A Heavy Timepiece

Hyla Molander passes on a special Father’s Day gift, from one husband to another.

On Father’s Day, I hold the wristwatch—a stainless steel Bell & Ross—and notice the delayed clicks of the white second hand. My thumb moves in circular motions across the waterproof glass. I’m surprised by its weight.

Erik, my 29-year-old husband, pleaded with me for this expensive watch, but I said, “You know we can’t afford that right now.” We were saving money to buy our first house in over-priced Marin County, California.

“Hyla, he’s going to give it to me for one-third the cost.”

Oh, Erik. “Why do I have to be the one who has to say no?”

Erik put me in charge of our finances after he’d accepted that his impetuous spending habits weren’t helping us save. We were newly pregnant with our second daughter, and moving from one rental house to the next was getting old.

Erik bought the watch anyway. Then he had the nerve to justify his purchase by telling me he’d sold some computer equipment. Why did he need that watch? I wasn’t toting around designer purses. The fight blew over quickly, as most of our disagreements did, and the watch became a playful joke between us.

He liked to spend money. But nobody could deny that Erik was a phenomenal father. Every day, when he came home from work, he’d swing our daughter, Tatiana, into the air and say, “You are the reason for my existence.” During my pregnancies, not an evening passed when Erik didn’t rub almond butter all over my ripe belly. “Sexy curves,” he’d say.

He was an exceptional husband, always helping me with my writing, my photography business, and doing more housework and errands than I ever did. Anyway, isn’t marriage just an exercise in seeing the perfection in each other’s imperfections?

Erik wore that watch when he ran, when he showered, and when he lugged computers around at work.

And, when he was only 29, my beloved Erik was still wearing that watch when Tatiana and I heard him take his last breath.

Heart attack.

♦♦♦

The funeral passed, then Keira’s birth, and through layers of grief, I sobbed from a place I didn’t know existed.

Eventually Evan came along. Evan—the handsome, Stanford MBA, Ironman athlete—didn’t run out the door when he met Keira and Tatiana for the first time. He didn’t flee. One month after we met, Evan rode his mountain bike up Mt. Tamalpais and asked Erik’s permission to care for me and the girls.

Evan has taken over for Erik, but Evan makes sure we talk about “Daddy Erik” every day. “If I died, I’d be incredibly bummed if you didn’t keep my memory alive,” Evan says.

Through Erik, we remember life in greater detail. We remember the butterflies that flew over our heads as Evan and I exchanged wedding vows, we remember the excitement in the courtroom when Evan legally adopted the girls, and we remember, each day, how blessed we are to now have four magnificent children.

On Father’s Day, I squish my lips against the black face of Erik’s watch, tuck it in to an ivory-lined box, and tape the folded turquoise wrapping paper along the sides.

Erik wants Evan to have his watch.

♦♦♦

Closing my eyes, I imagine what Erik would say, and I begin writing a letter from Erik to Evan, which finally reads:

“There are things I would have changed about my 29 years, and I know that you and Hyla will have your own bumps along the road. I also know there will be times that you struggle to navigate the path of raising girls. There is no doubt in my mind that you will do a phenomenal job. That, you have already proven.

What I really want to say is thank you. Thank you for taking over—for wanting to take over. I chose you to take care of my girls, and my wife, because what I saw in you was the ability to be the most nurturing father and loving, supportive husband. You are one stellar man—anyone who knows you will vouch for that.

Evan, what I am about to give you, I am not sure you will even want to wear. It’s cool with me if you choose to leave it in a drawer, to pull out only on the occasion that you feel the desire to look at it, to be reminded that the time is now—the time is always now.

Happy Father’s Day, from one father to another. You deserve the greatest life. Don’t forget to take it. Take life. Breathe it all in.”

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Hyla Molander

Hyla Molander is a writer, photographer, mother of four, widow, and wife. Currently, Hyla spends the majority of her child-free hours writing her memoir, Drop Dead Life: A Pregnant Widow’s Heartfelt and often Comic Journey through Death, Birth, and Rebirth.

Comments

  1. I really like this site. Great uplifting writing. Thanks for the story!

  2. Hyla, as always this is a beautiful and touching glimpse into your world. I fall just a little bit in love with your life each time I read something you have written. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Tom Matlack says:

    Hyla thank you. What a powerful message of hope. For me what is always the most important question is what happens after the catastrophe, the unthinkable. You pack quite a punch into this short piece. I feel sure that both Erik and Evan are extraordinarily good men. And that, in the end, is what this whole project is all about.

  4. David Wise says:

    You are very fortunate, Hyla. It appears you found two soulmates right after each other. That’s an amazing story. Peace and light always

  5. suzanne says:

    Hyla ~ You always write with your heart. Happy FATHERS’ Day.

  6. Roger Durham says:

    Hyla. you have found a strong man in Evan. He will never replace Erik. but you know that. Two incredible men have come into your life. That doesn’t happen by accident. They both were attracted to something incredible in you. Here’e to you for being open to the possibility of Evan after the devastating loss of Erik. And thank you for the image of the watch. It is such a powerful symbol of time and trust and connection. I will think about you, your girls and Evan and Erik this Father’s Day.

  7. Thank you for sharing this incredible story.

  8. Chills, tears and finally hope. Your stories remind me to be present with life.

  9. Karen Lynch says:

    Hyla, this is so beautiful. You have lived through more pain and loss than any young woman should,yet you have experienced more love than most people experience in a lifetime. You have two angels in your life, one in this world and one in the next. Thank you for reminding us of what is important in life.

  10. What a heartbreaking and uplifting and beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] began to see the chivalry in Evan’s decision to keep that breathalyzer in his car. He knew that my 29-year-old husband’s death had left me with unbearable pain. Ignorant risks were not an [...]

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