Losing Pieces of You

When someone you love dies, you don't lose them all at once. 

You lose them little by little. 

Breathe by breathe. 

Fragment by fragment. 

You lose them hour by hour. Minute by minute. Month by month. Year by lengthy year. 

It doesn't happen all at once. 

It doesn't ever NOT happen. 

Pieces of that person, that life, fall away as time goes by. 

Sometimes you don't notice it all at once, 

and other times, 

it hits you through the skull like an ice-pick, 

chopping away at your heart. 

When someone you love dies,

they don't die in one moment. 

They die all the time,

over and over again, 


Lately, I have had these moments where I can literally feel a piece of my dead husband, floating further away from me. Sometimes it's a memory that I can't quite remember with the same detail I used to. Other times, it's a tiny little thing about him that I suddenly miss so damn much, that I can barely breathe. And other times, it's in the quiet of the night, where the sound of his voice or his snoring or breathing used to be. Whenever I am trying to recall a memory of me and my husband, and I find myself struggling to remember it fully, I start to panic. What if I keep losing memories? What if I no longer know what it felt like to be held by him? To be loved by him? What if I forget his very essence, or his laugh, or the way he shook his head at me all the time and looked at me like I was nuts. These types of things seem more vague to me now, after 6 years, and it scares me.

Marriage is like a secret. A beautiful secret between two people, filled with only things they know about. Things that nobody else in the universe would care about. Still, to this day, I have urges to call him up or to tell him something really specific that only he would care about. Still, I miss telling him things. Sharing things with him. What do you do when the other half of your secret dies? When the only other person who shared these private moments with you, is no longer here to reminisce with. Where do those thoughts and memories go? I can't say to my husband: "Hey, remember that time that we ...." 

I now hold all of our memories. I am the keepsaker of our life. I think thats partly why Im writing this book about him, about us. So that the memories dont die with me. So they will still be out there, documented, shared with the world. Love shared forward creates more love. I want to keep building my life, on the blocks of love. 

This morning, our cat Sammy, who we adopted together back in 2010 from a rescue shelter in New Jersey, started getting really sick. He is about 17 years old, and has digestive issues, so this is normal for him. Once in awhile, he throws up a lot, or has horrible poop issues. Today was one of those days. He came into my room and looked up at me with those sad big eyes of his, rubbed his head against my arm, and cuddled up on my chest. I started petting him, and I started to sing this silly song that Don and I made up about him years ago, like I always do from time to time, when I suddenly couldn't remember how it went. Sammy stared at me desperately, as if cheering me on: "Come on, mommy. You can remember! Sing it!" But I couldnt. The song memory had already begun to float away, and another little piece of my husband went missing forever. 

The very thought of this made me cry. I kept petting Sammy, and crying. And telling him "Im sorry I cant remember the song. Im so sorry." Then I felt like I had failed my cat. MY FUCKING CAT!!! I felt like I had failed my husband, because I couldn't keep all the memories stored correctly in my heart. And then I started thinking about how Sammy is old, and how one day soon, he will start throwing up more and more, and then get sick, and then one day, on some ordinary stupid day, he will die. And then I will lose another huge piece of my dead husband. Our kitty that we adopted together. Our "furry child", as Don jokingly called him. The thought of Sammy dying was impossible to think about. I couldnt breathe right. I got incredibly sad, as I felt more pieces of that life and my husband's essence, disappearing into thin air. 

And in that moment,

it felt like he had just died,

all over again. 

Showing 11 reactions

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  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2017-08-25 08:09:46 -0700
    Wow. I am floored by all these thoughtful comments from every one of you. Thank you so very much. xoxo
  • Christine Shelley
    commented 2017-08-07 15:48:30 -0700
    I am all too familiar with these sentiments. Sometimes I just sit and wrack my brain about things we did, places we went, moments that only the two of us shared. It gets a little further away everyday. I am also saddened by the idea that those precious moments will start to fade into infinity. The cat that we adopted together 6months after we met, passed away at the age of 20 about 2 months ago. People just couldn’t understand the connection of my husband and the death of our first furry child. Comments went something like “kitty had a long fulfilling life and was well loved” and yes that is true. She outlived her daddy by 2 years. Me, I have moments all the time, mostly like it’s just so insane that he’s simply not here. That it’s been 2 and a half years since he passed seems like it was only yesterday, but simultaneously feels forever ago. I hope you can find some peace in writing your book. Good luck to you!
  • Sara Minden
    commented 2017-08-06 15:00:28 -0700
    I’m new to the site. Widowed 4 years ago. This post, WOW! This is exactly what I have been feeling. I have said some of these exact things.
  • Adrienne Hood
    commented 2017-08-06 14:50:08 -0700 · Flag
    This post speaks straight to me. It is exactly what I am currently dealing with. I just started the second year of widowhood, which I quickly came to realize was going to be even harder than the first year for me, having come out of the shock and fog of it all. And now I am dealing with the health of our 17 year old cat, my first pet ever and chosen by my husband at the shelter, quickly going down hill, partly due to my putting off her healthcare needs while I was in the fog of grief. To top it all off, due to being laid off from my decent paying job of 6 years in December, I am also realizing that as much as I might want to hold on to our first home that we bought together, it is just too overwhelming for me to take care of all by myself. All of this is draining my savings, my energy, and it feels like I am losing huge pieces of Tony once again. However, this site, and especially the blog, is one of the things that keeps me going, as I re-evaluate my life and it’s future path. At the least, I feel less alone and misunderstood when I read these entries. Thank you for sharing, it is amazing how much just saying it can help.
  • Joanne Middleton
    commented 2017-08-05 07:37:02 -0700
    This is one of those times when I didn’t know I felt something until someone else was more in touch with their emotions and more able to fashion those emotions in words. This post truly resonated with me today. We don’t just lose our loved ones on the day they die, we keep losing them over and over again, with each new moment that we wish they were with us but they aren’t.

    Thank you for sharing and sending blessing to all those today who are missing someone dear.
  • Bruce Bullock
    commented 2017-08-04 22:38:50 -0700
    Your words capture the tugging feeling I’m sure we all feel over time of loosing what we dont want to loose…memories of our love. But I love your thoughts about capturing your thoughts in a book. Thanks for the beautifully hopefull thought, “Love shared forward creates more love.”
  • Jodi Bradshaw
    commented 2017-08-04 21:27:08 -0700
    I have thought about the many, MANY losses one death creates…loss of a husband, a son, a fatjer, a liver, a best friend, a provider, a soulmate, a one-true-love…you get the picture…
    The one loss I had not considered is articulated beautifully in your piece…

    “Marriage is like a secret. A beautiful secret between two people, filled with only things they know about. Things that nobody else in the universe would care about.”

    Your ability to paint the most private pieces of my heart and translate it with your words never ceases to amaze me!

    Thank you!
  • Linda Tevebaugh Keeling
    commented 2017-08-04 18:13:11 -0700
    I often have to look at John’s picture to remember his beautiful brown eyes …and then close my eyes to feel the realness of them.

    I love to hear John stories…love to hear his name….
    Great post, Kelley…..
  • Carol Johnston
    commented 2017-08-04 13:17:49 -0700
    It seems as though, sometimes, “those moments” lie in wait for us, to pounce on us unexpectedly, and crush us, and yes, make us feel as though he had just died. Again. Great post, Kelley…you always bring together in an intelligent, understandable lineup of words, the thpughts that tend to ramble around in my head in no particular sensible order, until I read one of your posts. That k you.
  • Joseph Kearney
    commented 2017-08-04 12:54:35 -0700
    you know, there will be a moment when the line to that song you were trying to sing to your cat will come to you. That could possibly be him checking in with you. Happens to me all of the time. especially with the nick names she use to call me. One day I may forget one of the names and not to long after it will come back to me. Like I’m asking her, “What was that name you use to call me”? And she will answer not too long after that.
  • Julie Corrigan Corrigan
    commented 2017-08-04 12:36:15 -0700
    Yes. oh my God, yes! I’m getting a pedi while I read this and the sweet girl giving it is trying hard not to notice my tears. But this is speaking directly to my heart today. Its been a little over 6 years and our wedding anniversary was a week ago. I want to remember everything except the last 3 months of his life. yet, sometimes those are the details I recall. thanks for writing this. 💔