Life Marches On

img_7658Well, at least it marches, ready or not, in the little room where my husband kept his marbles, planes and armies of toy soldiers and knights. When he left this world, he also left this entire room of collectible ‘stuff’ behind – and I have no earthly idea what to do with it! Many painstaking hours (and dollars) were spent collecting,  planning, gluing and building this little world into a mini- museum. We should have charged admission.

My kid-at-heart husband collected marbles, no, not just the simple cat-eye ones, although he had a hefty bowl of them. His taste ran to those hand-blown, kaleidescope of color ones that preened on little stands in glass cases. Looking at these sparkling orbs one day, I realized why gradually my happy place of Cape Cod grew on him. I remember how his eyes lit up when we went to the Sandwich Glass Factory and his mouse-eating grin as he left each time, marble in tow.

Planes were part of my man’s collecting gene, and, true to his discriminating (expensive) taste, not to those plastic jobs put together  with duco cement. These little flying machines were authentic scale models of WWI planes, including the infamous Red Baron. They have all since flown to another space — but that’s another blog post. Continue reading

Freeze the moment . . . yes, even this one.

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We are all only lent to this planet — and to the people who love us. We want to believe that we have a long lease, and some of us do, but even that time is relative. How long we are able to have the people we love and care for – is not our decision.

If that was true, my husband and I would still be singing in the car at the top of our lungs. I have a decent voice but my husband, the Irish tenor, was blessed with the singing prowess. Still, the memory of our naïve, wistful voices singing our hearts out can still bring me to tears. One of these songs, by Trisha Yearwood, encapsulates our story so very well:

If I would’ve known the way that this would end
If I would’ve read the last page first
If I would’ve had the strength to walk away
If I would’ve known how this would hurt

I would’ve loved you anyway

I’d do it all the same
Not a second I would change
Not a touch that I would trade
Had I known my heart would break
I’d have loved you anyway.

Would we choose to be all-in for someone, in all the dimensions love calls us to, if we knew our person would be stolen without even a whisper? Can we really say that foreseeing decimating heartbreak we’d still choose to ‘love anyway’ ? I’d like to say I never doubted it but in the deep of night, at the moments I feel most alone, I admit I’ve wondered. Would I do it all again, knowing what I know now? Continue reading

“You Are You. Now isn’t that pleasant.”

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Dr. Seuss always nails it.

You are YOU — just a wee bit different than you were ‘before’.  The first time you check  the “widow” status on a form, have to change your emergency contact or start to say ‘honey, I’m home’ and realized no one is there, you are a different you. And it sucks. But it’s life now. Whether it happened with no warning or after months of dread, the title ‘widow’ is as foreign as if you shucked your identity for the Witness Protection Program. You feel  like you woke up on another planet — without rocket re-entry to your old life. This is it.

My husband is gone almost 10 months. I should be used to the title but ‘widow’ still doesn’t compute. To totally absorb it, means I need to accept the basic fact that my husband died and is never coming back. Before you think I’ve lost it entirely, of course I know he’s gone. I know he’s not just on a business trip; he’s not on a road trip. I get it.  I’m the one who found him that fateful night.

Cancer perched on the sidelines of every facet of our lives for years. Often sneaky, even silent, sometimes we ‘almost’ forgot it was even there. There were more emergent battles to fight. Debilitating treatment side-effects that dogged him constantly that we both knew would never leave. But sometimes even the most upsetting can be business as usual when you’re immersed in the day to day and you almost forget the gorilla waiting to pounce.  Continue reading

I (almost) . . . left my heart in San Francisco.

13912510_10210190201178352_467848970915089957_nNo, I didn’t go on vacation. I didn’t fall in love. And I didn’t go to find anything I was looking for – the love of my life already left the building. But, what I almost lost in the city by the bay was precious and would have broken my heart – again.

The jaunt to California was actually a business trip for a travel client as background for a snazzy review I will need to write. While going anywhere that smacks of fun and enjoyment doesn’t quite feel right to recent widows, as they said in The Godfather (one of my all-time faves) ‘It’s not personal; it’s business’. So I sucked it up, and forced myself to go to the Golden State. (I know, it’s rough to be in sunny California but someone has to do it, right? lol) Ready or not, I was booked on a tour, packed for the trip and grabbed a dear, sweet friend, who was gracious enough to be my travel bud for some California dreamin’.

With the first stop San Francisco, I was hesitantly optimistic. Yes, I was somewhere I had never been before but compared to the traumatic uncharted territory of widowhood, this would be a piece of cake!  Ha! Said cake fell flat my first night in the city ‑ and I can’t help but think my guy had a hand in it. Continue reading

Keeping It…REAL

pakiet.na-zdrowie.3Newsflash – No matter how any of us try to be perfect – that’s not happening. Neither people – or marriages are born to be perfect. Sure, we may WANT perfect, the ideal — but  REAL is what we get.

Marriage is rarely a Hallmark movie or 24/7 euphoria. Instead, authentic marriage means sacrifice, issues, chores, schedules, love, irritation, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, anger, affection (not always in that order). It’s also idiocyncrasies, snoring, worries, richer and poorer. When critical illness and its side effects enters the mix, now that really transforms the playing field. One partner undergoes endless procedures/surgeries, diminished quality of life, anger, pain and fear. The other juggles worry, research, is the keeper of the medical records, and caretaker extraordinaire. That was our  marriage; that was our REAL.

I’ve poured my heart out these past months, writing about deep grief, and the missing of a husband I loved beyond words. It came to me recently, that the painting was incomplete. It was in black and white with pieces missing. While stark pen and ink art has always been my forte, when it comes to portraying a real picture of real marriage, black and white doesn’t cut it.  Grief outlined only in high contrast is pretty flawed and does a disservice to the flavors and colorations a real marriage holds. Continue reading

Ready or not . . .

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMzAAAAJDZmNGEwNDkwLTA0ZTYtNGFhZC1hNmI0LTc5MWM3Y2Q4MDcyOQ. . . . . . . you’re on your own.

Wait, what?  I really didn’t order that. Star-spangled freedom wasn’t on my wish list. Been there, done that. I know independence is a good thing– both for people and countries. Being able to stand on your own is an asset in every situation, whether you choose to walk solo or not. Brexit may be one of those times when that ability may be tested.

When I met my husband, I walked into coupleness with eyes wide open – and then some. Having been married before, I knew the difference between being controlled and being intimately connected. Having a base, feeling ultimately at home in a relationship, that’s a cool thing and what we strive for, right? Unfortunately, when my almost-fairytale ended a few months ago, there was no ‘happily ever after’ – at least none that my emotional binoculars can see right now.

My husband’s sudden death set me free into a life, an independence I hadn’t planned on or wished for. Unlike the independence we celebrate today, that kind of freedom doesn’t invite the Grucci brother’s famed fireworks. Nothing about being cut loose in a sink or swim ocean of grief calls for flag waving or bbqs. (I’ve never been a hot dog and beer girl anyway) While I celebrate the heck out of our United States today, sometimes freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if it’s the last thing you were looking for instead of what you were fighting for. Continue reading

Mystic Pizza

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Where ARE you? I find myself randomly asking this question, knowing of course that ‘Elvis has left the building’.  (No my husband’s name wasn’t Elvis) I keep a sharp eye out for anything I can construe as a ‘sign’ that his presence is nearby.  I get no answers.

Pennies? We used to find those suckers everywhere.  And like homing devices, they were promptly deposited in the grandkid piggy bank. Birds? My husband had a fondness for hawks. (just saying)  I never seem to see them when he did, but now they seem to be everywhere.  Does it mean he has a hand in that? Who knows. Some people say to keep talking to those who passed over because the dead want to keep the conversation going. Part of me says it’s hard to keep up a one-sided conversation but truth be told, my husband always had a lot to say. He was never at a loss for words.

It’s been said that those who’ve died are masters of energy, prone to fooling around with light and electricity. I haven’t seen much evidence of that except for those Christmas lights. Now that was a party trick! My little white lights were hung on the tree with care (a lot of care) and the night before Christmas, as I waited for my kids to arrive, one single row began blinking. I thought, great, how the heck am I going to find out which string that is? My next thought was – yikes! I saw clearly that it was one single string directly under the little framed picture of my prince charming, flanked by his initial ornament on one side and the little silver knight I had just bought in remembrance on the other.

The next morning, the lights were on – but not blinking. Coincidence? I think not.

But is that enough to convince me? Maybe not.  I remember that character on tv a few months ago who said he wouldn’t ‘belabor the point’.  I laughed out loud, I mean, who says that? Well, that husband of mine did. In fact, he used those words often — and effectively especially when he wanted to shut down a subject (or me lol).

When we want to connect so badly to the people we love, we’ll grab onto any thread we can and pray it’s a golden ring. Are those hawks a mystic sign or are they merely becoming as common a sight as the damn wild turkeys in my backyard. Maybe the float with Santa that blared “All I want for Christmas is You’ as they passed my daughter and I tearfully leaving a tree-lighting ceremony for those who died last year was a total coincidence.  Or was it?

It could be that the impulsive guy who was so perennially frustrated with his computer is now doing a bit of tech support for the heavenly Geek Squad.  Or just maybe that kooky man who was my ‘till death do you part’. . . is still talking.

 

Who is still talking to you?