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“Men Would Leave Their Wives For You.”

I just wanted to know if I looked all right.

It was my first time as a bridesmaid and I took my job oh so seriously, the way I do with any jobs of love. I dive in headfirst. We were waiting in the lobby and I was playing with my shawl. I wasn’t sure if periwinkle was really my color (it isn’t), or if I should have gone the professional route with my hair and makeup. My beautiful date was just trying to cheer me up. Did he say it in the lobby or at the end of the night? I only know that he said it and it stuck. After he took this picture of me:

Funny the things you remember, when you don’t know how to hold onto the more important things, because you think they’ll be there forever, or nearly, and a day. And you don’t know what will be the most important things anyway. They change.

I have a photographic memory, and a pretty good sensory one too. I remember the colors of the Orlando sky, on a February evening. I remember every breeze I’ve ever felt, I’m sure, and how it felt then in my curled bridesmaid hair. I remember telling him I felt like I’d never be happy again. I was at a wedding, sure, but only a week after a funeral. There were too many of the latter, and not enough of the former. I knew it wasn’t logical to say, but I couldn’t yet feel the alternative. Like a smile that doesn’t reach the eyes, it was a thought that didn’t fully reach the heart. I just missed my grandfather.

And my grandmother, who had already been gone more than a year. We lost my grandfather then too, in almost all ways.

The wedding wasn’t canceled or postponed, but my grandfather’s daughter was due to get married a week after he passed away. How I wish he could have been there to sail her down the aisle. “Stairway to Heaven” was there for that, and we were too. She met her groom later in life, after he already had grown kids, but they met just in time. My grandmother had been on her literal deathbed, not yet ready to let go, and he had said to her, “I’m going to marry your daughter.” The only thing bad about him, my uncle said of my aunt’s new groom, is his name. Steve. Was it an unlucky name in this family? A great guy in all ways, but named Steve. That was the name of my deceased father. The middle child, in between my uncle and aunt.

Instead of crying another river of tears, or drinking to oblivion, or getting anxious and strung out, I absorbed love in through my pores. The wedding wasn’t unremarkable. It had Led Zeppelin and love, and more love. My cousin’s yarmulke blew off his head in an upwards manner, but there wasn’t an open door or window, so we all just thought – magic? The other Steve? The bride’s parents – my deceased grandparents? What causes a yarmulke to fly upwards anyway? Maybe these are the questions you should ask yourself, and others. Instead you sing a little Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” and ask, “Do I look all right?”

Your date holds you, moves you, and says: “You look wonderful tonight. Middle-aged men would leave their wives for you.”

He wasn’t for people leaving their wives. He was quite against it, but he was trying to breathe life back into me when I couldn’t breathe it back in myself. It was enough breaths to smile and laugh and dance. And eat, of course. And meet the groom – my new uncle’s – twin sons and recognize them as family. Isn’t it funny that I wondered if I’d ever feel happiness again, after so much loss at once, in my more youthful days. It wasn’t even that long ago, not long enough not to feel it all over again. I mourn that 20-something girl who thought she’d never be happy again, because she was, 100 times over. She IS.

The best was yet to come. Do you know it still is? The worst was yet to come. Do you know it still is too? And oh, Steve. Had I known. What would I have done differently? We just saw you in February and I would have held on longer had I known, and I hope I did anyway, because we always know. We always know our time is limited. I just wish you had more time. You made my aunt so happy. I miss that day because love and innocence were so strong and tight that day, and now, it’s been over a decade. And what does love do? It grows upwards and closer together. I don’t mourn a decade ago. I mourn a week ago, when you were here. I mourn every time I don’t cry, because I think if I start I’ll never stop, and I’d drown this house and town.

We are learning to breathe above water.

When it comes to more youthful days, I wish I had let go, only to find that then I’d learn to hold on more tightly.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s timely topic is “When it comes to more youthful days…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

My uncle, Steve Salzman, passed away unexpectedly on Des’ birthday, Monday, June 13, and now there’s a new way to live – to fill this Steve-sized gap in our lives, and boy, it’s big. May you all hold your loved ones close tonight, and always.

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62 Comments

  1. Sending all my love to you, Tamara. Beautiful tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss. xox (I’d leave my wife for you too.)

  2. I am so sorry for your loss Tamara but what a beautiful tribute. I don’t know what to say that will make you feel better but just know that you’re in my thoughts today.

  3. OK, now I am bawling, but it doesn’t take much lately as with both girls end of the year programs at school, I have been reminded how quickly it all does go and you are right we need to hold on just a bit tighter for you never know what will indeed happen or when. Hugs and so sorry for the loss of this wonderful man in your life. <3

  4. Oh, sweet Tamara… I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss–for your many losses–but this post is just perfection and a beautiful tribute to your uncle. He sounds like an incredible man <3 And that story of the yarmulke? Yes, those were spirits at play, I think.

    Man, this post really got me in the feels today. Like all of your posts do. Love you, momma. Much peace to you. XOXO

    1. The yarmulke was weird! It really was.
      Happy and sad to have gotten you in the feels. It was certainly a heavy week. And of course, this week too, because of his funeral and Father’s Day on the same day. XOXO

  5. Oh Tamara. I am so sorry. I am crying in the dermatologist’s office. What a gorgeous post. I could feel your sadness and your love. Oh my goodness, I don’t even know what else to say. Grief is wicked, isn’t it? And yet We’d not experience it if we didn’t love with our whole heart.

    1. Oh dear – crying in doctor’s offices! I’m so glad you could feel it, because I put it all there. Of course, crying while I wrote!
      Grief is so wicked, but the alternative never to love deeply is even more wicked. WTF, life?

  6. Very special, Tamera! Love and loss, the gains and the voids, the powerful moments of our lives. Many more questions than answers I’m afraid. Hold on to those moments of clarity for as long as you can.

  7. Ah those youthful days, we don’t really know to hold on tighter until they are gone. I guess that is why as we grow up we do just that. I am so sorry your uncle passed. That is hard, but oh what light, good and love he brought into your family. All good things 🙂

  8. So sorry to hear about your uncle passing. Praying for your family and aunt as you mourn the passing of your uncle.

  9. I’m so sorry for your loss, Tamara. He sounds like a special man. This says it all: “I mourn every time I don’t cry, because I think if I start I’ll never stop, and I’d drown this house and town.”

    A lovely finish the sentence post, Tamara. When it comes to our more youthful days, we weren’t so wise but we were free with our innocence.

    1. It was such an interesting thing because the prompt made me write this, but I always was sort of heading into writing it anyway. I love being able to explain things.
      Thanks so much!

  10. I’m so so sorry about your uncle, Tamara. This is a gorgeous tribute to him though. Full of hope, and love. And yes, the best is yet to come. I have to continue believing that always. xo

  11. I am so sorry for your loss, Tamara. This is a beautiful story, and that picture of you with the shawl is one of my favorites. It’s so intense! You are right though, we must always hold our loved ones as long as we can, while we can. It really is so important. My heart breaks for you.

    1. Thank you! I love that photo! I will mourn the day I look too old to still use it, because I don’t have anything else I’ve ever loved that much.
      A new project, I guess.
      Thanks for your words. They matter.

  12. I’m so sorry about your uncle, Tamara. And I don’t know if I knew your dad’s name was Steve — that’s actually my dad’s name! And that part about the yarmulke blowing off — wow.

    1. I have a really sharp memory, and sometimes I think it might be worse. It’s strange! At least we have ways to capture what our minds won’t remember.

  13. This is powerful, compelling writing, and (as so many others have said) a glorious tribute to your uncle. He sounds like a really, really special man, and I’m glad he was such a wonderful part of your family.

    What would make a yarmulke fly upwards? Magic. Or something bigger and more meaningful, but it sounds like a wonderful moment.

    It looks from that photo, as though you have your grandmother’s eyes. Whatever physical attributes people leave behind them in their descendants, I think it’s the ways they behaved – the ways they LOVED – that leave the most powerful reminders of them. <3

    1. I always wondered about the yarmulke. There wasn’t a breeze. It didn’t fly off but up!
      Remind me to tell you one day about the double rainbows over my grandmother’s funeral. On a dry, December day!
      We get big rainbows.. now. In summer. But December??

      1. I’m a great believer in signs. After my Grandad (whose grandest career was as a London Fireman, until an injury stopped him doing it any more), we saw fire engines EVERYWHERE…like, in serious droves. Not usually on a blue light run, but just…there. Especially on auspicious days – birthdays and Father’s day and the like.

        No reason the people who’ve gone before WOULDN’T try to soothe and give hope to the people they loved, if they could. And if it’s not them, but God, on their behalf, then…also why not? After all, He’s meant to love us more than anyone…

  14. So so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute. Not much I can say during this time but take care of yourself and rest in the awesome memories.

  15. Oh my gosh, sweetie. I am so so sorry you have to endure yet another loss of a loved one! Sigh.. I’m heart sick for you.

    This was achingly beautiful.

    I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you and your precious family.

  16. So sorry about your uncle. I think we all know how fleeting life can be, but we forget – or choose not to think about it – until it slaps us in the face and reminds us. This is a lovely tribute to him and the love is very apparent.

    Side note: My dad’s name is Steve, too. Thank goodness I haven’t lost him yet – don’t know how I would deal – but he lost his father and a younger brother long before it should have been “their time.”

    1. It’s really true – we know it, and then forget it, and then get reminded. Ugh.
      Don’t worry – Steve is a good luck name. It just was bad luck in our family.

  17. Tamara, I’m so sorry for your loss and for your aunt and everyone else in your family. This was such a beautiful way to remember him. I hope it brings at least a little healing to you.

  18. I’m so sorry you lost your uncle, Tamara. Your beautiful words are such a wonderful way to express love to him… to your family. Sending you love and hugs!

  19. What a lovely celebration of your Uncle Steve – I’m so sorry he was taken from your family too soon. There never seems to be enough time, does there? Holding tight today and all the days.

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