I don’t think that I was any different from the majority of the population in thinking that Tom and I would grow old together. The only reason that crossed my mind, for why we might not, was if we split up. I often wondered if, after the kids were grown, we had enough in common to want to play out the rest of our lives together. We really were very different. But we did love each other.
Of course I never dreamed that he would die so young. I found myself carrying out a promise to take care of him, thinking that we were supposed to be old and gray by the time I had to take on that role. It isn’t always how you plan it.
Tom often would complain that his life had no meaning. He never felt that his existence had a purpose. Simply bringing in three wonderful sons, and raising them up with values and happiness was not enough for him. I now realize that his happiness was held hostage by a grief that I could never fathom. I do believe that he came to terms with this before he died. Still, we are very different individuals, he and I.
Ever since Tom’s death, the prospect of dying before I am old and gray has threatened. Even with the breast cancer scare, I promised the kids that I would fight to the end. Thankfully, it didn’t go that route. I didn’t then, and won’t ever, make promises to my children that I will be around forever (or any other measure of time).
Knowing that I won’t be around for eternity, there are a few things that I want to see/accomplish before I do die. I think that my list is simple. Unlike Tom’s initial thoughts on the meaning of life, I believe that if I can make a difference in my children’s lives, then mine will have been worth my existence. I need nothing more than that.