Monday, August 27, 2018

Love lives on!

Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. John and I are married 37 years.
And, yes, I know, he is no longer physically here with me but I celebrate the day because it's important to me.
And I have it on good faith [from a medium] that John celebrates it still because the day is very important to him too.
John has been showing me all day with signs that I know are from him.
This morning I went into the local grocery store and there as I walked in was a huge display of Twizzlers - one of John's favorite sweets. 
Then this afternoon I went to another grocery store to buy myself some flowers to commemorate our special day.
What was I hit with? 
Another big display - this time of Red Vines, a variation on a theme.
I purchased my flowers, got in the car, and as I headed home, my head and heart filled with love for my Sweetheart, I glanced at the car clock and it was 4:13, John's birthday April 13th.
I no sooner saw that and told John how much I loved him when the next song on Pandora came on - "If" by Bread.
Love lives on!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

There is no contest called grief

I don't think there is any one of us who has lost a loved one and not heard either "I understand how you feel because I..." or "At least you..."
Every loss is different. No matter the similarities no one can say they truly understand what another is going through. 
The loss of my husband is not the same as the loss of your husband. 
The death of your child is not the same as the death of your friend's child.
Watching a loved one suffer years or months of illness and then dying is not worse than or better than losing a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly.
Grief is not a contest. 
There is no easier or harder grief. 
Our own personal grief is the worst grief there is.
That’s why platitudes and some of the pat phrases and ideas some people expound irritate me so much. We can offer support, explain what has helped us, what might work. But we can never say we fully understand what that person is going through. Grief is based on relationship and no two relationships are alike.
Everyone grieves and mourns in their own way. If you loved, you grieve when you lose that person. 
And this warning applies to those who purport to make our journey easier by latching on to the spiritual and metaphysical as if that is the answer too.
Don't get me wrong. I am a firm believer in the afterlife and all that entails. Everyone who knows me at all knows that. I even wrote a book about it.
No, my beef is with those who try to sell the spiritual connection we can have with our loved ones as being the antidote to grief. Or better yet, try to sell that new - now spiritual - relationship as being "better than" the earthly one. That is like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. I think to push that thinking is harmful. Negating someone's grief like that is very hurtful to the one who is sad and mourning.
I don't care how many "visits" you have or messages that you get, it's not "better than it ever was". I would give anything to have John walk through the door again and hug the heck out of him. 
But I am comforted by the messages I get from him and the communication that I feel I do receive. 
It helps me in this life until I am reunited with him in the next.
But I would never say that what we have now is better. It just is.
So, the next time you are tempted to help someone who is in the throes of grief by saying you understand or you know how to make this journey better, just stop for a moment. Swallow those words.
Instead, offer a hand. Offer your time. Let that person know you are there to just be, if that is all that is needed.
Mention the loved one's name. 
Your presence and love will help more than you can know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Sounds of missing - and loving

So many things make a house a home.
The sights, the smells - and the sounds.
I think I miss the sounds the most. One of the first things I noticed after John died was that our home felt empty. I was the only one making the sounds. The silence echoed, it was so loud.
I missed so many sounds that I had taken for granted but, in their wholeness, had made up the quilt of our life.
John's laughter
The sound of the garage door going up when he came home
The distinctive noise his key made in the lock on the door
The water in his shower in the morning
Even his familiar cough
Now it was just me and the furbabies and it wasn't anywhere near what it used to be.
Our home was far too silent.
There were two sounds that especially made me think of John - the way the door to the laundry room rattled when John entered from the garage and the distinctive way the handles on his dresser drawers rattled when he closed them.
Sometimes the cats will go tearing through the kitty door in  the laundry room door and it will make that old familiar sound and for a fraction of a second my heart will skip and imagine...
It used to make me very sad but now it brings back a happy memory and it no longer hurts like it used to.
But the dresser, that was another thing.
John kept all his foldable clothes in that dresser - underwear, shorts, loads of T shirts.
For years, it remained as he left it. I just couldn't bear to do anything with it. Taking his clothes out of the dresser felt like I was erasing him. I needed his things to stay exactly as they were.
And so the dresser stood there.
But this year I have felt a movement in my grief. I still miss John as much as ever but I can detach my sorrow from his things - at least more than I used to. It was finally time to take his clothes out of his dresser and move my clothes into it.
And a happy thing happened when I did that.
Now, when I go in the drawers to get my clothes and I push the drawer closed, it makes that distinctive noise again. The handles flap against the wood and rattle in their hinges as they used to when John got dressed for work in the morning and my heart is happy to hear that sound again.
I didn't expect this to happen.
But I'm glad it did.
Our home still misses all the John sounds but it's nice to have this particular one of them back.
I can shut the drawer and listen and remember and smile.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

I miss potato soup

Widowhood changes so much. It is not just about losing your mate.
It is also about losing a life together, a future planned.
And the little things that make living together so precious.
I used to love cooking. Not the every day type of cooking. Not the "We're home from work and it's late and we're starving and what can we throw together?" type of cooking or even the usual run of the mill every day cooking.
No, I miss the cooking days John and I used to have every so often. There were some Saturdays that we would decide to make soup and it would literally take all day. There was one particular soup that was our favorite - potato soup.
Potato soup started out early in the morning by peeling a mound of potatoes. Then we made what was called Garbage Soup. This was a soup that was simmered for hours by making a soup of the potato peels and lots of garlic and spices. This made a broth to base the potato soup on. Some of it we saved and froze for minestrone on another soup Saturday.
After the garbage soup was just right we made the wonderful potato soup. Its aroma would fill the house, making us hungry and impatient. To tempt our taste buds even more, I would bake some bread to dunk in the soup. In the early days I made the bread by hand, kneading it on the kitchen counter top, getting out any frustrations from life in its bulk. Later, when we had more money, we bought a bread maker and just timed everything to be ready together.
Then - then! - that evening we would sit down and feast on our day's work - potato soup and crunchy bread. A feast for a king.
Was it an especially tasty meal? Yes, because - potato soup. What's not to like about potato soup? But there was more to it than that.
Making potato soup is one of my favorite memories about my earth life with John. I go back to it often. And I talk about it to my friends with fondness.
Making soup with John was a treasure because we spent happy time together. We laughed. We talked. We played with our fur-babies. We hung out in the kitchen all day together. Nothing else mattered on those days.We lived in our own world surrounded by good smells, good food, and love.
Lots and lots of love.
Today I eat a lot of frozen dinners, usually in front of the TV. I've been known to make a meal out of tater tots.
Dinner has become just eating.
I could make potato soup again but it's not the same. I'd rather just cherish the memory of the days I spent cooking with John.
But I miss the cooking - I miss the potato soup days - and I miss him.