Love letters to my dead wife
Mr Greene and his wife were a normal couple – a couple unfortunate enough not to bear a child for four years after marriage. The fifth-year of persistent trial and faith was the couple’s breakthrough year, Mrs Greene finally got pregnant of a girl child –just as Mr Green had wished. A day after the baby was born, Mr Greene was unable to separate himself from his baby. He spent over 2 hours just gazing into her crib as she slept peacefully. While gazing at his sleepy daughter, he caught sight of a very strange phenomenon: after the new-born opened her eyes, she looked straight up and her eyes kept moving from the ceiling to her dad’s face. With a smiling face, the father called her name, expecting her to turn her head and focus on him, but she didn’t. The kid acted as if her dad didn’t exist. This was strange to Mr Greene, so he picked up a little toy that was meant to produce sound when shaken and started vibrating it to have his baby’s attention – but her eyes still didn’t move. Mr Greene’s heart began to beat rapidly, he rushed to their bedroom and shouted: “Honey, she doesn’t seem to respond to noise at all and it’s as if she can’t hear.” The wife without a second thought replied: “I’m sure she’s all right“. They both went to the daughter’s crib and tried calling the baby’s name, jingling bells and clapping their hands but the baby didn’t respond. The wife picked up the baby, and she immediately clung on her, wiggling and cooing. “My God, she’s deaf” the father exclaimed. “No, she’s not, I mean, it’s too soon to say a thing like that. Look, she’s brand-new. Her eyes don’t even focus yet.” The mother tried explaining. “But there wasn’t the slightest movement, even when you clapped as hard as you could.” The dad kept on indicating. The atmosphere in the house changed from joy & laughter to fear & quasi-despair. The mother placed the baby back on her crib, went to their little library and took the baby book she had bought to read about what just happened. The book said “don’t be alarmed if your new-born fails to startle at loud noises or fails to orient toward the sound. The startle reflex and attention to sound often take some time to develop. Your paediatrician can test your child’s hearing neurologically.’ The wife looked at her husband and asked him if it made him feel better. “Not much,” the father replied. He added that “It doesn’t even mention the other possibility, that the baby is deaf. And all I know is that my baby doesn’t hear a thing. I’ve got the worst feeling about this. Maybe it’s because my grandfather was deaf. If that beautiful baby is deaf and it’s my fault, I’ll never forgive myself.” The wife was so confused at that point and insisted; “We’ll call the paediatrician first thing on Monday. In the meantime, cheer up. Here, hold the baby while I fix her blanket. It’s all pulled out.” The father held the baby but gave her back to his wife as soon as he could. All weekend he found himself unable to open his briefcase and prepare for next week’s work. He followed his wife around the house, ruminating about the baby’s hearing and about the way deafness would ruin her life. He imagined only the worst, no hearing, no development of language, his beautiful girl was going to be cut off from the social world and locked in soundless isolation.
Mrs Greene on her part spent the weekend doing her exercises, reading, and trying to calm her husband. By Sunday the dad was sunk in despair and frustration. That Monday morning, the paediatrician’s tests were reassuring, but the father’s spirit remained low. However, just a week later, the baby showed her first response to the noise produced by a passing truck. And it is at that point that the dad recovered and began enjoying his new daughter again.
If you followed the couple closely, you will realise that Mr Green and his wife have two different ways of looking at the world. Mrs Greene always described her husband as someone whom: “whenever something bad happens to him like a tax audit, a marital squabble or even a frown from his employer, he will project only the worst outcomes like bankruptcy, jail, divorce and dismissal. He is prone to depression; he has long bouts of listlessness and his health suffers”
Mr Green on his part described her as: “someone who sees bad events in their least threatening light. To her, they are temporary and surmountable, challenges to be overcome. After a reversal, she comes back quickly, soon regaining her energy. Her health is excellent”.
In short, she is an optimist and he is a pessimist. And that is what made their relationship beautiful, envious and worth copying. They both complimented each other. Several years later Mrs Greene passed away, leaving Mr Greene alone with a daughter to raise and fears to overcome.
Have you ever wondered what will become of such a man when his wife dies? What happens when the love of your life dies? Should love end after death? What do widowers do when their spouses pass away? Some of them communicate with their death partners.
Richard Feynman’s love letter to his wife 22 months after her death
October 17, 1946
I adore you, sweetheart.
I know how much you like to hear that — but I don’t only write it because you like it — I write it because it makes me warm all over inside to write it to you.
It is such a terribly long time since I last wrote to you — almost two years but I know you’ll excuse me because you understand how I am, stubborn and realistic; and I thought there was no sense to writing.
But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing, and that I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you. I want to love you. I always will love you.
I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that. What should we do? We started to learn to make clothes together — or learn Chinese — or getting a movie projector. Can I do something now? No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures.
When you were sick you worried because you could not give me something that you wanted to and thought I needed. You needn’t have worried. Just as I told you then there was no real need because I loved you in so many ways so much. And now it is clearly even more true — you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else — but I want you to stand there. You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive.
I know you will assure me that I am foolish and that you want me to have full happiness and don’t want to be in my way. I’ll bet you are surprised that I don’t even have a girlfriend (except you, sweetheart) after two years. But you can’t help it, darling, nor can I — I don’t understand it, for I have met many girls and very nice ones and I don’t want to remain alone — but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real.
My darling wife, I do adore you.
I love my wife. My wife is dead.
PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.
I’m sure all of you reading should know the legendary physicist Richard Feynman, who simplified learning. Strauss while writing Feynman’s biography had a paragraph that he ended up not using, that said:
“Richard and Arline were soul mates. They were not clones of each other, but symbiotic opposites – each completed the other. Arline admired Richard’s obvious scientific brilliance, and Richard clearly adored the fact that she loved and understood things he could barely appreciate at the time. But what they shared, most of all, was a love of life and a spirit of adventure”.
There are more of these letters in Feynman’s biography: Perfectly Reasonable Deviations.
1 out of John Wooden’s 300 love letters written to his wife 25 years after her death.
Once I was afraid of dying.
Terrified of ever-lying
Petrified of leaving family, home and friends
Thoughts of absence from my dear ones,
Drew a melancholy tear once.
And a lonely, dreaded fear of when life ends
But those days are long behind me;
Fear of leaving does not bind me
And departure does not host a single care.
Peace does comfort as I ponder,
A reunion in the yonder
With my dearest who is waiting for me there.
John Wooden to my darling
Nellie Riley, the love of my life…
John Wooden is one of the greatest basketball coaches ever and also one of the most admired. Everyone noticed the void his wife’s (Nellie) death created to his life. She was the only woman he ever dated and later married. After her death, Wooden wrote her love letters on the 21st of every month to mark her death, in the world but life in his heart.
An extract from CS Lewis’ book on his life after his wife’s death
“Life without H is so completed. What does it matter now whether my cheek is rough or smooth? They say an unhappy man wants distractions—something to take him out of himself. Only as a dog-tired man wants an extra blanket on a cold night; he’d rather lie there shivering than get up and find one. It’s easy to see why the lonely become untidy, finally, dirty and disgusting.”
Meanwhile, where is God? When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double-bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘so this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’
After CS Lewis’ wife passed away, he wrote a book titled A Grief Observed, explaining the frustrations her death had brought to his life. Lewis is one of the greatest Christian evangelists of all times and the author of amazing stories and books like The Chronicles of Narnia, Pilgrims Progress and The case for Christ. Reading: A Grief Observed will give you an alternative view to grief – especially grief from the loss of a loved one.
Many who once were deeply in love with their partners until they passed away find it so hard to accept their departure from earth. I once spoke to a widower, who described the loss of his wife as a complete loss of memory. After 10 years of marriage, he believed that she had a perfect memory of who he was as a person. He was like a book she had studied, she had garnered a lot of information on his darkest, joyful and moments of indifference. She was a memory holder and her passing away was the loss of a part of his life that he could never recover, a part he wasn’t prepared to abandon or replace. While the world considered him delusional, I saw in him a form of enlightenment that normal individuals lacked.
What do lovers do when their spouses pass away? Many do crazy things, but few do things that are amazing – so amazing that one’s prompt reaction is to share. Just like I did.
A note from the writer:
This marks the end of my exploration into the broken norms of love relationships. I have probably written half-a-dozen pieces on love this 2019, exploring some myths, ideas, beliefs and lack thereof. The goal sometimes was to see what works, against what doesn’t and to question popular assumptions on love. I hope you had a treat. If you want the Untold to write more of such articles, please make sure you drop your comment, on the comment section below.
If you are new and interested in my previous articles, please leave a comment and I will personally send you the links all of them.
As always thanks for taking out the time to read.
Leslie Micheal Ace.