Running at Disneyland
I had just turned left onto Sunrise Boulevard from our peaceful park when my mobile phone lit up at 8:54 am last Friday. It was my sister Debbie, who asked me where I was in a very stern voice. For a second, I thought I was in big trouble once again, like the time I set our backyard on fire when I was nine. “I’m on my way to Home Depot to get some sprinkler parts for my client”, I stammered. When she asked me if there was somewhere I could pull over that was safe, I knew that something was seriously wrong with you. But how could that be? I had just checked up on you a few hours earlier with your night nurse Elsie and she told me that you continued to rest soundly on comfort care, just as you had the previous 72 hours with 10 ml. of morphine per hour and ativan every four hours. I couldn’t wait to find a place to pull over, so I summoned the courage to ask Debbie if you had just died. After a brief pause, my loving sister, who was more like a mom to me than my own mother, choked back tears and whispered “yeah”. That’s when I lost it…once again. I felt a bizarre combination of inconsolable sadness and anger. I was furious with myself for not keeping my word to you, by not being there for you when you needed me most as you took your last breath on this amazing and awful earth. I am so sorry my sweet Bubba. I cried and yelled all the way to the hospital. I cried silently when I saw you for the last time in the hospital bed. I’ve cried more in the past six days than I had in nearly 60 years of my stupid little life. As I write this letter six days later, three days after signing off on your final arrangements, I find myself missing you all the time. I miss you most at the end of each work day, when I would call you from my truck and tell you that I was coming home. No matter how bad you felt in those final painful months, you were just as excited to see me as I was to see your lovely face and hear your melodic voice. Your voice was like sweet music to my ears, and if I listened closely enough, I could hear a symphony of compassion, empathy and love. No matter where I was, whenever I would hear your voice, it was like Christmas again as I cherished each of your profound insights that were gift wrapped in wisdom and love. From the time we first met at LeTip 24 years ago, being with you was as effortless as sipping hot chocolate in a mountain cabin while watching snow dance from the heavens. There was never an awkward moment between us. Sure, we had our disagreements and occasional setbacks, occasionally breaking our own rules of engagement, which included no name calling, but we always fought with the purpose of better understanding each other and striving for a solution that was greater than both of us put together. I remember how amazed we were by how often our paths intertwined before we had been formally introduced. Like how you grew up in Brea and babysat for a family in the community where I was raised (Torrance); how you moved to Pollock Pines and shopped for shoes at the same store that I managed in Placerville; how you met my parents at their used book store in Granite Bay while selling jewelry and the first time you saw me in the salon you worked in as a massage therapist while I was selling advertising. Amazingly, you knew that we were destined to be together one day. The 24 years we spent together have been hands down the best 8,000 plus days of my life and it has been an honor and privilege to be your husband. You’ve been far more than just a wife to me. You are my best friend, my greatest cheerleader, my harshest critic, my soul-mate and the love of my life. Our psychic friend Nancy Matz, who would later perform our wedding ceremony, described us as two kids smacking on bubble gum in a candy shop. You said we were two peas in a pod. I agree with both of you. Of all the magical adventures we shared together, the one that stands out was our first trip to Disneyland together. You came to me on a cool autumn day and said, “Let’s shake things up this Thanksgiving and go to Disneyland, it’s a blast because hardly anyone goes and you can really enjoy all the rides”. I bristled at the thought of casting aside nearly 40 years of turkey stuffing tradition but when I saw that look of wonder in your eyes, I just couldn’t say no. And just like you said back then, we had the time of our lives, especially when the park emptied at night after the electric parade was over. We held hands and laughed as we raced from ride to ride with literally no waiting. It was as if the park had been built just for us to enjoy. After the rides shut down for the night, we caught our breath while sitting in a quaint café on Main Street, warming our insides with hot chocolate and good conversation beneath the stars on that clear and chilly night. That was a microcosm of the amazing and magical life we shared together and I am profoundly grateful for all the love and joy you have given to me so freely. I’m grateful that shortly before you passed away, I held your sweet face in my hands and with tears gushing down my cheeks asked you if you could finally feel how deeply I loved you and with tears in your eyes you nodded and said yes and expressed how much you loved me too. I don’t think 100 lifetimes would be sufficient to repay the debt of gratitude I owe you. I screwed up on the last big promise I made to you, so I am determined to never let you down again. With that said, I promise to look out for the people you love that are still here. I promise I will never stop loving you and I will never stop looking for you. Not in this lifetime, or the next or the next. I will never give up looking for you because with you and only with you I am truly home. I’m sure one day I’ll find you underneath the toadstools dancing with the fairies or spreading glitter across the stars. I love you more than these few words could ever express Diana Lee Cox.
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