I still get a chill when I recall that horrible phone call on the morning of March 4, 1996. I had just returned from taking our 13-year-old daughter to school. “Jack’s on the floor in the back, there’s blood everywhere, and a note on the door said to call Sheriff Flemming,” came out in a hysterical rush from my husband’s head pharmacy clerk.
For years, I could recall in minute detail every thought, every conversation, from that day. During the first few months that followed, I’d wake up every morning repeating the same mantra. “Jack’s dead. Jack killed himself. No, not Jack.”
Through the years, a black cloud would envelop me during the month of February, as that infamous day approached. March became a heavy-hearted month for me, too, with the anniversaries of Jack’s death, our wedding and my father’s death all occurring during that same section of the calendar. Two years ago, however, the month became a cause of celebration when my second grandson was born on March 14th. (My first grandson was born on Jack's birthday in 2007.)
On the first anniversary of Jack’s untimely death (he was 56), I placed an ad in the local newspaper in Bibb County. That’s where he started the drug store that I continued to run until 2012. Allow me to quote from that memorial piece.
It’s hard to believe you’ve been gone a whole year. A lifetime has passed since we touched you or heard your voice. Or was it just yesterday?
We still don’t understand why you chose to leave us. Perhaps we never will. So we try to remember the way you lived, instead of dwelling on the way you died. You were a loving husband, a devoted father, a generous benefactor to people in need, a compassionate pharmacist and a loyal friend. You were one very special man.
We’ll never “get over” your death, but with God’s help, we’re learning to adjust, one day at a time. We still miss you terribly, and we’ll always love you. We take comfort in knowing that we’ll meet you again some day, and that you’ve finally found the rest you so desperately sought, and so richly deserve.
Reading those words makes me sad all over again. I don’t cry much about Jack anymore, but I think of him every day and sometimes those thoughts do produce a brief shower. At least, they don’t bring on the crushing torrent they used to.
Folks often ask me why I’ve never remarried. I have several quips that I alternate using, depending on the mood I’m in. But the fact is, when you’ve had the best, it’s hard to settle for second place.