Happy What Would Have Been Your 48th Birthday

April 4

Phils, today is your day. It will always be your day because it is the day I celebrate your life. You would have been 48 today–an age that would still be younger than the age I was when I had to learn to live without you. While I no longer live in that shattered broken state, make no mistake, when I see our children and now our grandchildren, I miss you. It is more than that, though.

When I met you, you were so young. I thought you were too young and that you were like every other 21 year old. I wasn’t looking for a good time or for someone to save me. I was simply trying to live my life and to get my feet on the ground. Kind of like now. I looked at your flirtatious ways and shrank away. I made you work for it–really work for it.

I do not know what you saw in a girl almost six years older than you were. I do not know why you asked me out 19 times even when I was mean and abrupt in my refusals at times. I do not know why you saw something in my brokenness. I certainly didn’t feel very lovable. I had three young children and while I was educated, I was recently divorced with three young children. My family and church had turned on me and all I could think about was running away to be a doctor in the army.

When I finally did say yes to you, you waited a very long time to kiss me thinking that because I was older, I would surely make the first move. By the time you finally touched me, there was a raging bonfire blazing between us. From that kiss, it was as if we knew the clock was ticking. We rushed it all. I still can’t believe that two responsible adults ran off and eloped four months into dating. We had no other reason to get married except that we didn’t want to spend one more day apart. Our youngest son says that you were blessed because you found me so young. Well, sweetie, it was I that was blessed.

You taught me what it was to be loved and how to love completely. While our life wasn’t always easy because we had so many children, not enough money, tdys, medical scares, and family issues, we stood strong as one until your very last breath. This completeness included your last face to face conversation with me.

How could you have known, had that sense, that maybe this tdy was different? How could you have known to get your affairs in order and more than that, how could you have known to force the question about “what if”. Damn, Philsie, usually I could shut you down with jokes and other distractions, but in the last moment before you left (last ten minutes), you bulldozed me. I still catch my breath when I consider that question you asked: “If you die first, would you want me to be happy again?” Why, yes, yes I would.

Phils, I am stuck there. I know that I would be open to loving again. I have changed because I had no other choice. I am more independent and open than I have ever been, but you kind of ruined me. While I expect a chapter two to look different, I think back to a 21 year old who saw something long before I saw it. I think of a 44 year old man who loved me enough to put his affairs in order and to force that conversation. I think of a man who put my needs first for 23 years. While you often forgot my birthday and even once forgot Christmas, you got up each and every day before me to make me coffee and to bring me the paper in bed. It was your idea that I run a marathon in all 50 states. It was you that rushed home from work so that I could run out the door to get my running done. It was you that gladly chauffeured all of us.

I am sorry that I didn’t always appreciate you enough. I know that we all joked about you being a phony doctor (PhD), but I have always thought you were amazing. Considering that you couldn’t speak English when you came to the US at 12, and considering the only word that I could catch you on was Fritos, you were brilliant. You were also humble. I tell your story all of the time because the world needs to know who was lost that day. Your story, our story, has changed a few things in your beloved Air Force. Your story, our story, has resonated with others dealing with trauma and crisis. Listen, sweetie, I have no answers. I am just trying to muddle through and to make something positive come from the very worst day of my life.

I don’t know if I am strong enough or if it is even a possibility, but I am trying to honor my last conversation with you. Like you told me, I would eventually get really lonely and that I had so much love in my heart, I would want to give it away. I do want that. I do know that my chapter two will thrive because of the lessons I learned with you. I do know that my chapter two will look and feel different. I know that you got my youth and child rearing years. You got a face unlined with wrinkles and a body that was still whole. My chapter two will get a person that knows what it is like to love to the very end. They will get a more independent Linda–albeit older and more broken.

Philsie–you often talked about your “loser Dave” years. You were never a loser. You brought life to people. You saw people who were invisible and who struggled. You used your gift of languages to connect with people. Sometimes I would cringe because you mentored so many about the opportunities given by your American citizenship, your love for the Air Force, and how great our children all are.

You drove me absolutely crazy with the way you threw all of your clean laundry in the laundry basket. You were quite content to wear wrinkled clothes. Eye roll. Your beat up blue dirty mini van made us look like the Kentucky militia. You drove me nuts when you wanted to change all of the card game rules–who does that!?

On your birthday, I celebrate the love I learned and shared with you. I celebrate how much laughter and calm you brought into my life. I step forward one faltering step at a time knowing that this is what you would like . I am going to need a little convincing. Can angels help?

I loved you then, I love you now, I will love you forever. You are not forgotten. Happy 48th birthday.


  1. Reblogged this on ambardpl and commented:

    I cannot believe I got Phil’s age wrong the first time or that it has been nearly four years.


  1. […] Happy What Would Have Been Your 47th Birthday. […]

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