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Archive for February, 2011

Numbing Grief

This is the mean season of my husband’s  illness, so many years ago now. If I find myself going numb at any time, it’s likely to be between January and April of each year.

Last week I passed through another one of Bill’s non-birthdays and felt…nothing. 

In the middle of that night, after his day had come and gone, the numbing sensation receded and I felt my sadness underneath.

And guilt. It hadn’t even occurred to me to go to the cemetery.

I remember Bill’s last birthday on earth. He was paralyzed and staying at Johns Hopkins. I went to the hospital’s gift shop and bought him a photo of a farm to look at, until we could once again linger at his favorite meadow near our home. We’d drink our vanilla latte’s and watch the geese practice flying in V-formation; the Holstein cows ambling towards the paint-barren barn for their evening milking. Refreshing sights for Bill’s hometown country eyes, with none of the work.

But on his final birthday, his non-response to the photo told me he knew he’d never get there again. And for him, it was okay. His eyes and heart were focused on something far more peaceful: resting in God’s arms.

Seems a better place for me to be, than going numb.

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A few days ago, a friend reminded me we don’t ever forget the loved ones we have lost. She’s right.

But it’s more than that.

Last night I dreamed I was looking at some things in the trunk of my car….the same low-slung Olds belonging to my husband before he died. In one corner lay the things Bill stored  there during his daily jogs so long ago: a battered duffel bag with an extra pair of running shoes. His corduroy pants rolled rather than folded; its belt etched with a permanent groove where he buckled it.  And the square-shaped bulge of the back pocket where his billfold would have been.

I had no idea I remembered these precise details.

When I awoke, I thought it over in the light of day. I recalled Bill’s sweat-drenched skin before he changed  into a dry t-shirt after a race, heard the glug of his water bottle; its drops blending in with the rivulets of perspiration trailing his cheeks.  And I noted his endorphins running high through the veins of his laughter.

We don’t forget.

What memories of your loved one are as vivid as yesterday?

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