Wishing all my blog readers a Happy Valentine’s Day.
More importantly, I want to remember the beautiful woman I married on what would have been her birthday. To me, today will always be first and foremost Gee’s birthday, and then Valentine’s Day.
Remembering Gee’s birthday was always easy—since Madison Avenue makes sure I have six weeks of reminders starting January 2nd. I only got to celebrate her birthday with her twice, but February 14th will never be just Valentine’s Day to me ever again.
Gee was born in Niagara Falls, New York, on this day and claimed she was the ultimate 1960s love child. I can’t disagree. She is the most gracious person I have ever known. The way she cared for other people always amazed me, even when she was going through some of the worst life has ever dealt a person.
One event that sticks out in my mind is when she was in the hospital, a week before she died. My friend Brad had flown down to Virginia to visit us, knowing Gee didn’t have much time left. It was Monday, June 4th. I went to the airport to pick Brad up and then drove back to the hospital, where I had basically been living for the previous week.
When Brad walked into Gee’s hospital room, she greeted him by saying, “Brad, how was your flight? You look tired.”
Now, to understand how significant this was, you have to imagine that you’ve been in the hospital for over a week now; have died twice and somehow managed to come back to the man you love; you’ve got four central lines in; are on two IV infusion pumps, an oxygen cannula and and a feeding tube. You’re on enough narcotics to down a rogue elephant, but are still in pain, and you know you are dying. This is what Gee was going through when Brad walked into her hospital room.
Even in spite of all this, Gee’s first concern was for our friend Brad and how his flight was. That was who my Gee was. That was one reason I love her so much.
She came home that Thursday for the final time. She said one reason she had fought so hard to get better in the hospital, despite the massive bleed outs she had experienced that left her technically dead twice, was because she wanted to say goodbye to me at the home she had made for us both. As I carried her into the house, what she said to me was bittersweet. She said, “I’m sorry Dan, it isn’t the cancer that’s killing me, but all the complications. I wish I could keep the promise I made to you when we got engaged, but I don’t know if I can.”
The next morning, Friday morning, Brad was flying back to Boston. We knew it was the last time he would see Gee. She called him into the bedroom where she was setup in a medical recliner and an oxygen generator. She said to him, “Brad, I’m sorry I haven’t been a better hostess. I hope you have a safe flight back to Boston. Take care of yourself.”
Brad walked out to the my Explorer and got in. He started to cry as I loaded his luggage into the back. We drove to the airport where I dropped him off for his flight. As he got out, he said to me, “There are days you realize what a lousy human being you truly are…” I know he was referring to how high Gee set the bar and what kind of person the woman I married was.
I gave him a hug and wished him a safe flight back to Boston. I thanked him for coming down to see us and being there for us. I wished him an early Happy Birthday, for Saturday was his birthday.
Three days later, Monday, June 11, 2001, at 11:00, just seven months and seven days from when our wedding started, the beautiful and gracious woman I loved from the first time I heard her beautiful voice was gone.
Rest in peace my beloved Gee. Know that you will always be in my heart and thoughts. Thank you for watching over me and my friends and being my personal weather goddess. I love you, Gee. I always will, for love is eternal. The light and love you brought into my life will remain with me for the rest of my days.
I miss you every day, and I try to be the man you love everyday. I hope that before I die, I can be one-tenth as gracious, even in the worst of circumstances, as you were. Thus far, I have failed.
Gee, I want you to know that I believe I have found the woman you asked me to seek out just before you died. I truly believe Ellie is the one you meant for me to find. Like all the women I have loved, she is smart, stubborn, feisty-tempered and beautiful.—I think you would have liked her, at least when she is healthy. I would ask that you watch over her and protect her, even from herself, because she is someone I love. Last summer I asked her to marry me, and still want to spend the rest of my life with her. Please help her find her way back to me.
P.S. Look out for Paul, John and Lois. Paul and John are friends of mine and newly arrived, while Lois is the twin to my friend Mez, and she and Mez share your birthday.