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So it is springtime again. Although you wouldn’t know it if you looked out of the window. Usually by now the trees have a green glow around them as the first buds appear and the daffodils and crocuses are blooming loud and proud. Instead there is a layer of snow on the ground with bits of ice and mud, lots of mud, underneath. It is still so cold and the sky is grey and heavy.

Spring in DC is usually the best time of year. The spring of 2012 was slow and gorgeous. I remember sitting on the screened porch with Ron and trying to identify birds by their calls. We had wren nests in the bird houses in our crab apple tree and a robin’s nest on the beam under the deck, right at eye level.  One day during Ron’s last weeks, although I didn’t realize they were his last weeks at the time, we brought a lounge chair to the front yard so he could sit outside and be with us while the kids played and I puttered around in the yard. Although I think he was glad to be outside, he didn’t stay in the front yard for long. I don’t think he liked feeling exposed, being seen, in his weakened state. But I remember the day; remember what the air felt like, how the light glowed. I have a photo of Ron lying in the chair. I took so few photos. I didn’t want to remember him looking emaciated, this man who had taken such pride in his trim, muscled healthy body.

That spring I spent hours ripping out weeds from the side yard. Overgrown ivy, prickly vines, bamboo. I went outside to feel the sun, to get some exercise, and to take out my anger on some plants. But I also went outside to escape. To escape Ron’s pain, to escape sickness. I think of that time and it hurts and haunts me.  If I were listening to someone else’s story I would think, well of course you needed some time away, some time to yourself. It is good that you got outside. But it is my story and it was his time and now all I want more of him and that I can never have.

There was a lovely moment during that spring and it was a little anecdote I could share with Ron when I went back into the house. As I was squatting down weeding, there was loud squawking from someplace nearby. I couldn’t see the bird; I just heard its repeated cries. From the corner of my eye I saw movement and realized that there was a baby cardinal in one of the bushes near me. It was so stout and stubby. It was still learning to fly. I tried to get a photo of it.  I watched it for a while as it hopped away from me towards the fence. Both the male and female adult cardinals came to its rescue and guided it upwards until it could hop/fly up to a low branch in the tree and make its way up back to the nest.

So it is spring.  I love springtime. But it is springtime and spring is filled with sensory triggers and memories and my kernel of calm is now hunkering down, shooting glances into dark corners and afraid.   Last spring was bad. Last spring was scary. I learned a lot last year. As the anniversary of Ron’s death approached and I literally felt that I was preparing to be battered or beaten, I learned about post-traumatic stress. I learned that I was preparing to lose Ron again and that I didn’t have to. He’d already died and it wasn’t going to happen again. I learned how to bring my attention back to the present and how to check in with myself and my surroundings to notice that there were no actual crises.  But now I have learned a lot about grief and how it shows up when it wants to and I can try to ignore it (which has awful repercussions) or I can sit with it.  So what is my problem? I guess the thing is that I don’t want to lose control. I don’t want to wake up and realize that I am in the middle of a grief wave or get slapped by one in the middle of an ordinary event, or lose my grip in the middle of the grocery store.  I want it to be easier and my head knows that I have to live through it until it dissipates but my heart is tired of hurting.  I don’t want to lose the kernel of calm.

This winter has been harsher than usual and it will be such a relief when the weather is warm and the flowers come out. Maybe I am spending all this time and energy fearing something that hasn’t even happened because it is easier to feel  fear  rather than the sadness. If I let myself really go deeper that is what is there: a pool of sad, the depth of missing Ron and trying to make my brain understand that soon he will have been dead for two years. Really dead, not coming back dead.  Really, truly dead.  Aw, Ron. I miss you. I am sad and I miss you. 

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Comment by MissingRKK on March 27, 2014 at 6:04pm

Tucker, I hope that you can work that garden. The tears you water it with are drops of love and whatever grows will be beautiful (and hopefully tasty). Hugs to you.

Laura Jay, thank you. I say this often but it is the duality of the life of grieving that continues to surprise me, the excitement of spring with the melancholy and sadness of loss. The two intertwined. Hard for others to understand if they haven't experienced loss. Hugs to you, too.

Today was mostly good. Writing this morning helped me release some sadness and understand, at least a little, my trepidation about the upcoming weeks. Then I had the most amazing acupuncture session and felt a sense of relaxation and peace that I haven't felt in probably three years.

After that, it was busy time and picking the kids up, driving the carpool, etc.  I left my younger child home alone when I was driving the soccer car pool. I hate leaving her alone but I have to sometimes and she doesn't mind if it is a short time. Traffic was terrible and it took a long time. On the way home, my sister in law called and while we were catching up, my younger daughter tried to get a call through. I didn't answer because  I figured she was just wondering why I was taking so long and I thought I'd call her back when I was done. Well, she called as soon as I hung up and she was sobbing that she'd fallen and was bleeding. I drove as fast as I safely could to get to her. She tripped and fell on her face and her lip and gum were bleeding. I was worried that she'd loosened a tooth.  By the time, I got her settled down with ice packs and no missing teeth (!) it was 8:15 and dinner never got started. My older daughter was dropped off and she was upset and crabby.  I finally made some dinner. And, as all this was going on I realized that I am getting a cold.  UGH. Well, the relaxation was nice while it lasted..... I am glad it is still possible to feel relaxed. That gives me some hope. UGH. 

Comment by laurajay on March 27, 2014 at 10:47am

I have told you before how much I enjoy the way you express yourself regarding  loss.  It is still true with this blog.  Even whispering the word- s p r I n g -  causes a quickening within me I can hardly bear.  Every year since I can remember this keen awareness of new life, new desire to grow to stretch to reach...for more for things new.  Always that hope of renewal.  It has not left me since my husband died the end of March 2012.  I am grateful for that.  But his delight in watching my joy of spring - I will never witness again...his  acceptance of all I had to give him and share with him and all he offered in return  are gone as well.

But  -s p- r- i- n- g  will come again.  Pretty  fragrant  promising  playful  and I will gently in a melancholy  way embrace it fully.  Some goodness just is...nothing more ...it just is.     thank you MissingRKK  for this post!   laurajay

Comment by Tucker0505 on March 27, 2014 at 9:01am

Springtime has always been our favorite time of year.  We worked in the yard, get ready to plant our little vegetable garden, though we never got any produce to speak of and enjoyed the birds and flowers.  Spring is when we would try to go on an annual vacation, before it gets too hot, before the kids were out of school and everywhere we wanted to vacation. 

Over the last couple of years I was doing most of the work in the yard as Norman's health failed.  This too, was my escape.  I have a little wood working shop out back that I would spend hours in, just to escape the lonliness of being together, but alone in so many ways.  He loved to watch me work outside and I had him to come inside to.  He was so proud of all I did and always praised every little thing I tried to do, even if it failed. 

I cannot go into my shop anymore.  I can hardly go to work everyday, much less think of ever going on vacation again.  The sight of the spring flowers blooming makes me happy, but scared.  I look at the weeds in our garden spot and don't know if I will have the strength to pull them this year.  I'm thinking right now that may be good therapy when the weather gets a little better.  I can pull and chop and beat those weeds down, while I cry my eyes out.  Then plant some tomatoe plants and water them with my tears.  Sounds like a plan, right now anyway.

Comment by IndiaKai on March 27, 2014 at 7:38am

I get it. I truly get this.  Heavy heart. Many firsts for me right now. Winter was hard. Dark. Cold. Long. Lonely. Spring is finally trying to make an appearance here in Washington State.  I thought I was getting used to the triggers of loneliness for winter only to discover a whole new set of triggers for Spring.    

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