As some of you may be aware, I am in business with two wonderful women. Together we have started a business to help those in grief, and specifically those who are mourning the loss of a soul mate. You can read about it here - www.fromgrieftopeace.org
I love doing a special Christmas donation in John's memory. I have chosen the Arizona Humane Society and the Phoenix Rescue Mission as my personal favorites. They were ours when John was here and it makes me feel close to him to continue that in his memory. I no longer have him with me to dote on and to spend money on for a Christmas present so this is my way of doing that. I know it makes him happy too.
I don't do much to celebrate Christmas these days because without John it just isn't the same but this is one way I can transform my grief into a better day for someone else.
Came across this picture a couple of days ago. It's a 1939 Pontiac.
It's a beautiful car. John and I had our first date in a car like this. John nicknamed his car "Big Mother". I developed a love of antique cars from John. As long as I knew him, John always had a car he was working on - antique Mercedes, Austin Healys... To this day whenever I see a beautiful old car drive by I stop and look and admire and feel that I am sharing that moment with John.
We had many happy adventures in Big Mother and she always got us home.
The dryer broke yesterday.
Don't know what's wrong with it. Possibly the thermostat. Maybe something else.
All I know is it no longer heats up and for a dryer that makes it pretty much a useless piece of equipment. The repairman I was referred to won't be back in his office until 12/12. So, I will wash very few clothes in the next two weeks and use the hanging dryer in the bathtub when I need to.
It's not the end of the world but it's one more reminder that I am on my own.
If John were here he would have the problem solved one way or the other in no time.
Sometimes, I get so tired of being on my own, alone, without my best friend here to share life's ups and downs with.
Forty years ago today I walked into a conference room and my life changed forever.
That day - November 10, 1976 - I was the new nurse at a day treatment center in Wilkes Barre PA. John was a therapist there.We didn't speak that day but I remember noticing him from across the room.
How could I not? 6'4 ", lean, handsome, long red hair, red beard, beautiful smile.
John told me years later he asked the man sitting next to him who I was, too. Back then I had hair halfway down my back and John said he asked "Who's the girl with the hair?"
Gradually we became friends and then years later, a couple.
Life became wonderful.
Who could have known back then?
Apparently, our souls did. Metaphysically, our hearts perked up that day and said "There you are! I've been looking for you."
I love being out on our deck with Bella.
Morning coffee, morning meditation. Just sitting and swinging on the swing I used to share with John - and sometimes Toby. She used to love sitting between us in the morning while we sipped coffee and just talked.
I feel close to John out here.
He built this deck from scratch for us and I feel his love in every square inch of it.
It struck me the other day that these words usually start off two very important ceremonies in life - maybe the two most important ones - weddings and funerals.
So much planning goes into the first one - guest lists, color themes, flowers, venue, clothes - and on and on.
the second one usually happens unexpectedly and in a rush. Often the
details are things we have seen others do. It's not usual that the major
participant - the deceased - gets any input into the proceedings.
happens. But in my experience it's not the norm. We hate to think about
these things. It's almost a superstition. If we talk about it, we will
cause it to happen. On those occasions when pre-planning takes place,
it makes it so much easier for the ones left behind.
I didn't have
that luxury. John died suddenly and without warning. We had not
discussed much about ceremony beyond cremation and closed casket. So I
did the best I could and I think the funeral I arranged was something
John would have liked.
But then it came time to decide what to do with his ashes. We had never discussed that. Ever.
So I decided not to decide beyond getting a very nice urn.
But someday we need to be placed somewhere.
I too will be cremated and I want our ashes to be together.
But where I have no clue.
So a few years ago I decided pre-planning [in my case anyway] was in order.
contacted a church a few towns over that had a columbarium [a room or
building with niches for funeral urns to be stored - a new word for me],
made an appointment to speak with a representative, and off I went.
It was an experience, to say the least. I don't know if it was typical but it was definitely different.
start with, I was given a list of available spaces to choose from, each
having a certain price allotted to them depending on location - higher
on the wall was more expensive than lower, glass front cost more than
closed, and so forth. I was having trouble maintaining my composure. I
was starting to hear John laugh.
Then I was offered a "tour" to see where the real estate was located. Okay.
we went. The lobby of the columbarium building had piped in music and a
"visiting" room. John was now laughing out loud. My guide then
proceeded to show me where various people she thought I might know
[local well known families] were going to be laid to rest as well as the
space she and her friends had already purchased. It begged the question
why I would have to know this. Surely we were not going to all party
after lights out.
But I smiled and nodded my way through the walk-through.
we went back to her office and she presented me with a price sheet and
finance plan, expecting me to make a choice, implying if I waited too
long, the choice spots would be gone. I felt like I was in a time-share
I excused myself to go to the ladies room. While in
there I could swear I heard John yelling "Get out!" in between absolute
I went back in, told the nice lady I needed time to think and quickly left.
She called a week later and I let her go to voice mail.
John is still in his urn and I still have no pre-plans made.
Every time I decide it's time to try again, John just keeps laughing.
I wish I could tell my old self to take better pictures. To take more pictures of John. Of us.
You never think pictures matter until they are all you have.
I scanned a few more pictures today but I was struck by how many pictures I took that I thought were important at the time. Now I can't even remember what some of them were of.
And the pictures I took of John were terrible in terms of lighting and focus.
I am learning so much from the photography course I am taking. I just wish I could use it to help my old self.
I have been having grief surges again lately.
I don't know why. There are no anniversaries that I can blame. Maybe there doesn't have to be a reason other than I just miss John so much and that is never going to change or go away.
But despite all that, John is showing me that he is still here. He knows what is going on with me and he is helping me get by.
Cases in point:
By a strange set of coincidences I found a new handyman a couple of weeks ago. The circumstances were so odd that when I realized the connection I literally sat back and said "Wow" out loud. This man is an absolute treasure and I know I can trust him with my house.
I have been following a certain medium for several years. I have read all her books. I have a Cd series of hers and I went to see her give a very good presentation last year in Phoenix. For some reason her story just resonated with me and I fantasized about having a reading from her, knowing it would never happen because she is based out of Florida and rarely comes out this way. Plus, her waiting list is over a year long and my situation is not special enough to get her attention. Then last week, another set of circumstances happened and lo and behold, I have a reading with her scheduled for next May!
Finally, I have been estranged from my brother for many years. The details don't matter but I had given up on a solution and just resigned myself to loving him from afar. Then a few weeks ago, out of the blue at 5:52 AM John's alarm clock went off. Of course it woke me up. And just as quickly as it chimed [twice], it turned off. I didn't turn it off. I hadn't set it. The cats were nowhere near it and he cleaning ladies hadn't been here in several weeks. There was no earthly reason for it to go off. I ignored it. Figured it was John but could not think what it meant. Days later I realized that the time was the same as my sister's birth date. 5:52 = May 1952. Thinking maybe something was wrong and I should get involved, I texted my sister with a question about our mother who is now living with our brother. She didn't have the information I wanted so I decided to swallow my pride and emailed my brother. That was all it took. He was so happy to hear from me. We have reconciled and are emailing steadily back and forth now, mending the years. I have to believe my Honey was doing his best to get my attention for this to happen.
I still miss John. I am still sad. I would give anything to have him walk through our house door and give me a big hug and have life go back to the way it was.
But since that can't happen, I will be happy and thankful knowing he is still very much alive and still loving me.
'Til we are together again, Baby...
I have been writing a book about John and me and about my experiences - spiritually and metaphysically - since he passed.
It's titled I Will Never Leave You.
It is now finished and gone through two complete edits.
Tomorrow it goes to my readers for proofing and suggestions.
Soon, it will be published.
Over the course of our relationship and marriage, John and I enjoyed many different employment opportunities. John started out [at the time I met him] as a case manager/therapist in a child and adolescent mental health clinic. Later on, he went to nursing school. I have always been a nurse but I have worked in many different specialties - psychiatry mostly, but also preemie nursery, surgical, medical, operating room, just to name a few. Not only was I a floor nurse but I worked my way through management from charge nurse to Head Nurse to Supervisor to eventually Director of Nursing. Later on I went back to school, got my degree and some additional training in legal nursing and forensics and started my own legal nurse consulting business. I think I enjoyed that the most.
But probably the most challenging episode was when John and I worked as agency nurses back in the late 80's to mid 90's. We were sent to places we would never have been otherwise. Because we could pick and choose where and when we worked, we chose to go to hospitals that required us to drive several hours each week and we picked shifts that paid the most. Consequently, our most lucrative assignment was in Hershey PA on the oncology unit. There we worked two 16 hour shifts every weekend driving two and half hours down from our home outside Wilkes Barre PA on Friday afternoon and driving back home on Sunday morning. The upside to this grueling schedule was that we were off from Sunday to Thursday every week!
We had plenty of time to play and do other things and we were making what we liked to refer to as a "boatload" [at the time] of money. We were finally able to put money aside for retirement.
But we were able to enjoy our time together too.
We took a vacation every month.
We slept in. We relaxed.
We were in the process of remodeling our home and had the time to do it.
And we had time to just enjoy each other's company.
John said over and over that we were going to look back and call those days the "good old days". Except he said it in present tense at the time. "These are the good ole days." I remember how much that impressed me at the time.
He was right, of course [although now I refer to all my days with John as the good old days].
But what he taught me was precious. He was telling me we needed to enjoy those days for what they were when they were, not wait until years down the road and then pine for them.
It was a valuable lesson.
One of the things I remember about my father is that he used to always say "Some day".
Some day we would...
Some day we would have...
Some day we would go...
Most of the time he never got to do or have any of those things and he missed what was in front of him along the way.
He was the opposite of the "good old days" theory. He was wishing for what hadn't happened yet.
That's not a good way to live either.
And I was in danger of carrying on that legacy until John.
John opened my eyes and my heart and for that I am very grateful.
Every day is a good old day.
Even if it's swinging on the porch swing with your honey.
Or sitting quietly and watching a bird hopping across the lawn.
Or looking at a sunset and admiring the beautiful colors.
Life is to be lived, not wished or pined for.
John is not physically here with me now but I can still look at the world as if he is.
And I can be grateful for that gift he gave me and know it was given with love.
I have been on the computer way too much in the last week. Between a part-time job that I have [and enjoy!], working on my business with my two friends [From Grief To Peace], and just plain web-surfing, my mousing hand has started to complain - loudly!
So I have been trying to limit my time online - on the computer, on my iPad, and on my iPhone.
My chiropractor has suggested I wear a soft brace on my wrist and while it helps to alleviate the pain by keeping my wrist straight, it definitely restricts my typing ability - which is probably what she had in mind.
But all this denial of social access has got me thinking.
Why does all this online time call to me so much?
It didn't used to be this way.
I used to have a life.
Truth be told - I still do of course.
But it's not the same.
A few short years ago, I was living with the man of my dreams. Now I only see him in my dreams. My reality is I am a widow. My life has drastically changed. There is no longer someone to ask about my day - and for me to ask about his. No discussion of world events, no laughing over the latest antics of our fur-children, no talk of the weather, extended family members, the budget, plans, frustrations - nothing.
Just me and my shadow as the old song goes.
If I'm late coming from somewhere there is no one to worry why, no one to call to reassure.
And if I don't wake up tomorrow who will notice besides the furballs?
I am not trying to sound maudlin. It's just how things are.
Even though I have wonderful friends, the truth is they have their lives - and I have mine and mine is solitary.
And so I turn to the airwaves for a connection.
We all need that connection, if only briefly. "It is not good for man to be alone" - or a woman.
And so I have a pain in my wrist from communicating. The pain hasn't reached the proportions of carpal tunnel syndrome - yet.
I have dubbed it widow tunnel syndrome. Me at one end of my fingertips, the world at the other end.
I was at a group reading last Friday evening given by a medium friend Susanne Wilson. In
fact, I was privileged to introduce Susanne to the audience. And one of the things that Susanne
talked about before she started doing the readings was how our loved ones who
have passed are so happy to show us how they are still very much with us.
Susanne encouraged us to continue talking with them, even to go so far as to
talk out loud to them.
I talk to John all the time, sometimes out loud. Since I now live alone
[except for my four-legged children] I don't worry about strange looks.
some reason [maybe it's the increased solitude], one of the times I feel
closest to John is when I am driving. And John even told me during a reading once that he accompanies me in the car which is another reason I feel very close to him at these times. At these times, I allow my thoughts to drift.
Memories pop up. And sadness too. Sometimes tears are shed. But I carry
on lovely conversations as well.
And I know that John likes this time together too because he often gets
my attention during drive time. One of his favorite ways is with license plates. I
can't tell you how many times I have been thinking about - or conversing with -
John and all of a sudden a license plate with an obvious message will
pull in front of me. His favorite is variations of his name.
So this past week I was driving to an appointment and thinking about
my business From Grief To Peace and how my partners and I want to make an impact. I was also
a little upset because I had just read the blog post of an online friend who was widowed just a
few weeks before me. This woman was experiencing what many of us have - that some of
her "friends" thought it was time that she "got over" this
mourning business and "moved on" with her life. Apparently, some
people believe there is a shelf life for grief and she had exceeded it.
"Get Over It" only works in a wonderful Eagles song. It has
nothing to do with grief and mourning, as anyone who has truly lost their soul
mate can tell you. So, as I already mentioned, I was driving along, thinking
about all these things and how I wanted our business to help people like her.
And that is when it happened.
A small SUV pulled up in front of me. It's license plate?
Pretty strong message that was not lost on me. I took it two ways. Maybe
John was trying to "encourage" us to keep on doing what we are doing.
Or/and the Universe was also saying it was our job to keep encouraging others who
Just as I was thinking about all this, the SUV crossed in front of me and
sped on its way. Its job was done.
Message received. Thank you.
There is a meme running around Facebook on the grief pages that
essentially says something along the line that you shouldn't be afraid
to mention the name of someone's loved one who has passed. You won't be
reminding us that they are dead and making us sad. We already know they
are dead. But talking about them makes us happy.
That was the long way around to saying what it said in much shorter pithier terms but I'm sure you get the idea. Tom Zuba author of Permission To Mourn
is a grief expert, if there is such a thing. He has experienced a lot
of loss in a few short years [his son, his baby daughter, and his wife]
and he has made it his life's work to change the face of grief and how
we the grievers and you the supporters of us react to and experience
grief. We who mourn owe him a lot.
So, the point of my post today is to reiterate what I hope I have
already made obvious - please do not shy away from talking with us about
our soul mates whom we have lost.
I had a very nice experience myself just last week. My air conditioner
was due for its annual check-up and I went with a new [to me] company.
The technician they sent was probably one of the most upbeat and happy
people I have ever met. In fact, he reminded me a lot of my
John. This man's name was Rusty and he smiled all the time. He was
efficient and knowledgeable and we fell into an easy conversation while
he wrote up my bill as we stood in my kitchen. We talked about many
things and as we Arizonans often do, we got around to talking about
where we lived before coming to AZ and why we chose AZ. I can't tell my
story without mentioning John because it's all wound up together.
Inevitably, Rusty asked what my husband does for a living now and I had
to explain that John had passed away in 2010. Rusty said the usual "I'm
sorry" but he didn't leave it at that. No, he mentioned that John must
have been very young [thank you, Rusty - that must mean I look young too
:)] and he was even brave enough to ask me what happened. So, I was
able to tell my story. I got to mention John's name several times. I was
in the company of someone who cared and showed interest; who didn't
change the subject and make me feel uncomfortable.
Rusty will never know what a gift he gave me that day.
So, I am telling his story here so that his example will live on.
This young man knew innately what I have often said.
I know John is gone.
Talking about him isn't going to make me sad - or sadder.
In fact, it will do the exact opposite.
For those few minutes, talking about John made him alive again.
John and I were together for 34+ years.
He was the person I laughed with, loved with, argued with, made up with,
vacationed with, ate with, sat on the deck with, drank wine with, slept
with, worried about, kissed, hugged - and a million other things with.
Just because he is gone now doesn't erase all that. Being able to talk about him with someone is a treasured gift.
Since John's passing I have had the occasion to have readings by some mediums. Some were good, some were terrible, and some were beyond wonderful. I have been lucky enough to subsequently become good friends with the two who were beyond wonderful. Not only were their readings extremely accurate but they gave me a peace I had been searching for.
Their names are Susanne Wilson and Mollie Morning Star. If you have the occasion to have readings by them, I highly recommend that you do.
Mollie is also a gifted artist and she often posts very uplifting photos and paintings with wonderful sayings.
The one in this blog post is taken from her Facebook page.
I love what she has written inside this photo.
It is something that resonates with me.
Ever since John has transitioned I have been obsessed with keeping him alive - not only for me, but for others as well. Doing what we can to uplift and help the world in the name of our loved ones who have passed is the highest honor we can give them. We can let their light continue to shine in the world. We can transform our grief into the impetus to better the lives of the people and animals and the land around us.
What better tribute to our loved ones?
In the end Love is all there is. Over and over again, we hear that from those who have passed on.
Share the love.
Be the love.
I am reading a really wonderful book right now called Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani.
I highly recommend it. It's about Ms. Moorjani's near death experience [NDE] when she was admitted into the hospital in a coma with Stage 4 lymphoma.
Not only did she have her fantastic NDE but when she awoke she was free of her cancer!
She is a wonderful writer and her description of Heaven is beautiful.
While I was reading it I kept thinking of John and what he must be experiencing and I am so happy for him. I can't wait to be there with him so we can be experience it together.
I highly recommend this book. It really helped me to understand how we are all connected and how to prioritize and decide what is really worth putting focus on.
Ms. Moorjani beautifully illustrates not only how we are all part of each other but how we are all beings of light and love and Heaven is more of a state than a physical place.
It's Sunday again - my most un-favorite day of the week.
Sundays are lonely. Sundays make me miss John even more - as if that were even possible.
I go to Mass on Sunday, something John and I did together. The Our Father and the Sign of Peace that follows are very hard for me. I remember holding John's hand during that time and we would always turn to each other at the end of the prayer and hug and whisper "I love you, Baby" to each other.
Now, often, I cry as I remember. Even now, 6 years later.
Wasn't it Albert Einstein who said "Time is relative"?
The TV show Star Trek also played with the concept of time - often going
back to the past with the stern directive that they could not interfere
with the true progression of events. But wouldn't that be so tempting a thought to those of us who mourn?
To be able to go back to a happier time and once again hold our loved
one. Maybe stop something horrible from happening or prevent an illness.
How many times have I thought "if only.....?".
One of my John's favorite singers was Jim Croce and one of Jim Croce's
most successful songs was "Time in a Bottle". In it, he wishes to relive
all the happy times, one by one, over and over again until eternity.
That would truly be Heaven.
But time can seem like the enemy for those of us who grieve the loss of our soul mate.
And it is indeed relative. I look back on my early years with John. From
the moment I first met him until the day we married was just a little
less than 5 years.
It seemed as if we crammed so much into that short space of time -
meeting, becoming friends, falling in love, moving in together,
Yet, now, it has been just a little over 6 years since John has passed
and there are days I feel it is all the same and at the end of the day,
the only constant is John is still gone. The days and nights are still
empty. There are no hugs and kisses, no plans, no milestones.
Those first 5 years flew by.
These last 6 years have crawled past.
One of my favorite recent movies is "Interstellar". During their trip
into space, the astronauts spend time on a planet researching its
habitability. Because of gravity issues too complicated to go into here,
every hour spent on the surface of the planet equals 7 years to the
astronaut left back on the ship. The astronauts on the planet's surface
run into trouble and their return is delayed by over 3 hours. When they
return to their ship, 23 years have passed and their colleague has
Sometimes I feel that way. John has been gone for 6 years and there are
days it feels like forever. I wonder how it feels for him. Has it been
only an hour in Heavenly terms? When we are reunited will it seem to him
like he just left?
All I know is that every day that passes brings me closer to him again.
Yesterday I read a letter from a “romance” writer to Dear Abby. In it, she complained about her husband who was jealous about her writing because he thought she was writing about past lovers. What a moron! Instead of being proud of her accomplishments, he reduced it to being all about him, to the point that she referred to her writing [several books!] as a "hobby".
I am so lucky to have had John in my corner all the time and encouraging me. I still remember him telling me to add “more sex” to one of my books. He was so cute.
And he was like that with my nursing career, too.
I recall one person asked John [when I was Head Nurse and he was a staff nurse on a different unit] how he felt that his wife was earning more money than he was. John's response was wonderful: "I'm glad it's MY wife." Thank you for being you, John, and for loving me and for being my biggest cheerleader.
I woke up feeling so happy this morning. It lasted for several seconds. In fact, I couldn't understand why I was feeling the way I did. The feeling was foreign yet familiar.
Foreign because I haven't felt that way in a long time. Familiar because that was the way I woke up every day for over 30 years.
It was that old feeling that all was right with the world. It was a feeling of comfort.
Then I remembered what I had been dreaming just before waking up.
I was dreaming of John and home. The dream was silly by waking standards. It was full of mismatched shoes and the cats being funny. But John had been in the dream and the setting was here, in this house, and it was everyday stuff and it was normal. We had been talking and laughing and it had felt so good.
And it was that good feeling that lingered in those first few seconds of waking up.
And then I realized the truth.
John isn't here.
Nothing is familiar and nothing is normal.
Oh, but those seconds had felt so good.
And I'm grateful to have had that, even in dreams.
It reminds me of how good I had it.
And how good I will have it again when we are reunited.
Today would have been my parents' 70th wedding anniversary. Or should I say, it IS my parents' 70th wedding anniversary.
But my father passed away in 2014 so they can not celebrate it together.
Yet, they had over 68 years together as husband and wife.
What I would have given for that gift. What a blessing to share that much time together on this Earth.
I treasure what I did have and I know it was happy and special.
But I can't help but wonder what that would feel like.
Six years ago, early in the morning, I woke up to find my world shattered, never to be the same ever again.
The years drift by and I can only focus on being with you again.
I love you, John, and I miss you so much.
I was injured on Saturday. The details are not important and it was nothing life-threatening although it was potentially damaging and very hurtful at the time.
My point is I was feeling very vulnerable and alone. And wishing John were with me.
But I wasn't. I had to soldier on alone. As I drove back home, trying to keep it together so that I could just get myself and Bella back into the house, I prayed.
Then I happened to look over at the digital clock on my dashboard.
It read 4:43. That is John's birth month and year. He often has that pop up when he wants to say hello to me. It happens far too often to be just a coincidence.
So I knew in that moment that he was telling me I wasn't alone, that he was there, that he loved me and I was going to be okay. He was with me.
I was still hurting but my heart was lifted and that made a big difference.
In 8 days it will be 6 years since John passed. It's still hard and I still feel sad but these little Hello's keep me going.
Thank you, John. I love you.
John found out later in life that he was part Native American. We were never sure what tribe he belonged to but we suspected Cherokee because it came from his Oklahoma ancestors on his father's side and the Cherokee were common in that area.
I also learned through past life regression that John and I shared at least two Native American lives together which probably partly explains our love of this part of the country and our love of the outdoors and the forests. John introduced me to camping and I loved it from the very start.
So, this is for you - for us -, Sweetheart.
Missing you a lot lately, Mom.
You weren't my mother but you treated me as your own daughter and I am so grateful for that. We shared a wonderful bond. You were one of the many gifts John gave me.
Missing you. Love you.