I’m glad Michael wasn’t here for the death of Queen Elizabeth II. A rabid Anglophile, he loved and admired Her Majesty, making sure we caught all the latest documentaries on the Royal Family. And like most of us on planet earth, he adored Princess Diana, casting Camilla Parker Bowles as the arch-villain of the gilded soap opera Diana’s life became.
In the nearly three years since Michael died, there are a lot of things I’m glad he wasn’t around for. I’m relieved that he didn’t live through the plague that is COVID. I’m grateful that he didn’t experience the destruction of Roe v. Wade. I’m thankful that he isn’t around to see the possibility of our marriage becoming a relic.
Do I wish he was still here with me? Every day. What I’m saying is that I’m glad he’s been spared the pain.
Then there are the ordinary happenings I’d give anything to have him around for—the things he would’ve laughed at and the things he would have cried about. At least once a week, I glance over Marty while watching the latest episode of the binge-worthy Ted Lasso or taking the first bites of a meal at our favorite restaurant and say, “Michael would love this.”
Shortly after I arrived in Omaha, Marty bought me a gift membership to The Durham—a beautiful art deco masterpiece set in the heart of the city. After attending the museum’s haunting exhibit of blues chanteuse Billy Holiday, I checked my email daily for its latest offerings, hoping to find another must-see. A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a promotion for Dressing The Abbey.
The collection features 35 dazzling costumes from all six seasons of the landmark Downton Abbey, ITV’s historical soap opera tracing the lives of the aristocratic Crawleys and their servants from the days edging the First World War to the mid-1920s.
After a mouthwatering lunch at Blue & Fly Asian Kitchen, the three of us traveled across town to the city’s Old Market district and The Durham.
As Karla and I wound our way through the low-lit display, we marveled at the craftsmanship represented by each sparkling bead, the artistry in every panel of lace, and the minuscule waistlines of the actresses who wore these creations on screen.
We saw the sea foam afternoon frock Lady Mary wore to her sister Edith’s ill-fated wedding to Sir Anthony Strallan, the pristine black and white uniform of Anna Bates, and the moss green gown in which Lady Sybil took her last breath. But the much-pocketed mustard jacket, jodhpurs, and caramel-colored knee-high leather boots that Lady Edith wore when driving tractor for the farmer she fell in love with turned out to be our favorite.
We were discussing Lady Edith’s costumes and why they demonstrated her character’s journey to independence when I thought about how much Michael would have reveled in this experience, and it was suddenly bittersweet. But then I looked up to see Marty waiting patiently for me on a bench in the gallery next door and smiled because I realized that although he and I wouldn’t share the same experiences that Mike and I had, we would enjoy the discovery of new and different ones together. And that’s the way it should be.