I am coming up on one year now since Becky passed away.
In the past ten months – with the help of Becky's mom – I have gone into all the closets and neatly folded all her clothes. I have packed them into boxes, over 100. My wife loved her clothes. Many encouraged me to have an estate sale because Becky's "things" where so valuable and one-of-a-kind. I rejected this idea because I didn't want to disrespect my wife. I knew she wouldn't have wanted bargain seekers pawing through her earthly possession, who at every turn are trying to get a better deal.
So, I gave all her earthly possessions to the Salvation Army. They promised me that .97 of every dollar sold would go to the Women's Shelter, and it did. Over $62,000 went to these abused and battered women who are trying to start over.
Becky's "boxes" that she kept in our 3-car garage were a different animal. Over 150 neatly packed and similar-sized boxes filled two garage stalls from floor to ceiling. I had never approached those boxes and was not sure what was in them.
So, a couple of months after Becky "left," I went to the garage, set up a table, and opened the first box. I did this for over a month until the last box, number 159, was emptied or repacked.
These boxes held many secrets that Becky had kept locked away for many years.
I knew that Becky's first husband, Bob Gisburne, who was killed in his airplane along with Becky's father, Charles Tegeler, was her first love. I knew this when Becky and I were married in 2009 and I supported this. Each April 3rd, on Becky and Bob's Anniversary, I gave her an Anniversary card. I talked about Bob often, and how she would see him again one day. (I just had no idea that day would come so soon.) He was her first love, and I was honored to be her second.
In those mysterious boxes, I found Bob's entire wardrobe and hundreds of pictures of the two of them in their early days. It was then that I learned Becky's first secret: Becky could not move on from that terrible tragedy and had kept all of Bob's "things" neatly packed away for the past 14 years.
The pictures showed me how the light in her eyes had changed after Bob and her dad had died so suddenly.
Her infectious smile and bright, joyful countenance had also changed. I looked carefully at all the pictures prior to Bob's death, and those following the accident, even before we had met. She looked different. She looked broken. Then, I looked at all our pictures together. All our wonderful times together as husband and wife. She was my best friend, and I was hers. But, it was not the same for her, and that's ok. How could it be?
Oh, she still smiled and still loved life, especially all the animals in her life, but she was not the same Becky as before the accident.
I had never seen any of those pictures and I wish I had while Becky was still here. Because, I would have then known the extent of her pain and could have tried to meet those hidden needs. She never fully recovered from losing her husband and father in September of 2003. Again, how could she?
Our relationship was, for me, true Heaven-on-earth. I have never been loved by anyone the way Becky loved me. I could have never deserved her love. I am not worthy.
I know she was happy our relationship. I know this from talking to her friends and family members. She was as happy as possible, given how badly she was broken in 2003.
My only goal in our marriage was to bring total joy to her and her life, knowing what she had already been through. I'm old-fashioned I guess, in that I believed I was here to protect her.
But, I failed.