Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The First Noel

My intention for writing this blog was to keep a written record of my journey this first year, since so many told me of the struggle that it would be. And although it is public and seems to have reached many, it still does what I first intended. It gives me a chance to reflect on the many experiences and feelings I have had. I often go back and read early entries to remember. Someday I will look back at these writings about my first Christmas without Glenn as well, and remember.

I thought I was going to sneak through the actual days of Christmas without much sadness. And mostly I did, thanks to my children. Between the two of them, I was at one house or the other, celebrating the day and being together. I would have to say that there was much more laughter than tears. And thoughtful loving gifts and gestures.

On Christmas Eve I went to a very large and beautiful Episcopal church, unlike any that Glenn ever served. His gift was small, out state parish ministry. At this church, there were three choirs, brass, a verger, the whole Anglican experience. And so, it didn't feel that strange not to have my husband on the altar. Yes, I teared  up at some of the Christmas hymns, but mostly out of gratitude that through my faith, I know where Glenn is, and that he is celebrating as well.

Today was harder. The excitement is over, I'm alone again, and I'm tired. I drove home in silence, not trusting myself to listen to the radio. Tonight I ate dinner with my mom, came home, put some music on and proceeded to have a little Christmas celebration of my own.

I opened the presents under the tree from my brother and his family and the ones so lovingly given to me by my school friends so that I would have things under my tree. Boo and Attie pretended to be interested, and happily ripped up the paper after I opened them.

Has it been easy? No. I have spent time today looking at his pictures and pictures from last Christmas, where I chauffeured him between two small churches on Christmas Eve. I thought of his silly, wonderful self wishing me a Merry Christmas in his very loud voice. And how delighted he would act at whatever present I gave him. And how when we got home, whatever time it was, we always cooked steak and shrimp.

And although I feel his presence with me often,  I miss his earthly self dearly.

But I continue on the path, making new memories, experiencing new joy, while treasuring the memories we had together. Sometimes those two things collide and I feel a bit badly. I think it is called "survivor guilt".

But I'm working on that too, on this journey.

Merry Christmas to all who read and share this blog. May your hearts be filled with memories of loved ones, here and not here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Whisper Words of Wisdom

Six months today. The death certificate would indicate that it is tomorrow, but I was there. I know exactly when it happened- right in front of my eyes. The attempt to revive him lasted long into the 17th, but his essence was already gone before midnight.

Six months has brought me some closure and mostly release of the feeling that I could have done anything to change the outcome. But the pain of his absence is still palpable.

 During these months I have laughed, cried, and done things I never knew I could do while learning how to ask for help.

 I have discovered the power and commitment of friendship and family, and been humbled and amazed by the responses I've received.

I've established new routines and learned how to give up the ones that are still painful.

I adopted Attie and his spirit has breathed new life into this home.

But mostly I think I've discovered a peace in my grief. Sometimes I am still overwhelmed by it, but I'm learning how to stay in the pain until I can breathe again.

I was reminded of this song tonight. I have turned to this song during hardships, many times in my life. It brings me such peace.

Let It Be

And when I feel Glenn speaking to me, this is his message. 
Stop struggling, let it be.

I'm working on it on the journey.

Friday, December 13, 2013

An Abundance of gratitude.

It all started yesterday with an unexpected package in the mail from a far away but close to my heart friend. And it continued today.

A few  weeks ago, my dear friend Misty, who is a far more eloquent and succinct writer than I could ever be, shared a blog about the sheer abundance of blessings in her life, and how most of them were caused by fate rather than merit. 

I get it. Tonight I am humbled and amazed by my blessings. Today, in the midst of a crazy Friday, Misty appeared in my classroom with a bag of gifts. 

Before you can understand this story completely, you must know that for more than six weeks, she has been suffering from debilitating pain due to a herniated disc. She has only been permitted to work minimal hours per week while trying to heal this injury. It has been mentally and physically devastating  for her as she tries to maintain a semblance of normalcy for her family. She has a very full plate of her own right now.

And yet, in the midst of such physical and emotional pain, she managed to think, when she saw my post about putting up a Christmas tree, that there would be no presents for ME under the tree, because there was no one here to buy and wrap anything.  (Dog and cat transactions are still frowned  upon in most retail establishments:). This hurt her and her daughters' hearts and they decided to take action.

So with precious tears in her eyes, she gave me a bag that contained some truly special gifts. They are safely under the tree, awaiting opening on Christmas. 

A couple tags were like getting a sneak peak of what is inside.

"Derbs! I love you to the moon and back!" from Tammy.

From Trudi" I love your sparkle and so much more."

And there are a few from the children of these dear friends. Oh my. Oh my. 

As I put them under the tree tonight, I sobbed. They were not tears of sorrow, but tears of overwhelming gratefulness and love. 

How in the world does "thank you" ever feel like enough? Can anyone ever truly grasp what these gestures mean in these dark days?
Out of such  great pain, such great joy is celebrated on this journey.
I remain astounded.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Checking in

Recently I returned to a therapeutic yoga class that I had been attending in September. Back then I wasn't ready. I was still trying to build a new normal with school starting minus Glenn and Boo's buddy Abi. I realized a few weeks ago that my mind had quieted a bit more, and that the new routine was as settled as it could be, so I decided to go back. And I'm so glad. One thing we do in class is to "check-in" with our body at the beginning of the practice before we start lenghthening and strengthening. We notice how our shoulders and back feel etc., so we can develop a sense of awareness and comparison at the end of the session.

This is what I've been doing mentally this holiday season. Checking in. I'm doing as much as I can for the holiday, when I can, and it seems to be working. But it is those little things that still call me up short.

I sent Christmas cards. Some traditions I feel strongly about continuing, which is probably why I put up a tree. I paused when I designed the signature. One name. It looked so strange.  I decided after some reflection not to include a picture of Glenn, and yet that was hard too. Another little goodbye.

This week my car was in the shop getting body work done. I had to rent a car, because I am alone. Alone.  I am truly not alone, with friends and family, but I live alone. I have no life-mate. That is a strange new situation. It wasn't huge, but it was different.  Glenn would have just handled it for me.

After the blizzard this week, it got bitterly cold. I went to the grocery store and was reminded how if Glenn was still alive, he would drive me around on all my errands. He liked to do that even when the weather was nice. I miss seeing our car parked strategically so he could see me when I came out. It struck me that day that I'd never have that again. Ow.

Last night I was exhausted and ended up falling asleep on the couch. For the first time nobody was here to tell me to wake up and go to bed.  It felt lonely when I stumbled in at 4 am.

It's all the little things.

It has been 25 weeks now, almost half a year. When I check in, I see that I am healing.  Sometimes it still feels hard to believe, but I'm making plans and I am continuing to move forward. I have new routines and when I check in, I realize I'm okay. And as my therapist has taught me to say, "Right now." And I'm learning to celebrate those moments.

Checking in while on the journey.