Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween ...

Ding dong the witch is not dead!

She's gone to work in her finest ...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Always with me ...

Shall we live in mystery and yet conduct ourselves as though everything were known? ~ Christopher Fry

As I made my coffee yesterday morning, I looked down and noticed that it was Bill's thermos cup.  It is made remarkable by the ding on the side.  I smiled as I remembered him pouring his coffee, slipping on his black leather jacket, sitting it on the floor while he tied his shoes and carrying it out as I watched him climb into his car and off to work.  I instinctively wrapped my hand around the cup a little tighter and brought it gently to my lips hoping to capture his essence in a more physical way.  It was a bitter sweet moment.

I am noticing more and more that because of my journey with grief, everything seems to have significance.  I see meaning in what appears to be random events and wonder if my heart is always open to the possibility that they are not so random but more a sign; a sign that he is watching over me and that these events are proof of his constant vigilance. 

I think back of my experience with the gentleman who called a couple of weeks ago.  His call came when I was feeling lost and oh so very alone.  I was also remembering a conversation we had had about whether or not we had already shared all of our stories.  Can it be?

Just last week, a robin sat in our tree for a good long while and I found myself saying, "Hello Bill".  The bird returned despite the cold for a few days after staying there bobbing and chirping, for a very long time.  My heart was warmed by its presence.

Are these all just coincidences?  Is it possible that in the mysteries of creation, God, the energies that move the world, that Bill is looking out for me?  I would like to think so.

There are many more "events" since Bill's death and many I've shared with others who have been through grief.  I shared them shyly at first but openly now for my heart is made glad as I think, Yes, it might be so.

I also think back to Bill's comment that I sometimes need to take off my rose-coloured glasses and make room for doubt.  However, I also recognize that equally, there is room for faith and hope.  After all, this is the nature of mystery.

My heart has been lightened by the acceptance of all intimations of love and care as gifts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New twist on get over it ...

I was sitting with a group of ladies who got into a rather interesting conversation about sex.  I listened to their conversation and laughed along with them.  I happened to look over and noticed the uncomfortable look in one lady's eyes.  It became uncomfortable to watch her discomfort. 

I continued to listened and dared add a little something of my own and I thought she was going to melt!  The look on her face was priceless.  Unfortunately, I was not the only one to notice and the remainder of the group started to catch on.  The conversation ended.  Really?  What just happened? This is as close as I can get to sex and it stops because someone is uncomfortable for me?  Dang!

I did not make a fuss and started listening to the new topic - right amount of sugar to make jam ... sheesh!  Now I'm uncomfortable.  I have never made jam!  What the heck do I know about how much sugar or how long to boil to get good jam?

The opportunity presented itself to be alone with this lady.  So naturally I'm curious and asked why she seemed so uncomfortable.  She was quick to say that she did not think it appropriate for everyone to be talking about "s e x" in my presence.  Hmmm ... and why is that I asked.  I'm not that old to not have an "interest".  No, no, she says ... it's because you no longer have a husband ... you are a widow.  Bless her heart;  but I assured her that widowhood does not mean that you all of a sudden lose interest and have no desire.  Dear girl, this celibacy was not something I chose.  I then asked if she would have the same reservations if a divorcĂ© was in the group.  She paused and said not really.  I so wanted to say something but out of respect for her feelings, I bit down hard on my tongue.  I guess I have not yet learned how to accessorize my widow outfit well enough ... that scarlet W must still be showing!

My turn .... get over it!  Sometimes respect is only that ... stop overanalyzing Ginette.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Traditions ....

Halloween is fast approaching and as I drive through the streets, I notice that fewer and fewer homes go all out to decorate with ghosts and goblins along with creepy crawlers and lit pumpkins!  Bill and I had noticed this trend and were saddened that a new generation of children were not going to witness the fun of this evening.  More and more parents taking their children to organized commercial parties and then take themselves out to join in larger adult parties.  The amount of children making it out for trick or treat is dwindling and it is a little discouraging to put into it two full days of decorating for the handful of children that actually make it to the door.  Regardless, Bill always insisted on decorating and we would solicit the help of our boys on a Sunday and I would take the afternoon off to get the front entrance and myself decked out.  We went from our little theme of homemade ghosts and paper witches to a full-scale graveyard filled with ghoulish skeletons, monsters, witches and capped it all with fog rolling down the yard.  Bill would rush home from work to set up the last-minute blinking lights and blasting music.  He was a kid again!  He loved opening the door slowly and peeking down to the kids, cracking a joke or two.  From ages 1 to 16 - no difference, he enjoyed it all!

I remember not too long ago, a van pulled up in front of the house and a load of kids came running up the yard.  They were looking this way and that way giggling nervously.  The doorbell rang, the kids chimed their "trick or treat" in harmony and Bill handed over the loot.  A gentleman holding what looked like a two year old said, "I just had to bring the kids over.  I always enjoyed coming here as a kid and I wanted my kids to see it."  Wow ... what a treat for us!  Yikes ... a reminder of getting older!

For the first time in 25 years, our home  lay unadorned and in the dark.  I crapped out and went to my sister's for supper to avoid the sound of the doorbell, of the giggles, reminders that my friend was no longer there to enjoy this celebration.  This year will not be any different but for other reasons.  While cleaning out the house after Bill's death, all Halloween decorations were given or dumped.  All I kept are the key pieces to decorate the inside of my home.  They are in storage waiting for the day our grandchildren come over to share in this very fun tradition.  In doing so, they will get to know their grandfather too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hey Bill ...

For the longest while, I have avoided routines that were once ours - that includes coming home for lunch.  This was our routine, time to share a meal and have those conversations we wanted to have without our audience - the boys.  I remember many quiet conversations about what was going on at work, planning for work to be done or weekend outings, then there were our special luncheons ... YUM.

I am becoming more comfortable with my journey with you and find it okay to grab a Tim's and parking at the river, sitting with a Martini enjoying Sarah perform and now more recently coming home for lunch.  Although the house is quiet without the kids, without you and Sadie, it is good to break from the work environment and spend time with myself.  The flip side of this, as I have discovered, is the opportunities to say yes to the last minute invitations to join someone for lunch or when it moves me to ask someone else to lunch.  Hmmm .... something I did not do in the past because I wanted to get back with you or back to make sure Sadie was taken out to take care of her poor little bladder and a pat on the head.  Poor Sadie ... as you so often said!  You have to know that she is so very much in a very different and good environment today.  Hmmm ... I wonder if there is anyone out there that could offer me the same?  A warm loving home ... food, no cares and a pat on the head from time to time!

Getting back to the subject at hand ... oh yes ... routine and getting back to routine.  This is a new and strange feeling.  It is like ... if I have to be alone, then I must surely be able to appreciate this new independence.  Am I ready to be independent?  Heck yes ... and no.  Yes because it is so, okay to come and go as I please being me ... and no, because I am who I am ... I am a nurturer ... and you so loved and deserved to be nurtured.  I miss the companionship ... your friendship ... your ability to accept me as an independent person ... but this new independence has ... well ... if I have to be ... opportunities.

What strange world I live in - you are, and will always be my independence in a relationship.  You relished in me ... being me ... you were big that way!  And so now, I need to find out what that is ... me, being me on my own in this world.

Self discovery - I am no longer the person you once met ... I have been made stronger for knowing you, for loving you, for being loved by you.  I am finding you, in who I am today, in who you always believed me to be ... I am finding who I am today.  I am discovering the special person inside; the one you celebrate.  Ah, I can feel you smiling.  Thank you!

Still ... I miss you!  I miss us!

Your loving wife - bforever!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

How very Bill of me ...

"Get out of my head!"  Like all nicely aged love, Bill and I not only knew how to finish each other's sentences but were acquainted with each other's mind and heart.  So many times, we would smile at each other and say, "Get out of my head!" because we had either verbalized the other's thought or handed over the object that was in a thought.  Like a perfect symphony, our thoughts and feelings moved together through the rhythm of life completely in sink.  How could I have doubted in my early days with grief that he was no longer with me?

Last week, I had just enjoyed a breakfast meeting and was heading to my sister's place when that old familiar feeling came over me.  Bill's voice started to speak to me ... "get the car checked".  I really did not want to, I wanted only to get to my sister's place to finish enjoying a wonderful morning.  His voice became louder and more persistent, "You have to get the tires checked."  Just then, I looked up and saw the Kal Tire sign beckoning me - *groan* ....  I turned in and as so many times before, whispered, "There, you happy now?"  After a long wait, I am informed that my tires were not punctured, explaining the slow leak,  but required more extensive work ...  okay, the back wheel was about to come off!  Thank you Bill.

One week later, proof of his influence is again offered.  I came home late from work only to find the house quite cold.  Going through his moves, I check the thermostat, open the basement door and listened.  Nope, the furnace is not reacting.  I walked around the house thinking, "What now?"  I called my sister who called her son.  He came over and started fiddling with the furnace.  I went downstairs and he informs me that he suspected a part was defective - a costly part.  He starts to itemize my options, all the while my head is filled with Bill's response, "We never were about 'band-aid' solutions."  My mind raced through the various contingency funds and landed on the little stash I had put aside for his tombstone.  My heart was saying, "No not again!" and my head was saying, "But I'm not going anywhere.  I am too practical ..."  I finish his sentence and give the go ahead to order the new furnace.

I get the final total yesterday morning, drive in my now safe car to the bank and pulled the money for the new furnace.  My heart sinking at the thought of another winter without his tombstone.  Getting home at the end of the day, I open the door to find that the house was quite toasty!  The heat had been running all day. *groan*  Frustrated at first, Bill's influence continues to speak to me.  Slowly but surely, I begin to realize that the furnace was working but it was not stopping.  It continues to pump heat ... *double groan*  How long has it been running?  Then my rationale continues - the furnace is old, the insurance would not pay if something happened due to it finally dying on those cold winter days, no more worries about the furnace through the whole winter, and so on and so on.  Okay Bill, I hear you!  I share all of this with my niece as they were downstairs ripping out the old and installing the new.  She looks at me with a twinkle in her eye and says, "How very Uncle Bill of you!"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy memories ...

The beginning of a new work week.  I am back to routine, wonderful routine.  I have always been, and I guess will always be, attracted to hard work when I am faced with a difficult choice, with my breaking heart.  I think back on all those nights Bill used to find me sitting on the floor in front of the refrigerator and I had just finished cleaning the fridge for the ... ummm ... third time ... at 3:00 a.m.  His response was always the same, "What are you doing?  Come, let's get you to bed."  He would hold my hand and like a little child I willingly followed him back to bed.  He would wrap his big old arms around me without a word, and in doing so it always said, "I understand and love you."

For so long now, I have been so okay - waking up most morning with a rush of feeling something.  This past week has plunged me back to being not so okay.  I recently wrote to a dear friend who is approaching his one year anniversary and said, "They say the second year is worse than the first. I am beginning to believing it! "  Not very encouraging to the one who has not yet reached the one-year milestone!  On the brighter side of this new journey into year two, there is space between the times shrouded by grief.  Wonderful spacing that allows for natural breathing. 

In that same correspondence I shared that I had read somewhere that "they" say that for every 10 years you have known someone, it takes a year to journey through this darkened maze of grief.  For me, that would be another two years of ups and downs.  Two years is a long sentence when in pain.  Again, not very encouraging for him for he has known his love for 50 years.  Who are "they" any way?

I have lived through this last week and have tucked what I have learned about myself into my suitcase.  As I ran my mind over its contents last night, I realized my suitcase is not yet full, I have more to add.  More importantly is the realization that this is our story.  I chose to rearrange the contents, placing the brighter clothes on top, choosing to remember some of the happy times.  I gently closed the lid with a smile.

With a tender sigh, I fell asleep listening to the gentle rhythm of my breathing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Silent Sunday ...

Our Wedding Rings ~ Photo by:  G. Walton 2011

Love endures all and has no boundaries ...

The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.
~ Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The week has been made difficult by the fact that I felt as if this was the first wedding anniversary without Bill.  This time last year, it was too soon after his death and I was too numb to feel.  This week has been filled with mostly lows and I tried to keep myself upbeat during the day, however, I seemed to crumble come the end.  Last night was no exception; actually it was probably my lowest point.  But after every good rain, comes beauty.

The evening started okay working on my nephew's wedding video montage and I was enjoying the peaceful solitude of my home.  The phone rang and it was my sister calling to inform me that our mother had suffered another stroke, the second in a week.  We made plans to take the drive up to see her today.  I paused to think of my Mom and wondered if this time, the stroke would have taken the life out of her eyes.  Bit by bit, we are saying goodbye.  It is painful to watch her go through this so slowly knowing that she must be in pain; physical pain can be dealt with medication but the emotional pain of being at the total dependency of others for the most basic human needs cannot be dealt with medication.  The emotional pain of not having Dad there all this time has been a long-term sentence for her.  I started thinking of my situation and how I am working so hard for this not to be a long-term sentence.

The phone rang again and the gentleman asked to speak with Bill.  Typically, I would simply state, "Bill is dead." and hang up.  But there was something different about this caller, and I hesitated for a moment to put my well-rehearsed quick speech in play.  Instead, I asked who is calling and he gave me his name.  I remembered the name but could not quite put my finger on from where.  So I was a little gentler and said, "I'm sorry, but Bill is dead."  Little gentler don't you think?  There was a long pause, a clearing of the throat and the expected, "I'm sorry for your loss."  Then came the constricted throat clearing, another long pause and the unexpected, "Our loss."  My turn - my throat became tight and the tears came to my eyes.  He apologized, and all I could say was, "That's okay."  This was the beginning of a two hour conversation.  We talked about the when and where's but never broached the why.  He shared some stories I was not aware of and shared the impact Bill had on his life, on his family.  His first grandchild was born a week ago and Bill had been on his mind since.  He had wanted to call to let him know he was now a grandfather and wanted to thank him for his kindness so many years ago.  An act of kindness that had changed his life.  My beautiful, humble, giving Bill.  We laughed, I cried and laughed some more.  This gentleman told me stories of when Bill once lived and worked out of town.  At some points in the conversation, I felt Bill's presence.  We hung up with a promise that he would be calling again to check in with me.

I shut my computer and ran myself a bath.  I sat there for a good long while and wondered about that feeling; the feeling I had that Bill was with us.  The water grew cold and I could not bring myself to sit any longer.  I dried myself up and walked into the hallway and was hit with the mental picture of the night the ambulance came to claim my beautiful husband.  I slid to the floor and cried out the only thing I knew had been left unspoken - "Why?"  I sobbed. 

My niece came home and ran up to find me.  She put her arms around me and let me sob some more.  I was now tired enough to slip into bed and find blissful sleep.

I got up this morning feeling wrecked from the crying and slipped downstairs to make myself a cup of coffee.  As I stood by the counter, realizing the rain had come and gone, and I could smell a new day, a new opportunity to claim my recent victory of another boulder of firsts falling into my pit and I am still standing, I felt him near.  My victory knowing that this will not be a life sentence for I carry Bill with me and I am with him.  Love endures all and has no boundaries.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On a scale from 1 to 10 ...

I came across an older post by a very wise widow.  She spoke about the difference between the loss of her Dad and the loss of her husband.  It was a monumental moment for me a few days ago for I have been very cautious not to let my mind wander to comparing losses despite the growing impatience within me when people say there is no worst grief than ....  Greif is grief no matter who you lose - right?  I still hold to grief is grief but for the first time, my feelings are validated.  For months now, it has become increasingly more and more difficult to have my grief compared to the loss of another significant person in another's life.  Patience please ...

You see, when I lost my Dad, my life continued; Bill and I had our plans for the future.  We continued planning and seeing to our children's needs.  We were grieving together.  When my childhood friend made her way to Heaven, my life continued - we had our routine together and I had him to console me as no other could.  When Bill died, my plans for the future were altered, my daily routines of making a happy home seemed without purpose and I no longer had my partner to console me like no other can. 

It must have been in the stars because a dear friend showed up that same evening.  I was struggling with our wedding anniversary and having a great self-pity party in my back yard.  He held me while I completely came unglued.  When my cries finally died down, we sat and chatted about grief.  He has lost a brother, a son and more recently his wife, my dear friend Liane.  He shared with me a conversation he had with a work buddy about how do you measure your grief. "You lost your brother and your son," this man said.  "Is your grief not the same?"  My friend likened his pain to when a doctor asks you, "On a scale from 1 to 10 ..."  My friend said that losing his brother was a 1 and losing his son was definitely a 10.  Now, he has lost his brother, son and wife.  Although he never did place Liane on his pain scale, he did recognize that each experience was different because of the supports in place when each death occurred - Liane and his parents being there when his brother and son died.

Last night, I dragged my butt to bed and laid there hoping to rekindle that ah ha moment, I kept coming back to it is about the relationship you had with the person who died AND what impact it has on your day-to-day living and future plans.   

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not alone ... just lonely!

I sat up last night with a dear friend - my grief journal.  I wrote, scratched out what I wrote, bawled and wrote some more.  I wrote "Today was good ..." *scratched out*  "Today was good ...".  "Today I thought of you as I stuffed the stupid bird."  *scratched out* "Today I thought of you as I stuffed the stupid bird."  "You would have been proud of me today." *scratched out* "You would have been proud of me today."  "Were you really with us today?" *scratched out* "Were you really with us today?"  I cried, then bawled.  There were no words. 

I so wanted the sweet feeling of release to wash over me as it always seems to happen when I write.  The more I write, the more distance I create from the process; the words written lay on the pages of my journal and I can finally close the journal when my pain has ebbed away.  I write away the pain.  The more I write, the more I can make sense of things.

There was no "making sense of things" last night for his death made no sense to me.  How could he not be here?  Why has he not come home yet?  Twenty-six years ago, I was a fiancĂ© excited to be a wife in a few days - his wife.  How is it possible I will never hear his cultured voice again or know the safe feeling I always found when I laid my head on his chest.

I was back at reminding myself to simply breathe and that this too shall pass.

I miss him!

I miss how I was able to make him laugh.

I miss being his person, his woman and how I could make his moustache twitch.

I miss kissing him with no intention other than to feel his soft lips and knowing that I can.

I miss smiling at him and have him smile back like two Cheshire cats hiding some big secret.

I miss all that.

I miss you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving ...

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers.  I just finished prepping and stuffing my turkey.  Our first turkey since Bill's death.  Last year, I thought I would start a new tradition with the ordering of Chinese food but turkey talk started two weeks ago and I could not ignore it.  So I set out a couple of days ago to find a turkey and all the fixings.  We were supposed to sit with the meal yesterday but my baby was sick so we postponed it to today.  I was a little relieved because cleaning the turkey was always Bill's job, a task he took seriously and with a great deal of happiness - he so loved his turkey!  I on the other hand, would rather order Chinese food.  Turkey has never been my favourite thing, especially the cleaning of the stupid bird.  So here I am at the sink this morning, mimicking Bill's moves as I remembered them and got the job done.  Yulk - I'm still sore from all the retching.  The rest of the meal will be okay.

So I will sit with my little family tonight and will invite them all to share what they are thankful for.

As for me, I wish Bill was still here to ...

·        clean the stupid bird.
·        enjoy eating the stupid bird.
·        enjoy the happy chatter at the dinner table.
·        complain about just how much he ate.
·        fall asleep in his chair after eating the stupid bird.
·        eat all the leftover turkey!

I am thankful for ...

·        my little family conceived and nurtured by our love.
·        my beautiful home we built together.
·        an interesting career, supported by his belief in me.
·        having a love that knows no boundaries even today.

There is much more to be thankful for - thank you for being faithful readers and for your wonderful warm comments.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Silent Sunday ...

Photo by:  G. Walton 2011

No responses necessary ...

I was recently asked by one who is supporting another who has recently lost a spouse, "How can I be there for her?"  I rummaged through my early journal entries and came across this and shared it with her. 

I lingered with my words after, wondering how much of it is still true for me, only to realize that it is timeless. 

There are still moments when ..

I need space,
... where there are no "you'll get through this", "don't worry, it will get better" or "you've come so far, you are so strong." 

I need space and a simple acknowledgement,
... through a nodding head, through a long stare at clasped hands, through shared tears.

I need space, acknowledgement and silence
... when I cry out, I miss him, I am angry or I crave his touch. 

I need space, where no responses are necessary,
.... just a nodding head from someone who understands my actions,
.... just a nodding head from someone who understands my tears,
.... just a nodding head from someone who understands my confusion,
.... just a nodding head from someone who understands my statements, and
.... just a nodding head from someone who lives with this pain.

As I approach our 26th Wedding Anniversary, there are moments and sometimes days where I still need space, acknowledgement and silence, as in no responses are necessary.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

When treasures become things again ...

There is a Rubbermaid bin sitting in the corner of my room.  It is rather small considering what it holds but occupies so much of the room.  I stare at it often for in this bin are some of Bill's things; all the things I could simply not dispose of.  The weeks after Bill's death, I went through the house and had no hesitation, no wondering thought, everything went to either the garbage dump or to charity.  Then came hesitation, and later, simply things I could not part with; most are insignificant to the unconnected heart.  Each piece of paper he wrote on, each little gift I once gave him became physical proof of his existence.

My recollection of him as a real human being, of our lifetime together has been dulled by the many months of living without his physical presence.  He continues to live with me in my heart  but it is more the essence of him and the things in this bin are physical proof that he was really here.  I dare not open the bin for it is proof that he is no longer physically here. 

Although I have made great strides in being in the moment, living with hope, there are still dark moments brought on by thoughts of a future where my senses go unnourished.  I do not know if I am ready yet to test my emotional strength and so I choose to live comfortably in the moment.  For now this will do and the bin remains closed.  I trust that there will come a time when I will know that it will be okay to open it, lifting each piece out and running my fingers over each piece of paper he once wrote on, each gift he held in his hand smiling at the thought I had put into it when I purchased the trinket.  I trust there will come a time when I will know exactly what to do with these treasures that will become things again.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Doing okay ...

What an interesting day ... might I add, what interesting times.  There is great freedom when you finally let go of the notion that you need to grieve according to someone else's timelines or according to someone else's expectations or according to society's preconceived notion of "good" grieving.   Good grief - exhausting!

I think I discovered there was a life outside my fishbowl when I was asked the question by a very wise individual, "How important is it for you to have others know that you are okay?"

I began to ponder the question starting with ... "Do I really do that?"  Indeed I did.  Just before Bill died, I had started my journey into self-discovery and was just beginning to accept that I have enough on my platter without making myself responsible for another's.  Major backslide into pure muck!  Becoming a widow all of a sudden had me scrambling to ensure that those around me were comfortable with my grief!  Wow, that is quite the ego trip, would you not agree?  Little old me, responsible for another's feelings.  

Then I asked myself the question why?  I believe this need was fuelled by the fact that for some reason, people seemed more at ease with giving unsolicited advice than to simply sit and just be.  More advice, more my desire to let everyone know that I was doing okay burned inside.  You should be doing this ... it is normal to want to - but ... unlike you, she is seeing it differently ... and the list goes on. More advice, more fuel to the fire, more fuel to my desire to prove that I was doing okay.  I had quite the bonfire going!

I gave up!  The fire consumed my days, consumed me and I was burnt.  I finally realized that I could not, nor should I want to, please everyone.  Freedom!  I was accountable to only one person ... me.  Guess what?  I'm doing okay.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Another Tim Hortons' Story ...

I have just posted a story on the Tim Hortons' Every Cup website.

Join me there for today and don't forget to rate the story and leave a comment on their website.