Tag Archives: loss

3:00 a.m.

 

 

It’s 3:00 a.m. and I am awake

like I am so many other nights.

My first thought is,

“Of course, the moment his heart

stopped.”

I am tugged out of the escape of sleep.

The house is dark

and so quiet.

I get up, walk to the bathroom,

walk back to bed,

waiting for sleep to return.

 

It’s 3:00 a.m. and time moves slowly,

becoming 3:15,

when there was still hope,

when the phone rang and

in a foggy confusion I got

in the car.

 

It’s 3:30 a.m. I am still awake,

watching minutes tick by,

noticing the light of the moon

trickling in

through the window shades.

 

It’s 3:30 a.m. and I run,

too late,

through

the hospital to Urgent Care.

Missing the pronouncement

by only one minute.

 

It’s 4:00 a.m. and the mockingbird

is singing as I try

fruitlessly to return to slumber.

There isn’t enough air.

The room is too light,

the blankets too warm, and

the pillow offers no comfort.

 

It’s 4:00 a.m. and the hospital room is full,

of family, friends, support.

But, it is empty too,

of a life, of a future.

The nurses say, “It’s time to go.”

The doctor’s say, “We must clear the room.”

But how can we move when time is standing

so still?

 

It’s 4:30 a.m. and my mind won’t stop

thinking about this different life

filled with decisions I make alone,

about paint colors, room designs,

coordinating the arrival of cabinets,

the avoiding of packing

my old life and deciding what to take

into the new life.

 

It’s 4:30 a.m. and we are leaving

the hospital room,

lingering in hallways,

hesitating,

not ready to head home,

away from the place

where hope once lived.

 

It’s 5:00 a.m. and exhaustion is

setting in.

Sleep is slowly returning

and it doesn’t matter that the bed

is too big or

that the bird is still mocking.

 

It’s 5:00 a.m. and we are all exhausted

by the disbelief,

coming home to the whirlwind of

plans and decisions.

eating bagels, drinking coffee,

We are waiting for planes to arrive,

for cars to bring everyone

together,

our eyes aching, dry and red.

Multiple empty boxes of Kleenex

dotting the house.

 

It’s 6:00 a.m. and morning is near, but I cling

to sleep.

Just a few more minutes…

The sounds of other birds begin now,

robins, finches, the occasional cry of a hawk or crow.

They beckon me to rise, eyes opening again.

 

It’s 6:00 a.m. and it feels like

A thousand hours have passed.

3:00 a.m. is a lifetime away.

Time is divided into before and after.

Information is being gathered,

preparations are being made,

prayers are sent and phone calls break the stunned silence.

 

It is 6:15 a.m. and

the sun rises.

It is a new day and the need to crawl

back to sleep is over.

This is the first day of a new life,

another day of a new life.

A blend of old and new,

memories, hopes, the unknown and maybe

there are still

some dreams.

 

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Filed under death, Family, grief, Life thoughts, sleepless

Metamorphosis

                                Last Spring

 

Last year, in the spring, my favorite time of year, I was shocked into retreat. I became a small newborn shell of the person I was, lost and stagnant and felt like a little caterpillar egg, waiting to hatch and to become something new and different. My prior life was suddenly gone and I had no frame of reference, so, I stayed in the safety of my egg, waiting.

 

After a few weeks I came out of my egg, more by force than by choice. There was nothing else to do but to emerge, look around and see what I was facing, so I did. I began to look for familiar things, yoga, the beach, work of course and the children. I looked for friends and family and for ways to occupy myself. I resided in the familiar, but everything was different now.

                         Starting to Bloom

As small as a caterpillar, I crawled along, nibbling from the familiar and attempting to try a few unfamiliar things too. I traveled alone, I traveled with my daughters and I connected to everyone I could. I found out who my true friends were-the ones who stuck around and cared. I rediscovered the importance of family and traditions and I found joy in my new granddaughter. I wrote more, read a lot, found strong roots in feminism and awareness.

I grew and became more than the small egg and more than a small caterpillar crawling along alone; I became bigger. I was still me, with my sadness, insecurities, and fear of this new, unknown life and though I had new experiences that felt good, the winter brought cold and darkness and it was hard to find any light. I retreated.

 

I spent the winter in the cocoon of my routine, the security of my home with cozy fires and getting inside out of the darkness. I spent weekend mornings in the safety of my flannel sheets and most nights with the company of the television. I waited for Gary to walk through the door but of course he didn’t. I stared at his collection of cars, his clothes and it seemed surreal, the magnified sadness of the winter only kept at bay by keeping busy.

Then, last week, the rain stopped and I saw the first lupines and poppies blooming in the Canyon. The birds once again wake me with their songs and sit on the wires in pairs, some building nests in the lavender bushes. The hills are lush green from the heavy winter rains and the trees are filled with buds. I feel comfortable beginning to nibble my way out of the cocoon, or at least a bit of the way out. I am not quite ready to emerge, my wings still wet and new, but I can imagine flying.

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Filed under change, death, grief, Life thoughts, writing

Sixty-five

         Perseverance can pay off.

Sixty-five is a monumental year for most. In years past, it used to be the time to retire, but no one retires these days. It’s a year that means senior discounts begin, and Medicare. The brochures arrive daily, advertising Medicare options, reminders that it is time to enroll, and encouraging offers from the Neptune Society. None of it is needed now.

March 3rd, the day Gary would have been sixty-five and now, in the year of firsts it’s the first time we haven’t celebrated his birthday.

Sixty-five used to seem old, but somehow, it doesn’t seem that old anymore. I am nowhere near retiring, in a way; I am just starting out again. During this year of firsts, there are more than just holidays to contend with, there are the first time experiences like negotiating a new car deal and even though I ended up getting help from a friend’s broker, I felt confident, thanks to years of listening to Gary talk about the car business, talking the car talk and was clear about what I wanted.

There is the first time tax preparation, gathering the documents, touching every page. There is the feeling of pride when I am told I am an “accountant’s dream.” I’ve always been organized and learned a few years back to understand finances enough to make sense of my life.

This was going to be the year we started planning our travels, a year we would enjoy the rewards of our years of work. This was supposed to be the beginning of the golden years, but there are a lot of things that aren’t fair these days. In this time of discrimination, deportation and deceit there are people fighting for equality, fighting for health care and fighting for opportunity.

This is a time of broken dreams and broken hearts. Our hearts ache for loss, but also for the hate that seeps into the unnoticed cracks, the hate that is dismissed and ignored and the cruelty seemingly “normal” people subliminally inflict on others. I’m more sensitive to the broken-hearted and the fearful now.

I am starting out again on a path that I selfishly feel is my own, but a path that many others walk alone with me.

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Filed under change, death, Life thoughts

Faith Blooming

rosesTen months in as of next week and change comes slowly. Little things need to be taken care of daily, shopping, eating, laundry, and then, suddenly I realize my car lease is up, ironically on the year anniversary of Gary’s death. I am proactive and start looking for my new car; something I have never navigated by myself, having a husband in the car business came in quite handy for the past 20 years.   Now I am trying to remember all those things Gary negotiated for us, the warranties, the car lease terms, the car accessories and interest rates. I am navigating the unfamiliar and while people do this all the time, I have never done this alone and I want to make a good deal.

I made it through another holiday, the romantic one I’d been lucky enough to take for granted for the past 37 years. I always had a Valentine and plans for dinner; most of the time we cooked it together at home. We spent quiet evenings at home, but enjoyed the company. This year I realized it is a good thing to be a kindergarten teacher on Valentine’s Day because it comes with the guarantee of little cards, some chocolate and lots of handpicked flowers. This year, the year I wouldn’t come home to roses, my daughters thoughtfully ordered roses. My daughter coordinated with my dear friend, who kindly delivered the roses to school, and I was moved to tears by the sheer thoughtfulness and love the act represented.

I long for ritual.  Every holiday is a pause in my path to acceptance, or at least acknowledgement, of my new life and after I’ve made it through the day, I exhale. The day after Valentine’s Day would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday. He died when he too young at 75. This past week was a double hit. After surviving the loss of romance, I woke up to the loss of the other man who had influenced my life.

This week I am tackling taxes, organizing my documents and doing my best to organize Gary’s tax documents. Cruelly I have to file joint tax returns for two years, reliving the past year and then next year, confronting the void of documents. We always worked as a team to assemble the paperwork, but truthfully, though I organized, Gary was the numbers guy. I am double checking everything.

People surround me, but many times, I am alone in this new life. Some days go by and everyone is involved in his or her own lives. I realize I have to find one, fill it up and think of myself, something a wife and mother rarely does. I am unaccustomed to putting myself first, but I have to learn to do this if I am going to survive. I am doing my best to stay in survival mode, dipping my toe into new things, dinner with new friends, figuring out how to negotiate a car purchase, and organizing my tax documents.

A Valentine chocolate came with this quote and I saved it, rereading it, and gathering faith. I am looking for the faith in the best outcome, the faith in the relationships I cherish, the faith in the possibility of a future.

quote

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Filed under death, grief, Life thoughts

Life Goes On

fullsizerender-28It’s been nine months since Gary died and as I woke up early yesterday to get ready for the Women’s March in Los Angeles, I thought about how much has changed in these nine months. The 21st day of each month is a reminder that life can change in a moment, with a phone call in the middle of the night, with a doctor’s diagnosis, when a loved one is suddenly gone. Life can change in a day, with the unexpected results of an election, with the division of friends or family, with the looming uncertainty of the future.

Life goes on for me in a much different way than I could have ever imagined just over nine months ago. I’ve learned to live alone and when asked yesterday if I have plans for today I am reminded by my daughters that my tasks for today of doing laundry, writing progress reports, preparing for the upcoming week ahead and if the rain lets up, having coffee with a friend constitute “plans.” I had always thought plans were plans with others, with Gary or with friends, but now plans with myself are the new normal.

Life goes on in our country too, but in a much different way than I ever imagined it would be nine months ago when we were filled with excitement and enthusiasm about the possibility of the first woman president, with the hope for a different future for my daughters and future granddaughter. The realities of today are fearful monitoring of the news, trying to figure out what is real, and slightly terrified that some of what I hear could actually be real. Nine months ago hope was an electrifying force, today we have to muster up our own hope and courage to embody the change we want to see, that we need to see, that our country needs to survive.

Life goes on for me, with small changes at a slow pace. Learning to cook healthy food for myself instead of making do with a frozen waffle for dinner. Learning to go to sleep and to wake up alone and learning to live in the present instead of planning and hoping for a future. The future is an unknown commodity. My friend said to look for one bit of happiness each day and to gather those as flowers in a vase. My sister gave me a “happiness jar” to fill with little notes written when something good happened so I can reflect back at the end of the year, but I remember when the days had more than one happy moment and I didn’t have to keep count because I knew that more would come the next day.

Life goes on for our country because we, the people, are our country. We gathered together yesterday by the hundreds of thousands, in Los Angeles, the count at 750,000. We stood in massive crowds, peacefully, smiling at each other and chanting together, holding amazing signs with heartfelt messages. We walked through crowded downtown streets, on a sunny day, a break between rainstorms, warmed by comradery and basking in hope. We took a break from feeling alone, from watching depressing news, and made our own news, together.

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      photo credit Nicole Weisberg

Life goes on for me, for my daughters and my family. We made it through the holidays and move towards the last few landmarks to come before reaching the year anniversary. We find some moments of togetherness, some happiness and are adapting to this different life. New things now seem important, the new responsibility of maintaining the rights that were not in jeopardy nine months ago. We have created some new habits, checking in on each other more often, letting each other know we are home safely at night and saying goodnight. It’s good to have a close connection and to feel cared about in a world that can feel isolating.

Life goes on for our country and today as storms pound through Los Angeles, I smile thinking about yesterday, when we were smiled upon by the first sunny day in a week as we marched. The weather paused and gave us hope on a hopeful day. Today everything is washed clean and I hope our momentum continues and elevates. Today we must continue our search for truth in the midst of “alternative facts,” for hope on the other side of this despair and for unity to emerge through the tactics of divisiveness. The Women’s March gave evidence that we are not divided by religion, race, gender or politics but united in our belief that our desire for democracy, for a free country and for love to win as the power to heal us.

Life goes on for me as I crave real talk, the kind of talk that is deep below the surface. Through the connection to others, to those caring people in my life, I have avenues for my raw feelings, my bubbling emotions and worries. For those brave enough to jump in the deep waters of connection, I am grateful. A friend said that these nine months are beginning to be enough time to give birth to a new and active movement within me. Just as with bringing my daughters into this world, nine months seemed to fly by, but nine months also seems like forever.

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Filed under change, death, Election, Family, Life thoughts

Getting Through

you-are-here

2016 was a year of getting through things.

Radiation, surgery, death, a memorial and the scattering of ashes

It was a year of new financial responsibilities and for letting go of things.

It was a year filled with loneliness.

 

There has been the first anniversary, birthdays and holidays without Gary.

2016 was a year of disappointments and lost elections, the loss of hopes and fear for the future. This was a year when so many left the planet.

2016 was a year of new things, new babies, weddings, new experiences, new responsibilities, and new goals.

This was a year that started with hope and ended with uncertainty, with many people afraid to look forward.

We must move forward, so for 2017, I will look forward to good health, success, more writing, learning to play the ukulele, growing friendships and savoring my family. I look forward to finding a landing-place, with hopes of creating a life that feels full.

In 2017 I hope for a better world that resonates with peace, with compassion, with humanity.

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Filed under change, death, Life thoughts, New Year's

Dodging Acorns

img_2689If life imitates art, then I guess it can also imitate fables like Chicken Little. My life is a lot like that lately and I find myself dodging acorns. On many days it feels like the sky is falling and I’m looking for someone to tell so that I can be reassured that it isn’t really falling, it is just life. Life with it’s suddenly appearing hurdles and inconvenient inconveniences. As my sister reminded me, there is never a good time for an inconvenience.

These minor annoyances aren’t the real acorns, the real acorns are the larger life hurdles that pop up suddenly when I realize there is yet another new situation to navigate such as negotiating a car repair, or taking the trash out every week. These things aren’t huge, but they are new to me because I always had a partner to share the responsibilities of keeping a home.

Then there are the larger acorns looming ahead, things I will encounter soon, negotiating a car deal, going through every item in my house in an effort to “downsize,” finding a home, packing everything in my home and moving. I thought many of these decisions would be things Gary and I would be deciding together, like where we would go on our next vacation, but in this new life, the one where I am alone, it’s a new, unfamiliar game.

I try to remember to take one day at a time, or sometimes an hour at a time. I navigate running into well-meaning friends and acquaintances that hug me and ask how I am doing when my only answer is a slight smile and tear-filled eyes. I get through each day, but I don’t see a future yet. I get through each day but the days without plans are hard. I get through each day, but I don’t have a lot to look forward to at this point. I’m working on those positive affirmations. I’m making lists.

Things I am grateful for:

A comfortable place to live

Food to eat

My friends and family

A rewarding job

My health.

 

Things I am learning:

To change heater filters

To add washer fluid to my car

To handle car repairs and maintenance

To make a fire and enjoy it alone

To eat dinner alone

 

Things I want:

A home.

A life with purpose.

A life filled with friends and family.

A clear sky, or at least one with very little chance of acorns.

 

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Filed under change, death, hurdles, Life thoughts