We Made It!

We made it. The kids and I made it through year one. The anniversary of Adam’s death did not see unabated blubbering and wallowing as I had feared. I drove home from the beach that day and didn’t even sing along to a sad song. It was almost a day of victory, the victory of survival, and, as the Baptist preachers in my hometown would tell you, Adam’s spiritual victory over death.

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to post about that day, but I just haven’t had much to say about it. You may find that strange. I sure did. But it was more a day of reflection and peace than a day of despair. For that I am deeply thankful.

The next event on the horizon is Adam’s birthday, which comes next week. I’m expecting to have a bit of a hard time with that. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll be surprised then, too.

Overall I’m feeling better. I suddenly feel more used to the idea that he is gone and not on some endless business trip. I’m feeling more of a sense of celebration of his life than I have before. I think you could say I’m more at peace.

Believe me, I have a long, long way to go, but I suddenly feel there’s hope that I’ll arrive at whatever amorphous goal sits, unidentified, before me.

Had an absolutely wonderful, healing week at the beach with a dear friend who knows just what I need from her. One of my best beach weeks ever. So some of the credit must go to her!

On a very sad note, the husband of a longtime friend, who was diagnosed with melanoma on the day of Adam’s funeral, is now under in-home hospice care. So very sad for her. Love you, friend.

My next event is a quick family reunion with Adam’s brothers, their families, and his parents this coming weekend. I bet there will be tears there, but hopefully it will be mostly laughter. Cuz they sure can make me laugh!

Be Sensitive to All Types of Bereavement

The more I talk to people, my friends from “before,” I realize that everyone has a story of loss. That sounds so benign, like, “I lost my purse.” But what I mean is that, if you listen, everyone around you has experienced a profound loss of some kind, a loss that has altered them in an irreversible way. Most of us have endured a death. The loss of someone so much a part of our being that carryingon without them has taken us months or years to accept. 

Left behind, I think, in “society’s” view, are those whose losses are perhaps even more profound because they are not encouraged to express their bereavement.

I ask you tonight to consider those who’ve lost their spouse to separation and divorce; who have lost the promise of children to miscarriage. Who have lost the promise of a long family life to the death of a fiance’. 

For reasons I don’t really understand, there seems to be a societal category for “approved” or “legitimate” losses–a parent, a child, a spouse. 

I think we are all grieving a loss. If you want to help someone, maybe a friend with whom you’ve lost touch, tell them that you recognize their loss, whatever it is. A simple acknowlegement is all they need.

I love you all so much. Thank you for being part of my extended family.

Happy Birthday, Kiddos

Tomorrow is my children’s 17th birthday. I’m so proud of the way they’ve managed the last year. Although they faced a difficult junior year full of AP classes and tests and the SATs, they came through with flying colors.

Their 16th birthday was celebrated in a hospice room. I was just thankful that Adam held on and they didn’t have to associate their birthday directly with his death. I’d do anything if they didn’t have to remember any associaton, but it is what it is, and they seem to have dealt with it better than I.

Today I went to see my doc who is helping me through these tough times. She was outside, sitting under a mimosa tree, when I arrived. Mimosas are just my favorite. My grandfather had one between his house and pond when I was a kid, and the combination of heady fragrance and feathery pink flowers was intoxicating. Even today, I feel transported by the sight or smell of a mimosa. So I came to sit with her, and she told me to look up. The tree was covered with butterflies. Not 20 or 50, but a hundred or more butterflies. She has experienced her own loss recently, and I knew she was thinking what I was thinking: the soul of my loved one is here with me.

On my way to the appointment, my iPod was shuffling everything in my library. As I arrived, the song playing was from a 70s playlist given to me by my cousin and her husband. Yes, 70s music can be cheesy, but have a listen.

Happy birthday, kiddos. Your mom loves you and is beyond impressed by your ability to rise above.

Our 24th Anniversary

Dear Friends,
Today would have been our 24th wedding anniversary. Look at our pictures. We were so young and hopeful. This day in 1989 when I stood at the Duke Chapel altar and said “in sickness and in health” I’m pretty sure I had no idea what I was commiting to do. Even if I knew, I’d have done it anyway. There was no one for me but Adam. From the first day I laid eyes on him. Ask Stretch. He was with me that day and he knows. Julia knows too, but she is biased 🙂

Last year at this time, I was frightened. I was bitter, and I was exhausted. We barely wished each other “Happy Anniversary.” There were no cards, no gifts. Life was bare bones. Life was a struggle. I had told Adam a few months earlier that I wanted a 25th anniversary and he promised it to me. Of course, that wasn’t his to promise.

All of our friends are celebrating their silver anniversaries these days. I remember the first silver anniversary party I ever heard of or attended: that of my Aunt Katherine and Uncle Harry. They’re in their 80s now and I have no idea how long they’ve been married. I was a petulant kid at their 25th anniversary party, but I still knew that it was a special milestone.

Well, I won’t have it. And I’m kind of angry about that because we had a good marriage that would have lasted. Why were we robbed? Why can’t people who hate each other suffer this fate, and not people who are devoted and in there for the hard work and the long haul? Again I say, we were robbed. Adam was robbed.

A year ago tomorrow, we were supposed to be going to the beach. We’d planned a two-week vacation. The car was packed. We got in the car and it wouldn’t start. Hallelujah. Did I tell you this already? I think so.

Instead of going to the beach we went to the hospital. Caroline wrote a thoughtful, insightful recollection for her creative writing class, but that is hers to share. I share what I wrote on Caring Bridge. I managed to save the entire journal to a .pdf file and hope to do something helpful with it later. But for now I share its raw footage with you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012 12:46 PM, EDT
Just wanted you all to know that we are not going to the beach after all. Adam is feeling really bad today, fighting a bad headache and nausea. There’s just no way for him to ride in the car that long. So the kids are unpacking and I am, frankly, unable to do anything but sit in my chair and cry. For everything.
Sent from CaringBridge iPhone app

The longer I write on this blog, the more I am aware of the unfathomable number of widows in our world. When Adam died, I felt like I must be the only person in the whole universe suffering this bewildering fate (except for Michel, who was enduring this misery by my side). This year has helped me become more acutely aware of those widows who were just news stories to me a year ago: the widows of war, the widows of community service (police, firefighters, other public servants). Their faces came and went on the news, a year ago, but today I crumple at the news of each new widow who is left to raise her children alone, to find a way to fund the rest of her life, to learn to do those things her husband took care of before his death. It’s a cruel place to be.

Finally I want to acknowledge and raise awareness about the widowers out there, dads left to braid hair, buy bras, dance ballet with their daughters, teach their sons about the vagaries of the teen-girl mind, perform roles they find foreign, such as (to make a sexist, broad sweep) laundry, meal planning and prep, the aforementioned underwear shopping, maybe even doing routine auto maintenance, if that was their wife’s forte. We women get the attention because we seem to be left alone in greater numbers, but the widower dads out there are doing time-and-a-half too, and they deserve a shout-out.

Today is a “calendar anniversary.” I knew it was coming and I’m sort of prepared for it. Maybe I’ll find myself debilitated as the day rolls on. Who knows? All we can do is take it as it comes, accept it, and hope that it passes and allows us to move on. Perhaps we’ll be wiser and stronger. Maybe not.

Happy after the Hoopla

Happy after the Hoopla