How Will I Live Without You?

This favorite letter truly captures FOREVER LOVE…

My dearest friend,

canadian_geeseI remember walking with John on a cold Sunday afternoon in early January. When I look back, it was the year before he got sick. Twilight was setting in as the temperature started to drop. We were not cold because our walk had invigorated even our toes. Enjoying the fresh air as our old dog romped like a puppy in the white paradise, we started home.

As we approached the end of the road, lying there in a ditch was the body of a Canadian goose. Its feathers moved gently in the soft wind; there was nothing around it except fresh snow. Off in the distance, I saw a solitary goose stand gazing in our direction. We both stopped.

“I understand that geese mate for life,” I muttered in the deep stillness.

John wagged his head, standing next to me. “Yes, I have heard that too,” he answered. We both were sad, reaching for each other’s gloved hand.

In the next instant, I said, “We are so lucky. You have not had a recurrence this year. Isn’t it great that we do not have to worry about cancer anymore?”

John was quiet. “Oh, Mary, I never stop thinking about cancer,” he said quietly. I was surprised.

This story remains in my memory of special moments. I think back on that afternoon, when we were sharing our love story and comparing it to the parted geese. Even though they were not humans, they had an arrangement for life that now was interrupted. Little did I know that in less than one year, our lives would radically change too!

I think of all the songs written expressing the question, “How will I live without you?” Often movie themes build their plots around this dilemma. I guess the bottom line is people are curious. Think about all the couples who celebrate fifty, sixty and even seventy years of marriage together. A couple in our church recently announced their seventieth anniversary. Unbelievable, but true!

While John was sick, I did not really allow myself to think about this question. We were busy living. Dying was not part of our daily thoughts. Perhaps I was more unrealistic than I should have been. I guess when you second-guess yourself, lots of “could’ves” and “should’ves” cross your mind.

Yes, Eddie, as you and I know, life does go on. The sun always comes up in the morning and goes down at night. The moon rises and disappears, the birds sing, people go to work, and babies are born. Life does go on, even if you think yours has stopped. Though your husband’s heart no longer beats, yours does. Remember the old song “The Beat Goes On”? It will!

I believe the first year alone is literally a series of firsts accomplished through love, faith, and patience. At the end, going into the second year, life will be more realistic. You have proved that life is going on, sweetened by wonderful memories of your marriage. Any regrets will be less bitter as the days go by. My regret was that there was not enough time — we would never be married fifty years!

Therefore, my dearest friend, perhaps even though geese and people can mate for life, there are interruptions to this natural flow. It is up to the living to keep on living. In my first year, I lived for both John and me. Now, I live for myself, knowing one day in heaven, we will be together again. I am comforted by this promise of a God who loves us.

Always love,


About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

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