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

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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

Flying Blind

Sixty-and-Me_How-to-Deal-with-Grief-740x416The night that changed everything — is still with me. No matter how I wish I could erase it, it’s part of me now. Less immediate, less traumatically intense these days; sometimes even in hiding but never too far away. As much as I want to securely seal every terrible moment behind bulletproof doors, I somehow also call them out.

Why? It certainly seems a bit masochistic not to work harder to erase what’s so devastating, right? Maybe I do it for the same reason we peel back a bandaid from a wound, telling ourselves we’ll just take a peek to see how it’s progressing. Right. We know that each time we peel it, pick at it, irritate it, it hurts all over again until a proper scar is permanent evidence of what happened.

Do I think that if I lose the throbbing pain of that night that I’d actually lose the vibrancy, the essence of the man himself? That I will not pay proper loving tribute to the history, the journey, or the ending of it all? Or could I really imagine that if the pictures in my head of his very last earthly night leave me —that he will too? That certainly sounds more than a little crazy, and I’m thinking a bit bizarre because even I know he gone. Continue reading

Four Funerals and a Wedding

Happy couple in their new home concept

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

good grief

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What the heck ever made Charlie Brown think those two words actually made sense together? I can’t imagine what could be remotely ‘good’ about anything that rips your heart apart.

Grief shreds complacency, can change your life in an instant and is one of the only stories that begin – at the end.

No matter how devastated you might be, there’s no escape key, no easy out. Your story ending starts a brand new chapter, one you never wanted to write. Yet, if you’re a write brain widow — you keep writing.

Maybe it’s because you’re crazy enough to think that words will somehow help you find an answer to the unthinkable. Or maybe, that thinking is as wacky as the words — Good Grief. But just in case I’m not alone trying to find the right words to survive this ‘dark and stormy night’, you can join me in my word journey  – beginning at the end.