We tend to mark time by the significant events in our lives. These moments change our view of time as well as our view of life. What life was like before the event and what is life like after the event.
Today is one of those markers in my life. It has been two years since my beloved Raymond made his transition out of my life and back to his true home. On 5/5/2012 at 10:10 am, Raymond took his last struggling breath. Since that moment, the passage of time in my life began to be marked. Life with Raymond and life without Raymond. Time; marked by days, weeks, months and now years. I’ve missed that man every second of every day he has been gone.
Ours was a true love story. We met on an on-line dating site. We wrote long letters to each other daily for a month before we met in person. I could tell a lot about him from those letters. I knew right away that he was intelligent and passionate. He shared stories of his childhood, his travels, his view on life as well as his hopes and dreams. I think I fell in love with Raymond before I ever met him because of his eloquent and thoughtful letters. He was a true romantic and understood that the simple pleasures in life are far more treasured than material possessions.
I have saved our correspondence and now and then, I read those letters. After meeting Raymond and seeing how slowly he typed, I came to greatly appreciate the effort he put into writing me on a daily basis. In one of his early letters to me, he stated, “he was looking for his last and greatest love.” I know that I was his last and greatest love.
By the time we met, I felt comfortable enough to invite him to my place. He brought flowers, wine and his guitar. The back of my couch faced the kitchen. I told him to have a seat while I opened the wine. I remember standing in the kitchen, pouring the wine and looking into the living room. He took his baseball cap off and underneath was a balding head with his remaining white hair tied in a pony-tale. That was the moment my heart opened like it never has before, and I knew I loved him.
Our first date lasted the whole weekend and after that, we were together everyday. Raymond’s way of “marking time” when we met was “BL (before Lisa) and AL (after Lisa).” He believed that nothing in his past mattered now that he had met me.
We spent a year and 9 months truly having fun, loving each other, counting our blessings, traveling, and of course singing together. I moved in with Raymond in June of 2011. I remember that he was less active. He took a lot of naps (I would often join him). We didn’t get out and fish as often as we had the previous summer.
Come fall, Raymond began coughing a lot. We’d just purchased a new camper for the back of his truck. We dreamed about a life together on the road traveling in our new camper. I remember it was getting cold, and he was outside lying on the cold ground, for hours securing the camper to the truck. I begged him to come inside but he was determined to get it done. His cough kept getting worse. I finally convinced him to see my doctor. She took an x-ray and called us right back to her office. She said that he either had pneumonia or lung cancer. And that is when the doctor visits began.
On December 21, 2011, Raymond was diagnosed with stage 4-lung cancer, which had spread into his brain and his liver. This was another date that marked our life’s events as “before and after”. All through his illness, Raymond remained a “bad ass.” He went through the gamma knife radiation on his brain, the chemo, tried Cantron (an alternative remedy that he had faith in) without ever complaining once. He was brave and he was tough.
Right away in January of 2012, Raymond started taking care of business. These were sad times, yet he was driven get his affairs in order. He put his truck with the camper in my name as well as the mobile home. He told me things he wanted me to do when he was gone, regarding his funeral and his possessions. He wanted to be buried in Algonac. He loved this town. We went to the county clerk and bought his grave together. It was a very teary day for both of us.
Yet, we both remained hopeful. As sick as Raymond was, he’d get out his guitar and sing a bit. He told me stories. We laughed and we cried. He called his family in California. During his last few months, Raymond called every person he thought he had ever wronged and apologized. I had great respect for him as he completed all of his unfinished business.
After his last trip to the hospital, Raymond’s “good lung” started filling up with fluid. They did a procedure that morning. They drained the fluid out of his lung. He felt better right away! As we were waiting for all his release papers, he said to me, “Honey, I can already feel my lung filling up again. I’m sick of hospitals, I want to go home.”
We called in hospice and three days later, he was gone. I had no idea he would pass so quickly. His, was the first death I ever witnessed. My heart still aches for him. We had such wonderful plans of travels together and living a happy simple life. How quickly those dreams were taken away from us.
Two years ago today, he left this world. He left our dreams and he left me. I had the honor of being in love with Raymond for two years and two months. I have been without him almost as long as I knew him. How is it possible that our short love affair has been over as long as it lasted? I know I will love him eternally. I believe we were destined to meet. We both learned (too late in life) what unconditional love truly is. I believe I was destined to be with him during his illness. I was destined to be fully present giving him my love and support in his transition from this world back to his true home. We were “soul mates.” He is part of my soul family and I would like to believe he is guiding me and watching over me, from the other side.
I woke up this morning and pulled 5 angel cards. They are small rectangle shaped cards with one word and a tiny image of an angel on them. Before I picked the cards, I held the little bag in my hand and I asked out loud, “Raymond what angels do you send me today?” These are the cards I pulled: Play, Freedom, Acceptance, Grace and Gratitude.
On this two year anniversary of his death, I believe that he sent me the message to play, to be free, to accept “what is” with grace and gratitude. It is time. Thank you for the guidance Raymond. Until we meet again, I love you and I am a better person for having known you.