Blue Ocean Floor--My Island Boy
"Under the water you scream so loud but the silence surrounds you. But I hear it loud and you fall in the deep and I'll always find you. If your red eyes don't see me anymore, and I can't hear you through the white noise, just send your heartbeat I'll go to the blue ocean floor."
When this Justin Timberlake song came out in the spring of 2013, my husband of 32 years, and I immediately made it "our song." We love the sea and feel drawn to it, somehow. We spent every opportunity we had scuba diving and being in and near the water, even though we live on the prairie.
Timberlake himself discussed the meaning of this song---Typically it’s pretty hard to hear someone who’s deep underwater, but love has a way of overcoming little things like that. No matter what situation his lover is in, he would always find her and rescue her. The ocean’s floor symbolizes the unknown. Not even something so dangerous and mysterious will keep two lovers apart.
On September 2, 2013---after having our entire family (four sons, their wives, and the grandbaby)---home for the first time ever, my husband, lover, and best buddy of 37 years went to Home Depot to get some pool chemicals. We never saw him again.
When he didn't return by 11:30 that night, my sons and I called the police. Unfortunately, the police wrote it off to a lover's spat, and did little to help us locate my husband. They did not file an "official" missing person's report until 9 days later; after he had been missing for three weeks, we learned from the police that they, in error, did not include my husband's vehicle description or license plate # in their report.
I told the police the next day that I knew my husband was dead, because I LITERALLY felt my heart ripped out of my chest--I felt that half of my heart was gone.
My husband was missing for 8 weeks before we learned of his whereabouts. All four of my sons were home with me on October 18---I looked out and saw our best friend's emergency vehicle in my driveway. I saw him walking to the front door, and behind him were two police detectives. I knew immediately that my husband was dead.
As they came into the house, I began to scream NO over and over and over and over. My adult sons were trying so hard to be "strong," to support me, but they of course were devastated, too.
My husband had driven over 700 miles and apparently fell asleep at the wheel....the car plunged down an 80 ft ravine and rolled another 250 feet before coming to rest on its top. I have so many unanswered questions...why on earth did he drive that far? Was he confused? He certainly wasn't upset when he left. I was sitting outside on the deck while he worked in the pool. I told him I was going to wash my car for work the next day, he said he was going to get pool chemicals. We both said our usual "Bye. Luv ya! See ya!" as I left. Since he was working in the pool, he had left his cell phone inside on the table.
The story took on national media attention because as my husband was trapped and dying of his injuries, over several days he wrote personal love letters to me, to his sons, and to his granddaughter. He also wrote about his love for Jesus. He wrote of his attempts to get out of the vehicle, but that he was entrapped and that it was impossible to move. The media has made it even more difficult, because we can't mourn privately.
He probably died sometime within that first week of being gone----but to me, he died on October 18 when we received the official news, because until then there was still hope. Now of course there is nothing but a massive void.
I still find myself begging God to bring him home. How can I live without him? I feel like I'm on the rim of a very, very dark hole. It's difficult to describe the type of marriage we have.....as a professor of interpersonal relationships, I've written several books about marriage, intimacy, love, and sex. And now I have none of that. We had a love that very few couples are lucky enough to find.....and now he's gone. I won't wash his pillowcases, or the socks that were on his closet floor. I won't wash his laundry that was in the laundry basket.
Having to think of how he suffered, how cold he must have been, his pain....knowing that he was dead and exposed to the elements for 7 weeks.....having to have a closed casket and not being able to see him or hold him or kiss him one last time.....all of this adds to my suffering and grief. I am fortunate that one of my sons is a funeral director, so he had what he says is the honor and privilege of preparing his father for burial, his last act of love and ministry for his dad.
I am a breast cancer survivor...this isn't how our relationship was supposed to end. He always promised me that his eyes would be what I would be looking into as I died, his hand would be the hand that held mine as I crossed over into heaven. And now he's gone.
How do I go on? How do I go into the college classroom next semester and teach my students about love and intimacy and sex and communication....when it's been ripped out of my life? How do I control the waves of grief that are sure to come when I'm talking about these topics?
The only place I want to be is on the Blue Ocean Floor. I need to be at the ocean, in the sea, because I know that's where I'll feel his presence the most. But as most of you know, there are a lot of "have to's" right now.....I "have to" be with my four sons through the holiday season, because they're hurting, too. I "have to" go back to work in January because my sick leave runs out. At some point, I "have to" go to the store....back to church....Our second grandchild is due in February....how? How do we go forward?
I wish our society better understood the concept of grief work---that it is literally a physical, emotional, mental, intellectual, and spiritual work that has to take place.
It's not day by day. Right now it's minute to minute, not knowing where that next breath will come from.
I hate death and the destruction and chaos it's brought into my life.
I want him home. I want him in bed with me. I want to laugh with him again. I want to tell him that the crazy neighbor must have died because his house is on the market. I want to tell him that I found the perfect diet--the Missing Husband diet, where one can lose 40 pounds in 8 weeks without even trying (he'd laugh at that). I want him to see his Little Shadow (our granddaughter) and how many new words she's learned since he left.
I'll love him forever. And I'll hurt for a very, very long time. The pain now is because of the happiness then.