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April. Said with a long inhale and a deeply exhaled sigh of relief, of respite.

It is April and finally I am free of anniversaries and holidays. One month of freedom before our wedding anniversary (no.13) and the second anniversary of Ron’s death. I don’t want to remember what happened in April and do I really have to? I spent the first year after Ron died fine-tooth combing details, organizing events and crises in a timeline, trying to understand what had happened, it happened so fast, and simultaneously reliving the horror and terror. I needed to do that.  Now I don’t. My mind doesn’t want to go back there and I feel it recoil if I start to delve into the specific dates and the memories behind them. I think that is okay. I think I am not denying or avoiding it if I have already steeped myself in those memories. I want to let them go. I want to stop remembering the sickness and the pain and bring back the healthy, energetic man I knew to the forefront.

 

I am in a new place now.  For the past 23 months I have been in the only place possible, getting through the minutes, learning to tolerate the minutes and finding that the minutes became hours and even sometimes days that were/are actually okay.   I don’t remember how I passed the time during the first few months. I think I just went through the practical motions of taking care of the girls and tried to keep myself from exploding. I am still astounded by the body grief, the fatigue and the physical pain. Grieving hurts. I can remember taking the girls to the pool and not being able to talk to anyone. Just sitting there. I swam sometimes and it felt good to be under water, good to feel my muscles ache.  Only the briefest of conversations were possible because my skin was so thin and taut that anything could break my composure and I was holding on with all of my strength, all the time. It was so tiring. My concentration was so scattered, and sometime still, is because it felt like if I let anything or anyone in or stayed too long with a feeling I would be overwhelmed by it. It would/will be unbearable.   I needed to keep people at a distance, too, because they might make me feel something and I was struggling to hold onto myself, to control my feelings so couldn't let anyone too close, lest they provoke a feeling I didn't want to have.  Of course, that kept possible pleasant interactions at a minimum but keeping in control felt more important than anything else.

 

I walked the girls to the bus stop in the morning and trudged back home. What did I do while they were in school? I spent a lot of time online writing to other widows. I cooked when I could cook and heated up frozen food or made eggs when I couldn't.  When Ron was sick we were brought more food than we could ever eat. After he died the food mostly stopped. Sometimes I wished it would start again but I couldn't ask for help. Now I know, a grieving person does not have the energy or the brain space to reach out for help.  I am lucky and have friends and family that did and do reach out but I remember feeling like I just wanted someone to put food on the table for us.

 

 Several months later I started working part-time and from home. I couldn’t face people in an office and I couldn’t leave the girls alone. I couldn’t be without them either because they were my sole focus and purpose and reason for getting out of bed. I couldn’t think of any other reason.

 

But now I am ready to enter a new place. I suppose it would be more truthful to say that I am almost ready to begin a new phase. I am open to trying, but oh so afraid. A new plan A. I’ve been crawling on bleeding knees to arrive at this place.  It was almost revolutionary to be told that just because my first Plan A exploded and imploded in my face didn’t mean I had to move on to a Plan B.  We can actually have a second Plan A and while it will be different, it can actually be good. Wow.

 

But now I find that I need something different. My brain needs to work on things that aren’t about me, it needs some challenges that aren’t about grief. I need to start building my next plan A.  I need to occupy my brain with something and interact with other humans.  I need to stay with a thought and risk the discomfort, open myself up to other people. I need some stability and routine.  I guess I just don’t really trust in the concept of stability because now I know that it is more of a foolish construct. What we think is stable can be destroyed at any time.  But I guess that is how we live, with the illusion of stability and of control.  I do think that I will benefit from structure and routine and I know I will benefit from a stable income.

 

Ron was my reward at the end of every day. Now there is no reward, just the end of another day.  Looking inward is required if I am going to be able to find something new to reward me. What will I feel proud of? What will be fulfilling? What did Ron give to me to make me feel so much stronger and more protected than I feel alone? What can I do for myself? What makes me tick? What do I need? It was hard to even get to this point because each step that I take feels like a step away from him. But what is my next step?

 

When I think about Ron as my reward it is hard to untangle him and our lives as a twosome from what I want to feel from my life now.  What about the missing him? I have that ache and pressure in my chest that I finally know is sadness trying to be released. It is only notable to mention because it finally isn't a constant physical ache.  It was gone for a little while and now it is back and needs attention.  Such sadness.  It is hard/painful/scary/confusing to figure out my own new life, alone. What about the loneliness? The consuming, eating me alive loneliness? How do I learn to live and feel content alone? I hate being alone. Maybe some day I will meet someone and remarry but I believe that I have to create my own new life before that will be remotely possible.

 

My brain is starting to understand that the reality is that he is with me no matter what.  My heart still struggles with the feeling of moving away from him. He isn't here on this planet. He is wherever I go. We begin and end as stardust and Ron is trail running the stars.  He is gleefully jumping, flying, bounding from one star to the next and he is free. I even know what he is wearing : shorts, a capilene t-shirt and hiking boots with dorky dark socks. He is carrying one of his favorite backpacks. He is leaping and scampering like a billy goat. He is radiating light and love and he is free.

 What do I need and what must I do to free me?

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Comment by AEDforever (Ali) on April 21, 2014 at 9:34pm

Rkk....everything you said here gave me flashbacks of the last two years of this joufneh.  And yes, it has come to the point that i must sdek out my new reward, my new reason and purpose. I had a setback witb the death of mh mother last sdpt, and weng jndergrljnx for awhile, but life has taken another unexpected thrn recently, and k have found ag least a temporary purpose.  Keep asking the question..i am certain the answer will appear.  Have missed you.

Comment by MissingRKK on April 14, 2014 at 6:49pm
My Roses. Not at all. I am trave,ing out of the US with limited internet. Ron was originally from Korea. Thank you for writing about Wes. He sounded full of love and joy. Hugs, Carrie
Comment by my roses on April 14, 2014 at 1:13am

My roses

Hoe I did not upset you by asking about  Ron's background ie French etc.

Bless you

Comment by my roses on April 10, 2014 at 10:56pm

My Roses

If you do find Michelle's comments  re Second Love perhaps you could give me the link.  I find it very difficult to get into Widows Voice.. my computer does not seem to be compatible to it.  I cannot leave posts on it either.

I know I have changed, but strangely enough I think I would like someone more like Wes than anything else.The same gentleness, honesty, and also his handsomeness.  He never realised he was handsome and he did look very different to his immediate family.  What was the background to your Ron..  He looked French or Spanish?  But also maybe Asian. Wes looked more like a Sephardic Jew.. (again they were French or Spanish). with love and many blessings

Comment by my roses on April 10, 2014 at 10:45pm

My roses

First of all thank you for your thoughts.  Secondly here is a link to see photos of my Wes - Have 2 albums on my page from when we first met to a month or so before he died. There is also a photo tribute section.The photos will show quite a bit of what I have written about Wes. 

http://widowedvillage.org/photo/album/listForOwner?screenName=3j8mh...  My Wes was 6ft tall with dark hair and blue eyes.  We only had one week to meet and I fell in love with him in 3 days. I had a new job and met him there... he was leaving at the end of the week. We decided to go around the world together for  4 mths.  I knew I would get the job and later found out that Wes had designed this NEW JOB.  My former marriage had been seriously bad.  I was not searching for Wes he just arrived. The Love of my Life.  He was gentle, full of unconditional love, which grew over time until he said It is now a Great Love.  He could use both sides of his brain.. Mathematics and computers and  was a lecturer in this - then an administrator.  But he was also gentle, passionate, faithful and had an effect on others around him. Children would come and sit at his feet - bringing books,or questions for him to answer. Early photos of him with his children... show him utterly besotted.  I have never seen a man look at babies like this.  Men and women loved him.  He was very good at making things, such as furniture, could mend most things.  Loved making things work and keeping them looking beautiful.  He wrote so many beautiful cards for birthday, Christmas, Anniversary, Valentine Day - plus love letters.  They are all in a gold handpainted box I decorated for him... there are photos on my page of these.  We were never apart - except for one 3  weeks - I began to get unwell while separated. I loved the way that  if we were going for a walk and  one of us went to look at the river or a garden... as  I turned around to walk back to him... I could see him walking towards me with his arms crossed .  He was shaking them from side to side as if he was already cuddling me. When I caught up with him I got this massive hug.  He was a healthy, happy man, full of love, go anywhere as long as we were together.  The last holiday I had was 5 yrs ago when we went to Victoria and the mineral springs, stayed in a lovely cottage. One photo in the album set shows him in a hammock outside this cottage.  I have loved and lost before, lost my mom at 11 yrs but nothing like this with Wes. He had a good sense of humour and lovely voice.  He also could sing.  We both loved music.  Most of all was to wave him good bye every morning and give him healthy food package for lunch... and  when he got home he would stand and open his arms for me to rush in.   Afte he passed away there were so many Drs. Nurses and friends (both men and women ) who left messages on my phone.  Many wept and shook at the funeral.

Comments were "What a lovely man, a precious man, ".   I looked after him at home, I would sing to him that I loved him, while working in the kitchen.  Even when he was quite fragile, he had a light that would shine out of him.  He wrote a card to me "thanking me for my monumental help in his crisis".   I am so glad that he was at home most of the time, even though it was very tiring for me. He died in front of me with his beautiful blue eyes. Seeing the Love of your life die in front of you is beyond description really. But I think it is slightly better than rushing to a hospital only to find them gone.    3 miracles happened when he passed away. (I was also sad that his children did not see as much of him as they could have done. )   I did a Celebration of his Life last December.  Sang songs he loved or were relevant, showed video of our wedding.Had a violinist to play for us, display of photos and some wedding table decorations and our wedding vows. (Which we had done again before he passed away)

Plus a lovely health morning tea.  Other widows came and close friends... but none of  his family!!!  I really think they had no idea what this man was like.   I agree Wes is written on my heart forever and I hope to be reunited with him again. If I can stay on the narrow path.  Wes has told me that he is my ally in heaven. I have also seen a vision of him and  his sister has seen 2 of him.  I have felt his presence in many ways and at  Anniversaries last year. 

Comment by MissingRKK on April 10, 2014 at 9:53am

On the subject of a new love. Michele Neff Hernandez lead a workshop at Camp Widow about exploring the possibility of a new love. She talked about how it is impossible to recreate what we had with our loves who have died. They are not here to participate. We are not the same people anymore. Their deaths have changed us and who we might select as a partner now would reflect the new person we've become. I am sure I am not doing her presentation justice.  I wonder if she has a video clip or writing on the Soaring Spirits site that explains this better. I think love heals but it doesn't take away the grief. We will always carry our loved ones with us. Our hearts will just have to expand to fit in a new person--if that is the path chosen.  

Comment by MissingRKK on April 10, 2014 at 9:42am

My Roses, thanks for your comments and thank you for asking me to write about Ron. Ron was energy and movement. He wasn't a big man but he was strong and muscled. He moved constantly and quickly. Sometimes I had to ask him to stand still when I was talking to him! He walked around while talking on the phone, while brushing his teeth. He loved to hike and run but had to dial it back to walking quickly after he shattered his ankle about 8 years ago. He was never able to run again or trail-run but he still could walk really fast. He had the warmest, most open smile and one of my best memories of him is the look he would have on his face when he was listening to me or to someone he cared about.  Babies loved him and loved his face. That was something I loved too, watching babies light up when they saw him or he held them. He was so sparkly.  He loved the ocean and I thought he was the most handsome, the most radiant when he was in the water. He just glowed. Ron was endlessly generous and spent a lot of time thinking about what he could do for others, gifts he could give, occasions he could create. Sometimes I felt selfish compared to him. He put everyone before him, even to his detriment at times but that is what made him happy.  

He loved to eat!! His whole family is like that so we spent a lot of time cooking and reading recipes, thinking about food, going to the farmers market,  going out to eat, making food for friends and family. I miss that but find entertaining really hard on my own so other than for family and a single mom friend and her kids, I haven't had dinner gatherings yet.  That hurts, the idea of hosting without him. 

He could be shy but really opened up to people he felt comfortable around.  He was a great listener. He was a caretaker.  He was my love, my ally, my friend and my greatest supporter.

My Roses, please tell me about Wes.

Comment by my roses on April 10, 2014 at 7:15am

My Roses

Forgot to say - please  write about your healthy energetic  man.  Would love to know about him before he got sick.  My Wes looked so young when he passed away thick dark hair, rosey skin, but he was 73. Others thought his hair must have been dyed.  But it wasn't... He never had chemo or radiation which made a difference.  I want to remember my man as beautiful... one  17 yr old was shocked by this word.  Then began to say - how nice it was... better than talking about their backsides or something. Again its all about love - how we talk about our beloved.

Comment by my roses on April 10, 2014 at 7:07am

My roses

I am not as far out as you only 14 mths.  But  I feel it has got worse, this yearning for Wes - basically his love and companionship.    I like the idea of another plan A  and not Plan B.  Yes I wonder what it is that makes us feel strong and protected.  Have been asking a lot of things lately. Everything seems to come back to love.  Having unconditional love (particularly after a previous bad relationship) brings a feeling of protection.  Then you are at ease and can become stronger.  There is also great trust between us then. I know I cannot replace Wes but  it seems that I cannot go on feeling this bad year after year.  This is what I wrote a day or so ago.

The reason I was looking at the info re finding a companion was varied but it seems that we are doing (and trying to ) do the right things. Even one's we have been told to do.. like getting out of the house, volunteering,  joining a social group etc....on and on.  But it appears that for so many of us this is JUST NOT WORKING.  At the heart of it is the need for companionship, to be cared about, volunteering is giving out but we are probably not receiving.  I know we all want our beloved back.  Also if we were looking for someone else as a companion (Love of your life would be almost impossible to repeat!!)  So I realised first that the only thing that really heals is love. From other research I noticed that even those who are looking are searching for someone who looks/thinks  like  our beloved.  But it seems that we may have to look at it differently, the qualities may be found in someone who looks different.  They may have some aspects of our beloved but bring some special new ones. Qualities that could bring us new gifts.  But he real nitty gritty is that only loving care, touch, and  companionship seems to come close to doing the healing we need. So we can be in a dilemma.. ie don't want to date,or afraid to.  Some even say they are too ugly now. Even looking for purpose in our lives tends to come back to honouring our beloved, writing a book about them, donating money to a cause. None of which is  really directly healing for us.. and we are important.  We have got so used to caregiving and exhaustion  that we cannot help ourselves properly.  I have seen restoration occur when people are loved. They blossom and unknown talents and  feelings emerge.  Somehow we have to find more support for widowed people as the stepping stone to healing. Also we need to create a place where  widowed people can meet without the stressful dating process.

 

 

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