A Letter To John
As many of you who will read this know, my Beloved John was very ill for the last half of his life. A sufferer from severe asthma, he could only keep breathing by continuous treatment with corticosteroid therapy which included, among other things, pills called Theodur.
Alas, as with student athletes who use steroids for extended periods of time, those chemicals wreak havoc on the body. Despite many other medications intended to minimize the damage, over the course of the years they brought about a condition called "Cushing's Syndrome", and John's was a classic case, evidenced by premature aging, cataracts in both eyes (surgically corrected), removal of his gall bladder, aseptic necrosis in both hips (usually repaired by hip replacement), arthritis everywhere, and constant, unending pain.
The medications which allowed him to spend his last 20 years with us eventually took him from us in the form of pancreas failure. He endured and recovered from the same serious condition two years prior to his death, but this final time, his tired body simply could not recover, and ultimately pneumonia won. He died peacefully of respiratory failure.
John was hospitalized many times during our life together, and many of his illnesses were quite serious. After his recovery in 1987 from one such illness I was frightened to realize I might someday lose him. So, unable to say directly to him what was in my heart, I wrote this letter to John.
After John died, while looking for some handkerchiefs in his drawer (in the depths of grief, one uses a lot of those), I discovered this letter peeking out from under his neatly folded underwear. John did not normally save old letters, but I suspect he purposely saved this one for me in a place he knew I would find it, knowing full well it might help ease my profound grief someday.
At The Celebration Of The Life Of John Meroney, I prefaced my reading of this letter with the strong suggestion that if, at any time you have ever considered telling someone you love something like this ... do it NOW! Even if all you want to say is "I love you", say it NOW!
I'm glad I found a way to say these things:
October 7, 1987
Like the kid lurking within me, I just cried as I read a sad story about a man who was devastated by the loss of his dog. Once again I was reminded of the fragility of the world we live in and in fact, of ourselves, and that I have promised myself to write this note to you many times; yet, in my eternal procrastination, postponed it again and again.
While the things I say here seem serious and perhaps downright maudlin, I say these words with a level of joy I have never before experienced in my life. And you're the reason.
I love you.
How many time we've said that to each other, and I've never meant it more than now. You bring a level of completion to my life as no one has ever done before. I looked at you sleeping this evening and so much wanted to take you in my arms and hold you, yet I dared not wake you.
You are without question the most important continuing event in my life. While not joined at the hip, I feel joined to you at the soul.
There is an old (and teary) poem called "If You Should Go, And I Remain". I thought of finding a copy of it and giving it to you, because it says many of the things in my heart now. But, on second thought, I realized that it could not say them nearly as personally, nor as sincerely.
When you hurt, I hurt. Not because I want to, nor out of any sense of "sharing" your pain, but simply because I have no choice. You are so much a part of me.
We've discussed the short life span of pets, and we both know how much we will ache when Pywackett leaves us, as we know he someday must. Yet, as we also know, one of us must inexorably leave the other behind someday. And now, because I'm in the "full bloom" of health, and expect to live to be 80 (at least), I can say these things without a cloud of doom.
I thought when first beginning this letter that if one of us must leave the other behind, I would want to spare you the pain of my passing. Yet, on second thought, you would hurt just knowing the grief I would bear. So, in reality, only The Creator, in His wisdom, can plan our courses and their best conclusions. We both know that we are "survivors" and while never truly recovering from the loss of each other, we would go on.
Basically, what I'm trying to say, is that, if for some unexpected reason, one of us should be torn away, I just want you to know now, while we can both appreciate the meaning of these words, that I have never loved anyone as much as I do you, nor has anyone ever made me as happy and whole as you. If my life (heaven forbid) were to end tomorrow, I would go knowing that the days I've spent with you were as good as they get.
We both have many many years of joy together remaining. But lest I procrastinate too long, I hope I have somehow gotten across my gratitude to you for what you mean to me, and to God for bringing you to me. When you're not around, I'm not really all there. (Come to think of it, I'm often not "all there" anyway ...)
We will do this again, you and I. Perhaps many times over. For I really do believe in reincarnation. Perhaps we've known each other in past lives, but we certainly will in future ones. And I shall love you again, and even more. If the universe offers anything truly eternal, surely it must be my love for you, and as I know also, yours for me.
P.S. ... I just ran this through the spelling checker, and there wasn't one misspelled word. These words *must* be true!
With all my love