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Remembering when it was Sue and Ray.

Today I missed Ray, yesterday I missed Ray. I miss him every day.  Yesterday I missed him because I met a next door neighbour from 20+ years ago, she was about 8 when I last saw her. She said: "I was sorry to hear about Ray." Ray was working back when she lived next door but he would stop what he was doing and talk to the two little girls, her and her sister, through the fence. Children remember things like that.

Another young girl who lived next door later on also remembers Ray's kindness.  She remembers when she came over to our house in the years after he had his strokes she could sit on the arm of his chair and he would read to her.  I used to think it was good practice for him as his speech as a little slurred but for her he read slowly and turned the page with his "good" hand.  She just remembers that he was kind.

I find it is hardest on weekends, I find I am lonelier and more at a loose end. Of course Ray was stroke affected from 1999 but despite the fact that he was somewhat brain damaged and a semi-invalid for 13 years, he was HERE, he was home with me. We had companionship.  I included him as much as possible in the decision making and respected his feelings and his advice.  We were still Sue and Ray.  We were still a couple, we were not alone, we had each other.

As he needed a lot of outside help, especially in the last five years of his life our weekdays were busy with appointments and people coming and going but our weekends were appointment free and our relaxing time.  Ray was fairly alert in the mornings but in the afternoons he slept a lot but just his presence in the house was enough to reassure me that things were as they should be. I had a husband for 44 years, that is a very long time.  And when the kids had flown the coop there was still US.

The year when he was in the nursing home was hard, I thought I would get used to living on my own but I never did.  It was like we lived  in two sets of rooms, I lived in our house here but I also lived through the day in the rooms at the nursing home where Ray lived. On my daily visits we watched the entertainment in the lounge room, spent time in the sun in the courtyards and according to what was on the program for the day I wheeled him to whichever room the activities officers were using to play Bingo or do puzzles. Sometimes we would move into one of the smaller public rooms so we could watch TV together.

Last year was a horrible year, trying to get over Ray's last months, his death, the funeral etc.  I was in a bad way for a while, I guess we all are in that first year.  Now I am in my second year and it is better in some ways but the underlying pain from the loss is still there.

I was reminded of all of this when someone asked me today if it is getting easier being without Ray?  I suppose in a way it is.  I am more cheerful, less self-absorbed, less focused on Ray's death and my widowhood.  I can move around in the real world without too much problem.  But I am not over it.  I am not over being part of a couple with half of the couple missing.  I still want to be a part of Sue and Ray.  it is just Ray is no longer in the same space.

Sad eh? 

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Comment by only1sue on March 1, 2014 at 11:28am

Jean, I think that while I have moved on in some ways bits of me are "stuck".  I use the caregiver reference a lot to explain what I have been doing for the past fifteen years when obviously I was  still working age.  What do you do? being one of the first things asked here when you meet someone new. I haven't established a new routine as yet.  I am still wondering what to change, what to add to, what to give up entirely.  It is not something I can do quickly.

There have been a lot of changes in my life, now it is the children moving away and re-establishing themselves in other areas.  That is unsettling for me as just having them close by has been a reassurance that I have help if I need it.  But I knew that wouldn't last.  Just have to get used to being by myself and learn to be more self-reliant.

Comment by lonelyinaz on February 27, 2014 at 3:10pm

Thx Blue, I needed to hear that.  Caregiver's routine, yea, that was me as well.

Comment by Blue Snow on February 27, 2014 at 6:00am

For me it helps to try to separate grieving my husband from grieving over a loss of a caregiver's routine and having a purpose in life. Grieving a spouse takes whatever time it takes and we can't do much to change that. But grieving our past routines and purpose in life is something we can be pro-active about---make positive changes that will fill in some of the time we once spent caring for our spouses. When I first started getting out into the "real world" sampling various groups and volunteer situations it seemed like the first words out of my mouth were a reference to being a recent widow, x-caregiver. You can't be a caregiver for so many years without defining your whole being in those terms. I don't define myself as an x-caregiver much anymore and I see that as progress. I will always be a loving widow, but I am capable of so much more and so are you.

Comment by only1sue on February 26, 2014 at 12:59pm

I am clearing up the yard and under the building.  Every piece of wood, every "saved" item I throw into the skip reminds me of Ray and his collecting all those things that will one day "come in handy".  It is all heart-breaking stuff, removing piece by piece something that at some time in the distant past meant something special to the one I loved so much for so long.

Comment by LindaLou on February 24, 2014 at 7:06pm
I was only married almost 5 yrs to my John and I feel the same...I still feel like I am part of John and Linda....he is just away...but he is not..and not coming back.
This was my second marriage..and for him too. My 1st marriage ended in divorce and when that happened I did not miss that us...because we were never a us..big difference.
I am 22 months out....and still can not believe I am not part of a true couple.
Yet...John would want me to live life....especially since he was not given that gift.
Comment by lonelyinaz on February 24, 2014 at 6:25pm

Sue, thanks for your post.  Wow, so well said.  My hubby was also with many physical limitations over many years, but I also felt like it was still "us", and I got use to our way of life.  Since it was a gradual change year after year, we became accustomed to our life, and still was good because we had each other.  So, I can so relate to your words.  I also will never be able to be more than a woman whose half is missing and will always feel that missing.  Hugs Sue.

Comment by Charlies wife on February 24, 2014 at 6:10pm

I am so sorry for your loss. I can so relate.

My husband and I were married for 44 years,known each other for 50. We were only 18 when we married. I miss him. I think I''ll always be 1/2 of a whole.

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