Like a good vintage wine, last weeks blog, Malbec, requires a second harvest. Over the last seven days, I have changed my mind about a few things and, now, I am offering up another tasting - this tasting is paired with hindsight.
A week ago, I shared my ritual of holding out my hands, searching and reaching for him. In my own words I said, "it is awkward because I do not know where to place my fingers. I clumsily grasp at the air around me. Then, I just drop my hands to my side because there is nothing for me to hold. Where he should be, now there is nothing. So, I stand and ask myself again and again, how could someone so big and bold be gone? How can Mike be gone - into nothing? How can he no longer exist? I don't have the answers to these big questions. (But, I'm working on it...)"
When I wrote this, I had no way of knowing if I would ever know the answers to these big questions. I thought maybe it would take me a lifetime to figure out. I thought Grief would hold me captive for a long, long time before I came to any conclusions. But, by writing my questions down, I think I sub-consciously set the intention to discover the answers. At this point, I still have more questions than answers, but I did come to a pretty big realization. One thing I know is that I was wrong...
Tomorrow, the day after this posting, marks the first anniversary of my beloved husband’s death. I can hardly believe it is true. One year.
It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago.
So much has changed since he died. I have done many things, in spite of my crushing grief. I have visited my home neighbourhood in Indiana, and sat with pigs and donkeys on an animal sanctuary in Spain. I have travelled to Whitby in Yorkshire and to Ireland and to Snowdonia in Wales. I have spent days and weeks in meditation, study, and reflection with my sangha teachers and friends. I have helped form a grief support group with a widowed friend in Sheffield. I have written for this blog.
And some days, I have not been able to pull myself up from the grief. I have stayed on the sofa with the curtains closed. I have slept for hours throughout the day and into the night. I have had periods of insomnia where I could not sleep more than an hour or two at a time.
Such has been the landscape of my grief. Activity and exhaustion. Periods of joy and hope followed by deep sadness. Despair and loneliness and friendship and gratitude and love.Read more
Last Friday our local Kona Hospice hosted their annual Circle of Remembrance event at Hulihe'e Palace. I didn't go last year; I think it was all just too raw for me then, but this year I felt myself drawn there. I've been taking part in their grief counseling services for over a year now which is free for spouse and child loss. We are incredibly lucky to have that, especially knowing how many people have a hard time finding and affording good therapy. The program here is wonderful and the people are extraordinary. I can't say where I would be now without it.
Hulihe'e Palace was built in 1838 as a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty, and in 1927 the Daughters of Hawaii restored the building and converted it into a museum. When Mike and I first visited Kona in Christmas of 2000 we were both thrilled by the history and gorgeous scenery. As I checked in I couldn't help thinking of the tour we'd taken of the place together and how many times he and I had walked the sidewalks outside. My sense of nostalgia was palpable as I walked around to the lawn in back on the edge of the ocean.
Do you ever have those moments, where you can't really explain why or how, but you just know that the person you lost whom you loved most, is nearby, or in the room with you? It is more of a feeling really - rather than something that can be analyzed or broken down. Sometimes it is inside the gust of wind that whispers by on a cold, crisp autumn day. Other times it is hiding within the melody of a beautiful song, or in someone else's laugh or smile or voice. You hear them. You see them. You feel them. There is no need to question it's reality, because it just is. It exists inside of you, and all around you, surrounding you like air that only you can breathe in.Read more
My husband and I used to have those silly magnetic letters on our kitchen refrigerator back in our New Jersey apartment, and we would leave each other cute and often ridiculous or random messages on the fridge like: "I love you Boo", or "Yankees won", or "UR cute." One of his favorite things to spell out for me in colored letters was "Don 'N Kelley" or sometimes "Don Wuvs Kelley." He could be syrupy sweet to the point of nauseating, at times, because he knew I would be rolling my eyes at the gag-inducing baby-talk and he loved to annoy me. So it was sort of his way of being sarcastically romantic.
Fast-forward to 8 months ago, when I moved out of one apartment in Queens, New York after my roommate kicked me out, and moved into another apartment in Queens, New York after finding another roommate. I walked over to the 99 cent store and got 2 packs of the magnetic letters, because spelling out little messages makes me oddly happy somehow, even though it also makes me really sad. It is the "familiar" and the "routine" of doing something and having something that we had together, and now continuing it alone.
I have plunged back into the cold, dark, hopeless place I felt buried in the first few weeks/months after Dave died. I've been struggling to eat, sleep, clean up after myself, and find comfort in anything. Everything feels like sandpaper against raw nerve endings. I can't stand to be alone. I need help. I've reached out. I've especially sought out the hugs and love of the women in my life who are best at sitting with me in my pain. They make me feel safe to let go entirely. They've saved me. And they have their own lives, so I return again and again to my own empty home to try to ease my own pain.Read more
I've had many dreams of Jeff since his death. There are a few that are terrifying renditions of the last few minutes of his life; but the vast majority centre on seeing him again in a variety of surprising locations.
I've found him on dairy farms slogging through the mud. I have glimpsed him on boats passing bridges that I stand upon. I have found him sitting at the dinner table expectant for his next meal.Read more
Written five months "post Jeff"....
My sister, Kirsten, was lending an ear the other day when I was having a hard time. I was upset about the whole lack of hope and happiness thing.Read more