Turning Over a New Leaf (reluctantly)

dsc_0093“Autumn is the year’s last, loveliest smile”    William Cullen Bryant

My lone maple tree in the front yard is doing its thing. As all of nature, it meekly obeys the laws of the season. With branches exposed, leaves going, going, gone, I can easily picture my grandboys climbing upwards with the helpful boost of their grandpa, while my heart was in my throat. It’s the same tree I laughingly watched, many springs ago, as my sweet neighbor deftly dug up my perfectly placed impatiens, replanting them in her own garden. (To be fair, she did think they were planted by community landscapers; thus fair game)

I know my proud tree will soon become a snow laden skeleton and spring buds won’t emerge until another season of bloom. But right now, its leaves are dying a Technicolor death. Others will grow and follow in another year, another season, but these particular leaves, who’ve shaded the grandsons throwing Frisbies – will be gone forever.

Like those we love, like we ourselves – to everything there is a season. The season our husbands, our wives, our mothers, fathers or siblings shared with us has been swept away along with the stunning foliage that was theirs alone. To us it’s never the right time or season for leaf loss. We don’t care that they become merely crinkled and aged shadows of their neon green selves. We don’t care that they’ve reached the end of their season with nowhere to go but the ether. We just want them – there. When the tree is no longer lush, barely able to still shade and shelter, when fall’s brutal winds remove the leaves and bare sad, naked branches, we want to hold on to the season. We want to grasp spring buds and  fall’s kaleidescope tightly, thinking we can save them from morphing into winter’s stark silouettes. Ha!  Just like all of life, autumn . . . leaves. Continue reading

Well there’s that . . .

lonelinessHearing politicians talk is hardly my favorite pastime. This year, they are on my last nerve. But a few days ago I heard a soundbyte that caught me up short, which isn’t exactly shocking given this bizarre election year climate. This particular weird statement (also not shocking this year) made me think ‘what the…?’ And I automatically turned to say ‘Hon, did you hear that?”. Reflex actions die hard (no pun intended) and I knew my husband, as he always quipped, would ‘understand totally’. Except he isn’t there to tell that little political pundit to making it just one more moment that pushes my grief buttons.

Grief is contradiction. It’s a strange medley of the subtle and the overwhelming. It’s quiet reflection and loud sobbing. It’s memories that bring deepest sadness — and sentimental laughter. Yes, it happens. When you’re in your grief coma, with your heart in yesterday even as your feet are in tomorrow, the split-personality of grief shows up (or acts up, depending on how you look at it.) Continue reading

‘Tis better to have loved . . .

annivGrow old with me; the best is yet to be.       Robert Browning

Yes, I AM sappy enough to have hung that innocently hopeful plaque in my bedroom – but it was also the first thing to go after my husband died. It seemed a pretty lousy reminder that growing old together wasn’t on the table.

Remember your first wedding anniversary, when you toasted the 365 that followed your wedding day hoopla?  Maybe you congratulated each other on how well you maneuvered those first months of growth, woven together with discovery, change, joy and maybe even a little disillusionment. You made it through the milestone first married year. Like us, you probably made an anniversary toast, as you celebrated each other and the years ahead.

Well, this week marks an anniversary, too, but not one I looked forward to. October 14 marks the first anniversary of my husband’s death and there’s nothing to celebrate about that. There’s no joyous newlywed year-end toast nor any of the anniversaries that marked another year of precious memories. All the laughs and kisses once shared with the man I loved will only be given and received this anniversary with all who gather to remember him that day. Continue reading

Make a wish. No, another one . . .


The Mad Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)

Happy Birthday — NOT. This year’s birthday is still a few days away but I can’t help channel the Mad Hatter, with his lopsided birthday cake, and his kooky wishes for an unbirthday. I’m no Grinch. I love celebrating everyone’s special days even more than my own, but last year, my trusty Libra scales completely tipped over. And they dumped all the ‘Wonderland’ cheer out of me.  Last year, the day that marked by birth began a runaway train I didn’t even know I was on — and I was powerless to stop it.  That beautiful October jewel of a day tripped off what would be the last week — of my husband’s life.

That day. . . I was unaware of what was to come as I wrote a gratitude piece I posted on Facebook surveying my life in light of another birthday. As I wrote it, I laughed and cried as my life’s blessings poured into my words. And as the words took shape, it was evident that both hard times and joyful times make a life; mold a life and that day, when I examined my life, I was grateful for all of it.

That day. . . as I contentedly poured my soul into that little birthday reflection, I had no way of knowing all my thoughts, my gratitude would be tested in life-changing ways. I could not have known that day I would find my husband dead — just 5 days later. But looking back, I’m certain I wouldn’t change a word of what I wrote. I just wish those clueless, happy moments would have lasted longer. Don’t we all. Continue reading

Life Marches On

img_7658Well, at least it marches, ready or not, in the little room where my husband kept his marbles, planes and armies of toy soldiers and knights. When he left this world, he also left this entire room of collectible ‘stuff’ behind – and I have no earthly idea what to do with it! Many painstaking hours (and dollars) were spent collecting,  planning, gluing and building this little world into a mini- museum. We should have charged admission.

My kid-at-heart husband collected marbles, no, not just the simple cat-eye ones, although he had a hefty bowl of them. His taste ran to those hand-blown, kaleidescope of color ones that preened on little stands in glass cases. Looking at these sparkling orbs one day, I realized why gradually my happy place of Cape Cod grew on him. I remember how his eyes lit up when we went to the Sandwich Glass Factory and his mouse-eating grin as he left each time, marble in tow.

Planes were part of my man’s collecting gene, and, true to his discriminating (expensive) taste, not to those plastic jobs put together  with duco cement. These little flying machines were authentic scale models of WWI planes, including the infamous Red Baron. They have all since flown to another space — but that’s another blog post. Continue reading

SIRI . . . Find My Husband

siri-ios-7-signA few weeks ago,  I laughed as one of my sweet grandsons asked the wacky woman who lives in the phone (otherwise known as Siri) for his mom’s password. Hey, you gotta give him props for ingenuity, right? I guess he figured if the all-knowing Siri knew movie times, road directions and phone numbers, why not his mother’s password? Well, Siri didn’t but it did give me pause. What if that nebulous voice in the phone (actually mine is a proper British guy) could take a pass at finding where my husband hangs out now in this universe?

Looking up into clear cool nights at stars, the tops of silhouetted trees, even the moon, I often wonder where he is in the ethernet. Come on, I know you’ve had the same thoughts. We’ve all been told those we love never truly leave but are around us every day – but where? And how can we ever know for sure?

If my husband is still transmitting — we’re not on the same frequency. Continue reading

Together…We Remember. 9/11/01

september-11th-memorial-3-largeWhen an anniversary marks a death, there is little to celebrate. When it marks the death of more than 2,996 people, an anniversary is a misnomer. Anniversaries somehow denote champagne but celebration is anathema to those left standing after a precious loved one dies. But when those they loved are simply removed from the planet, when they disappear into the either in an instant, words can’t be articulated. The calendar imprints today as the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001, a day to remember – all the days of the year.

Maybe you knew or lost someone in the towers or on the plane. You might have known one of the first-responders who never knew how their pledge to serve would be tested. You might have been watching tv at home or in the office or listening to the radio in your car. Wherever you were, whoever you knew one thing is for sure, you will never forget that day.

This past week, my thoughts were crowded with all the people who went to work that day and never came home. I thought of the terror, the unfathomable horror of a day that began with brilliant blue skies. I thought of the parents, siblings, children and spouses whose lives were ravaged with one phone call. I thought of how many that day were my children’s ages now. I thought of all the family pictures, the photo albums, the weddings, all the sweet things of life that will forever be minus one important person in them. Continue reading