As I took my evening walk last night, the sun, tucking behind some clouds as it dropped into a crotch in the mountain range, shot out the sort of rays I've long associated with my late husband giving me a thumbs up or bit of needed encouragement. I know - it's just a common natural phenomenon, but I didn't remember seeing it much until after he died, and the first one came timed in a way I could only take as a sign that he was reaching out to me. But it really doesn't matter whether it is truly a communication from his spirit it or not. It is enough that it makes a connection that is helpful to me, and these many years later often makes me stop for a moment and think, just what did I do today that would have made him proud enough to want to give me that thumbs up?
Last night it got me thinking on other things, though. Had he survived the accident that took him, and any of the many other things that life might have thrown at him along the way, we'd be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary today. I wondered, where would we be and what would we be doing? We had never intended to stay in Wisconsin, where a job opportunity had taken us. We talked a lot about getting back to the Pacific Northwest or at least someplace mountainous, and he was always looking for something he could do at home, a small business venture, so he could retire early and we could move where we pleased. Would we have found the magic formula by now or still be in the upper Midwest? Would we have ended up in Colorado as we sometimes talked about, or back in Spokane where we went to college and enjoyed living once upon a time? I suppose we could have ended up right here where I am now, although it was never on our radar. I know I have thought so many times how much he would like it here for even more reasons than I do.
I also wondered if my creative path would have gone the same direction - not sure that it would have for a lot of reasons. But in the end, I know these sorts of what if speculations are fairly pointless. I know that getting where I am today is very much because of him, his confidence in me and his lingering influence. I know he would have preferred to still be along for the ride - I'd prefer that too. But since he's not, I do the best I can, keep him in my thoughts and am thankful for the time I had with him. And most of all, remember him especially on anniversaries like today. We had a good life together, and I'm still benefiting from it.