For Bob

Robert Daniel Hyde, April 11, 1960-March 14, 2023, Russellville High School Class of 1979

My children’s dad died yesterday. My ex-husband. I did not expect to feel these feelings.

I had not seen Robert–the more distant, formal name I called him after I left–since one Sunday 10 years ago when he pulled into my parents’ driveway and asked me to come outside. He wanted to make amends, apologizing for not being a good husband for all those years. I thanked him and told him it was a long time ago. I didn’t hear from him very often–didn’t think of him very often. He chose a different path, and part of me envies him for giving up trappings that didn’t mean anything to him so that he could move home. He and his mother took care of each other until she died. He loved his kids, and if they wanted to come see him, they could. But he was clear that his life was his own–take it or leave it. When they would see him, they did not describe their visits to me. So, I don’t know much about Robert’s life outside of that. I do not know yet how he died–whether he was alone at home or in a hospital. I know he was sick for a long time.

We were together for almost 20 years, married for the last 16 years of them. I have spent many years and a lot of therapy struggling with the feeling of being robbed of those years of my life by him–my youth, my college years, the promise of finding out all I could be. We were toxic as a couple; whatever the chemistry, the result was that he became more and more controlling, while I became more and more codependent. I was miserable, and no doubt he was, too. We got to that point that is the death knell of relationships. We didn’t fight because we were exhausted and didn’t care any more enough to fight. So we were done, and I remember the day in 2014 when I had been without him longer than we had been together. Today, I have been processing the complex feelings of sadness and–yes–loss I am feeling. I am sad for my children, of course, but was unprepared for how I felt for myself.

I doubt he will have a funeral, or a viewing, as we still have in the South. I don’t think he would want one. Truthfully, I don’t know who would go. My kids, his siblings, my parents, maybe someone from their church, and some Russellville people who remembered him from school. I don’t see his obituary in the local paper. And, since I got the news, I have had “Close to You” playing in a loop in my head.

“Close to You,” by the Carpenters brings back one of my earliest and fondest memories of Bob. It would have been around 1978, and we were both in the high school choir, the RHS Singers. I picture him with the other guys doing the dance routine, wearing those striped rayon shirts and white boater hats. I never hear the song without that memory, and it is nice. I think I loved him first and most because he was a good boy–not a good old boy, but a good boy, as we say in the South. One who loved his mama and grandmama and wasn’t always up to meanness. He wanted to be Band Captain, and he loved the RHS Marching 100. That’s the way I want to remember Bob–young, handsome, with a boyish face and easy smile. It’s funny the things I remember, like the shape of his feet and the way he looked when he played the trumpet.

Close To You, The Carpenters

Bob was a husband and father, son and brother, grandson, descendent of the first governor of Tennessee–and a Bama fan. I am glad that he lived, and for me, the world is emptier tonight. We shared children and nearly 50 years of history together. As time goes on, there are fewer and fewer people you can say that about. I feel like the part of me that shared those years is gone, too. And that is why I am writing this. I wanted to remember, wanted, needed, to give myself the time and place to summon memories–snapshots of Bob, happy and endearing. Not only that, it is also important to me that he is remembered. I want him to be mourned. He will be by his family, but that is not what I mean. This night, it is important to me that in this vast universe, a man is remembered–that he lived–and marched and sang and played and laughed–that he was. Rest in peace, Bob.

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