiet hours to be mine. The corner of the couch, my book and a cup of tea greeted me each day at the same time.
My husband who, by the way was never a morning person, teased me relentlessly about losing out on another hour of sleep each day before shuffling off to drop kids at school and head to work. I told him he should try it. That having an hour of no stress and just quiet time seemed to prepare me for my day. We both had careers in management and shared the stressful demands that came with it. Add in five kids to boot and you had what often times felt like a mixing bowl with the beaters on full speed and only dry ingredients. Years later my husband finally decided to try my “early morning rise and relax” therapeutic approach to life. The next thing I knew every morning at 5:00 am he would roll over and ask “are you ready? Let’s go, I’ll make the coffee.”
Our routine quickly became what would I would describe as one of my most beautiful times in my life. Reading a book at 5:00 am gave way to early morning discussions and opening up to each other. For the first time in years we got to know one another, every morning on the corner of the couch over a cup of coffee. We talked politics, our managing styles and challenges at work, kids, church, family and sometimes his depression.
One day he thanked me and confessed that he had never been a morning person and now after all this time he found that inner peace I often spoke of and explained that it really did help him prepare for his day. He was an amazing leader, passionate, visionary, inspiring and always wore a big smile. His hobby was restoring old cars and over the years we had what felt like a local car dealership with and endless variety of vehicles in various stages of restoration waiting their turn to shine again. Once finished he would sell that one and start the next.
We had all kind of adventures over the years, some with positive outcomes and others less desirable. Challenge seemed to be the norm in our family so we just learned to embrace the ever shaking ground beneath us and kept going. His worked moved us all over the U.S. and we never stayed in one place beyond 1-3 years. Our kids learned to be adaptable. Okay maybe more like tired of it but it was what it was.
I would describe him as someone who bored quickly. He was in need of something different and new all the time. This, in and of itself, was tricky as a spouse because about the time I thought he was finally satisfied, he was looking for his next fix.
He was a great dad although he second guessed himself much of the time. We were a blended family and our children were very young when we married. Our story isn’t perfect but certainly qualified for unusual. Our children meshed like biological children. We never used the term “step” and always referred to each other as dad, mom, sister or brother. Most people who knew us couldn’t even tell we were blended. Behind the scenes of course there were many of the challenges of working through the demands of “Ex’s” and the all too tiring push and pull of getting kids to the other parent and then back again. Stress, stress and more stress.
My inner dark thoughts and feelings bring me back to reality where I am still angry and sad. Still, as I look back it amazes me how much of the good I can focus on. It’s a beautiful story but I know behind it all a thread that once bound us all together has simply been pulled out, unraveling everything. Here I want to memorialize his beautiful soul, forget the wrongdoing, the disagreements, the imperfections and focus on just the happy parts of what was our lovely and sometimes dysfunctional life.
I still get up every morning and sit on the edge of the couch. I rarely read but in the quiet I whisper to him all the things I would say as if he were sitting there. Sometimes I feel like he’s actually there and it brings me peace. He was my morning cup of latte.
Originally published on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and reprinted with permission.