Happy 42nd Anniversary to my Love

August 28, 1981


Was our marriage perfect? It was for us. You've been gone for 970 days and since the moment you took your last breath I've lived in the shadow of our life we shared. In my grief I'm always thankful for the beautiful life we had for 14,360 days.

Finding out quickly that life keeps moving forward, I trudged through each day without you by my side. For awhile I tried to do everything the way you would have, but that wasn't sensible or even possible.

Soon I realized I'd never lived alone. The days were long and empty and the dark nights even longer. But God reassured me with His Word. 

Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid. Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Underlying sadness resided in my soul for all of 2021 and some months of 2022. I didn't feel at home anywhere, and then I understood why you always said, as long as you were with me you would be at home.

Some days I felt if others could see me in my private moments they would think I was having a breakdown as I cried out to God to take away my grief. To manage my aloneness I talked to you as if you were still here, because your absence was almost unbearable, a searing, physical pain. 

Life went forward quickly without you when in 2021 Kailey married Jake and it was the first event we'd ever missed. Their wedding was only 30 days after we said good-by, and I just couldn't handle the emotions. Just going out to eat, riding in a car, being with family, going to see your mom, and many other things that we did together magnified the loss of you. 

Then things picked up speed as they always have in our family. Bailey met Caleb that same month, and they became engaged in July. 

You knew about Annie Gail, telling Taylor that we wouldn't go back to Virginia until we could meet her. She was born in April and you would love her.

April also brought another engagement when Zach asked Ashley to marry him. You had approved of her choice when he helped you work on our back porch. And you came up with their hashtag, #LovefromAtoZ 

Sully celebrated his first birthday on June 1st and we all said his first year sure went by fast.

August brought another engagement when Jackson proposed to Kelsey, after their long relationship that began in middle school.

All those things were celebratory events, but you were missed, a void in the family, you were always there to love and support.

Then came September...  Tragedy struck our family, reminiscent of losing Amy, when Buddy, our like a son, not just a son-in-law, joined you. 

The anguish, grief, disbelief, and deep sorrow enveloped us all. Within 9 months we lost you both and though we were broken we knew and agreed that God is good. Though we may never know why, we believed there was a purpose in our losses.

Somehow we made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas, but honestly, it all seemed surreal as we seemed to take turns weeping. Stories were shared and you and Buddy were both cherished as we remembered. 

The year 2022 dawned with those engagements bringing wedding dates, four of them! Bailey and Caleb married in January in Arkansas, Canin and Meghan in February (Mexico and we might have gone if you had been here), Jackson and Kelsey in April in Arkansas, and Ashley and Zach in June on the property in Virginia.

At the end of May I traveled back to Arkansas for one week for the Lake City High School Reunion and quickly returned for Ash's wedding. 

June brought a graduation. Isaac graduated high school in Colorado and I wondered how that could be. It seems not long ago we were holding him in our arms. 

In August Kerri, Todd, Sully and I took a much needed vacation to the beach. Not Ocean Lakes, too many memories we weren't ready for, but Beaufort, NC was just what we needed to recharge.

That year was not all about saying hello and welcoming new people into our family. We also said good-by and this you already know.  Your mom had grieved losing you, her firstborn and only son. She was ready for eternity and though we miss her here, we are happy she is now healthy and whole again.

In June of 2020 when we moved into our new home in Arkansas we were so happy to have a place to call our own instead of staying here and there for a few days at a time. But when you left only six months later I found that house made me sad. So in the fall of 2022 I sold it and bought another new construction.

So I'm writing this to wish you a Happy 42nd Anniversary. But there is more to this story.

January, 2023 brought another wedding when Todd married Kelly and we added her and Rachel to our family.  As in all the weddings and events, you and Buddy were so missed.

After the wedding Kerri and I flew back to Arkansas. Family here had graciously taken my furniture out of storage and for the next several days we made that new house a home.

We were just in time to welcome Wells Taylor Dunbar to our family, our seventh great grandchild. Bailey and Caleb wasted no time in growing our family. 

While you were in ICU I went to the waiting room several times a day to pray. I always prayed the words to Waymaker. The lyrics can apply to so many situations. "God is working even when we don't see it, God is working even when we don't feel it, He never stops working." And in April this year He brought someone into Kerri's life. Bunty Dharamsi will be joining our family sometime in the fall as they say their wedding vows. As the song says "you are here, turning lives around, you are here mending every heart." God answered my prayer and the prayers of many others that Kerri wouldn't live the remainder of her life alone. So thankful.

In September Canin and Meghan will welcome Maeve Elizabeth Ritz to our family, number eight, Deacon Wayne Outlaw will arrive in December and Annie will have a baby brother, number nine. I might have a secret that I can't share quite yet. And who knows in our family there might be secrets that I don't even know about.

Were there many other things we've experienced without you? You know how much I hate to fly, but I've flown twelve times, I negotiated the sale of our house and the contract and closing on the new one. I've driven to Texas twice to visit our Texas family and flew to Colorado for a visit there. So yes, many experiences, but I missed you in every one of them, because you always made me feel safe and protected with your hand in mine. 

 I've discovered when someone leaves this earthly life, days add up to weeks, weeks to months and if we live long enough, the years multiply quickly. 

I miss you and sometimes your presence feels near. You will always be in my heart and will always be cherished and remembered. Happy Anniversary #42 to my husband and best friend.


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