I had dreams of him this past week. It's the first time in a lot of years I've dreamt of him two nights in a row.
It was both beautiful and sad. The dreams were good... they were happy. I got to see his smile again, that beautiful smile that warmed my heart. For a moment, I got to remember the feeling that his smile gave me. It's been so long, almost seven years now, that I can almost not recall the feeling of him anymore. But every now and then, something - like a dream - pulls out the memory from the depts. Not the mental memory, but the feeling memory. Those are the ones that are harder to hold on to. I can remember vividly so many details about our lives still. I can still remember the sound of his laugh and the love in his eyes. But the one thing that a struggle to remember is the feeling of what it was like when he was here. Dreams sometimes pull me back there, in the most beautiful, but painful way.
Will I Ever Stop Asking
Where would we be,
had you not died?
Will I ever stop wondering
what would have happened
in our life together
if you were still here?
Will I ever be at peace
with the idea that my life is filled
that do not have answers?
Will I ever feel okay
with the knowing
that large pieces of my life
will always remain unknown?
Will I?Read more
I remember last year sitting in a small group discussion at Camp Widow Toronto discussing how there can be triggers that connect directly or indirectly to your loss that make you scared and panic for your current life, namely your other loved ones. Then how these triggers and events make you act out of character. Someone mentioned seeing ambulances and wanting check-ins instantly on the people they loved. Someone else mentioned anytime anyone is even remotely late that they want calls so they know everyone is okay. At the time I thought, “Nope, not me. I don’t think or do anything like that.” Now that’s what I think of when I get into my extreme panic mode over people in my life now and can’t get out of it. I guess it just hadn’t started yet.
For me it has somehow translated to mostly related to phone calls and texts. The morning Mike died he was (obviously) not responding to my texts. I texted him a few times. I then called him. The first few times I called him it rang all the way to voicemail. Then it started to go straight to voicemail. I know now that the police would have turned it off. At the time, I tried to convince myself that he was just late from work and his phone died. He wasn’t and it didn’t.Read more
Last night, I saw the film "Bohemain Rhapsody" with my love, Nick.
Everything having anything to do with music always makes me think of Don.
It just does.
Our connection was largely based in music. We met through music. We played and sang music together.
We introduced each other to lots of musicians and artists to listen to.
Don used music and strumming his guitar, as his biggest coping mechanism to get through the trauma he saw on the job.
To get through most hard things.
He would disappear into music, play his guitar for a couple hours in solitude, and then he would be okay.
Don and I connected through music.Read more
There is no reason a child should experience the heartache of losing a parent at a young age. I will never forget having to tell my kids that their daddy was gone. Less than one month after his death my daughter graduated preschool. I can’t even begin to explain how heartbreaking it was to have to sit there and watch her sing her songs and recite her lines with this empty seat next to me, knowing her daddy should be sitting there. The whole graduation was really a blur to me. I just checked out. I had no choice, I couldn’t feel anything. I was just a body sitting there. I remember trying to pay attention but the loss was too much to bare still. I could feel people staring at me, their pity they felt for my family. I just wanted it to be over and go back into hiding.
Last week, a little over a year later my second youngest son graduated preschool. Same school, same building, same idea. This year though I saw it, I felt it. I allowed myself to be present in the moment. This year there were still tears of sadness for a moment at that empty chair. But as a family we smiled more, we embraced this accomplishment. My son was given the brightest star award, he is a shy little boy who is so kind and loving and has come so far in this last year. He makes me so proud and I know his daddy will always be with him.Read more
"They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear. Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak." from The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
This quote is from a story by Tim O'Brien about men who were in the Vietnam war. It is a classic story that speaks to the universal themes of memory and loss. As I reflect upon the year of writing that I have shared with you, and this, my last blog post as Monday's Writer for Widow's Voice, I am moved by these words.
In this blog, and as members of a community for which no one wants to qualify, we carry each other. We lift each other up and bear witness to the things that others can't bear to see. We carry each other through the most difficult and terrifying moments of our lives.
We sit with each other in silence when there are no easy words or platitudes to fix our sorrows. We stand together, as different as we are, in age, ethnicity, status, and country of origin, and help each other navigate this bewildering landscape of grief.
We know that the people 'out there', who have not seen what we've seen, cannot begin to understand what sits so solidly in our minds and hearts: that there is so much pain, and so much beauty; that we grieve because we loved; that we don't know how we are going to get through each day, but that, somehow, for some reason, we are still here; that gradually, so slowly, we begin to enter into the world of the living again,but that we will never 'get over' this loss; that there is nothing to get over; that we carry them with us, and will continue to carry them, for the rest of our days.Read more
I have been writing this post for four seasons. For four seasons, I have come here, to the blank page, each week, and tried to find the words to express the ever-changing landscape of my grief. For four seasons I have shared my tiny triumphs, my progress, my setbacks, my worries and anxieties and fears and deepest sorrows.
Some weeks, it has taken every ounce of energy I had to come to this page and write. Some weeks, I have resisted writing until the last possible moment. And other weeks, the words have flowed onto the page as if they came from another source, from somewhere beyond myself, from a place bigger than my own mind.
Putting my grief onto the page has helped move me through its turbulent waters. Writing here has helped me reflect on where I have been and how much I have accomplished and how much more there is to do.Read more
Today is one of those days that I have no idea what to write about. Not because I have nothing left to say about my husband or us or my grief. That isn't ever the reason. No. It's because sometimes, there are literally no words that exist , to properly explain the depths to which I miss him. Sometimes, I just get tired of saying "I miss him." It doesn't feel like enough, and I hate the repetitiveness of it. It is soooo much more than just missing him. But there are days, like now, where Im just too tired to go into all of that. So, I miss him. Yes. Always. And I will never be able to find words that are big enough to express what this type of loss does to a person. How it immensely changes every single cell inside a person. It is impossible to explain this to anyone, yet it is always there, like oxygen.Read more
This weekend, I travelled to a retreat centre in the beautiful countryside near Bakewell, in the southern part of the Peak District. Driving along those winding roads, I felt Stan’s presence with me, as I gazed upon the vibrant orange and red and yellow trees lining the hills, their leaves laying a royal carpet over green grasses.
Stan loved this area, just 25 miles from where we lived, and we spent many Sundays exploring the villages near here, in search of new pubs and grand Sunday dinners, his favourite meal of the week.
When I pulled up to the retreat centre, I realised that the last time I came to this place was in July of last year, just a few weeks after his death.
I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know how I managed to bring myself to a retreat, with fifty other sangha members, just six short weeks from the day he collapsed in front of me. I must have still been in shock. I must have walked around in a fog, that weekend, my tears flowing like rain, in a never-ending river of grief and sorrow.Read more
It is a chilly October morning and I am listening to the wind and watching the early light steal across the sky. I want to write words that are meaningful and resonate with others who are grieving, too. I want to speak to the parts of me that others may keep hidden, even from themselves. I want to share the broken bits and the light of hope that shines between the cracks in the brokeness. I want to be eloquent and wise.
But some days, the words aren't there. Some days all I can do is speak of my direct experience with grief and loss. Some days all I can do is write what is present for me, in this moment, and hope that the words make sense.
It has been an exhausting week, though I didn't seem to accomplish much. Recently, the expectations at my workplace have made me question my capability for the job and even my desire to remain in the field in which I have worked for the past 35 years. And I have found myself searching for Stan, in the hope that he could, as he did when he was alive, ground me in the truth, help me shift my thinking and priorities, and gain a wider perspective.
But I don't know where he is.