Friday, September 30, 2011

Martini Fridays ... no more.

TGIF ... There will be no more Friday evenings with a Martini and Sarah replaced with my cleaning cart and vacuum.  Besides which, my last Martini Glass just broke.

Being back to work full-time, I enjoy being able to simply celebrate Friday!  The beginning of a weekend. 

My choices are endless on where to start and what I choose to do.  I simply have to remember that I only have two days to complete everything I need to do, everything I could not get done during the week.  I also need to remember, that I need to get this all done by myself.  Oddly enough, it is all okay.  Don't sweat the small stuff ... and all that!

As Bill often said, "High ho, high ho, it's off to work I go."  The sooner I get there, the sooner I can leave the building thinking ... TGIF!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

For infinity and beyond ...

My dearest Bill,

I sometimes wonder about just how much you see me, hear me and are now anxious to have me back at your side.  I imagine that for you, it will seem like but a moment, and for me a lifetime.

I remember having a conversation with my Mom after Dad died and I asked if she would ever consider marrying again.  She was adamant about never wanting to marry again, because she did not want to be confused with whom she would be spending eternity.  Is that so?  Funny in my young mind, how I thought this to be an odd statement for my belief was, and still is, that we are destined to live out eternity as a whole in God's presence and not as individuals clustered as we are here on earth.  I often come back to her words lately and I must admit, it gives me reason to pause and reflect.  I wish you and I could have a chat, and that you could offer a glimpse into your new world.

I also return to a conversation when you expressed your disappointment when I declared that I could never love another again, and I would certainly never marry again.  Do you remember saying, "I would hope that I have made you happy enough in married life, that you would want this again."   What a big heart!

I am moving along with life and I hope that you are proud of me ... as I am proud of myself.  I still hold to, if I would have been first to go, that I would come back to haunt you if I saw any indication that you are falling in love again.  Not so much of a big heart.  To be truthful, that thought occupies only a small place in my heart today.  I remember it only with a chuckle because when I said it, I wanted to threaten you to never leave me behind.  I know enough now, that I would never want you to feel this loneliness and that I love you enough to carry this one for both of us.  You owe me you old goat!  I expect a great big bear hug and ... maybe a foot rub?  Do we have feet in Heaven?  I sure hope so, because contrary to your thoughts, I happen to think my feet are my best assets.

I am becoming comfortable with being alone, I just don't know if I will ever become accustomed to being lonely ... I miss touching you and being touched by you ... I miss the sound of your cultured voice ... I miss the unexpected hugs and the gentle caress of your hand.  I miss the scent of you when my head was cradled in your warm soft neck.  I miss the feeling of my senses being touched ... skin, smell and sound.

So on the subject of whether there will be confusion when I get to Heaven, I don't think there will be much confusion.  For no matter what, no matter if / when someone else comes into my life, you will always hold my heart and I will always carry you closely every moment of my life here on earth.  To know me, will be to know you.

Until we meet again my dear friend.

Your loving wife ... for infinity and beyond!


Live, laugh, love ...

When did this happen?
When the sun seemed a little brighter, a little warmer ...

When did this happen?
When the sound of my laughter no longer startled me ...

When did this happen?
When I recognized the person looking back in the mirror ..

When did this happen?
When someone else's pain was greater than mine.

Does it really matter that ...
   I no longer cry every day ...
   I no longer feel like I cannot survive the moment ..
   I no longer mark time with the day he died.

I still miss him dearly but now with hope
   ... for he taught me that with hope I can survive.
I still miss him dearly but now with love
   ... for he taught me that with love I can feel.
I still miss him dearly but now with laughter
   ... for he taught me that with laughter anything is possible.
I still miss him dearly but now with life
   ... for in the world of the living, I am witness to our love.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I will always be with you ...

As Christopher said to Winnie ... "If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together ... there is something you must always remember.  You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  But the most important thing is, even if we're apart ... I'll always be with you."

Always with me I know!  I sometimes think that on those occasions when I do feel alone, he is off exploring the splendours of Heaven, or busy sitting on a cloud having a great old chat filled with trivia with family and friends who were excited to be with him.  I imagine him surrounded in peace, with love and completely void of worry.  How can I take offence to that?  These were the moments in life on earth when I was most happy, when I saw him happy.  I can take my moments of loneliness knowing that he is busy doing what he loves best; all of this is what made him so special and why I always loved him more than yesterday and knew it would always be less than tomorrow. 

Sometimes, when my sad, self-centred ego is lonely, I busy my mind with the questions I would ask as a means to lessen the solitude ...

Hey Bill ...

·   are you watching this; or are you all caught up in one of your soapbox dialogues with my dad?  Is this why I am feeling so alone?

·   What would you be doing right now, if the roles were reversed?  Would you be wondering what would I be doing faced with the mounds of decisions to be made in the next few months?

·   Can you change things or make things happen for me?  And if you could, would you?  Have I made all the right decisions?

·   Would you have thrown or boxed my things so quickly?  What would you have kept that was mine?

·   Do I really have to talk out loud when I want to be with you, or is just thinking these silly questions enough because let me tell you, most people really don't understand when you suddenly start talking to your dead spouse!

·   Do you just sense me around, as I do you, or do you actually see me?  I love the thought that you actually see me because there will be no surprises when I finally get to be with you in Heaven.  Chances are, I will look more like a grandmother than your wife when I do get to be with you.  Or do we revert back to our young selves when we get to Heaven? Or do we finally find the perfect simple spirit form?

·   What's it like to be without worries?

My list of questions go on and on ... guess he has been busy!

I came across this quote on other widow/ers blogs and have since had a lot of fun with it.  I hope you do too.

... I will always be with you.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ever wonder why ...

Every wonder why ... why the most beautiful songs have been written while the songwriter was either drunk from sorrow or floating in happiness ... why the most beautiful poetry was written when the poet was down on her luck with nothing to eat or was filled with ideas when she had finally fed her brain with food ... why the most beautiful paintings were created with the artist pouring his heart onto the canvas while in pain or is in a state of euphoria having found the perfect subject? 

It may explain why I have not been writing much.  Even my journals are collecting dust, disturbed only when my thoughts go back to ... and Bill is still dead.  I am neither in pain, nor am I high on life.  I now am simply comfortable living.

And Bill is still dead ... my mind knows that he is never coming back but sometimes I catch myself in a moment where I think it's not true and he is somewhere waiting to come home; because something so very wrong just cannot be true.

Yesterday I wrote at length to a dear friend about my day on Saturday ...

Yesterday was a tough day.  After finishing with the work retreat, I found myself alone.  I drove around trying to find someone at home so I could share a coffee and conversation with - no one home.  So I stopped at our Wal-Mart to start my groceries.  Walked out with only some new eye shadow to match my new outfit.  Then went to the Mall to get ... I don't know what I was getting but walked out with my favourite author's new book and a movie.  Really, as if my schedule has time to read and watch movies.  Then I drove home.

The house was a mess and I knew my son was having people over for drinks so I got busy.  Cleaned the house ... done, put the first coat of grout sealer ... done, ordered supper, ate alone ... done, grabbed the rake and cleaned a large part of the back yard ... done, and it is only 6:00 p.m.  Went to bed, tired by the long work hours of the week and the physical work of cleaning.  No sleep to be found.  There were tears all afternoon ... I missed Bill something fierce. 

I had a few moments with my son, when I was able to let it all out but it was not the same as before; there were tears but not heart-wrenching sobs.

A few days before this, I started questioning myself.  I wondered if this new schedule of extreme busy at work and at play was somehow masking what I needed to feel ... leaving me with a false sense of being okay.  I guess I got my answer this weekend.  Even if I am busy, there will always be moments like these.  I can be both - at the same time; it no longer needs to be either/or.

Friday, September 23, 2011

All mine ...

It amazes me how life goes on.  I was at my whiteboard calendar yesterday, posting the upcoming meetings.  Two meetings here, three on that day and now five out of town.  There, the board is filled with neatly printed reminders that life goes on.  I lingered on the 27th and blinked.  The 27th - 14 months.  Only a few short months ago, I would worry about my ability to stay focused for the week prior to the anniversary date, let alone be present in the moment on the day.  I am now simply blinking an acknowledgement.

With that, there is much I don't miss ... the daily meltdowns, the dread of marching my butt to bed where my loneliness was magnified, the endless waiting for the door to open or waking up only to find that it was real and not just a dream.

Now that I have recommitted myself to my work and to my interests, the days seem to fold onto each other and the proof is all the red ink on my whiteboard or the black dots on my Blackberry.  I end the day thankful to come home, thankful to make my way to bed and thankful for the little time left of the day to spend with Bill.  Finally alone to remember him.  All of this is mine.  Including all the lovely memories.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Backslide ...

Wow, and I thought the whole world knew!  I walked away from a conversation with an old acquaintance thinking, how can this be?  I thought the whole world knew.  We stood in the aisles talking about family, work and her retirement.  It suddenly became clear that she had not heard "the news". 

I had a couple of choices ... I could continue with the conversation or let her know that Bill died a year ago.  I listened through more and then told her.  Hugs, sorry, more hugs.  Uncomfortable.  Wow, I did not think that such an interlude could raise up all the emotions. 

All night, I sifted through my emotions; searching through the depths of my heart, where things seemed okay and so obviously are not.  I continue to sway between hope and fear, living with Bill and wishing that he was still here.  I rummaged through the dishevelled parts of my life, summarizing the moments when I feel lifeless, not understanding why Bill is not with me and wishing he was here.  Like the alcoholic who has not taken a drink for a very long time, I felt disappointed in myself for this backslide but oddly relished in the drunken feeling; feeling is not lifeless.

Needless to say, it has been a sleepless night.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Love means ...

The weekend was good but tough.  Sadie has found a new home.  The adoptive family came by on Saturday afternoon and the rest is as they say ... history. 

The house is strangely quiet and we are all mourning our loss and celebrating her good fortune.  She is with a great young family, a paradise of sorts for her.  The little girls were adorable when they came to take her home; Mom and Dad really understood our tears.

It has been difficult to sort through the emotions.  At the risk of having all pet lovers scold me, I once thought, "It's a dog!  Get over it!" Hmmm ...  I now understand so please go easy on me!

To quote myself ... and so many others, "Sometimes love means letting go."

Friday, September 16, 2011

The journey home ...

In keeping with the thoughts of what would Bill be saying ... I came across our favourite artist last night.  My first time actually listening to a full song by Sarah!  Heck, it is Friday, our night with Sarah and Martinis.  I invite you into our home, into our hearts.

I know that this is what Bill would be saying to me ....

The Journey Home by Sarah Brightman ...

The journey home, is never too long
Your heart arrives before the train
The journey home, is never too long
Some yesterdays always remain

I'm going back to where my heart was light
Where my pillow was a ship, I sailed through the night

The journey home, is never too long
When open arms are waiting there
The journey home, is never too long
There is room to love, and room to spare

I want to feel the way that I did then
And think my wishes through before I wish again

Not every boat you come across is one you have to take
Now sometimes standing still can be the best move you ever make

The journey home is never too long
Home hopes to heal the deepest pain
The journey home is never too long
Your heart arrives before the train

Listen not with sadness but with a hopeful heart ... breathe my tender hearts.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The mind sees only what it sees ...

The sun is not shinning this evening ... actually, the sky is quite menacing.  Thick dreary, black billowy clouds covered my path home from work.  I looked up and laughed!  I laughed because these clouds actually look like they want to deliverer snow.  Yup ... snow.  Only a few short hours before, I sat with my sister on my break and thought how nice it was, cool but the sun was warm.  Now look at it!  I smiled at the fact that the bleakness did not menace my mood, did not penetrate my heart.  I chuckled as I held a conversation with Bill.  "Look!" I said, motioning with my free hand.  "It's September and already we are threatened with snow."  More giggles that turned into laughter; then I looked over to the other vehicle next to me as we sat at the red light and the driver looked over with a great big grin.  It's contagious ... "Oh well," I said, "at least I've stopped scaring people!"  At least I think I'm no longer scaring people ... I bet I will be the topic of conversation at someone's dinner table tonight and quite possibly offering another a chuckle or two.

Tell me, would you be frightened by some lady laughing away in her car when there is obviously no one in the other seat?  The mind sees only what it sees, but in my heart I know, Bill was definitely along for the ride.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Times they are a changing ...

When I first began my journey, I was so infused with grief that there was little else to think about.  There were many times when life needed attention and it felt like an intrusion.  Friends would drop by or call and I grew irritated by their intrusion when they would try to engage me in normal conversation about life.  All I could think was, "Are you kidding?  Don't you realize that I can't focus right now?  My brain is too full!"  I simply offered what must have seemed like an empty smile for I was caught on a few occasion.  Like the time a friend, realizing that I had a painted on smile and empty eyes, started talking about someone being caught cheating with a co-worker in the photocopier room.  The words were spoken but I was not registering and it was only when I realized she was smiling intently did I clue in on the words. Clearing her throat, she laughed and hugged me.  Earth to Ginette ... come in please!  As if anyone did this anymore, fooling around with a co-worker in a cloakroom ... I mean in a photocopier room.

Who knew that grieving can be habit-forming?  For a long time, too long, I lived in this small world.  Then I began to venture out only to quickly retreated there when life felt too overwhelming.  In my grief, it seemed to offer me a sense of well-being and I was comfortable with surroundings.  My world was made smaller by doing so, for those who initially found my absence to be okay, grew tired and uncomfortable seeing me this way; they simply stopped trying.  The less people dropped by, or called, the smaller my world became and the more comfortable I was  ... and so on and so on.

How times have changed.  I am now reconnecting in a real way with those who never let go, finding a sincere interest in knowing what's new in their life; reconnecting to my own interests such as photography and my work as a doula; reconnecting to my career, getting excited about the projects.  I nurture those new relationships garnered by my need to connect with those who knew my pain.  These relationships are flourishing today, fed by hope and sustained by the common need to grow.

Indeed, how times have changed.  I now sometimes get irritated by the questions about my loss or when I think that I am defined in another's eyes by my widowhood. 

I am thankful that there are still those who can speak openly about my journey with grief without defining me by my loss, and who can see and appreciate my growth.  I am thankful for the new relationships forged out of darkness and now growing in the light of hope.

Sometimes, I wonder if this is not the calm before another storm.  However, as the saying goes, I choose not to look at a gift horse in the mouth!  The sun is shinning today!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Second Article ...

My second article "Something in my heart does awake ..." has been published. 

Click on the above link to read.  Take a moment to peruse the contents of this wonderful website.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A new normal ...

What a beautiful weekend, taking care of myself beginning with a much needed haircut, dinning with my sister - garçon, Martini please, spending a wonderful evening with a dear friend - Café au lait, make that decaf please and capping it with my family at the dinner table on Sunday night complete with cheesecake and a crackling fire in the back yard.

There were a few hours this weekend that were truly amazing.  Coffee with my friend on Saturday evening.  Coffee with him and with Bill.  This is Bill's dearest and oldest friend.  He was up to see his family and always includes time with me when he comes.  How relaxing it was to spend hours talking about his family, my family and reminiscing openly with someone who has history with Bill and with Bill and I.

For the first time, the conversation was not strained, not filled with sadness nor with pregnant pauses as were conversations of past.  We actually closed the coffee shop and continued our conversation for a good long while on the street standing by our cars, neither wanting this special moment to end.  I came home feeling content and pleasantly tired.

There is life outside of our corridor of grief;  Bill lives on through us.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Holding on to grief ...

To quote myself, " ... to holding on tight to my grief instead of holding it lightly in my heart so that it can slowly lift away from me." (March 6, 2011 Holding on to Bill)

Given the events of this week and my reactions to said events, I believe that I am well on my way to mastering holding on to my grief lightly.  I would even dare say that there are true moments of letting go.  How very comforting to know that this can actually happen; that one can actually let go of grief's hand and still have your loved one with you. 

This does not mean that I don't miss Bill - I do, but it is somehow different now.  Missing him no longer renders me to a crumpled heap on the floor, it simply means that my heart sometimes misses a beat or I suddenly grow a lump in my throat.  It does not mean that I am all alone, it simply means I am sometimes lonely.  It does not mean that I can't see a future without him, it simply means I have a future influenced by him and wish that he could still be here.

I recall reading other widow/ers blogs, where they wrote about reaching this point in their journey and thinking, "They could not have loved their spouse as much as I did!" ... and now I understand.  They never fell out of love, they simply chose to live with their loved one in their heart.

... holding on to grief lightly in my heart so that it can slowly lift away.

Indeed, time does not heal, it is what you do with this time that matters.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Poor Sadie ...

Adopt a dog?  I have a beautiful 8 year old black cocker mix who needs a loving home with routine.  Poor Sadie, she is grieving too!  She still sits upstairs looking out the window at the end of the day, waiting for Bill to come home ... for anyone to come home.

I Googled it and there is not much out there.  The house is often quiet disturbed only by the occasional car or truck and with our busy schedules, she can go a full day without seeing anyone.  With my middle son often not coming home until late, and my niece who simply tolerates her she is left with me.  Me!  Me who celebrates remembering to brush my teeth!  Poor Sadie.

I need to write this ad and wonder what that will be like if someone does jump at the opportunity to adopt this loving pet.  I only come up with, the house as well as my conscious will be quieter.  Although Sadie was mine  for the first two years of her life, she became Bill's best friend.  She gravitated towards my middle son after Bill died and he is often not here anymore.  The common theme that came through on my Google search is that a dog will either die shortly after its master or will be restored through a good routine.  Poor Sadie, she neither died nor is there any hope for a good routine.

This is definitely a rambling post ... it reflects my emotions as it pertains to our dog.  Sometimes, love means letting go.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

God's promise ...

Death is the veil which those who live call life:
They sleep, and it is lifted.
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

We can only know what we know, what we see and suppose what we don't.  I often wonder if Bill misses me as much as I miss him.  How could he for he is at peace.  I remember thinking on more than one occasion, that he now sees what truly is in my human heart, he now understands the love that grows there for him.  He no longer feels this love restricted by human perception; he now feels the purest love I know how to offer restricted only by my human awareness.

After all, I am limited by what I know - the beauty of a cool crisp starlit night, the smell of my home when a meal invites everyone to the table and the wonders of my love for my family as well as the pain of losing Bill.  I sometimes morn on his behalf, to have lost all of this; then I am reminded that he is always with us.

I am beginning to find balance between these wondrous moments in all their beauty and warmth and my grief.  I embrace life, both in splendour and in pain for that is part of being alive.  I can embrace it all for there is God's promise of a life after death and I suppose it to be marvellous beyond my imagining.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Another season ...

I made the comment the other day to a friend who was pointing out a flock of geese heading south, that I am truly not ready this year for Fall.  Me, the great lover of crisp cool air, splendid colour of turning leaves and warm sunny days made warmer by the lack of summer haze, not ready for Fall?

Fall came and went last year without much fanfare.  After all, I was still in a fog and barely noticed anything let alone the day I needed a jacket and socks.  This year is different somehow.  I am not sure whether it is because we had such a beautiful summer or whether this is the effects of the "second year".  Another season, another anniversary, another Christmas ...

I return to work today, after an extended leave.  I have changed.  I am stronger in many ways and yet still very much a grieving widow.  My world and all who are part of it have changed.  I pray that we can all learn to accept that this is true and appreciate the discovery.  Another season of life.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Moments like these ...

I take it that there will always be moments like these.

I spent the end of last week preparing to take wedding pictures.  Starting with a mock photo shoot on Wednesday, spending most of Thursday evening and early Friday morning sorting through the various poses that would suit this couple then the taking of the first official pictures on Friday evening at the rehearsal party.  I thrived in the "all consuming" task.  Saturday rolled around and I was off to take the picture of the bride and her bridesmaids - makeup, hair then off to her home for the getting dressed giggles.

Zipping through the streets from one appointment to another, my mind exploded with more possible shots and then came down to the task of organizing the official shots on the 7th hole.  There was no room for grieving for I was in the purest happy moments of another's life.  The bride is sweet and her father so obviously proud.  I moved from one picture to another, watching all this happiness from my viewfinder.  Bridesmaids, flower girl, pic with Mom then pic with Dad.  My throat constricted a moment when a spontaneous shot presented itself with Dad giving his daughter a great big hug and a peck on the forehead.  Click.  A genuine moment captured.

Off we go to the golf club, where the families and friends are already gathered.  I look through the crowd and spot my two beautiful sons who actually got dressed and made their way out to the golf club on their own with no assistance from me.  *Gulp*  No more time to dwell on this, the wedding party is setting up for the walking down the aisle.  No time to pay attention to the ache that is settling in my heart.  Click, click, click ...  I do's are spoken, tears of happiness spill and recorded and off to the 7th hole for the official non-official shots.  We had very little time to waste, there was a crowd waiting to be fed and wanting to dance.  Tired and somewhat apprehensive on the quality of pictures taken, we finish the shoot and head off to the club house.  More giggles, smiles and happiness.

The banquet begins with a request for a kiss by the new couple.  Click, click, click ... more spontaneous moments of happiness captured.  Shovel some food down and then came the speeches.  They were short and to the point, ending with Daddy saying how proud he is of his little girl. 

The evening goes on with all of the traditional dances and moments with the cake, bouquet and garter.  I finally get to put my camera away.  I am tired and I watch the guests dancing.

I guess there will always be moments like these ... a song comes on and as I watch the dance floor fill with couples gazing in each others' eyes I seek refuge in a corner to finally let a tear roll.  I miss dancing, I miss Bill.  He was with me all this while, feeling his presence when I doubted myself during the day and smiling when I knew I had captured a great shot.

As I have penned before, I wonder what I am grieving ... this was definitely not a moment of grieving a lifestyle, but rather the man who loved to dance with me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Taking a break ...

In reading about the various forms of poetry, I came across Haiku poetry.  I stored this away in my "future writing" folder.  It lay dormant until yesterday when I came across this picture. 

Having already written, on a few occasions, about my love affair with my bathtub, this picture had me writing my first Haiku poem.

Photo courtesy of: Utopia
When life seems overwhelming
A return to water is needed
To ease the aches

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I need a hug ...

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been stewing about my loss.  My heart has truly been with Bill, not in a sad way, for l truly believe he continues to live in me, in his boys and in all who were blessed by knowing him.  The sadness is more about the loss of a lifestyle.  You know the one, filled with the simple gifts.  I remember, so many times, coming home from a long day at work and saying, "I need a hug."  Instantly, without question, I found myself back in my "safe place" and the cares of the day washing away.

Last night, my youngest son informed me that he will be moving in with a friend this weekend.  My heart stopped for a moment and I managed to hold back the tears until he went out.  I paced, sat then paced some more, all the while tears of abandonment poured out.  So soon?  Why now? Are you not happy here? ... sound familiar?

I took a look around this big old house, and it already seems that much bigger and emptier.  Loss of a lifestyle.  The simple gifts of hearing my son's laughter every day, of stepping into his bedroom in the morning to wish him good morning, of asking him about his day - changed.

I need a hug.