The American Chestnut is a large, stately, useful tree. At one time, over a quarter of the eastern American woods were populated by this tree. The wood is rot resistant, the nuts are delicious, and even the oils in its bark has medicinal properties.
Nobody wanted to see the Chestnut go away, and it didn’t want to die off. Over eons it evolved into the strong, prolific queen of the forest. It provided shade, shelter, and nourishment for the rest of the woods, and it provided it’s resources for the native Americans and settlers in the areas in which it grew.
But it got a raw deal.Read more
Two years ago today, Megan was admitted to the hospital for the final time. Her rejection had already been diagnosed months before, and she was heading in for a yet another check-up and round of tests. Her dad was going to take her to the appointment, I was going to head to work, and she would be back in the evening.
I carried her to the car that morning. She was too weak to even walk the 20 or so steps from our living room to his vehicle. I loaded up her portable oxygen tanks, made sure she had extra tubing for them, a blanket on her lap, and kissed her goodbye.
That was the last time I would see her leave the house without me.
I’ve just returned from Arkansas with Sarah, after a 14 hour drive. It is with tired eyes that I briefly write this morning, but yet, a deliriously happy heart. We planned this trip to a tree house in Eureka Springs, AR over a year ago, not long after we met. Circumstances at the time meant that we needed to book this a year in advance, putting a level of trust in the fact that our relationship would become more than a widowed friendship.
She and Drew had talked of staying in a tree house in this area. Megan and I would have never fathomed going to Arkansas. We discussed this at length as we planned the trip, and were still continuing to discuss this, a year later, on our drive home yesterday. The fact that neither of them were with us in body is indeed significant, yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.Read more
I have my share of insecurities, anxiety, and self-esteem issues. It’s a hell of a paradox for me to admit, on a public blog no less, that I’m insecure, but i need to get it out. For as long as I had Megan, i was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. There was a constant self-loathing that I wasn’t good enough to deserve her, or that someone better would come along, and I wouldn’t lose her by death, but by my own anxiety.
Like every couple, we had some ups and downs over twelve years. It is very rare in any marriage that something doesn’t aggravate or annoy the other party, at least a little. We had entered a “rocky patch” the year before she died. It wasn’t a total falling out; it never got to that. I recognized that she had a problem with me, and we talked. We talked for hours. We argued. We cried. We promised one another that we would work on things. We started “dating” again, sending Shelby to stay with grandparents while we had a night on the town. We were more affectionate to one another. We communicated much more. We found shared interests again, and started doing them together. Things were starting to improve...
...then she died.
My mother, daughter, and girlfriend have all lost their own mothers at a young age, all to different illnesses. Each of their moms had to stare their own mortality square in the eye, and hope for the best for their daughters. They did everything they could to love and protect their little ones in the time they had, but ultimately, they had no choice but to leave them to grow up without their biological mother.
Tuberculosis, Cancer, and Cystic Fibrosis. Those are the diseases that took my mom, Sarah, and Shelby’s mothers, each before their daughters were even ten years old. Though each is of a different generation and time in their life, they have all needed to learn how to become a mother after losing their own biological mother. They each picked up surrogate mothers along the way. Friends of the family, adoptive parents, neighbors, teachers, and other relatives were all able to form part of the village it takes.
But none had their biological mothers. I can’t begin to fathom that.Read more
The time has finally come to clean up the basement of my house. When I say that, I don’t mean that I need to go through and organize some of Megan’s things. I mean that the entire basement, full of god-knows-what from Megan, myself, and Shelby needs to be perused, bit by bit.
When we moved to this house (for the second time, long story) 4 years ago, we had already accumulated the detritus of 10 years of living together. Boxes upon boxes of paperwork, medical records, cables, doohickeys, whatzits, and general “stuff” tend to pile up and get shoved into a dark corner of a house to be dealt with another day.
Today (the past month or so, actually) is another day.Read more
For the past week, maybe two, I have been in a complete and total funk. There hasn’t been any specific trigger. No anniversaries, birthdays, significant dates to remember, or big “firsts without Megan” that have occurred. It is the same as always...I wish she were here and I miss her, but the grief of losing her is not overpowering. I can still accomplish day to day functions.
Shelby gets to school, I get to work on time, homework is done, dishes are washed, and dinner is eaten nightly. The cars aren’t falling apart and the lawn is mowed. I even put in an entire flower/ vegetable garden this past weekend. Looking in from the outside, you would never know that I was a widower. Everything is in order, and I present a neat and happy appearance.
But internally, something is up.Read more
In the spring, before Megan died, she and I decided to have a deck built on the back of our home. Nothing too fancy. It was to be a 12 foot by 12 foot square, with a new sliding glass door leading to it. We had wanted to have one on our house for years, and we were finally going to get it done.
We shopped out for a few different construction companies to give us a quote, and by about this time in 2014, we have chosen one and signed a contract.
Megan would decline in health and be admitted to the hospital a few weeks later. She came home one time that summer, after the deck was started, and sat on a half-completed platform, with no railings. She was bundled in a blanket in the 85 degree heat, being so emaciated that she could barely generate body heat.
That was the first, last, and only time she ever sat on that deck.
It’s been over a year since I really started getting to know the person you were. Yesterday was your birthday, and as Sarah and I had a beer, we toasted to you. We sat quietly on the couch, tapped our bottles, and watched television for the rest of the evening. I wanted to write you a note about things.
There weren’t any big “ceremonies” or special traditions, other than Sarah remembering, and I wishing I could. I thought about Megan a ton. We had leftovers from Easter dinner, and chatted about the random things we always do.
It’s as if you were there, just hanging out.
So I bought a table.
It was only forty dollars, and it’s a little round glass patio table. Shelby and I spent an hour or so unpackaging it, laying the parts out, and assembling it. I know this sounds completely mundane, even boring, but bear with me. This table symbolizes something.
It’s not sentimental, really. It wasn’t something that Megan always wanted, or an item that had been passed down to her from a grandparent or family member. It truthfully is “just a table”, sitting on the deck at my house.
However, it’s a table that Megan will never sit at. It’s on a deck that she never got to relax on. She didn’t get to help Shelby put it together, and watch her do most of the work. Megan had absolutely zero bearing on the decision to buy this particular table. It’s not hers, and it never will be, and that’s why it is important.