Category Archives: Grief

In the Stillness of the Evening ……

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…… memories tend to come back.
Sometimes it’s the memories that you forgot you had.

That happened tonight.
While I was holding my granddaughter (I’d nickname her Granddaughter #1, but since she’s an only that would be silly. I know that you, my wise reader, know full well who she is.)

For the last week and a half (a bit less than that) one of my jobs has been to take her at night so that my daughter and her hubs can get a few hours of sleep. I get her early-ish. Anywhere from 8:00 to 10:00 or so. And then I hold her, rock her, walk her, sway with her, etc. to try to let them sleep as long as possible before her next feeding.
Tonight is my last night.
(Cue tears.)

Her other grandparents come tomorrow evening.
I’ve never had to share grand parenting.
It will be …… different.
I don’t feel negatively about it. I’m thankful that she will have so much love in her life.
But it’s …… just different.

Anyway, they will arrive tomorrow and take over helping out around here.
I will take care of the grandsons tomorrow night and we’ll all be here Sunday for her baptism (which her grandfather has the honor of performing) and then I’ll head back to Waco with Daughter #2 and the boys.

The other grandparents are lovely. I’ve enjoyed being around them the few times we’ve been together.
They raised 3 terrific children and one is the best husband I could ask for my daughter.

And yet …… this short visit will be a bit difficult.
Another feeling that I didn’t foresee.
It came out of nowhere.
Or everywhere, I guess.

There are two of them.
A couple.
They are beyond excited to see her …… their first grandchild.
They get to share this excitement.
With each other.
They get to watch each other hold her and compare her to each other and to their children.
That is a blessing.
I’ll be fine, with a tinge of sadness.

But I digress.

Memories.
In the stillness of the evening.

This one came back to me:

One morning, back when we had only 3 or 4 children (only!), I woke up to find a letter from Jim.
He had stayed up late and wrote it while he watched me sleep (not creepy at all if you don’t over think it.)

It seems that he had listened to a Garth Brooks song that night and it made him do a lot of thinking.
And he wanted to tell me about it.

He wanted to tell me how much he loved me.
He wanted to tell me how much he appreciated me, as a Christian, a wife, a friend and a mother.
He wanted to be certain that I knew all the things.
Without a shadow of a doubt.
In case.

In case tomorrow never comes.
About 17 years before it never came.

That’s the memory that came back tonight.
A blessing …… in the quiet of the evening.

She’s Here ……

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…… and my heart has grown yet again.

She’s tiny (just shy of 6 pounds), beautiful and perfect.
Her birth was easy and relatively quick.

When I first looked into her eyes I felt such joy …… and such sadness …… that it was hard to breathe.
My heart is full and yet it hurts.
A lot.
God, I miss him.

I didn’t expect it to hurt this much.
Which is what grief does best, I suppose.
It sneaks up on you at the worst times.
And the best ones.

He should be here, falling in love with a little girl all over again.
He should be here. For Daughter #3.
And for Granddaughter #1.
But since he’s not …… I’ll have to give her all of the love we both would’ve.
I think I’m up to the task.

They named her James.
There.
Are.
No.
Words.

Her middle name is Eliana.
This is what my daughter posted:
“She is named after her late grandfather (my dad), whose integrity, generosity, and wisdom we hope she inherits. And her middle name means “God has answered”- she is indeed the long-awaited answer to our prayers.”

She is indeed.

Dreams ……

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…… are just so …… so very weird.

When Jim first died I was disappointed that I didn’t dream about him.  The first dream that I had of him came a few months after he died.  And it was very comforting.
But later dreams were not.

I still have a vivid memory of the first dream that left me reeling.
It was the first dream that I had where he was back and he wasn’t dead.
Actually, he had never died. In that dream.
I had just dreamed that he died. Like when Bobby Ewing spent an entire season being dead on the show “Dallas”, and then on the first show of the next season we found out that his wife, Pam, had just dreamed the entire thing. He never really died.
He was just in the shower.
Yeah. It was stupid then, too.

Anyway, it was the first of many “not dead” dreams. And when I first woke up, I still thought it was real.
And then reality set it …… and knocked the breath out of me.
Again.

So yeah, I’ve had many, MANY “not dead” dreams.
In the first few years they were pleasant. I’d wake up and re-hash them in my mind.
In those dreams, for some odd reason (and always a different one), Jim would just reappear, out of nowhere, and be home. I was always a bit miffed at him for being gone but only for a few seconds. Then I was ecstatic that he was alive.

Over the years those dreams have changed from pleasant to downright disturbing.
He still comes back, but I’m less than thrilled to have him back.
In most of them he left/pretended to be dead because he was with another woman. And he comes back for various reasons.
When I wake up from those dreams it takes me a moment to realize that it’s not real.
And that he’s still dead.
Which, as horrific as this may sound …… is a relief.
It’s a relief to remember that I actually saw his body …… and that he did not cheat on me.
Wickedly disturbing, I know.

A couple of weeks ago I had a dream that really made me think …… about how much has changed.
Jim came back.
Again.
He had left with another woman.
Again.
But he decided, 11 1/2 years later, that he wanted to come back to his “before” life. With me.
In Texas.
Right where he left off.

I was less than thrilled.
I mean, I was happy (sort of) that he was alive but also really upset that he’d left me in the first place. With her.
Whoever she was.

And, I had just moved to NY.
I explained to him that I had moved and that I was happy living in NY.
He said that we could keep the apartment but we’d have to live fulltime in Texas.
Back where we lived 12 years ago.
Where I’m no longer friends with some of the people who used to be quite close.
Where I still have friends but where life has changed.
Where I don’t really want to live again.

Because really, you can’t go back.
Things are never the same.
Nor should they be.
Life moves on.
Even if you don’t.
Or pretend to be dead for 11 1/2 years.

The worst part of the dream was having to move back from NY.
Yep, even worse than the slut he ran away with.
Whoever she was.

I think I woke up soon after that discussion.
And again, it took me a moment to land back in reality.
And remember that I really did see his body.
And that I’m still in NY.

The relief that filled me is hard to describe.
Probably because it sounds terrible to most people.
People who think they’d welcome back their loved one no matter what.
People who haven’t walked this road for almost 12 years.
People who don’t …… can’t …… get it.

I love my life.
I love my home.
I love my city.
And I still will always love Jim.
I will always wish that he never died.
But he did.
And life, and I, have moved forward.

It took me a long time to be here.
I never thought I’d be happy again.
It’s a different happy, but it’s happy nonetheless.
And it’s my happy.
I think I’ll keep it.

And continue to feel relieved when I wake up.

I Seem to Have a Love/Hate Relationship……

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…… with a freakin’ tv show.

Give me a break.

In case you haven’t seen this new series on NBC, it’s about a group of passengers whose plane disappeared for 5 1/2 years and then suddenly returned. Out of nowhere. But here’s the kicker: the passengers think they were gone 3 hours. They didn’t change, age, notice anything different (other than some crazy turbulence). They felt and thought that they were landing on time and in the right place. Back to their normal.
But what they came back to is a world that has aged 5 years. A twin who was 8 when he left and came back now has a twin who’s almost 14. Talk about weird.

So anyway, that’s all I’m going to give you.
Now on with my point.
Maybe.

This show reminds me of some dreams I’ve had over the past 10 years. Dreams where Jim comes back. Sometimes, most times, he acts like nothing’s happened. And I’m torn between screaming for joy, love, relief, etc. and screaming because I am beyond pissed at him. Kind of like those feelings you get when you find your lost child who had wandered away and hid.

I don’t enjoy those dreams. Of course I always get past the being pissed part.
But still.

Back to the show ……
I think I like it because it hits so close to home. The pain that that passengers feel when they realize that life has moved forward 5 years, without them.
The joy of their family and friends when they discover their loved one(s) has come back from the dead.
And the frustration, confusion and problems that follow.

I hate this show because I wish that it could be a true story. I hate that these people get to have their loved ones back.
And I don’t.
Even if it took over 5 years.
In spite of all of the problems that would follow.
Mostly.

This is the part I hate most ……
Part of me (a very small part, but still ……) wonders if I’d really want him to come back after all this time.
I’m crying as I’m writing this because it’s difficult to admit.

It’s not that I love someone else.
It’s not that I’ve become a terrible person.
It’s not that I don’t love him anymore.

I guess it’s mostly just that life has gone on.
And nothing would be the same.

Our world is different.
Our country is (too) different.
Our family is different. Hugely different.
I’m different.

I don’t write this flippantly.
I apologize to any of you who are in the club and can’t even fathom what I’m saying.
Those of you who’d want them back this instant.
I’m sorry if reading this causes you pain.

Of course I’d love to have him back.
Wouldn’t I?
Maybe my tears mean …… “mostly”.

Life Is Good ……

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….. right?

I mean, it’s mostly good.
And I try to focus on that.

So why am I sitting here, crying because I miss him?
Again.

I hate this.
I really, really hate this.

This shitty wave that comes out of the blue and smacks me upside the head, knocking me to my knees.
Again.

It’s been ten damn years.
There should be no more waves.
Right?

Ten. Freakin’. Years.

I just got back from a trip to Hawaii with Son #1, Daughter #2 and grandsons 1 and 2 (2 is a foster grandson but I love him all the same).
We had a great trip.
It was kind of exhausting, but it was good.

I have a great life.
But in the midst of this great life there is a shadow that seems to hang just behind me, over my right shoulder.
Where he should be, I guess.

That shadow is always there.
Always.
I don’t always acknowledge it.
Or actively look for it.
Or even see it …… sometimes.
But it’s there.

But every once in a while …… it comes over me …… and reminds me of the life I had.
And of the life I should be having.
And of the life I’m missing.
The man I’m missing.

Damnit to hell.

“So …… are you ……

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…… dating anyone?”

No. No, I am not.

“Are you dating at all?”

Nope. Not dating. At all.

“Why?!” (That’s the word that is spoken, but it sounds more like, “What’s wrong with you?!”)

There’s only one reason that I’m not dating: I don’t want to.

And no, that doesn’t mean that I’m stuck in my grief.
No, it doesn’t mean that I’m not living life fully.
No, it doesn’t mean that I’m afraid to put myself out there.
No, it doesn’t mean that I’m afraid to love again.
No, it doesn’t mean that I’m afraid of losing another love to death.

And no, it does NOT mean that I’m …… less than.

Of course no one says any of those things.
At least not to my face.
But hints are given.
Blogs are written.
Facebook posts are written …… even by widowed friends.

Sometimes those who have found love become “love pushers”.
They like to preach about how wonderful it is and how we (all us widowed people) should take that step. We should want to find love again. We shouldn’t be stuck in our past. We can’t really move forward and become whole until we take that step.

I know they don’t mean to say that. And I know that they’d deny putting that message out there.
But sometimes you don’t really get a message …… when you’re not its subject.
Sometimes your blissful happiness can cause you to want everyone you know to be blissful. And happy.
I get that.

But here’s the thing: I am happy. I am happily single. I am not looking for love. That’s because I don’t want a relationship.
I may not be blissful, but I’m really ok with that.
My life is full.
My life is good.
I had one hell of a terrific love.
And I’m good.

I didn’t have a perfect marriage.
Jim wasn’t a perfect man.
But it was a good marriage.
And he was a good man.
I always felt blessed beyond measure to have him.
And I still do.

Would it be nice to have that again?
Well, of course it would.
But do I need to have it again?
No. No, I don’t.
Again, I’m good.

I’m starting to feel a bit resentful for being put on the spot sometimes.
I don’t think I should have to explain myself.
I don’t think I should have to give any reasons for not wanting another relationship.
And I sure as hell don’t need people pointing out some false statistic that people who had good marriages will want to find love again.
I think that’s crap.

We can’t all be lumped together.
For anything.
“All millennials are like this …”
“All white women are like this …”
“All Christians are like this …”
“All liberals are like this …”
“All conservatives are like this …”

I’m sick to death of this crap.
I’m angry about the divisiveness that has clutched this country in the last year and a half.
And I’m fed up with feeling that I’m thought of as “not whole” if I don’t want a man in my life.

I’ve had two relationships since Jim died.
Neither worked out.
Thankfully.
I should’ve known that I wasn’t meant to be with someone when, upon learning that one of these men shoved wedding cake into his first bride’s face, I knew he was not the man for me. That was the beginning of the end.*
Some would say that’s a stupid reason to not want a man.
Maybe.
Maybe not.
I don’t think we can help what we feel.

But I digress.
I have dated.
I no longer do.
I haven’t had a date in several years.
And I’m happy with that.

The thought of being in a relationship makes my blood pressure go up.
I just don’t want it.
I like living alone.
For the most part.
I like traveling on a whim.
I like having all of the closet space.
Selfish?
Probably.
But true.

So, for all of you widowed peeps who are remarried, or in love …… I’m thrilled for you.
Truly.
I’m happy for your happiness.
I hope that you have very long relationships and that you’re the first to go.

And for all of you who aren’t widowed, but are happily in love …… I’m equally happy for you.
And I hope you go first.

But please know that, just as everyone is not meant to be an accountant, or an actor, or a teacher …… not all of us are meant to be with someone. And it’s possible to be happy …… and single.

I love my life.
Just as it is.
(I think it goes without saying that I would prefer Jim to be alive and here, but that’s not a choice.)
I have learned to never say never.

But right now …… in this part of my life …… I’m happy with all of the closet space.

*If you or your spouse shoved cake into each other’s face and are happy with that then yay for you.  I don’t think less of you.  It’s just not my thing.

I. Can’t. Even ……

I can’t.
I really, truly can’t.

I lost a dear friend yesterday.
Suddenly.
Shockingly.

Seventeen sets of parents lost their children yesterday. So far.
Suddenly.
Shockingly.
Horribly.

Two of my “wid friends” have daughters in that high school.
Fortunately, they’re ok.

I.
Can’t.
Even.

All it seems that I can do is cry.
The waves are back.
I have not missed them.

I had just talked to my friend.
Her birthday was Friday.
She was fine.
Or so we thought.

Some of my widowed friends will remember her.
She wasn’t widowed but she loved me so much that she volunteered at a Camp Widow just to see what this thing was that I love so much.

She was quick to laugh and even quicker to love.
She would’ve done anything for me.
I can’t believe that I’ll never hear that laugh again.
Or feel that love.

Her funeral will be this Sunday.
I don’t know if I can go.
I’ve told Daughter #2 that I’d watch the kids this weekend.
I know that I can get out of that.
But I’m not sure that I want to.

The thought of going to that service just brings the ugly cry.
The kind of cry that happened yesterday between flights at DFW in a chapel.
For an hour.
Thank God that that airport has chapels.

I feel bad about not wanting to go.
I feel guilty.
I feel weak.
And I feel panic.

I know I should go.
I know I should see her husband and sons.
And the beautiful little grand daughter who she loved beyond reason.

I.
Can’t.
Even.

I haven’t felt this depth of sorrow in a long time.
I haven’t felt this incapacitated.
This weak.

I.
Just.
Can’t.