One of the major decisions I made weeks after my husband, John, died was to take a new job that required traveling to training trips all over the United States. On a trip to Washington D.C. in February of 2001, I struck up a conversation with the piano player in the hotel lobby. Without thinking I asked him to play the theme song from “A Man and a Woman” in memory of my husband. The man smiled and motioned for me to join him on the cushioned bench. The song, one of John’s favorite pieces to play on the piano, triggered memories of our life together. The following excerpt is from my memoir, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal.
On Valentine’s Day I forced myself out of bed. Staying in bed was not an option. My principal who had given me the lead to my literacy coach position was coming to our school for a visit. I couldn’t let her down. When I arrived at school, students greeted me with hugs and candy hearts that said, “I Love You.” Paper hearts and Valentine bags dangled in every classroom I visited. Memories of red roses, romantic cards and Valentine’s Day dinner at the Rainbow room in New York crashed through my mind. Living in the present was harder than I thought.
When my principal arrived we gave each other a long hug. I pushed back my tears. She admired the student writing and standards on the hallway bulletin boards. As she observed in the second grade Writer’s Workshops, she was amazed that they were reading nonfiction books, writing reports about sea animals and typing their stories on the computer. Before she left, she smiled and hugged me again.
That night, I decided Valentine’s Day sucked. I wanted to cuddle up with John and fall asleep in his arms. Instead, I called the piano player. No answer. I left a message with my phone number and told him how much I enjoyed listening to his music. Before I hung up, I wished him a Happy Valentine’s Day.
I sat next to John’s eight-by-ten photo, the one I took on every training trip. I wondered if the piano player had a yacht, if he ran on the beach or if he loved the ocean as much as I did. I pictured him serenading me on a balcony in the Mexican moonlight. I even thought I might take guitar lessons again or learn how to play John’s piano. For several days I waited for a call from the piano player. It never came.
Diane Dettmann’s book, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels, is endorsed by Dr. Gloria Horsley, founder of the national “Open to Hope” Foundation in Palo Alto, CA and Marty Tousley, a grief counselor with “Hospice of the Valley” in Phoenix, AZ. Book available in paperback and ebook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Updated: January 27, 2014