When I first met Carmen almost 19 years ago, I thought to myself, wow that girl is pretty. She was stunningly beautiful. She was so pretty I thought to myself, don’t even think about it, you’ve got no chance. Little did I know, she was severely blinded by love (God’s handy work) and so she gave me a chance. To this day I’m not quite sure why she went out with me as I’m sure there were many guys after her. But I wasn’t going to complain or question it. As I got to know her better, I began to realize that she had the spunk, energy, uniqueness, and the personality to match her exterior appearance. In other words, I had hit The Jackpot. Inward beauty that matched her outer beauty. I had it all in one person. I realized looking at our wedding photos, that I became the guy that other people would say (including me), how in the world is she with him? Yes, I became that guy, the envy of the block and I was very proud of it. A friend recently asked me why my eyes looked so swollen in some of the pictures. He asked if I was crying that she said ‘yes’ to me. Probably. I could never get over how beautiful she was. At the same time she was so humble about it. Whenever I would tell her that, she would insinuate that I was insulting her and making fun of her. But I believe deep inside she enjoyed hearing it as much as I enjoyed telling her.
Carmen and I dated for about 6 years and married for 12 ½ years. As with any couple, we had a few rough patches in the beginning. In my immaturity I thought myself blameless in our struggles, but looking back now, we were both so young and naïve about how things worked in life. I just didn’t understand her enough in the beginning to help myself from fighting with her. However, I can say that each year was better than the prior as we really got to know each other. I don’t feel we really had to “work” on our marriage. It just came naturally for both of us because we enjoyed each other’s company so much. The arrival of our girls just made things that much more special for us. I loved the fact that she wanted to quit her job and stay home with our girls. Nothing gave her more joy than raising them, and nothing gave me more joy than watching her with our girls. If the feeling of the word perfection can be defined, it was what I felt every night when the girls were in bed and our house was at peace.
As with everything else, all good things must come to an end. Her stint with cancer ended on December 18, 2013. The second her pain ended as she breathed her last, mine began. People say words cannot describe the pain and they’re right. Words cannot describe it fully. However, as I thought about how I’m going to write this post to honor her and plainly because she wanted me to, I realized there is one word that comes close. That word is “half”. Everything feels like half now. Jokes are half as fun, sports are half as interesting, and the house feels half empty even though she was 1 of 5. The person that coined the term “better half” to describe their spouse probably lost theirs. Carmen was my (much) better half. I just hope time will be kind to me and my girls and accelerate the healing process.
Carmen and I were so appreciative of all those people that invested so much of their time, emotion, effort, and prayers especially in the final few weeks. She was so amazingly strong and fought ‘til the very end for me and the girls. I truly admired her strength, courage, and determination. She will be missed more than she will ever know.