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A fellow Kossack asked about the man I call My Beloved.  When I sat down and wrote a bit about him, and me, and us, and our life together, they suggested I publish this as a diary. It is my first here at The Great Orange Satan.

My Beloved would be proud, as his journey with me took him from being a Viet Nam era conservative hawk to a Bill Clinton era anti war-for-no reason liberal.  But always, always.....a patriot. He loved his country unashamedly, unreservedly, unequivocally.  He would have loved it here, too, finding a place where people like us can come for the politics and stay for the community.  He would have felt right at home.

There are days when thinking about him is like falling off a log, and days when it's like falling off a cliff.  

If you'd like to take the leap of love to read the rest of the story, follow me over the Great CheezeDoodle of Kos.

We met when we both worked for the Fedrul Gummint.  A mutual friend introduced us, and the rest, as they say, is history. After a few years of that kind of service, he decided that a career in the military would be the thing for him.  So he tested and had the physical, and filled out reams of paperwork to join the AF.  His actual job doesn't matter.  So many other people do similar jobs, all of them heroic, whether it's flying planes, fixing planes, or taking care of the interminable paperwork so that the planes (and people) can fly.

We came from similar backgrounds...Irish Catholic and Scots Bloodyorangeman (he had a touch of Methodism in his family that we used to joke about) and the same set of values.  That made the rest a lot easier.  Before we got married, we had "the talk" about how to handle the daily stuff of life: work hard, get paid, pay the bills first, buy food, and if there is anything left over, have a good time.  Turned out, we could have a good time on damned little!

The smartest thing I ever did was marry my best friend.  While my family adored him (especially mum, who treated him more like a son than a son-in-law) I liked him pretty well, too!  We were like two five year old kids, let loose in the adult world.  Oh, we pretended to be grownups, but underneath??  pffft!  We had them all buffaloed into thinking we were all mature and stuff.  Not a bit of it!  We're the two who had a food/shaving cream battle in the living room, then spent two hours cleaning it up.  We're the two who had shopping cart races in the grocery store aisles when it was a slow business day.  We're the two who skipped home from the club, singing "The Wizard Of Oz" songs......at 3 am!  We're the two who......well, you get the idea.

Whatever weird chemistry we had, it worked.  And it saved us when the reality of life in the military, in his career field, and life in general got too real, too weird, too hard.  As much as I love him, to this day, there were times when I could've cheerfully coshed him over the head with a brickbat!  He drove me to distraction by being........himself.  He did not like confrontation, and I'm a 'face it, fight it, forget it' type.  It took a long time for me to learn to lure him into a discussion, rather than drag him in.  And it took him those same years to learn to trust his instincts and speak his mind (on certain issues) rather than avoid the discussion.  We were known to 'discuss' at the top of our voices, from time to time.  The last time we re-hashed the Viet Nam War, we were going at it hammer and tongs for fifteen minutes before we stopped for breath, only to realise we were arguing the same side of the issue!!  That put an end to our Viet Nam re-hashes, but not to our....'discussions.'  

He was a damned fine Air Force Critter (our term),  a great boss, and a good friend.  And we still have those friends, to prove it. Throughout his career, he could be relied upon to get the job done, with a minimum of fuss.  He makes No Drama Obama look like a 80's era soap opera heroine in comparison!  He served his country faithfully, tirelessly, relentlessly.  He was my hero, in every way that word means anything.

A few years before he retired, he started having weird health issues.  After too many trips to the doctors, we found out he had a kidney disease that I cannot spell.  It shocked us both to our foundation!  He held his own for a good few years, making it to retirement and beyond.  Several years after retirement, his kidneys suddenly and catastrophically failed.  I almost lost him, then, because we didn't realise what was happening. (Great diagnosis, doc, thanks loads.)  Thankfully, I got him to the hospital in time.  

They needed to put in a catheter, which he vehemently resisted.  The poor corpsman came to me and asked me what to do......

"He won't let us put in a catheter.  We have to do it, or we can't help him!"

I just said, "Leave it to me."  

Back in the cubicle I sat down and took his hand in mine and said, "Honey, the nice corpsman says they need to put in a catheter."

"I don't want a damn catheter."

"I know, baby, but you have to have it, or they can't help you."

"Don't want a damn catheter."

"I understand, sweetheart, but since you must have the catheter, this is your choice: either you let the nice corpsman, who knows what he's doing, put the catheter in....or I'm going to do it.  One way or the other, you're getting the damn catheter.  Which is it going to be?"

"Get the corpsman."

I can be so very persuasive.

He was put on dialysis during that hospital stay, and went three times a week for the rest of his (too goddamned short) life.  The disease and other factors contributed to his heart condition, and  he had two pretty serious heart attacks.  The second one was the one that scared him into behaving himself. He quit smoking for real at that point, and quit cheating on his diet.  Unfortunately, I think the damage was already done.

Two months later, he got up on a Friday morning, to go to dialysis.  He got his shower, dressed, and as was his habit before he left, said, "I'll see you later, I love you."

"Love you, too."

That's the last thing we ever said to each other.  He was having chest pains as he left dialysis that day, and did the smart thing: took his nitro and went straight to the hospital.  He was having a heart attack as he went in.  They got him in, hooked him up to the ekg, and while they were reading it, he had the second, fatal attack.

When I said he was my hero, I truly meant it.  We are both organ donors, so all of his organs were donated, either to help the living, or to aid in research.  Every single cell of him that could be used, was.  When they finished, he was cremated, and his cremains were scattered in a rose garden.

My Beloved still lives.  He lives in me, our friends, the people he helped over the years, the people he helped with his heart and body and soul and love.  And he is still alive in the organs he donated and the roses he helps to grow every year.

There is no death.  There is only change.  I try to remember that, always.  But there are days when the loss of his presence, his voice, his laughter, and his love, are almost too much to bear.  I sit still.  I listen to the sound of the world, slowly turning as it has for millions of years, and I know, as surely as I know anything, that the pain passes, but love endures.

He was my hero, and he still lives.  He is My Beloved, and he lives.

Originally posted to The Marti on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Grieving Room.

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