T is for Two Minus One: #atozchallenge Day 20

Two Minus One

Two we became on an April night

Two we were becoming for weeks before

Before we were married or even lovers

Before all the things that would follow

Follow the trails of canyon and conversation

Follow our hearts into unexpected love

Love that filled long desert nights like stars

Love growing and shifting as we descended

Descended through layers of one another’s love

Descended the trail that wound through history

History building as we hiked through rocky lands

History flowing like the turquoise waters awaiting

Awaiting our future as magical as ferny grottoes

Awaiting possibilities as clear as the night skies above

Above far above was the canyon’s unseen rim

Above us space sprawled in all its glorious wonder

Wonder how many stars in that sky

Wonder what would become of he and I

I never suspected on that desert engagement night

I would be writing this poem as I sit here alone

Alone without the man I still love

Alone in a marriage now minus one

One love bound us together on a May day

One love grew into three children

Children who minus one grew strong and sure

Children who minus one carry our genes combined

Combined into people unique as those desert stars

Combined in their own expressions of a love shared

Shared joys at their lives shared sorrow at their brother’s death

Shared laughter in abundance and shared tears in salty seasoning

Seasoning of a love throughout a year, then five then ten

Seasoning through a second decade then sprinkled through

Through the months of year twenty-one till we got

Through four and then weeks then days

Days that slipped and rushed by in a hurry

Days that stopped with his breath and his heart

Heart broken now as I learn to live as a solitary whole

Heart that feels as though it’s lost its other half

Half of a pair now left to stand on my own

Half of my soul tangled still in all that we were as two

Two beings who chose to commit to life as one

Two hearts two souls bound by so many choices

Choices made in honor of what we shared

Choices that shrank as that cancer grew

Grew without ceasing as once had our love

Grew to choke out his choices and his life

Life after a marriage ended by death

Life where I must gather myself and reinvent




Jim and I had an unlikely union from the very start. A woman from upstate New York, and a man from the Willamette Valley in central Oregon, who met at Moqui Lodge, a mere mile from the edge of the Grand Canyon.

At first, we didn’t like one another very much. But, one night I treated myself to an extremely overpriced six pack of Guinness (shipping stuff up to the Canyon isn’t cheap!) – and only after the store was closed did I realize that I didn’t have a bottle opener. I went to the common employee areas looking for someone willing to loan me one.

Jim was that someone. He went back to his place to find one – he no longer drank – and, when he brought it over, we talked for four hours.

Less than six months later, we were married. And stayed that way until he died last January, a little over 20 years later.

In many ways, I grew up in this marriage. I was barely 28 when we married. I’m 48 now, and the mother of three children – two thriving teens so close to grown it sometimes blows my mind, and a secondborn son who was profoundly brain injured at birth and died at 12 days old, having spent his entire life in the NICU, most of it in a coma. We became homeowners, and I became voluntarily estranged from my abusive parents.

And now….?

Now, I reimagine my life as a widow – a word that still feels foreign to me. I’ve adopted a dog, and changed my bed, and my bedroom. I’ve removed Jim’s name from our formerly joint accounts, and am contemplating selling and giving away some of his possessions. It will be up to me to replace our leaky roof, and tend to everything else about our older home in need of repairs.

Life goes on, and I’m still here. I need to adjust, reinvent, seek new kinds of joy, and acquire new skills.

I need to know who I am when one half of my marriage is subtracted…

Join us tomorrow, when we explore unfinished business.

Need some totally terrific T posts?



    • Thank you, Colleen. I’m doing…all right. I prefer to cherish the 20+ years of marriage and communion, rather than the sorrows of the last months. Since the only way available is forward, I intend to do all I can to make that a life to remember and cherish, too, in its own way.

      Hugs and love always appreciated.

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