Five Years Later

A love letter

Hey Babe, I am sitting here grappling with the fact that five years ago today, at 11:11pm of all things, you left me after being sick for only 44 days. Your voice went silent, the voice that always knew how to keep me calm and also make me laugh. We were partners in life and in business. I was not at all prepared for what was coming. I was not sure how I was going to go on…it seemed inconceivable!    

Throughout your illness, as you know, so much love surrounded us, from all our family and friends. That love stayed with Kellie and me after you were gone. I am so very grateful for everyone in our lives, especially Kathleen and Laurine, their love and persistence, helped me get through every day. They would call or text me several times a day, and if I did not pick up – they knew I was not up to talking. I felt so bad for Kellie. She was so heartbroken she ran to her friends because I was a mess. You were the one who she always went to. You always knew exactly what to say to her. 

I tried to keep the business running as much as I could, but without you, I could not keep it together. I had a couple of issues; one was that our lease of 10 years was about to end and our property owner was trying to get me to decide to extend it. It was up at the end of March and he wanted me to at least sign it for another three years. I could not even imagine how I would make it three more days, let alone three years.   

But the kicker was when I was at the Nutley store. A customer complained to the young woman at the counter, while seeing a limited selection of items, and said to her “well this place is really going downhill”, the young woman said, “do you realize the owner died?”. To which the customer said, “yes, that’s why it is going downhill”. I was in the office and overheard this interaction. My heart sank because he was right – I just could not keep up. You were not there to tell me that everything would be ok!  

You were always the calm one. When you held me, all was right with the world. Do you remember how you tried to teach me to calm and quiet my mind? You even attempted to teach me to meditate and would laugh because I couldn’t sit still for even 10 seconds. After Megan died, you would tell me about your dreams of her, and I would get so frustrated and even jealous of you. You tried to convince me you felt it was my brain trying to protect me because it was Soo painful. That definitely helped me to feel better, but it still hurt that I could not dream of my own daughter. One of the very last things I said to you was, “Please come into my dreams”. You nodded your head and with that, I knew you would keep your promise!

But you had other ideas – didn’t you!!! On Wednesday, March 14, do you remember this day??? You were gone five weeks already, and I was driving to Hoboken to meet with our partner and friend Andy. We were going to discuss the future of the business. In my heart, I knew I could not do it anymore – I just wasn’t sure how I was going to tell him. I absolutely knew that you would never want me to keep the business going. If I was the one who passed away, you would have never opened it at all.  

On my way there, I had to navigate through all the traffic leading to the Lincoln Tunnel to get to the Hoboken exit. I was in the far-left lane (yes; I know – I was always in the left lane) and maneuvering to the right when I almost slammed into a car. I could not believe my eyes…the license plate!!! The license plate read TERRAPIN!!! I did a double take – TERRAPIN??? I thought, What the Fuck!?! I was not someone who believed in signs. People would say that they saw a cardinal, and they were sure that it was their grandmother. My reaction was always “yeah sure” everyone’s grandmother is a cardinal! But this was my cardinal – I knew it was you!!  I just knew it!!  I was screaming and crying and screaming again – really TERRAPIN??  Who has a license plate with Terrapin – either he was a Deadhead or he liked turtles!  But you found him for me! You kept your promise…but you didn’t wait for my dreams – you wanted me to be wide awake!!

We truly enjoyed all kinds of music together, didn’t we? Of course, The Beatles were both our absolute favorite band of all time, with all the top bands of our generation a close second. But then we took a drastic turn from each other (considering there was a five-year difference). I was Disco Queen in ‘78, ‘79, and ‘80, and you followed The Grateful Dead – everywhere! This became problematic for both of us. You hated Disco (although it is definitely a timepiece that you should only visit with some wine and feeling festive), and the only thing I knew of the Dead was Casey Jones and Truckin’. Your close friends all know how important music was to you. You could talk to anyone about any band, no matter how esoteric! You could even speak to the kids that worked for us about their music and they loved that – you were just that cool! 

You did your damndest to get me to like the Dead’s music – after all; we were always in the car and you wanted to hear some Dead every once in a while! I get it! I tolerated it, mainly because I loved you and wanted you to listen to the things you liked, but I really could not wait for the songs to end. I’ll never forget the day you bought a new CD – it was a Dead CD. Your excitement was palpable, and you asked me to keep an open mind. You were pretty cocky thinking that this would be the one that would bring me to the Dead side! When the song started, I remember thinking, “ok not bad, but when is it over?” As the song went along, though, it really built to something very different and almost soothing! Mind you, I did not react to it the way I did when I heard Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar, for the first time, but I told you I could definitely listen to it again, and that was all you needed to hear. 

The more I heard it, however, the more I really grew to love the song and the album as well. It was Terrapin Station, on the album of the same name. I should have trusted you more because when we were planning our wedding, you told me you didn’t care about the details of our wedding, you said “you can do whatever you want and yes, I will gladly wear a tux, but I just want to pick our song” – I said OK, kind of as a question?! Then you got the album out – and the most beautiful song I ever heard filled the room and my heart! At that moment, I knew without a doubt that you absolutely felt every bit the same about our relationship that I did! The song was Love by John Lennon! 

At your wake, you must have been so proud of Kellie for putting together that beautiful video of our life with you, and the song she chose for the background – without telling me was – Terrapin Station! She also helped me to choose an excerpt from the song to go on your card with your picture on the other side, which was so perfect because you were at heart a poet and loved writing!  

…The Storyteller makes no choice   

Soon you will not hear his voice 

His job is to shed light, 

and not to Master… 

Even though you, my love, my storyteller, may have gone silent, I discovered, you were just getting started with a whole new way to speak to me……

To be continued, The Terrapin Journey…

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