I’ve never been accused of being too quiet; neither was my better half. There was a running chatter whenever we were together. When we weren’t, constant phone calls (his more than mine) filled the spaces. Now, I seemed to have transformed into that little old lady who talks to herself. Yikes.
One is a pretty lonely number; I’d like to pick another, please. Once upon a time, there were three babies to take care of, run after, listen to and pick up after. There was a husband to talk to, cuddle, eat and sleep with. I even had a pet (okay, more than a few over the years)
And then there was none.
Being alone, means there’s no distraction from feeling the worst you’ve ever felt. It means seeing everything in glaring clarity. It amplifies every grief and fear. It can make you feel desolate in a crowd of people. Sometimes feelings of loss and loneliness can nearly eat you alive. Sylvia Plath once said “Widow. The words consumes itself”. Depressing, huh? Continue reading
Alone – sucks. I can’t speak for all the people who navigate that space so seamlessly every day. Some even choose that solo state (big kudos from me!) but it never would have been my first choice by a long shot. I fell or was thrown in that lake, kicking and screaming.
Most days I’m doing pretty okay, thank you. But then one thing, one little insignificant thing, can set off a really lovely pity party – minus the balloons and ice cream. In another lifetime, I wouldn’t even notice innocent gestures that I saw a hundred times. But like it or not (and I don’t) I’m in THIS life now, so everything takes on a different meaning. And things that grab your heart seem to be everywhere – even at a simple 5 year old T-ball game.
I was living in the moment, watching those earnest little people running bases full speed ahead, trying like heck to hit the ball off the tee hard enough to make it actually GO somewhere. When one of those kids is an irrepressible grandson, well, enough said. So I hung out near the dugout, getting a bird’s eye view of his swing (he’s got a great arm, by the way) until I got a glimpse of another view.
One of the family, also widowed, has a girlfriend now. Living on a ranch in the middle of nowhere USA, we are all glad for him. He’s a really sweet man who deserves caring companionship. (Don’t we all..) Anyway, as I glanced up, his hands were tenderly massaging the back of the woman’s neck as she stroked his arms. My first reaction? Eeee-ooo – family outing! But then I thought of my own back massager who I’ve missed like breath and air. I got it. Continue reading
“May I speak to your public relations partner?” Um, what? First call of the day and I wasn’t prepared for someone to ask for my husband. “What can I help you with?” I said. They told me they had an urgent need for an experienced PR Counsel to write press releases for trade journals.
In another time, a call like that would have been just the ticket. Anyone who has their own business totally gets it. We are ALWAYS doing new business and always glad for a new client. This one sounded like he was smack in the middle of my PR dude’s wheelhouse. Only one problem – HE’S no longer in the wheel house.
The unsuspecting prospective client had no idea. How could he know that the agency partnership — is missing a partner? Actually, for a second, I almost forgot myself (is that even possible?) I wanted to call that guy who had been a Senior VP and PR counsel. The one who was a natural newsman, had major recognizable clients in his PR portfolio, including The Miss Universe Pageant, and could write press releases in his sleep. But he can’t write them now…or ever again.
I write mean ad copy. I’ve done award-winning graphic design. But I can’t pitch a story to the media and I’m far too warm and fuzzy for a straight-forward, nothing but the facts press release. I always went by a mentor’s advice – ‘say yes — and figure it out later’ but I don’t have the energy right now. Even if I wanted to take a stab at it, I don’t bring my husband’s crazy backpack of experience to the table, his gift for making someone feel he was laser focused on them.
There was no new business today. I don’t much care. The ‘ship’ in partnership is adrift.
“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” Dr. Suess
You are not on a trip. You are not on a ship. You are not at work or having a quirk. You’re not with your hobby or alone in a lobby. You, my love, are nowhere.
When I really absorb that fact, it’s like the elevator doors opened and I am in freefall. I’d much rather live in lala land, thinking my other half is at Shoprite getting his chocolate ice cream. Instead, I have to literally catch myself from thinking that his car, which is no longer even in existence, will be pulling into the driveway.
Dr. Suess said ‘Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” Blech. The fact is, when I think about a funny story I want to relate about the grandboys or about a something that made me laugh, I can’t. Not much to smile about there. I will never see his face, or crack up at his crazy voices. I won’t pain for his lessened quality of life or be scared all the time about what’s coming next. And of course, I won’t be frightened that one day there will be a medical dead end to what the doctors were able to ‘fix’. But then, ‘dead end’ is just a really bad pun now, isn’t it?
I don’t like green eggs. Not even that crazy about ham. But the man I loved, the one who more than shared my weirdness, will always be part of who I am.
“To the world, you maybe me one person. To one person, you are the world. Dr. Seuss
We had a moment, just one moment
That will last beyond a dream, beyond a lifetime
We are the lucky ones
Some people never get to do all we got to do
Carole King, Now and forever
We loved music. Listening to it. Watching it. Even singing it in the car at the top of our lungs. We couldn’t get enough Broadway. In fact, one of our earliest dates was to Hairspray, where my then new boyfriend suitably impressed me as much with the front row seats he procured as a bird’s eye view of Harvey Fierstein.
I often teased this thoughtful, musical guy about his Rudy Vallee voice but I admit it was a good tenor. I could hear him singing shower show tunes – on the next floor! (He never knew I taped him, standing outside the bathroom, during full voice one day. I felt bad (as I laughed) at the time, but am so glad now I have yet another piece of him.) Continue reading
Hey, universe….your lessons are really getting old.
My stomach was whining for breakfast this week as I waited for a business colleague at the diner. I waited. I waited. And then (brilliant idea) I called her to see if she was running late. Ooops. I never checked that she got my confirmation email. She didn’t. And I had egg on my face I didn’t get to have for breakfast — which was my second meet-up that went awry this week.
Two nights before, I waited for a friend with the aroma of thin crust pizza filling my head. So, I dialed and found out that unfortunately, the date slipped through the cracks. It became instead a date with a sick grandson, hers not mine but totally understood. I ordered slices to go and headed home, annoyed at myself for not confirming BEFORE I left the house. Of course, hindsight comes easy as well as the realization that I broke my perfect record of never having been ‘stood up’. First (and second) time for everything.
Lesson learned: Don’t Assume. (You know what they say about THAT) Continue reading
They say a knight in shining armor is a man who never had his metal tested. I met a few of them; I even dated them. You know, the dudes whose metal suit was actually tin foil. That’s why I almost missed the knight whose armor had as many dings and tarnishes as his car bumper. He was the real deal. He fought his share of dragons, especially the most fearsome of all. And when you constantly battle the beast, even the most deepest of loves have emotional jousts. But then again, as I stood all those years beside my husband, he had way more than his ‘metal’ tested. His spirit, self-confidence, courage and self-esteem were tried way beyond what most people can tolerate. And each time, he got back on that horse (or green Nissan) to battle another day.
Today is this knight’s birthday.
He loved everything about medieval knights. He had a little room full of toy collectible Knights of Agincourt who hung around castles he painstakingly crafted. This was a guy who took supreme pleasure in sharing his love of those men in armor with our grandsons at Medieval Times for their 5th birthdays. I could never decide who loved the pageantry more – him or them. The last time we were there, we joked that we had to rest up before we took one the smallest of the teenies but that will never happen. Grandpa knight died barely 2 months later. Continue reading
Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.
The Wizard of Oz
Lions, tigers or bears, sooner or later, grief touches everyone. And when it does, nothing looks or feels the same, not even your simple nightly routine. You turn off the lights, lock the doors and head upstairs. Simple. Been there, done that more nights than I can count. It’s repeated nightly in every household around the globe. Yet these days, even simple routines — suck. Every nuance screams I’m in a different world now – a world of one. My life made a major detour to the flip side of Oz.
It’s hard not to remember, as I climb the stairs, not only how I found my husband lying there just months ago, but how this home once rang with voices. The only thing ringing now are my ears from the buzzing lack of sound. Like the train tracks I had to draw when I was learning perspective, endless nights just like this, stretch ahead of me. But, when you think about it, don’t most things come down to that – perspective. Continue reading
Nope, not the Hugh Grant comedy. Jill Smolowe’s book, Four Funerals and a Wedding, is pretty much anything but comedic. Her book chronicles not only her personal grief journey but how she coped and grew along the way. In one chapter she mentions how her therapist suggested that her grief began on the first day of her husband’s diagnosis. That struck me as pretty profound. Given that my husband’s diagnosis was levied 3 months before we were even married, I realized it would not be at all surprising that unconscious grief followed us through those years. Even as we lived and loved as fully as we possibly could, we grieved by inches.
How do you measure the knowledge, however much you stash it in the closet or ‘put on a happy face’, that many dreams just won’t come true? No, my mind never went in the direction of Charlie Brown’s Sally who said “She didn’t want to live and threw herself in front of a Zamboni”. It was just that gray leaden feeling, a sense that no matter what your plans, there would always be an expiration date that coexisted with the daily business of living. Where cancer lives, everything becomes more complicated and layered. All of life takes on a different hue. Continue reading