The 17th anniversary of my husband’s passing was on my mind in the days leading up to it. Some years, it slipped by me without much notice. Other years, the day brought me to my knees and threatened to be the undoing of me. Grief is like that. This year, I saw it coming. Ticking and tocking it’s way ever closer.

How do I want to honor my late husband this year? This is the question I often ask myself. But this year, a dear friend had a different question for me.

“What’s one cherished moment you’d like to share with me about Gary,” she asked lovingly.

Images rippled past – of big and small moments. This one. No, that one. Which one? Which one? What cherished moment says it all…our wedding day? Our first date? The moment he got to one knee and asked to have all the rest of my days? Or quiet afternoon barbecues on the deck he built for us? The trip to San Diego to choose our forever pet, Roxy? A million moments between our first breath together and our last. Most good, many extraordinary, some the most difficult of all as chemo, then radiation, tore apart his body.

If you could have only one cherished moment as your single memory of your most beloved, what would it be?

I dig deep into the decade of time that was ours. I pick up one and toss it aside. No not this one, or that. Each one, beautiful moments – just not the moment. I travel back further and further toward the beginning of our time.

And, then, I pause. There it is. It’s the moment that, when recalled, makes my breath catch in my throat. It’s the first memory I’ve looked at today that brings tears as its companion. My most cherished moment of him was the first time he told me that he loved me. I close my eyes and recreate the scene. Moment by moment. I remember it all. What he was wearing. Where he was sitting. His eyes. His nervous boyish energy that rose up just before the words spilled from his lips. The way my heart filled in that moment. I remember it all.

To my dear, dear friend who took time today to stop and ask me this one most important question, thank you.

This moment is the foundation upon which Gary and I built our friendship, our marriage, and our life together. Gary’s love for me is what I rebuilt my life on…turning my loss into a mission to help others have the kind of extraordinary moments we shared…for ten years…and then, no more. Dearly beloved…yes, you were, and you are, and you always will be dearly beloved. Today and for all time. With every single breath.

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Tambre Leighn

Tambre Leighn is a published author, speaker, and outspoken patient/caregiver advocate. Her background as a professional athlete and her personal experience caregiving for her late husband along with her struggles with grief-related depression after being widowed inspired Tambre to become a coach. After years of coaching individual clients, she now provides consulting and training to healthcare organizations to improve the patient and caregiver experience. In her down time, she enjoys dancing Argentine Tango and writing.

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