markandlei

387

387 days ago, at about this time, Mark told me that he loves me “more” and left for work. Those precious last words will never leave me. Of all the things he ever said to me during our time together, “I love you more” is the only phrase I can practically hear him say to me over and over, every day.

This is something that has changed my life. Obviously, in many ways…but mostly because I am now more careful than ever about the words I speak to others. Especially my family and friends. Sometimes I catch myself thinking “this may be the last time I see her - does she know that I love her?”

I didn’t need Mark to say he loved me in order to know and feel it. He never left without saying “bye baby” and kissing me on the forehead or a peck on the lips…even after disagreements or misunderstandings. BUT if those weren’t the last words I heard his voice speak…if, for some reason, we got into an argument and he left without saying a word…or if we were one of those couples who speak hateful, demeaning, disrespectful words to one another - I’d imagine it would be extremely difficult to find peace in the midst of grief. If our last interaction was hostile, or even emotionless - my grief would be intensified every time I’d think of those moments.

It’s just another thing I’m eternally grateful for. Thank you Jesus.

“Suppose I should be helping myself.” “Pah!” Sharon spat, waving her hand dismissively. “Whenever you’re ready. Don’t mind all those people who say that you should be back to normal in a month or two. Grieving is all part of helping yourself anyway.”

She always said the right things.

—  Ahern, Cecelia (2004-02-03). PS, I Love You (p. 15). Hyperion. Kindle Edition.
111111

Yesterday (111111) was the 1st anniversary of the day we put Mark’s body to rest at St. Mary’s cemetary in Oakland.

I remember it so clearly…the last time I touched his handsome face and spoke to him before the casket closed, the weeping I couldn’t control no matter how much I tried as I got into the car at the chapel, my sister saying “turn around” in the church to see the sea of loved ones mourning my precious husband, the beautiful words spoken by Pastor Ron (total understatement…no words can express how grateful I am to him), meeting the hurting friend/coworker who Mark was on his way to pick up that early morning for work…hugging him and trying to assure him that Mark’s death is NOT his fault, the odd November heat at the burial site, the indescribable beauty that helpped me remember that God was with me in the middle of my grief, Mark’s friends who sang so beautifully…“One Sweet Day” & “Still”, My bro-in-law, Pastor Nick reminding us all that Mark is in Heaven with his Heavenly Father, wanting so badly to break down as they lowered the casket…but repeated “quiet strength” in my head over and over until I got myself together, leaving the cemetary and feeling the numbness begin to fade away as I realized I really would never see my man again until the Lord calls me home.

I miss my honey-bunches-of-oats so much. His face, his touch, his beauty, his voice. The smile that made me melt, and the caring eyes that I loved to stare into. His strong arms that kept me safe and warm. Everything he was to the girls and I…the way he proudly wore the role of “Papa” on his chest. sigh

I miss my man.

Gone but not forgotten: Mark Matthew Aragon…

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Wish that I had time, just a little more
Wish that I could see you one more time
But I know that God holds your life.
Your battle is finally won,
& He said well done, my faithful servant, well done.

Mark’s 1st Heavenly Birthday - 110411 - Part 2

After lunch some of us headed to the Berkeley Pier to walk off our food coma.

I’ve always been scared of heights and great, big bodies of water. Our entire relationship, Mark plotted and planned on ways to get me on a boat or a roller coaster. We’ve done ferry rides around the Bay a couple of times, but that’s about it. As for the roller coaster, well…I’d say he succeeded considering the emotional one I’ve been on thanks to him! ;)

One day when we first moved back to the Bay from SoCal, Mark brought me here. At first, I thought nothing of it. The second we stepped on the pier and I noticed the water below through the cracks of the wood. I THOUGHT I WAS GONNA PASS OUT!!! 

We walked side-by-side. My left side GLUED to his right. He held my right hand with his left hand and held me tight with his right arm. It probably took us an hour to walk all the way. At times I wanted to turn around but he said he wouldn’t come with me, and I didn’t wanna walk it alone… (booger!)

By the time we got to the end he explained the break in the Pier and how far it used to go. That, of course, freaked me out more because it happened during the big ‘89 earthquake. So I was thinking about how if an earthquake were to happen while we were standing there at the very furthest point we could walk, we’d be a shark’s dinner!!!

We hung out there for a long time before I was able to go beyond the fear and take notice of God’s creation. It was a beautiful night. Clear, starry sky and the moon’s reflection on the water took my breath away. From where we stood, I could see the Bay Bridge, the city lights of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Rafael Bridge. It wasn’t foggy at all. In fact, we could see crazy people in kayak’s just paddling around like it was a sunny day at the beach!

After I grew more comfortable, Mark asked me if I was happy he brought me out there. I said “yes,” and he said I owe him one thing. I’m thinking he was gonna ask for a kiss, a song, or a massage (his usual 3 requests:)). He asked me if I trusted him. I said “of course I do.” I started to get a little nervous thinking he was gonna run to the car and leave me to walk back by myself or something!

My crazy husband walked to the side of the pier (see picture) and said “have a seat.” I laughed out loud  because he just had to be joking! He just stood there staring at me like I was the crazy one! He didn’t say a word and kept staring at me with a “but you said you trust me” look on his face. Without saying a word, I walked over and he helped me get my butt up on the wooden rail. I was facing the pier with my back to the water, holding on to him for dear life! I don’t know how to explain how he did it, but the man got me turned around while kicking and screaming (but giggling at the same time) and next thing I knew, I was facing the gorgeous moonlit water and leaning back in his arms.

This all sounds like a scene from some fiction romance novel, I’m sure…but so does the rest of our love story. I’m so blessed to still have more memories with the love of my life to write about. When I’m old and gray, I’ll have these written memories to lean on…as will my beautiful daughters, and their children, and on and on. 

***

After walking the pier, we went back to Oakland for some dessert at a place both Mark and I spent a lot of time at growing up - FENTON’S! :) Followed by more food because my mama insisted on cooking us all dinner and more people over who had work or school and couldn’t spend the earlier hours with us.

In a nutshell - I fell asleep around 3am on 110411 a broken, aching, grieving MESS. Woke up at 7:30 COMPLETELY refreshed, as if I slept all night! Spent the day with people who love and care for us and miss Mark like crazy. Then the girls and I ended our evening at the Haights. Our favorite place in the whole wide world. I fell asleep around 1am on 110511 a thankful, grieving, BLeSSeD widow who had just celebrated her husbands 1st Heavenly Birthday the best way possible.

1,111 days.

Seems like such a BIG number. Sometimes it feels that way too, but other times it feels like just 3 years.

I remember wondering how I would make it through 1 day…1 week…1 month…1 year - and here I am. 1,111 days living as a widow and single mama.

Strength that can only come from the Lord is how. There is no other possible explanation! Alone I am a weak, tired, empty mess - but by His grace and for His glory I am here writing with this in mind:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

I pray that my testimony can bring comfort and hope in Jesus Christ to those who need it…