Things I Miss And Think About

Since the loss of my spouse in late 2018, there are things about him and our life together that I miss.  Some of them have come back up after hearing about several deaths this week — including the helicopter crash on Sunday when 9 people were killed — as well as the mother of a family friend.

Last night we watched a very short part of an interview with the widower of one of the women on board that helicopter.  Her name was Christina Mauser and his is Matt Mauser.  He was interviewed by Anderson Cooper of CNN about having to give the news to his three kids that their mother wasn’t coming home.

Anderson mentioned that he was 10 years old when his father died.  He said he never will forget when his mother came in and told him that he had died.  Mr. Mauser then shared about how hard it was to tell his kids.  And that they were still calling for their mother.

Anderson Cooper also mentioned that his mother said that with grief you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And, that there is no timeline to grief.  That is so true since the pain of any loss lasts for quite a while.  Actually, I would say that it never goes away, but that you just figure out ways of dealing with it as best you can

As Ian and I briefly watched this, we both had tears come into our eyes.  We hugged each other and I mentioned that you can imagine how they must be feeling since that happened to you.  He nodded his head as I was still hugging him.  We then wiped the tears and changed to a favorite show and started to laugh. That helped us.

Mr. Mauser said it was the little things that he missed the most.  I can so relate to that and that hit me since that is what I also feel.  After years with a spouse or partner, their sudden loss is shocking, jarring, and surreal.  The first few days I didn’t know what to do with myself and often couldn’t form the words to answer a question.

This morning I heard on the news that Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa, is having a hard time talking without crying.  I have to say that I totally understand.  The loss of a spouse so suddenly pains you in ways you never expected, much less also losing one of your children.  My heart goes out to her and the rest of her family.

I don’t think I will ever forget receiving the news that my husband had died.  When we arrived at the hospital, we were taken to a side room of the emergency department.  I should have known something was wrong since they didn’t take us to see him.  Then after a few minutes, a doctor and a nurse came into the room and told us that they had done all they could but couldn’t bring him back.

What the?!  We were all shocked.  I then went to see my love.  He looked like he was sleeping but he wasn’t.  I touched his hand and it was cold.  It was always warm when I held it.  So that was a shock and made me realize that he was in fact gone, no matter how much I was screaming inside that he can’t be gone.

I then went back to check on Ian and my parents who were with us.  My mind was on our son and how he was taking the news.  I was with him for a little bit and then went back to see my love one more time.  I was with him for a while, asked for his wedding band, and spent more time with him and looked at him.  And I touched his arm and hand.

I didn’t stay long.  We then left the hospital to go have breakfast since it was early morning.  I tried to eat but didn’t have much success.  And, I felt guilty and still do at times for not spending more time with my love.  At the time, all I could think about was our son.  I felt bad that I was placing him before my spouse.  And yet, I felt I had to since our son needed me, as I needed him.

There are a lot of things about my love that I remember, think about, and miss.  I wanted decades more with him and am sad that we didn’t get them.  Some of them are:

  • I still remember what he was wearing on the day that I met him at my church.  That church is where we got married and where we held his memorial service.
  • I miss his deep voice and laugh.
  • I miss the smell of his cologne after he got dressed and ready to go.
  • I miss the shows that we watched together and talked about.  To this day, I still can’t watch one of them.
  • I miss the smell of coffee that he prepared each night in the coffee maker.  He had a routine of that.
  • I miss how he was usually the life of the party and loved to make people laugh.
  • I miss his silly jokes.
  • I miss our Saturday morning talks in bed when our son would then join us.  These included lots of laughs and sometimes breakfast in bed.
  • I miss the hours he spent on a project.  Once he started, he would not stop until finished.  So, I would often help him, if I could.
  • I miss his mastery of numbers and taking care of our finances so well.  I am doing my best and trying to remember what he and my dad taught me.
  • I edited his dissertation and that was an amazing thing to be a part of.
  • I miss how great he was with the students that he worked with.  He put them at ease and helped them know they could do well with testings.
  • I miss our trips together and the fun adventures we had, first as a couple, and then a family of three.

Trying to adjust to this loss is still something we are dealing with.  We are doing better than we had been but still struggle at times.  I feel for all of these families and many others who lose loved ones each day.  I feel for the grief that they are dealing with and the pain that they are in.

My prayer is that we can appreciate each other, tell our loved ones that we do love them, and be there for one another during both the sad and happy times.  Also, I pray that we can support those who are in pain from a loss, that we can be there for them, and that we can love them.

Today I am sad…

On this Friday, I am sad.  Most days I can focus and stay busy but for some reason this morning, I keep crying and thinking of my loss. I am sad so I decided to write about it. Hopefully, I will be better when I finish. We’ll see.

Not only is it our personal loss, but things that have been happening this week that are contributing to my feelings. The news of recent shootings in Gilroy, California, then in El Paso, Texas, and later in Dayton, Ohio, have been almost too much to process and to handle.

The fact that so many people were killed in such a short time with all of these incidents is stunning.  I feel for those left behind and know the pain of an unexpected loss. Thankfully, my husband was at home before going to the hospital.  I said goodbye to him at the hospital in a quiet emergency department.

I cannot even fathom what these families dealt with in the aftermath of such horror and carnage. Trying to find the hospital, getting there, trying to find the answers, and then knowing you’d never get to talk to that loved one again.

I have been thinking about the couple who shielded their baby from the gunshots and died in the process. I then weep at their bravery and sacrifice and hope and pray that baby will be okay.  I hope that baby one day will know the love his parents had for him.

I think about all of the first responders who had to work through such horror and the trauma surgeons trying to save yet another gunshot victim.  And, again I weep. These people shouldn’t have to continue to deal with this and try to comfort so many families.  I cannot imagine their stress.

I also think that we need to do something.  Last weekend, I watched a story on CBS Sunday Morning of a panel of trauma surgeons who are working together to plan better how these mass incidents are handled.  Many of them were spurred on by someone from the NRA saying that these doctors need to “stay in their lane.”

One of the doctors posted a picture of an empty chair and stated that that was her lane. You see that chair is where she sits to deliver the news that someone had died. Chills. These doctors do have to deal with the damage to the bodies and the hearts and minds of those loved ones who are left behind.

I have been in that room with a doctor giving such news. I know the pain that those families felt.  I know the shock they must have been in.  I am thankful that there are such people willing to give such awful news.  I don’t think I could do it.

I will never forget that day when we were told that Kirk didn’t make it after working with him for over an hour.  My mother cried out, I did, and we all started weeping. Our doctor and nurse were compassionate but still the pain is beyond measure and so hard to process.

As far as the mass shootings, I hope and pray that we don’t start becoming immune to these incidents.  We could since they keep happening so frequently, although they happen in so many places that are supposed to be safe.  Any and all losses are terrible since each life has value.

My prayer is that something can be done to change this.  I am just not sure how that will be done with so many conflicts and personal interests that people bring to the table. But do we really need weapons that can kill 9 people in 30 seconds?  Would a deer hunter use such a weapon?  I doubt it and think it also shouldn’t be used on people.

I am also sad about some personal items.  I hate that Kirk isn’t here to spend time with Ian and myself or with his family and friends. I hate he isn’t hear to encourage Ian as he starts his 6th grade year of school or help him with his homework. I hate he isn’t here to watch a favorite show or movie with us.  I hate he isn’t here to pray with us before we eat or laugh when we talk about our day.

I also hate that he isn’t with us when we go to church. Some days when I am at church, I am overwhelmed with sadness. You see that is where Kirk and I met, where we were married, and finally where we had his memorial service.  Ian and I still go since my parents also attend, but it is a challenge at times.

There are a lot of good memories there and some sad ones too.  It is nice to see people who I have known for years and are curious about how we are doing.  It has always been a special place so I continue to try and be strong and carry on.

Despite the sadness, there is much to be thankful for.  It is now the weekend with time to refresh and see some friends and family.  There is homework to do, work projects to focus on, and other activities to keep us busy.  We are thinking of seeing a movie and having lunch out.  And, there may be haircuts and library visits as well.

We are making plans for this year and maybe next and there are things that Ian is looking forward to. So that is all good.  Yet, the sadness remains a constant. It ebbs and flows, depending how tired we are, what we are thinking about, and if the day means something to us or not. Some days, there is more happiness than sadness. Those days feel like a win.

I have to say writing about how I am feeling always helps.  It helps to let go of the thoughts and tears.  So I, thankfully, am feeling better and can now get on with my day.  I try to look forward to what is ahead.

If you are also grieving, I hope you can do that too, along with the loss and sadness.  Blessings to you and yours. May you have comfort if you are grieving.  May you cherish the time with your loved ones as we will do.  And, may you and I remember to always, always love.

Joy and Sadness

This morning I read a quote to choose joy.  The quote added that life isn’t always great but that we can decide to be joyful and have things be okay.  While I like this idea very much, I find that lately I have joy and sadness together.  That is the norm after grieving the loss of a loved one, at least it is for me.

Being both happy and sad at the same time is confusing, odd, painful, but only too real at this point in my life.  I continue to be sad at our loss but also am happy that I have our son to share the journey with.  He continues to impress me, motivate me, and makes me laugh. So, he helps to make me joyful.

Some things that make me joyful are a lovely sunrise or sunset, or a laugh with a friend, or a delicious meal, or a chat with my family, or a favorite song, or a great book that I can be lost in.  There is a lot of good still in life along with the loss, the pain, and the sorrow.  For that I am thankful.

This summer was all about trying to find some joy and I think we succeeded.  We had interesting adventures with clients and their children, had some time to play, had time to relax, had time to have fun, and had time to mourn.

As the Bible states, there is a time to every purpose under Heaven.  Each thing both good and bad, happy and sad has its place.  Just trying to navigate that sometimes is tough and can hurt so very much.  Other times, we laugh over favorite memories, a funny story, or a cherished photo.

We continue to have mixed emotions as I am sure everyone does 8 months after the sudden loss of someone who meant so very much.  Even it if isn’t sudden, the absence takes a long, long time to accept and get used to.  And frankly, I am not there yet.

Instead, we try to have the absence be a part of our life.  We talk about Kirk, we laugh about Kirk and his jokes, we celebrate Kirk’s birthday at a restaurant that he would have liked, we look at pictures, and talk about what we think he is doing in Heaven.

We cry, we scream, we grieve, we miss him, and we are thankful for the times that we did have.  We are blessed to have known him, blessed to have loved him.  I feel so blessed to have been his wife and Ian is blessed to have had him as his father.  He was an amazing man, with flaws and so much love.

We also know that he would want us to carry on and continue to live a good life.  I do believe that he is with us and watching over us and that is a comfort.  Still, I do want to talk with him one last time.  I want to tell him I love him and give him a hug.

I took this photo this morning during a walk. It made me joyful. It looked to me like a window into Heaven through the clouds. I looked up and said hi to Kirk.  Maybe odd, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. So, again some joy through my tears.

I read a headline of an article that states that it is helpful for those grieving to talk to the one they lost.  I don’t know about anyone else but I do that regularly.  I talk with Kirk about something that Ian did, I ask him to forgive me, I tell him I love him, I tell him how missed he is and how loved he still is.  I just wish there was an answer back.

For those of us grieving, may we be comforted by our memories, may we know how much love there was between us and the one(s) we lost, and may we know that happiness with sadness is okay and to be expected.

I did want to share that scripture that came to mind.  The time for every purpose under Heaven is in Ecclesiates 3: 1-8, which states:

  • “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
  • ” A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
  • ” A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
  • “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  •  “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
  • “A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
  • “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  •  “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

May we find our purpose, may we be kind to one another, and may we always, always love.

Summer — The good and not so good

It is hard to believe that it is already July.  This first part of our summer has been good, busy, and going fast   As most things these days, it is both good and not so good.  We are having fun days but they are still tinged with sadness and loss.

We have been traveling quite a bit, have had time with family, with friends, and have been busy with work and projects.  We went to see a movie, we have discovered new foods that Ian likes, we have enjoyed several ice cream treats, and I have lost some weight.  We have taken walks and we have been swimming.

We have shopped, we visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky, we played at a playground, we bought new books as well as a Lego set, new stuffed animals, a miniature arcade game, and some treats from the bakery.  We have watched favorite television shows and World Cup games (go USA women).

We have also cried and felt the loss of Kirk.  We have been with friends and family who also knew and loved him so that has been good.  We have shared memories and have laughed over the funny man that he was.  He had a knack for making people feel welcomed and helping them to laugh.

He is so very missed but we are have started to include fun memories about him with the tears and sadness.  We are still coming to terms with our loss and adjusting to our new normal.  Still, each week, he is remembered and we wish that he could come back for one last hug and conversation.

Later this month, we will be going to the beach and look forward to that.  Last summer, Kirk was with us so that too will be bittersweet.  But, we plan to have fun.  We look forward to being with family and friends and taking it easy.  We look forward to our vacation.

We hope that you are having a good summer.  We hope that you are doing things you like and spending time with your loved ones.  We wish you happiness, blessings, and love.

 

On Finding Comfort

This week I am finding comfort in a variety of ways and that is helping very much.  I have been walking in the mornings, reading, eating more healthy meals, talking about Kirk and sharing memories with loved ones.

I have also smiled at some of our jokes and funny moments we had with him.  And, yet, there is still sadness and a huge hole where he should be.  I talk regularly about Kirk with our son and he enjoys talking about his dad.  We look at pictures and we remember.

I went to the library yesterday and checked out a few books on grief.  One of them is  “Comfort: A Journey Through Grief” by Ann Hood.  It is very well written and a lot of good information and is exactly what I needed this week. Her daughter died suddenly in 2002. Her daughter Grace was 5-years-old.

Ann Hood explains that grief is not linear and has no beginning, middle, and end. She gets it.  I never did until going through it.  I never understood the pain of a close loss until now and I am learning a lot.

“Grief is not linear. People kept telling me that once this happened or that passed, everything would be better. Some people gave me one year to grieve. ” Hood’s book states. “They saw grief as a straight line, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  But it is not linear.  It is disjointed.

“One day you are acting almost like a normal person. You maybe even manage to take a shower.  Your clothes match. You think the autumn leaves look pretty, or enjoy the sound of snow crunching under your feet,” she continues.

“Then a song, a glimpse of something, or maybe even nothing sends you back into the hole of grief. It is not one step forward, two steps back. It is a jumble.  It is hours that are all right, and weeks that aren’t. Or it is good days and bad days. Or it is the weight of sadness making you look different and nothing helps. Not haircuts or manicures, or a diet,” Hood states in her book.

I got tears in my eyes as I read this but I also was comforted that someone else has been exactly where I am.  Someone else lost a loved one who was dear to them and they survived.  What amazing comfort that we will also survive.

We have received so much support from our friends and our family.  We so appreciate that. That support is special, it is important, and it helps keep us going.  I have several friends and family who are also grieving.  We are in pain together and can appreciate where others are coming from.  And we can give comfort to each other.

Another comforting statement that I heard recently was said by Joe Biden.  He said that as you move through grief, eventually a smile will come to your face before a tear when you remember the loved one that you lost.  I am not there yet and often have both reactions.

Sadly he knows too much about grief — having lost his first wife and their daughter many years ago and his son Beau more recently.  Dealing with some of that is covered in his book, “Promise Me, Dad.”  Whether you agree with him or not, it is quite a read for someone who has also been there in grief and has found comfort.

Ian and I talked about this concept last night and he said he is having happy memories about his dad.  We both cheered and had huge smiles on our faces when we realized that Kirk will never again be sick or in pain.  What a comfort that was and is again today.

My comforts this week have been:

  • Spending time with family and friends for graduation celebrations and a birthday party
  • Helping Ian with an art project that is due this week
  • Singing a song at church without completely losing it
  • Listening to the birds in the morning during my walks
  • Enjoying the sunrises on the way to school in the morning
  • Hugs at night from Ian
  • Prayers before meals with loved ones
  • Talks and laughs over a delicious meal
  • Hugs and clumping with my family
  • Long chats and visits
  • The winding down of the school year
  • The anticipation of summer and our plans
  • My faith and prayers

We continue to have good days and bad days, hard hours and deep sadness.  But we are also having fun, are laughing, are cherishing our memories, and are thankful that we have each other as we heal.  My prayer is that you have loved ones to help you through grief and hard times.

May we find comfort in one another.  May we be there to help each other.  And, may we always, always, always love.

The Waves Continue

One of my loved ones posted this, “Drained.”  I totally can understand this feeling. Some days I am drained and just cannot get motivated to do anything.  Other days, I do things and still can be drained at the end of the day.  Thankfully, I also have good days to balance out these hard ones. So, the waves of grief continue for me.

This past weekend was good with dinner out at a favorite pizza place, a few favorite movies and projects, church and singing, family time, several chats and laughs with our son, and a sweet compliment that I looked great. I didn’t expect that but it helped boost me.

The fog of grief is starting to lift and that is a challenge. On good days, I feel like myself again — well almost.  Still, I feel like part of me is missing.  And, I still want to talk with my loved one and have him answer me back. On the bad days, I cry, scream, rest, and try to figure out a way to carry on.

I have been trying to move along and keep doing all of the stuff that has to be done after a death.  I am slow but am getting there.  Each time I accomplish something, I have to have some time to process and realize that I did it without him.  I am glad that I can but I so wish he was still here to help me.

Last night I was thinking that he shouldn’t have died so young and that it wasn’t actually his time to go. And, yet he did. I still wish I could have done more for him and still feel guilty at times.  For whatever reason though, the Lord had something else in mind for him, for me, and for all of us who loved him.

I still have questions and I still don’t understand the why.  Not sure I ever will but I am trying to move forward.  I am trying for myself and our son who is on this journey with me.  We are trying.  We often have to regroup, or have to pause, but we are trying.

I also am having some anger about it all and thinking of how unfair it is for me and for our son and our other loved ones.  Then I realize that I am not alone in these feelings.  I am not alone in these experiences either.  People lose their loved ones every day.

My heart goes out to these people.  At times this is a comfort to share the grief and the pain with others.  At other times, it brings my own pain back to the surface.  So, again, that is both up and down.  Ups and downs seem to be the way of our lives right now.

Most of the time I can deal with his absence but every once in a while it hits me that he will never again be with us as he was.  Today, I am feeling that loss and am missing him so much.

  • I miss his laughter
  • I miss his smile
  • I miss his hugs
  • I miss his chats with our son
  • I miss sharing a meal with him
  • I miss sitting next to him at church
  • I miss listening to a favorite song on a CD
  • I miss watching a favorite movie with him
  • I miss times with family when he was telling jokes
  • I miss his voice
  • I miss our long talks

Along with what I miss, I keep reminding myself that he is no longer in pain, he is not suffering, and he will be forever young.  My faith comforts me in knowing that he is okay.  Still, I wanted more time with him.

Since he traveled a lot for work, we had to get used to him not being with us every day. The difference was that we often talked to him.  We chatted every day, many times more than once.  We stayed connected and spent hours on the phone.  I am blessed to have had all of those times with him.

One phone call that comes to mind was when he was traveling and I found out I was pregnant with our son. I told him over the phone and he was blown away. He was on cloud nine and couldn’t believe it. We were blessed to share the pregnancy, birth, and 11 amazing years with our son. For that, I will always be thankful.

My pain and grief has made me realize how thankful I am for all of the times we had together, all of the memories we shared, all of the photos we took (often to my love’s annoyance), all of the laughter we shared, and all of the dreams we had for our future.

Now I continue to cherish every moment with my family and friends. I realize how important it is to celebrate them, to be there when we can, to enjoy our times together, to laugh together, and when we are together, to truly be present.

A Better Day

After a very hard week last week, today is looking better for me. And yesterday was a pretty good day as well. I am thankful to be able to have some light with all of the darkness.  It is very welcome after these last four months/19 weeks that have changed our lives so much.

Yesterday, it poured rain for a while, and then the sun came out. And, it is out again today. Well, with clouds right now, but it is still peaking through.  And that is how I feel today — more happiness seems to be peaking through as well.

After dropping off Ian at school, I walked around our neighborhood for a little while. It was so helpful to do that.  During my walk, I heard birds chirping, saw the flowers in bloom, and noticed trees continuing to bud. I have to be careful with all of this since I have quite a few outdoor allergies, but it was nice to be in nature that is coming back to life again.

I too am trying to do that for myself and for our son. I still have bad days and expect to for quite a while, but I am also having some good ones.  And, I am trying to not feel guilty for that.  Sometimes, I do feel guilty and other times I do not.

I still miss my love with every fiber of my being but it has been sinking in that I have to continue on without him. That has been a very hard realization to come to and then try to live with.  After 20 years together, his absence has gutted me in many ways.  But, since we have our son who is still a boy, I have to use all of my strength, cling to my faith, and carry on.

Both of us still want him here with us.  Both of us loved to laugh with him, to listen to him tell jokes and be silly, to share meals, to pray together, and to have our long weekend chats before starting the day.  But for reasons I still do not understand, that wasn’t to be.

Ian and I both are finding things to keep us busy and keep us motivated. That is helping as well. Still that grief and loss are always there.  I just suppose we are trying to find a way each day to live with it, deal with whatever our feelings are, feel them, and figure out a way to carry on.

As you know from my writings last week, I didn’t know how to move on last week.  I just couldn’t.  And I was okay with that.  At the time, I had to wallow and be sad.  I had to write about it, cry tears, scream, and let it out.  And, surprisingly, that day actually helped me.

Right now I feel like I have little control over my emotions and how I am feeling.  Some days are awful and some days are really good and others are a combination. This morning I woke up thinking, I wonder what we will be doing today.  So that was a sign to me that today would be a good day.

But tomorrow could be awful again.  Thus the waves continue of grief, of pain, of loss, of sorrow, of sadness, of anger, and of life never being the same again.  Along with these are waves of happiness, of a special memory, of a favorite quote or joke that was told, of a picture with smiles and hugs, and special chats with our boy.

The Lenten season was very special to the two of us.  We met each other during that time frame and fell in love. It was a quick courtship but one that both of us knew was destined to be.  We were married later that year and had a wonderful life together.  So, this time is bittersweet.

Easter too has always been very special. I know this year will be hard but I am trying to remember the previous Easter celebrations, look at our photos, and be thankful for the time that we had together.

I know I will cry some but I hope to also laugh and enjoy the time with my family and friends who are still with us.  And I hope that we can take time to remember those we lost. For they enriched our lives and were quite special.

A few things I am thankful for today:

  • A lovely sunrise through the clouds
  • Chatting with Ian on the way to school
  • A quick walk around our neighborhood
  • The loud chirping of birds
  • The vibrant colors of tulips
  • The hundreds of photos that I have taken over the years
  • Our family vacation last summer
  • Books that occupy my mind for a while
  • Favorite songs
  • My coloring book of Bible verses
  • My family and friends
  • My faith

And, this verse which has been hard to read recently.  Deep down though, I know it to be a promise from the Lord.  Jeremiah 29:11 was in a Michael W. Smith song that Kirk and I used to listen to — a lot.  Each time I heard it, it touched me and made me realize that all will be okay.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

May this comfort all of us who are grieving and lost.  May it encourage us.  May we have good days along with the bad.

The Grief Goes On…

Four months ago this week, we lost the man who I was privileged to call my husband.  In some ways, it seems like it has been longer than that. In others, it has moved ahead quickly with a big hole in our lives. And most of all, our lives will never be the same.

Yesterday, I read a blog about grief. The author shared that his father died on a Saturday morning, so that day of the week would never again be the same for him. That is how it has been for me each Monday since Kirk’s passing. This author also mentioned that after such a loss, you see things in terms of before and after the event. I have found that to be true.

I can hold it together for much of the week, but each Monday morning, I tend to relive what happened, often in bits and pieces. The health crisis that he was in, calling 911, watching the police officers do CPR prior to the firemen and paramedics getting to our house and then taking over, and working on him until they took him in an ambulance to the hospital.

My parents then arrived at our house and Ian woke up.  We all then went to the hospital hoping and praying that he would be okay.  When we arrived, they put us in a side room which would have had me concerned if I wasn’t in such shock.  A nurse, a doctor, and a family liaison then came in and told us that although his heart had restarted a few times, it didn’t stay pumping and that he had died.

We screamed and cried and were in deep shock. I couldn’t process this. How is it possible? How could this happen?  He should have woken up and been okay.  We just had laughed and talked the night before going to bed.  We had just had a great and Happy Thanksgiving weekend with our family and friends.  We had just been enjoying our life.

After receiving this shock, I went to see him.  It looked like my love but didn’t feel like him.  He was cold to the touch. That was such a bizarre feeling that I will never forget.   He was always warm when I held his hand or received a hug. I knew physically that he was gone but my brain couldn’t begin to process it.

I then went back to check on our son to see how he was doing.  Our pastor was there as well and that was a great comfort.  The pastor went with me the second time I went to see Kirk and prayed for him and for us.  I looked at him and willed him to wake up, I begged God to bring him back, but sadly, that was not to be.  For some reason that I don’t yet understand, it was his time to go.

I asked the nurse for his wedding band and she took it off his hand. I have been wearing it every day since. This brings me some comfort to have a part of something that was precious to him — us and our marriage and our life together.  That is so deeply precious to me as well.

After receiving the ring, I said goodbye and then went back to check on our son who was still in shock. My parents had started reaching out to our family and friends to give them the news. I was also still in shock. They suggested going to have breakfast so we left and I tried to eat. I couldn’t process answers to questions from my mom. I was numb and lost and so deeply sad. .

Now, I wish I had stayed longer with Kirk at the hospital, but all I could think of was to be with Ian and try to be strong for him and share in his grief and loss. I have asked Kirk to forgive me for leaving him when I did. I am finding comfort in knowing that he was already in Heaven and his body was simply a shell that I could say goodbye to.

We spent the rest of the day at our house.  My brother and sister also arrived from out-of-town. It was so good to see them and share our memories. Later someone went to get food from a favorite restaurant. As we were together, I was able to eat. We talked, we cried, and we shared good times we had just had with Kirk. We grieved together and all tried to support Ian.

One of Kirk’s brothers and wife came over later to see us. Many of his family lives out-of-town and they were all there for the memorial service. Seeing them that Monday meant the world to me. We were all shocked and saddened to lose this man who meant so much to us. We didn’t really know what to say but it was helpful to just be together.

That evening, Ian’s best friend and his mother came to see us, had made us a meal, and loaned us some DVDs. It was great to see them and especially nice for Ian. Since then, we regularly see them, go to the park, have meals and watch movies together. And, the boys play together, talk and laugh, which means the world to me.

That week we were also visited by other friends, neighbors, church members, and the pastor who performed our wedding and gave us such a special message as we started our life together. We also received text messages, notes on Facebook, emails, and phone calls. These loved ones prayed with us and shared stories with us.

We are so very fortunate to have such a great support system to help us through this. People cooked us food or delivered it from our favorite restaurants. Others gave us gift cards, sympathy cards, and Christmas cards. Our friends and family have gone above and beyond for us and we are so very thankful for that.

I was married to Kirk for 20 years. Last week, we visited clients that he had worked with long before he met me.  It was nice to share stories with them about him, to hear what he meant to them, and to cry together. It has rocked them as well as my family.

That week, I slept well at our hotel and that was great. It felt good to be busy and have some purpose. I have been floundering for a while. Still, there was time to share the grief and acknowledge that it is a part of our lives. We also prayed together and also were able to laugh. So life was going on as well as the grief.

All of us will be touched one day by the loss of a loved one. Sharing that with others makes that burden more bearable. When you have loved and lost, the grief does go on.  But so does life, so we try to have good times and find the positive things that we can enjoy. At times, I feel guilty that we are moving forward, but I have to realize that is what Kirk would want for us.  He always wanted the best for us and I cherish that.

One of the things Kirk would say with some laughter is that Heaven wasn’t ready for him and hell wouldn’t take him. That Monday in late November, Heaven was ready for him. Just we who loved him were not ready. As I said earlier in this piece, I still don’t know the reason but am trying to live with the new normal.

Our son has his entire life ahead of him so I want to share that with him and celebrate it. We remember and talk about his dad. I tell him stories of times with his dad throughout his young life. And we try to carry out the plans and ideas that he’d had for our family with some adjustments.

If you are grieving, I hope and pray that you have a support system, a faith, and the knowledge that you will be reunited with your loved one in the future. That is what I believe and it helps in the hardest of times. Blessings to you and yours.

Darkness and Light

This week in my grief journey, I have experienced both darkness and light.  At times, I have been very down and depressed and negative but I have also been happy, upbeat, and encouraged.

It is very strange to have such extremes nearly every day but that is how it is going for me.  I cannot speak for anyone else, only my journey and that with my son. We are doing the best we can and still have a long journey ahead of us.

At times I am overwhelmed with loss and sadness. I strongly feel the weight of the loss and it is hard to get past it. So, at those times, I wallow, cry, scream, or pray.  Or a combination. I then try to focus on the good in our lives and all the support we have.  Also, I am thankful that my love didn’t suffer when he left us.

Other times, I laugh at a memory, a favorite song, or a photo. My memory of him is long and wonderful. We were by no means a perfect couple but we had a good relationship that was ours. I am thankful every day for that and all of those wonderful years that I had with him. I am also so thankful we had a child.

I still must be in the denial phase since I cannot believe that he is gone. Now that some of the shock is wearing off, I am remembering problems and issues that we’d had and feeling some guilt. I wish I had done a few things differently. I wish I could do a few things over again. I have asked him for forgiveness and have said how much I loved him and still do.

Now, it is time realize that I need to forgive myself. I know that I loved him deeply and with all that I had as he did with me. We also loved our son and were good partners in raising him and teaching him what we wanted to. When I feel bad, I try to focus on that and it helps.

Our son and I often talk about his dad. I try not to overwhelm him with it but do mention funny things his dad did, or a favorite story about the two of them, or how much his dad loved him. We talk that his dad is still with us but in a different place. I know he misses him like I do. He is staying busy with school, homework, his reading and writing, and time with friends and family. And all of that is helping.

There are things to look forward to and I am thankful for those. But every once in a while, my fears creep in that something will happen to me. I keep praying and working to ensure our son and I are okay. Each day includes projects but also time to just be, to cry if needed, to laugh if I feel like it, and just to be present.

This week we went to the Ash Wednesday service at our church. Before that we had a dinner and there was time to visit some couples who I have known since I was a child. That part was great. But the hard part was the Bible verse that states we came from dust and will go back to dust. That hit me so hard since my love was cremated.

The thing I have to remember is that his body may be dust but his spirit and soul are not. I firmly believe that he is in Heaven and that makes me smile. I can imagine him there making friends, having chats, and making everyone laugh. If there are problems or things to repair, I can imagine him helping with that as well.

I can only imagine what his first time must have been like when he arrived. I wonder if he was surprised to be there since it was so sudden. I hope he was told that we are going to be okay and that he could visit some of his loved ones who passed before him. Last summer we watched the I Can Only Imagine movie. It touched all three of us. We cried and talking about it after watching it. I am so glad that we shared that time.

Another thing that hit me hard this week was the death of actor Luke Perry from a massive stroke. He was the same age as my love was when he died. It brought up all of the feelings of the suddenness and wishing I could have done more for him. So I cried a lot that day. I prayed a lot too. But I also spent extra time that day with our son on his homework, talking with him about his day, and being in the moment with him.

Finding the light in the darkness can be a challenge but it is there. I keep praying to continue to find it and move forward, but realize that it is a long process.  After all, when you have loved someone for so long, the feelings don’t just go away with them. There has to be time to heal and figure out a way to live with a different life than what we expected.

Throughout this experience, I have been thinking of my friends and family who have lost loved ones of their own — both before my loss and after. Before it happens, you have no idea how hard it is. You have no idea what someone is going through. Whether you know it is coming or unexpected, when that other person is gone, there is hurt and sorrow.

I think it has helped me have more empathy for others and their grief.  And more desire to want to reach out to those grieving. I try to reach out and pray for others and do my best to comfort them. It is not easy since I am still raw, but there is comfort in bearing one another’s burdens.

My prayer is that we may comfort one another in both the good times and the bad, pray for each other, laugh together, cry together, lift one another up, and be there to listen. I also hope and pray that we will always be loving to each other and treat one another with kindness. After all, we don’t always know how much someone is suffering.

On The Last 90 Days

It is amazing to think it has been three months / 90 days since my love passed away.  Each day since that happened  I have missed him so much. But, also each day, I try to remember our life together and our memories.

I carry on the best I can for myself and our son who I pray has a long life ahead of him. Some days are much harder than others. I had a very hard time getting settled for bed last night. As I have mentioned before, Monday’s are still the worst since that was the day of.

Not only am I wrestling with the loss, but I am also scared of something happening to me, or worrying about things that my love used to do that now fall to me, or having to be both parents for our son, or not being the friend or family member that I want to be to those who have reached out and helped us so much.

Our son and I do miss him. We also very much enjoy talking about him and laughing about our favorite stories and our family jokes. We also like looking at the photos.  Thankfully I took a ton of these throughout our life together. We cry and give each other  comfort.

Still the pain is real and raw.  After all, we had 20 years together. We were together or tried our best to talk every day. It didn’t always happen when he was on business trips, but we did try. We were privileged to have more than 7,300 days together.

As hard as it is right now, I wouldn’t trade that time with him for anything. The cost of true and real love is loss and pain when that love leaves. Those days enriched my life and blessed me in so many ways. I hope it did for him as well.

Last night, I listened to a voice mail from him that I didn’t remember that I had. It was only 14 seconds long but so very special. He had a lovely low voice and could have had a career on the radio or in voice over work. I miss that so very much.

I expected to grow old with him. I expected more time together. I expected one last conversation, but sadly that was not to be. For some reason that I still do not understand, the Lord had something else in mind. I don’t know when or if I ever will.

Right now, I am trying to focus on all the things that have to be taken care of in the aftermath of such a loss. I am figuring out my future, and the future for our son and myself. I have plenty to take care of since my love was the one did so much to help around the house. He was much neater than I was/am. He was the one who took care of the bills and repairs, and so much more.

So each day, I try to do something towards these goals and realize that I will get there. I do feel like I should be doing more but some days, I just want to cry and sit and think about my memories. So, I try to do that, then wipe the tears, and tackle the project, or read, or do some work, or help our son with homework, or watch a favorite program.

Just please do not tell me it is time to get over it. I am not ready since the pain of him no longer being here is still so fresh and raw. I still want to talk with him, feel a hug, share a kiss, laugh with him over a favorite movie, joke, or story. I still want to wake up next to him in the morning. I want to see him at his place on the couch or at the table.

I like to think that I didn’t take him for granted but I think that I did at times. One doesn’t expect a sudden loss like this. We expect instead that we will see each other the next time. We expect to take that vacation in a year and are excited about it. We expect to have a chance to say all that needs to be said.

Thankfully, we had a great few days with the three of us together before this happened.  We took pictures and we loved and laughed together. We didn’t have a knock down drag out fight, but instead had a disagreement that we then apologized for. That in itself is a huge blessing since I don’t have major guilt.

My hope and prayer is for all of us to cherish those we love, to tell one another how much we care and love them, to pray for our loved ones, and to realize that one day we will lose them. I pray that it isn’t devastating or debilitating for us. However, I have to say that there is some of that and it is part of the journey of grief and loss.

Whether we lose a spouse, a child, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, a friend, a cousin, an aunt, an uncle, a co-worker, or other relation, it hurts and life is never the same. My prayer is that we savor and celebrate those relationships while we can. Let’s make the most of our time that we have together.

Let’s not hold grudges or hate inside. Let’s forgive instead. Let’s spend time together as much as we can. Let’s remember to say that we love that other person. Let’s also have those hard discussions on how to run the household and pay the bills and take care of each other.

Let’s discuss the end of life wishes that our loved ones have and that we have. And when we do suffer the loss, let’s remember our loved one fondly. Let’s keep them alive with photos, stories, and memories. Let’s be thankful for the time we had with them. And, let’s always, always love.

To those in our life who have reached out and helped, thank you. Thank you for being there when we have needed it the most. Thanks for your love and support. We love you so very much and truly appreciate you.