The Widow Encounters The Old Astronomer

A Smile of Reassurance

I’ve admired the blue Texas sky since I was a little girl. The most delightful and marvelous ones arrive in the summer, and the day Aaron died was no exception. I welcomed it’s allure on the drive home from the hospital, and is one of the details I don’t mind recalling. Sitting at the stoplight, my eyes searched for a place to rest among the shades of blue. For a moment, I gazed at the car to my left. The couple inside were laughing and smiling, and I was nauseous with despair. The woman glanced at me for a moment, and smiled. In a unfortunately memorable day, this exchange was invaluable.

Though each day with him was memorable, August 6th and December 3rd hold significance. Today, 2 years ago, we celebrated for first time as Mr. & Mrs. Benek, toasting to a “beautiful, fulling marriage”. Our time together was just that, and yet, we would never spend an anniversary together.

The Search Resumes

Today, I find myself searching again for that smile of reassurance. While the second year post-loss seems less harrowing, it is considerably lonelier than the first. The help and encouragement I received from others provided the optimism I needed in the first few weeks. But, in a unfortunately common occurrence, there was less support after the memorial, at a time when I would need it the most.

In the following weeks, my oldest son received a dual-diagnosis – Autism (PDD), and ADHD. All the while, my 3 year old continued to fall by the wayside. His special-needs brother, infant sister, and deceased step-father depleted my energy before it could reach him.  It is an agonizing admission, but true, nonetheless.

Solitude and The Old Astronomer

As my children grow and probate responsibilities end, his absence and the silence become more obvious with each day that passes. Nights remained sleepless and isolated – a by-product of our memories, my thoughts, and our one year-old daughter. The lack of reassurance I desperately needed only exacerbating the insomnia. Every night I repeated the same pattern – until one quiet, solitary night I came across an excerpt of “The Old Astronomer”, a poem by Sarah Williams.

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too truly to be fearful of the night.”

Even though darkness invaded our lives, it was not too late to let the light back in. And though Aaron’s death came with unimaginable  suffering, it could not overshadow a love I never imagined. While I found Joy and laughter sparingly at first, they are now a daily occurrence. I still grasp for the fragments and pieces that remain, but only to protect my memories, instead of momentarily trading my new life for the old one. The melancholy grocery-store thoughts come less often. And, the echoing silence in my head, and home are no longer a reminder that he is gone, but a statement to how full he made our lives before.

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