Clothes Don’t Make The Man

shutterstock_319571114…but they sure make it hard to let him go! If you haven’t yet parted with the clothes of someone you loved, sooner or later you will. It’s another rite of passage in the long goodbye. It’s the admission that no, he or she won’t ever again be coming back to wear them – not the shirts or jackets that still have their scent or shoes with their feet imprinted inside.

Sooner or later, those clothes, at least most of them, will be released from your care. And you are the only one who will know when that will be. You were issued no calendar date; no deadline. You are the keeper of the memories and only you will know when it’s okay to emancipate them. For me that day happened almost by accident.

First, I must say – my husband was a classy guy . And his clothes showed it. He wasn’t a clothes horse and didn’t spend the household budget on them (he saved that for his hobby collections –but that’s another post! Lol) My guy had good taste, looked very GQ handsome  in a suit and always ‘cleaned up well’. He didn’t shop much but what he chose was classic and well-made; in other words clothes that lasted. In fact, they lasted after he was gone – thus the dilemma of how and where to disseminate them. Continue reading

Missing: One Green Nissan — and Driver.

2004-nissan-altima-virginia_beach-va-4595858251557422887-2Glancing out the kitchen window this morning as I made my tea, it struck me yet again — that ‘Greenie’ was gone. Yes, really and unequivocally gone – just like the man who drove it. That well-used green Nissan racked up more than 250,000 miles on its trek to clients and office each week. But seeing the suddenly inert car in my driveway, appearing like a ghostly mirage without its driver, would take my breath away. When one of my son-in-laws found someone who needed interim wheels, the little car seemed the perfect answer. It quietly, unceremoniously made its exit, heading for a new owner and routes unknown.

How the heck then, can I still be stupefyingly surprised, in moments like this morning, that my husband’s trusty green chariot is AWOL?

I can still envision Greenie pulling into the cul de sac in front of our house, a comfortable reminder that the man I loved was home. I miss seeing that car slowly pull out of the driveway, idling in front of the house until its owner and I waved goodbye, an ‘us’ tradition. I miss seeing that car roll back in at night, allowing me to breathe easier knowing my man was safely home again. That car was an extension of him in so many ways. Continue reading

“You Are You. Now isn’t that pleasant.”

winding_road

Dr. Seuss always nails it.

You are YOU — just a wee bit different than you were ‘before’.  The first time you check  the “widow” status on a form, have to change your emergency contact or start to say ‘honey, I’m home’ and realized no one is there, you are a different you. And it sucks. But it’s life now. Whether it happened with no warning or after months of dread, the title ‘widow’ is as foreign as if you shucked your identity for the Witness Protection Program. You feel  like you woke up on another planet — without rocket re-entry to your old life. This is it.

My husband is gone almost 10 months. I should be used to the title but ‘widow’ still doesn’t compute. To totally absorb it, means I need to accept the basic fact that my husband died and is never coming back. Before you think I’ve lost it entirely, of course I know he’s gone. I know he’s not just on a business trip; he’s not on a road trip. I get it.  I’m the one who found him that fateful night.

Cancer perched on the sidelines of every facet of our lives for years. Often sneaky, even silent, sometimes we ‘almost’ forgot it was even there. There were more emergent battles to fight. Debilitating treatment side-effects that dogged him constantly that we both knew would never leave. But sometimes even the most upsetting can be business as usual when you’re immersed in the day to day and you almost forget the gorilla waiting to pounce.  Continue reading

I (almost) . . . left my heart in San Francisco.

13912510_10210190201178352_467848970915089957_nNo, I didn’t go on vacation. I didn’t fall in love. And I didn’t go to find anything I was looking for – the love of my life already left the building. But, what I almost lost in the city by the bay was precious and would have broken my heart – again.

The jaunt to California was actually a business trip for a travel client as background for a snazzy review I will need to write. While going anywhere that smacks of fun and enjoyment doesn’t quite feel right to recent widows, as they said in The Godfather (one of my all-time faves) ‘It’s not personal; it’s business’. So I sucked it up, and forced myself to go to the Golden State. (I know, it’s rough to be in sunny California but someone has to do it, right? lol) Ready or not, I was booked on a tour, packed for the trip and grabbed a dear, sweet friend, who was gracious enough to be my travel bud for some California dreamin’.

With the first stop San Francisco, I was hesitantly optimistic. Yes, I was somewhere I had never been before but compared to the traumatic uncharted territory of widowhood, this would be a piece of cake!  Ha! Said cake fell flat my first night in the city ‑ and I can’t help but think my guy had a hand in it. Continue reading

A lifetime – of lifelines.

prostate cancerI had pizza, actually great pizza, last night with a sweet friend from the Cancer Group we founded nine years ago. Her husband died just one year before my own, almost to the day. I often think of the night we met, and all that we experienced since, both alone and together. That first night, we laid out a box of the prerequisite donuts and coffee as we nervously wondered if anyone would actually show up at our fledgling group. When the first couple walked in, it began not only a learning experience for us all but a unique friendship. Along with one of the other couples who became the third musketeer duo, we’d laugh for years about that awkward night that evolved into something as serious as life itself.

Many nights the last thing my husband and I felt like doing was dragging ourselves out in the cold or rain. Sometimes one of us didn’t feel well but more often than not, it was was getting too real – and scarily close to home.But, in the end, we always went to those meetings. We loved the group and all who were in it, and knew that, at its heart, the support it generated was a mutual gift that blessed us all. Continue reading

276 Days – But Who’s Counting?

hourglass-1-1024x768Nine months and three days ago my spouse left the building. He didn’t walk out. He didn’t leave for someone else. I could have dealt with that. In my past life, I DID deal with that. No, this departure had nothing to do with free will, romantic foible or selfish intention. It didn’t even have anything to do with the big C’s relentless march that hounded him. It had everything to do with that celestial calendar we never get to see.

They say the days of our lives are numbered. Well, isn’t that helpful. We have no idea what those numbers are ‑ or when they are up. All we can do is to try our level best to live within the unpredictability of that invisible calendar. As I remember many odd moments, actions of the last two years before he died, I can’t help but wonder if my husband instinctively knew his expiration date would come earlier than expected.

Most of his living large was in the days and years before we met. My guy regaled me with remembered moments of achievement, of professional escapades and successes, of starring roles in community theater shows. By the time we met, the scope of his business and his medical forecast had changed dramatically. Still, he was a vital force of nature. He never lost his penchant for the road less traveled even if he often got totally lost along the way. Hey, it’s true what they say about men and maps. Continue reading

Keeping It…REAL

pakiet.na-zdrowie.3Newsflash – No matter how any of us try to be perfect – that’s not happening. Neither people – or marriages are born to be perfect. Sure, we may WANT perfect, the ideal — but  REAL is what we get.

Marriage is rarely a Hallmark movie or 24/7 euphoria. Instead, authentic marriage means sacrifice, issues, chores, schedules, love, irritation, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, anger, affection (not always in that order). It’s also idiocyncrasies, snoring, worries, richer and poorer. When critical illness and its side effects enters the mix, now that really transforms the playing field. One partner undergoes endless procedures/surgeries, diminished quality of life, anger, pain and fear. The other juggles worry, research, is the keeper of the medical records, and caretaker extraordinaire. That was our  marriage; that was our REAL.

I’ve poured my heart out these past months, writing about deep grief, and the missing of a husband I loved beyond words. It came to me recently, that the painting was incomplete. It was in black and white with pieces missing. While stark pen and ink art has always been my forte, when it comes to portraying a real picture of real marriage, black and white doesn’t cut it.  Grief outlined only in high contrast is pretty flawed and does a disservice to the flavors and colorations a real marriage holds. Continue reading