About 10 years ago, John and I were talking about random stuff… lovers’ talk. The kinds of things one says when you’re having those completely giddy, head-over-heels feelings one gets at times when you’re so in love you can barely stand it. At least that’s what I thought this conversation was…
For some reason that I no longer remember the context of, John asked, “What if something happened to me and I disappeared for a long time and you thought I was dead? I don’t know what I’d do if I came back and found you were married to someone else.”
I responded that I couldn’t imagine that happening…that without seeing his body, I’d never believe he was dead.
He continued, “Well, what if it did? What if something happened to me? And if I came back and found that you’d thought I was dead and you had remarried, I would just walk away. I wouldn’t interfere.”
Trying to be practical about this conversation but also freaking out for some reason, my memory is that I very calmly responded, “Without seeing your dead body, I’d never believe you were gone. But if it did happen that way, then don’t you think it’s MY decision as to whether I would rather have you back? You would walk away, never knowing that I would give up any other man for you?” He said yes, he would. I demanded that he never, NEVER walk away without letting me know he really was alive after all. He did not make that promise.
That conversation is haunting me today. First, because of the realization over the past two months that John had probably had suicidal thoughts for a very long time. Second, because even seeing his dead body, and having his ashes sitting in our bedroom, I still can’t believe he’s dead.
And third, because if my disbelief in any form of afterlife is wrong and he really is out there watching over me and waiting for me (and there have been some signs that this could be the case), then how would I ever dare have even a casual fling?
Then again, John knows I’m not the casual fling type. I don’t like dating. I don’t like the scary, off-balance feeling of falling in love. I like the safety of being in a solid, for-the-rest- of-my-life kind of marriage.
I am a WIFE. I’m serious about being a wife. Even during my first marriage, which was extraordinarily challenging because the ex-husband and I were a pretty obvious mismatch, I took the role of wife very seriously. That’s who I am in a relationship. (Note: Despite this, I am not the needy type. I’m too independent for that… perhaps far too independent for most men.)
So the idea that I might fall in love and get married again seems rather far-fetched to me.
And if there’s any chance in this freaking random universe that John wouldn’t be out there waiting for me because I got remarried just to avoid being so gawdawful lonely… well, I’ve been damned pissed off at him today about this and letting him know it.
In case you were wondering… Yes, I’m the crazy lady in the silver Jeep parked in the grocery store lot yelling “Goddammit, John. There’s no way you’re going to pull this stunt on me…”
In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sep 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.
The Warrior Project is a warm, welcoming drop-in center for those living with extreme emotional and/or physical pain coupled with hopelessness, and a resource for families and friends fearing for the life of, or grieving the loss of, the person they love so much.
My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting physical pain and other demons no one else could see. I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the pain and the demons got the better of him.
The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those wounded after September 11, 20o1. Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.
Fair winds and following seas, Husband.