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Laura and me, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

(In case you missed Part 1, here’s the link:

So when I arrived home from the whole “Army basic training suicide attempt” thing around 1990, you could tell I was different. You had patience with me before I left, for sure, but I was very lazy. I called in sick at least once a week, and went through jobs like people go through underwear.

But when I came back, things were different.

I remember once after returning home, I was raggin’ on myself, saying how I’d failed, but you said, “No baby, you didn’t fail. You gave it your best shot, but it wasn’t meant to be. The Army helped you, even if you don’t see it.”

“What do you mean?” I recall asking.

“Well, you’re different now. You’re more determined, I can see it in your eyes. I mean, you’re a grown adult working at McDonald’s, for crying out loud, but you never miss work, and have already been promoted from the grill to part-time maintenance. That’s amazing, babe!”

Who would root on a young father who was only a part-time fry cook and weekend “maintenance man” (more like “custodian”) at McDonald’s? YOU, that’s who. I grew brave from your bravery, and I fed off your enthusiasm, even when I wanted to die. God saved my soul, but you saved my life, baby.

Laura and me, surrounded by hundreds of pumpkins at Silver Dollar City, Branson MO. Picture taken by Jessica Cockrum.

You watched with great joy as I eventually got a warehouse job, and then moved up further and received a position as a locksmith’s apprentice. The starting pay was not quite what I was making when I left the warehouse, but the future was much brighter. Finally, things were happening.

Then, three years later, the floor collapsed from beneath my feet. My back went fully out, and I could barely walk, needing a wheelchair much of the time. I had my first back surgery.

I recall the day I thought I was just going for an MRI, but the doctor told me things looked so bad, I needed to have spinal surgery that day. Crazy. As always, however, you were right there by my side. I can remember going to sleep before they put me under, thinking I might wake up in Heaven, but figured as long as I had you, I’d be ok.

Afterwards I woke up, and began asking for you. Every time a doctor, nurse or aide would walk in I’d ask…

“Can I see my wife?” At last, they allowed you to come in. I remember how calming it was to see your face, and the next thing I knew, I woke up in another room, very dark and cold, not knowing what was happening.

Once more, I began asking everyone who walked in the room: “Can I see my wife?” I was much weaker, and my voice was hoarse. A nurse said, “Do you remember what happened, Robert?”

“No,” came my gravelly response.

“You had a seizure, hon,” the older nurse replied, a gentle smile on her face. “Your heart stopped for a short time, but thank the Lord, we got you back!”

This was almost too much; I DIED? Again I asked, “Can I see my wife?” They finally let you in, and you told me what happened. Interestingly, I guess this scared you so bad, you still, to this day, refuse to talk about it.

Kids and grandkids (minus Davey, Trey and Maria’s son, who wasn’t yet born). BACK ROW (left to right): Josh, Jessica, Maria and Trey. FRONT ROW (l to r): me, Joshy, Laura and Jenna). Picture taken by Bob Weddle.

“Your whole body arched up off the bed,” you began explaining, tears coming easy, crawling down your cheeks. “Your back was about a foot or so off the bed, your teeth clenched together, and you made this terrible, terrible noise. It didn’t even sound human, like a demon or something.”

You stopped talking for a minute, and I clasped your hand. “You flat-lined, babe, and I ran to the door and screamed to anyone who was listening…”

“We need help in here NOW!!”

“There was an announcement about a ‘code blue,’ and it looked like people just came out of the walls. It was so scary.”

I can’t imagine living through that, but somehow, like everything else, it never robbed you of your joy.

Laura and me, on the floor talking to our newest grandchild, Davey. Picture taken by Maria Weddle.

THAT’S what people take away from you: joy and laughter. I wish I had those gifts, but even working your way through adversity, even when attacked and insulted for no reason, you never lose your joy. This is amazing, babe.

Here’s what’s more amazing: you STILL get that huge smile on your face when you see me. When I pick you up from work, there’s your gorgeous smile. You’ve never lost it. All my chronic pain, depression and despair have never faded your smile, and thank God for it.

Through career changes and two college degrees, you’ve held me up, supported me. When I was studying for my Bachelor’s Degree, and people would ask, “When are YOU going back to college?” you were never dismayed. “It’s Rob’s time now,” you’d say. “My time will come.” Then the questions came more often as I worked on (and finally completed) my Master’s Degree.

“When’s your time?” they’d ask. You would just flash that huge, contagious grin, and say, “My time’s coming, don’t worry. This is Rob’s time now.”

And finally it has. What a great student you are! I’m so proud of you. Very few people in their 50s who have established careers would bother going back to college, but you’re so strong, somehow you keep up with an extremely demanding job and still remain an A-student.

Yes, you’re just that remarkable. We’ve loved each other through so much, like losing our granddaughter on July 13, 2021. Our precious Rosalee, who was “born sleeping” at 24 weeks gestation. We held her tiny body in our arms, cried like we never have before, and said “hello” and “goodbye” in the span of two hours.

Laura and me at the White House. Picture taken by Bella Hope.

Through all the hell my body has put us through, and despite all my emotionally dark times, you’ve never lost your gusto. You’re still the same tough girl who grew up with nothing on the streets of downtown Indianapolis. You have just as much grit and gusto as you have glee. You’ve never lost that smile, and I really don’t know how it’s possible, but the only thing I can figure is…

You are the strongest person I’ve ever known.

This month (October 2022) we celebrate 37 years together, and next May we shall celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary. You used to say, “I know you need someone beside you, so, God forbid, if something ever happens to me, I want you to find a special lady to share the rest of your life with. No guilt, babe.”

I accepted this, although I can’t talk about the possibility out loud; too frightening. I recall coming to you just last year, though, and telling you, “I’ve decided that, God forbid, if the Lord takes you home earlier than we expect, I’m not going to remarry. I don’t want anyone else. Ever. When we walk through the cemetery we see tombstones for people who outlived their spouses by 20 years or more, but never remarried. I’m beginning to understand why; once you have the best, nothing else compares. No, if you pass away, I won’t be remarrying. I’ll concentrate all my efforts on our kids and grandkids, but there can be no other, babe. There’s only you, and then eternity.”

You told me you felt the same way.

I love you, Laura Weddle. Even those three words, “I love you,” feel small, and lack the power of my feelings. As a writer, however, I cannot come up with the words to express my feelings for you. So once more, for perhaps (literally) the millionth time, I’ll say…

I love you.

Laura and me at the Lincoln Memorial
This entry was posted in Pain.

3 comments on “Laura…Mi Amor, Mi Vida (Part 2)

  1. So beautiful, Rob. I lost my husband of 43 years plus on the 23rd of September. I loved reading your words. Randy had many close calls and we’d had many rehearsals before the final curtain. He is gone, but our love lives on, forever.


    1. Rob Weddle says:

      I’m so sorry, Carol. I have no words, but please know you will be in our prayers.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you, Rob. Prayers are most welcome, always.


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