Tag Archives: The Godfather

Speak Softly, Love…Again

“And can it be that in a world so full and busy the loss of one creature makes a void so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up!” (Charles Dickens, 1812-1870)

He was only in my life for a little over a decade. Ten short years. But we lived forever in that short time. Our anniversary is coming up; at this time of year, I always go back to the words I wrote two years ago, on the first anniversary I spent without Kevin:

Kevin liked to say he waited a long time to get married because it takes a while to find a girl who will let him have The Godfather at the wedding.

I was that girl.

I sang Speak Softly, Love for him as we lit the unity candle. He never knew there were words to the love theme of The Godfather. But there are and I found them and it was my gift to him that day.

Speak softly, love, so no one hears us but the sky
The vows of love we make will live until we die
My life is yours and all because
You came into my world with love, so softly, love

We were so happy. So in love. The formality of the ceremony couldn’t keep us apart. We laughed and talked quietly and entwined fingers and arms at every chance because we couldn’t bear the inches that separated us on a day that joined us forever. The music swirled around us, the lyrics lingering as the minister prayed for health and happiness and long years together.

____________________________________________________

The doctor stopped me in the hospital hallway on New Year’s Eve and the soft-colored walls and carpeted floors couldn’t mute the sound of his words because I still heard the fragments: “counting time in months” and “less than a year” and “I’m so sorry.” When we were finally home and watching the ball drop in Times Square, I dropped to my knees and cried in my husband’s arms and he promised me that he wouldn’t die. Not this year.

Two weeks later, we sat in the social worker’s office at the cancer center and listened to her explain disability and Social Security and forms and deadlines and then a question about our anniversary, except she didn’t come right out and say it because when you’re dying, no one reminds you that death sits silent in the room with you. And I must’ve startled because Kevin reached out for my hand and squeezed my fingers and he reassured me, “Of course I’ll still be here for our anniversary.”

So we got back to living and I circled the date on our new desk calendar, with the oversize boxes to mark the busy-ness of life. I marked it Anniversary #10, the letters inking his promise to be here. It’s on the calendar — in ink — so it has to happen. He will be here and we will wake up with kisses and “I love you” and the sickness won’t scare us because we’re together, for better or worse.

‘Til death do us part.

We were married just less than ten years.

I cried when I ripped away July and the empty expanse of August stared up at me, with only the reminder of our anniversary marking the page. The boxes quickly filled with appointments, life moving me closer to the day that I can’t celebrate this year. I should be shopping for a tin anniversary gift to give him, and teasing Kevin for his appallingly bad attempt at pronouncing “aluminium” with a British accent, even as I search eBay and Etsy for a pendant necklace that fit this anniversary’s gifting criteria. There should be a chocolate pie in the refrigerator and bags packed for a weekend away with our daughter.

Instead, I’m feeling numb, worn out from the dream that haunted my sleep last week. I dreamed Kevin came back, wrapped me in his arms and gently chided my disbelief: “Of course I came back, baby doll. Did you think I’d miss our tenth anniversary?”

___________________________________________________

I watched our wedding video earlier this week because I think it will hurt too much on our anniversary. I smiled at my nieces and their toddler antics as they tossed flowers along the aisle. I laughed out loud as I watched myself turn to Kevin and say, “Look at me” and he mouthed back, “I can’t” because he was fighting emotion and trying to compose the tears of happiness bright on his cheeks; and I pulled him closer and our heads touched as I discreetly handed him my great-grandmother’s handkerchief, the “something old” I had wrapped around my bouquet. I cried as I watched us promise everything to each other and dance up the aisle with stupidly happy smiles, love spilling everywhere.

And through my tears, I heard echoes of Don Corleone:

“Well, there wasn’t enough time. There just wasn’t enough time.”

We did not have enough time, Kevin, but death cannot stop my love. I love you. Happy Anniversary.

I found him whom my soul loves. Song of Songs 3:4

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Speak Softly, Love…Still

I wrote this last year, on the eve of our tenth anniversary. Another year, another anniversary without the one I love…the words are still true.

Kevin liked to say he waited a long time to get married because it takes a while to find a girl who will let him have The Godfather at the wedding.

I was that girl.

I sang Speak Softly, Love for him as we lit the unity candle. He never knew there were words to the love theme of The Godfather. But there are and I found them and it was my gift to him that day.

Speak softly, love, so no one hears us but the sky
The vows of love we make will live until we die
My life is yours and all because
You came into my world with love, so softly, love

We were so happy. So in love. The formality of the ceremony couldn’t keep us apart. We laughed and talked quietly and entwined fingers and arms at every chance because we couldn’t bear the inches that separated us on a day that joined us forever. The music swirled around us, the lyrics lingering as the minister prayed for health and happiness and long years together.

____________________________________________________

The doctor stopped me in the hospital hallway on New Year’s Eve and the soft-colored walls and carpeted floors couldn’t mute the sound of his words because I still heard the fragments: “counting time in months” and “less than a year” and “I’m so sorry.” When we were finally home and watching the ball drop in Times Square, I dropped to my knees and cried in my husband’s arms and he promised me that he wouldn’t die. Not this year.

Two weeks later, we sat in the social worker’s office at the cancer center and listened to her explain disability and Social Security and forms and deadlines and then a question about our anniversary, except she didn’t come right out and say it because when you’re dying, no one reminds you that death sits silent in the room with you. And I must’ve startled because Kevin reached out for my hand and squeezed my fingers and he reassured me, “Of course I’ll still be here for our anniversary.”

So we got back to living and I circled the date on our new desk calendar, with the oversize boxes to mark the busy-ness of life. I marked it Anniversary #10, the letters inking his promise to be here. It’s on the calendar — in ink — so it has to happen. He will be here and we will wake up with kisses and “I love you” and the sickness won’t scare us because we’re together, for better or worse.

‘Til death do us part.

We were married just less than ten years.

I cried when I ripped away July and the empty expanse of August stared up at me, with only the reminder of our anniversary marking the page. The boxes quickly filled with appointments, life moving me closer to the day that I can’t celebrate this year. I should be shopping for a tin anniversary gift to give him, and teasing Kevin for his appallingly bad attempt at pronouncing “aluminium” with a British accent, even as I search eBay and Etsy for a pendant necklace that fit this anniversary’s gifting criteria. There should be a chocolate pie in the refrigerator and bags packed for a weekend away with our daughter.

Instead, I’m feeling numb, worn out from the dream that haunted my sleep last week. I dreamed Kevin came back, wrapped me in his arms and gently chided my disbelief: “Of course I came back, baby doll. Did you think I’d miss our tenth anniversary?”

___________________________________________________

I watched our wedding video earlier this week because I think it will hurt too much on our anniversary. I smiled at my nieces and their toddler antics as they tossed flowers along the aisle. I laughed out loud as I watched myself turn to Kevin and say, “Look at me” and he mouthed back, “I can’t” because he was fighting emotion and trying to compose the tears of happiness bright on his cheeks; and I pulled him closer and our heads touched as I discreetly handed him my great-grandmother’s handkerchief, the “something old” I had wrapped around my bouquet. I cried as I watched us promise everything to each other and dance up the aisle with stupidly happy smiles, love spilling everywhere.

And through my tears, I heard echoes of Don Corleone:

“Well, there wasn’t enough time. There just wasn’t enough time.”

We did not have enough time, Kevin, but death cannot stop my love. I love you. Happy Anniversary.

I found him whom my soul loves. Song of Songs 3:4

Not “Doing Better”…Just Doing the Best I Can

I wasn’t sure how to take the words offered in our casual conversation.

“You’re doing a lot better than she did.”

The man compared my widowhood to that of his mother’s, many years ago. A different time, a different place, a different woman.

It was awkward; I didn’t know how to respond. Although it’s something I’ve thought a lot about lately, the truth is, I’m probably not doing any better than she did, or any better than any other woman struggling with being alone in a life she never wanted. I might appear okay, in small doses, in brief visits, but I still wake up every morning and stare at a photo of Kevin on my nightstand and wonder if I’ll ever wake up from this horribly bad dream. I feel stuck, in between my life with him that I loved and the life that I’ll have to live without him, the one I’m not sure about. I’m managing our household, carrying on with life and raising our Little Bear, but it’s not easy. I have good days and bad days, and at this point, there are more good days between the really bad days. But I still miss him every single day; that hasn’t changed.

I’ve been thinking about my grief journey because it occurred to me this week that I started this blog a year ago. Kevin had only been gone three months at the time and I started writing because I needed to talk about him. I was full of words and sadness and I struggled living in a world where Kevin wasn’t beside me talking and joking and keeping an eye out for Godfather references. I struggled with my grief, and with the enormity of realizing I had to keep going on without him, because we had a beautiful little girl who needed me. She didn’t quite understand why I was so sad, why living was so hard for me. She’s a wonderfully sensitive, wise-beyond-her-years little girl, but she’s young and it’s hard for her to understand how her Daddy’s death will always be part of our lives now. So I wrote, mostly for therapy, because I couldn’t keep it in, I couldn’t keep stuffing it down, and I couldn’t dump it on a kid. I wrote because I wanted a place for her to read about our journey. I wanted to tell her all the stories about her Daddy, to keep him alive in our hearts. She needed me to show her — I needed to show myself — that even at its hardest, saddest, most desperate times, life curves toward joy. Always.

Grief is hard. Still. Especially on days when it seems like Kevin has been forgotten, when it seems like I’m the only one who misses him, when it seems like the world doesn’t remember he existed. I have to dig extra hard to find any bit of joy on those days. But it’s always there – especially when I find my mini-Kev, hug her close and watch a smile spread across her face, eyes lit up with the same sly blue sparkle I saw in her Daddy.

Am I doing better?

I don’t know. I guess. Grief isn’t a series of boxes that I tick off until I’m finished, and the experience is over. Grief is more complicated than that. It’s one step forward and ten steps back a lot of days. It’s never over. It’s always with me, sometimes as quiet as the silent tear that traces my face and sometimes so crashingly loud I have to hide my face in a pillow and scream at the waves of sadness that threaten to drown me. Sometimes grief is laughing and crying at the same time because my girl is doing something so Kevin-ish that I’m a crazy mix of happy at the life we’re still living, but so sad that he’s not here to share it with us.

I am doing the best I can.

I’m doing it with each person who stops by this blog and reads just a bit and maybe leaves with a new thought about grief and life. I’m doing it with friends who keep coming by to visit and draw me out into this beautiful world. I’m doing it with God, who is keeping me afloat with His love and promises. And I’m doing it with my girl. Like me, she has lots of good days and some bad days, but I am always right there with her; I know I’m doing that part better, at least. We’re doing this together. I am by her side, with her no matter what. We are keeping on together, the best we can.


This is a song that was featured in Disney’s “Bears” that opened in April for Earth Day. I made my Little Bear sit through the credits so I could hear the words. It’s become a song I find myself humming on hard days:
No one said this would ever be easy, my love
But I will be by your side when the impossible rises up
We will travel this life well worn
No matter the cost, no matter how long
We will leave our footprints behind
And carry on

That’s Amore

Pizza.

Probably Kevin’s favorite food ever. He enjoyed telling the story of how he loved Pizzaria Uno’s pie so much until one day I said, “You know I can make that, don’t you?” And he didn’t believe me, but I did it. I mastered a deep dish pepperoni pizza that brought tears to his eyes, and the next time he ate at Uno’s, he didn’t even finish the pie because mine was better.

Sometimes when I really miss him, I go to the kitchen and make pizza dough. I don’t even need the recipe anymore; it’s imprinted in my brain just as surely as Kevin is imprinted in my heart. Handling the warm, soft dough is comforting; I feel like everything will be all right – even if just for a minute. In that moment, it is entirely possible that he will walk through the kitchen, see me making pizza, and start booming out, totally off-key, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!” In that moment, smiling at the memory transcends the grieving.

When my nephew got married recently, I knew exactly what I wanted to give him and his bride. A box of Penzeys spices – the ones I used to make homemade pizza – and my recipe for a deep dish pepperoni pie. My nephew’s eaten quite a few of my pizzas over the years, and I wanted to give them something, as they started their life together, that brought so much happiness to the life I shared with Kevin, something that had a special meaning that would linger long after the spices had been used up.

He called me today to verify a point in the recipe and a couple of hours later, his wife texted me a photo of an absolutely delicious looking deep dish pizza. Bubbling cheese, rich red sauce, golden crust – I could imagine the pungent aroma of garlic wafting through the air. I showed my daughter and she said, “Pizza! Mmmm…that looks good!” Daddy’s girl, that one.

I texted back that the pizza looked great and I was so happy to share with them something that had been at the heart of our home.

Her reply made my heart ache, even as my mouth turned up in a smile. “Yeah, he said Kevin loved it. It even brought tears to his eyes thinking about eating deep dish and watching the Godfather.”

My girl worries sometimes that people will forget her Daddy. I do, too. But I think she’s starting to realize, as I have, that as long as pizza is around, there will always be someone who takes a bite of a particularly good pie and thinks about Kevin. The two are inextricably linked.

Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling
Ting-a-ling-a-ling and you’ll sing, “Vita bella”

Memories of Kevin and delicious pizza? Beautiful life, indeed.

The Song

About a month after Kevin and I started dating, he and his family took a vacation, a cruise to the Caribbean. I can’t say either of us was overjoyed at the thought of more than a week apart, but we emailed daily. Even though we had worked together for almost two years, and had cubicles less than six feet apart, there were still things we didn’t know about each other and this was a great chance to kind of catch up and fill in the blanks.

With Christmas coming, one of the questions I emailed him was this: “What’s your favorite Christmas song?” I laughed when I got his answer back, because, as I’d come to expect (and love), there was a Godfather connection. There’s a scene where Michael and Kay are shopping and Bing Crosby croons “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” in the background. So, obviously, that became Kev’s favorite holiday song.

We started a tradition that year, our first Christmas together, buying a new Christmas CD. As a joke, I got him The Chipmunks Christmas album and, wouldn’t you know…his favorite song was on it. We added to our collection each year and, more often than not, that song showed up on the track list.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
Our troubles will be out of sight

It’s funny how many Christmases we sang along to those lyrics, even in the middle of difficult circumstances. Right after we married, Kevin’s job was eliminated, so that Christmas was kind of hard. By the next year, he was working again, but infertility hounded us when we so desperately wanted to start a family. When our little Bear finally arrived, our hearts were light and we were thrilled and sure that everything was turning around. And it was good for a couple of years, until Kev was diagnosed with colon cancer.

We sang the song with special fervor that year, praying with every sweet note that the lyrics would come true:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yuletide gay,
From now on,
Our troubles will be miles away.

Chemotherapy kept the troubles at bay, sometimes, but we could never get out from under cancer’s shadow. Some years, he had chemo during Christmas; others, we were fortunate to have a break. Either way, we squeezed every bit of joy from the season of miracles, watching our Bear marvel at the tree and the lights and the nativity and Santa, watching her sparkle every bit as brightly as the decorations. And sometimes, just for a bit, it did seem like our troubles were miles away.

Right after Halloween this year, she asked if we could play her Dora Christmas CD in the truck. I agreed, so we started rockin’ around the Christmas tree pretty early this year, but we needed it and it was good. As November wore on, I added more holiday music to the playlist. And that’s when it happened.

The song.

I heard the opening notes and I froze, hands on the steering wheel, driving down the street, drowning in grief as the music flowed over me. My lips moved, silently singing the words, and tears tracked down my face.

“What’s wrong, Mama?” Her concerned voice floated from the back seat. But I couldn’t answer because my mind was pulling out so many memories, all jumbled together, overwhelming me. So many Christmases, so many years singing this song. So many versions, but all of them beautiful and haunting, lovely to listen to as we drove the dark snowy streets searching for holiday lights.

Here we are, as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

And now. Now he’s gone, but the song’s still here and the lyrics, always so melancholy, are too much this year. I want so badly for all our troubles to be miles away, to be gone – for Kevin to be back with us, gathered near to me, healthy and smiling, secretly loving that The Godfather got all entwined in our holiday.

And I can’t explain to Bear how I’m sad and happy at the same time. That grief doesn’t come and go, but it mixes itself up with the happy and the joy and the hope, and there’s no separating them, and that it’s impossibly possible to be crying and smiling and heartbroken and heart-filled at the same time. That the song will probably make me cry every single time this year, and that I can’t get away from it because it’s included on nearly every Christmas album we own, but that’s okay. I need to hear it, to sobbingly stumble through singing it, because it’s Daddy, little Bear, it’s your Daddy in those words and when I hear it, when I sing it, he’s here with me. It’s every beautiful, magical Christmas moment we shared and I need to feel the pain to feel the joy.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.