Yesterday, December 31, marked four months since Ellen’s death on August 31. It made me feel very low. I went skate skiing, which for those who have not tried it, is a difficult skill, which I have certainly not mastered, and is as intense a form of exercise as I know. I went for a long skate ski. And it had the desired effect. I slept deeply through the night, exhausted, until I was awakened by a woman’s voice calling to me, early this morning. I expected the dogs to start barking, but they did not; apparently only I heard what she said.
Today, New Year’s Day, marked a different anniversary.
On New Year’s Day of 2005, Ellen and I went skiing in a lovely place which was and remained quite special to us, quite private.Our wedding was set for late that afternoon at the home of our municipal judge, Peg Furey.
We went skiing in this lovely place, and had a deep and very loving conversation. Ellen had been single only a few hours. Her divorce was final at midnight on the last day of the year. She wanted to be independent, and free, and was not clear she wanted to get married again so soon.
We skied on through a beautiful day, and excellent snow, and talked, and talked. And I told her that I did not want to marry her until she was ready and truly wanted to marry me. I was ready to commit to her, and indeed had already made my commitment: I could not imagine life without her. But I did not want to have any kind of formal ceremony unless she was ready.
She thought. I thought. We enjoyed the beautiful day.
We talked of so many things, between intense bursts of exercise.
We stopped in an aspen grove.
“I want to marry you today,” she said.
“Right here. Right now.”
We held hands. We spoke words to each other. We were married.
It was nice to see our friends at the judge’s house later that day, and share our commitment with them. But we were married before we got there.
Today, with my friend Paul Duba, I returned to this very special place. He left me alone, and I had a chance to speak privately some words to Ellen. I hope there is some way that she heard them. They came from deep within.
I thanked her for giving me the greatest gift I have received in this life.
So as on that day, I skied down the mountain and returned to town.
I realize that Ellen will be with me every day, for the rest of my life. It will be in a different way. And the longing to see her, hold her, and hear her laugh will stay with me all of my days. And sometimes I will weep.
And other times I will smile.
And there is work to be done. Don’t forget that when it becomes possible, we will have a celebration of Ellen’s life. And she requested that this include the words of Benedetti:
Tus manos son mi caricia
mis acordes cotidianos
te quiero porque tus manos
trabajan por la justicia
We all have work to do, so long as the world is filled with injustice.
“I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”- Eugene V. Debs
Happy New Year.