A community of peers created by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation
June 3, 2012 was the 4th anniversary that I spent without Walter since he died three years ago. I am a planner by nature and I planned to go to church in the morning and then at 4pm I bought a ticket well in advance to see the gospel group, Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC's. Walter LOVED this group of old fashioned gospel/soul, quartet singers. He had a collection of their CD's which I haven't listened to since he passed away. I didn't ask anyone to come with me because I really just wanted to go alone and still be able to enjoy myself or even cry a little without having to explain my tears. But, as plans go sometimes, my day didn't start off as I thought it would. I woke up all through the night and finally at 5:30am I had to get up because I got sick for 5 hours straight. I wondered what is wrong with me. I had started not to feel so well on our drive home from Yosemite the night before and I haven't been ill like this in such a long time. Did I get dehydrated, did I eat the wrong thing, what is it? And, then my heart said, you miss Walter and this is your anniversary and even though you are telling yourself that you are OK, your heart knows that today you are sad and your body is feeing the strain of it all. For a few hours I succombed to the sadness, leaned into it, gave into it and wallowed in it. I didn't go to church. I stayed in my robe and didn't even comb my hair. I looked sick like somebody needs to take this girl to the hospital because something is seriously wrong, sick. As the day went on I didn't know if I could/should/would go to this concert. After all, you are sick and the concert is too far to drive and how are you even going to tolerate being out there all by yourself and hearing all those songs that Walter used to love. What a dumb idea in the first place. I struggled with these thoughts for a long time and I sat and felt sorry for myself long after my stomach had stopped turning. Then, finally, I began to cry harder than I've cried in months, and you know, tears are healing, and as the tears flowed I remembered my mother saying to me that sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on. Then I thought about Walter and the strength and courage he had in his final years. This man who used to take to his sick bed with the common cold, but refused to give up when his transplanted kidney failed and they took off one leg and then as soon as he got his prosthesis and began to walk tall again, they had to take the other one too. But, he refused to give up. I remembered him sitting in the wheelchair for months and not wanting many people to see him and just being sad and depressed. We would cry together sometimes because life just didn't make sense. And then one Sunday he decided he was not only going to church with me but he was going to put on his usher uniform and pass out the bulletins and greet people at the door. I marveled at him as he dressed that morning and I've never forgotten that moment, the moment he took back his life. It wasn't the life he wanted, or bargained for, or dreamed about, and he certainly didn't ask for it, but it was what he had been given and he decided to make the best of it. And then a year later when we got the diagnosis that now he had lymphoma and kidney cancer I could hear him saying to me "Babe, please take care of yourself, please live your life babe, and don't take any wooden nickels." So, on June 3, 2012, the 4th wedding anniversary without my love, I got myself up, I got myself showered and dressed and put on that pretty dress that I'd only worn once to church and I did my hair and put on my face (as mama used to say) and when I came out of my room with just 20 minutes to get to a concert that was 40 minutes away, my son said, "Mom, you look GOOD!" I believed him too because my son, God love him, doesn't give idle compliments to make anybody feel good. :) So, he took my picture in our back yard and I told him that I still didn't feel so good, but I wanted to go anyway. He said, "good for you, mom, have fun." When I got to the concert the line was out the door and I had to wait even though my ticket was at will-call. It was OK though because it gave me a minute to just be outside and watch the people and forget about myself for a little while. I sat among strangers all by myself and for a minute, as I looked around at the couples obviously out on a date, I wanted to cry and I even almost walked back to my car, but I refused to just give up like that before even getting into the concert. I just kept telling myself to just put one foot in front of the other and you'll be OK. And you know, I really was. The concert was great and it was really wonderful to hear those songs that Walter had loved so much. The group sounded as great in person as on the CD. Of course, I thought of Walter and missed him and silently cried some more, but I also laughed and enjoyed myself thoroughly. That evening when the concert was over, I walked to my car putting one foot in front of the other and I felt good, and my burdens were lighter. I said to my heart, I'm keeping my promise to Walter and most importantly, to myself. I am taking care of myself, I'm living my life and Walter, my love, I promise not to take any wooden nickels. Happy Anniversary.