Yesterday my two boys and I, along with DDIL and JP, attended a memorial service at the chapel in the hospital where my husband passed away in early December. It was small and informal with what looked to be about five families attending. Apparently the hospital chaplains and grief counselors hold these quarterly services to celebrate the lives of people who died at the hospital or in hospice.
Chaplain Kim had lost an older sister when she was 17 and her family had few coping skills to deal with their grief, let alone the ability to teach their children how to handle their feelings. The grief counselor lost her husband to a brain aneurysm many years ago when she was a 28-year-old mother of a three-year old daughter. He lingered in a coma for nearly a month. It was obvious that these events shaped their lives and career choices.
One woman who attended lost her 22-year-old son, father of three little ones, to a heroin overdose in December. Another family lost their elderly father after a grueling hospice stay.
We had the chance to light a candle for our loved one and pick a stone from a bowl of lovely choices to keep with us as a tangible reminder of the love we had shared. I chose one that is a bluish gray and reminded me of my husband’s eyes. I think I will put it by his picture on my nightstand so it’s the last thing I see before turning out the light.
I was too emotional to speak to the group, but if I’d been able, I would have told them that Paul was my soul mate, a great father and papa and a wonderful husband. He was a self made man from rural Tennessee who put himself through school on the GI Bill and became an electronic engineer. He told me he’d known since he was a small child what he wanted to do for a living. He found the whole process so fascinating when his family’s first little house finally got electricity that he had to understand how it worked. And he eventually did!
What I gleaned from the memorial service were mostly things I already knew. Any feelings you are experiencing about grief are normal and okay. There is shock, denial, anger, bargaining and finally acceptance. There can be a need to be alone or a need to share. Self-care and socialization are important, but we all move at our own speed. I feel like I’m somewhere in the “fake it till you make it” phase. I have moved on from shock and denial and am able to get through the days.
I’m packing up the house to sell but it’s not a hasty decision. We had planned to move this year anyway, but instead of finding a new place right away, youngest and I will move in with JP’s family for a while. My house is too big and holds too many memories.
And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m kind of day by day right now in the healing process.
Slowly I’m getting back to writing. I hope you like this first shaky attempt…
That place where my heart dwelled
Has been raw and empty
A wound leaking life’s blood
Since the moment you left me…
Why keep drawing breath
Day after night after day
Searching for a semblance of reason
When faced with your untimely death
Grasping at thoughts while the mind reels
Holding close pieces of me that threaten to shatter
Searching for hope to let in the light
That every tortured breath steals
From my fractured heart to a sadder place
Where darkness reigns and mourning is king
No more attempts to bargain with a higher power
I accept our fate with reluctant grace
Deep in my soul I yearn to know again
The wonder of love in your glance
Will I ever move beyond the pain
And allow life another chance…
Weeks become months of their own accord
The sun rises and sets, oblivious to my despair
Then one day with dry eyes I awaken
To find I’m battered but still unbroken
My grandson, the fashion critic, always looking his best!
Mommy: Guess what? When we were at Open House I signed up to be a mystery reader in your class! (Parents surprise their child one day and come to school to read a story.)
JP: Well, okay, but you’ll try to look your best, right?
JP: I mean, you always look nice…
(That boy! And, yes, the beautiful blonde in the picture is Mommy!)
I really thought I could start writing again but I don’t think I can do it yet. It’s been about a month since my hubby died of a brain aneurysm and there are still more bad days than good. Everything I see, everything I touch reminds me of what I’ve lost this year and I guess I’m just not ready yet to focus on only the good memories. I literally feel a physical ache in my chest.
Christmas was tough this year. Luckily Paul and I had decorated together after Thanksgiving because I wouldn’t have had the heart to do everything myself. And Christmas has always been my favorite holiday so I’m especially saddened that I can’t find much joy this season. The best part was watching my brothers’ and my grandchildren all playing together on Christmas Eve. So maybe a little bit of joy!
But mostly I’m glad the holiday is over so I can stop pretending to enjoy things. Some days I wish I could just stay in bed and sleep, but when night falls and I’m exhausted, sleep just won’t come. I’m trying to take care of myself, but cooking is not something I relish on a good day, so it’s sure not interesting me now! I wish I didn’t have all the paperwork to continue completing. Insurance, benefits, investments, just a constant reminder of how my life has changed.
My son and I decided to spend New Years Eve at home with the elderly, arthritic Chief dog. He wakes up barking in the middle of the night most nights anyway so he’ll be thrilled we’re here with him. Maybe we can watch a movie, but if I fall asleep before midnight I’m okay with that this year.
I know with time things will get better for us. I just don’t know how to move on right now…
UPDATE: my husband passed away this morning at 11:22 a.m. Life will go on, but it is forever changed…
I’m going to be taking a break from blogging, perhaps an extended one. It’s 3:54 on Monday morning and I’m writing through a blur of tears as I sit in a hospital room as my dear, sweet husband of 37 years swiftly fades away.
Early Sunday morning he suffered a massive brain bleed and life became a whirlwind of ambulances, emergency rooms, phone calls and texts to relatives and the words you never want to hear — there is literally nothing we can do and chances of survival are about 3 percent.
My children who live close by gathered around and we talked and cried and tried to make some decisions. I stayed overnight because I could not bear to leave. I slept a few hours before the ICU nurse woke me to tell me his blood pressure had dropped significantly and he had spiked a high fever. Still, there’s really nothing to do but wait and cry and feel my heart breaking.
We’ve had such a wonderful life together. I know I’m very lucky and not everyone is blessed as I have been. I just thought we’d have more time. I want to thank you all in advance for your love and support and prayers because I’m not sure I’ll have the time or ability
t respond to comments. I love you all, too and I’m so grateful for your friendship.