The Twins

This past weekend I paid a visit to my son and his family.  They live around five hours away when travelling by car.  Two weeks ago his wife gave birth to twins –  boy and girl.  How his father would have talked up that!  No history of twins on either side of the family.  A completely unplanned pregnancy – especially since they already had three little boys, 6, 4 and almost two years of age.  Now they have 5 little ones.  Such a crazy chaotic life stretches before them!

It was awesome to meet the two newest babies – and they are perfect in every way.  Hard too, since it was the one thing that Kevin would go on about – how after he retired he planned on taking the grandchildren, the boys, there were no girls at that point, and have them come and stay with us for the summer.  He loved those kids and had great plans for them, plans he would never get to see through- so it was hard.  I have six grandchildren now, three of which never met him, that will only hear stories about their larger-than-life granddad.

When Kevin was close to the end, my son’s wife found out she was pregnant with her third child.  I couldn’t tell Kevin about the pregnancy, it would have broken him even more.  It was a hard thing to do, I know my son wanted his father to know.  But I couldn’t tell his dad, a man that family was everything to.  To know he wouldn’t be there for the birth of a child would have caused him so much pain. Right or wrong, I made the decision, Kevin had suffered so much, and he had anguished over everything, I couldn’t add to his burden.

As he got sicker, Kevin would tell me over and over that I got a bum deal when I married him.  How sorry he was that he got sick, for letting me down. He told me that I had to be there for the kids because he wouldn’t be able to.  His family was everything to him, and I like to believe that it still is.  Somewhere, somehow he carries a light to guide us forward.  That when I cradled those little ones on the weekend their grandfather was right there with me.  I believe his love certainly was.

What a crazy thing emotion is, that so much joy and so much sorrow can be in one’s heart at the same time.  But that’s how it was when I heard about the babies, so happy and so sad at the same time.  I say this often, because it’s true, I miss you so much Kevin.

 

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Imagine

Imagine that in life there was this amazing repository where we could store the best days of our lives.  A sort of bank of those outstanding days where the world is right.  It was only open one day a year for you to deposit your days, and you could only access what you’d stored on that same day.  What would you put in there?

I think about things like this all the time.  How incredible it would be to have a few of those days back, safely stored in all their dimensions.  To relive as they occurred:  in my youth and in my middle age and in my future when I am aged.  A fantastic escape to what was, a reinforcement of all my life and experience.

Memory provides the shadows, this would give all the colours.  Imagine that all those days are stored in space and time. Imagine.  Love is never lost and youth is never gone. Joy surrounds us and serenity is within our grasp. Imagine.

Our imagination and our memories are gifts, for most of us anyway. Sometimes it’s good to relax and let go and just let your mind wander. That’s what I’m doing tonight – remembering and imagining.

Happy Birthday to me

I had a birthday earlier this month. Not a big affair for me ever, and even less of an event since Kevin died.  A nice dinner, lots of well wishes and an early night.  The day passed and I went in to work as usual the next day.

Always my day begins with a trip to the cafeteria for my cup of tea.  That day, as I stood at the cash to pay for my tea, the cashier said to me, “You know there’s something written on your shoulder.  You’ve got chalk on your shoulder.”   I had on a royal blue sweater and I glanced at my shoulder but I couldn’t  quite read the word there.  “It says ‘love’.  Someone wrote love on your shirt.”  She’s a sweet girl that I see everyday, so with familiarity she pulled me over and tried to brush off my shirt.  Finally satisfied, she let me go, laughing that someone would do such a thing.

i walked back to my desk where I was stopped along the way by yet another co-worker who said, “You know you have the word love written on your shoulder, don’t you.”  She, too, tried to brush it off but I stopped her, saying “Don’t bother, Liz already tried to get it off, that’s as good as it gets.”  Frankly, I didn’t want it brushed off at that point, I felt like it was a message for me.  You see I had originally planned on wearing that top on my birthday but opted at the last minute for a heavier sweater since the day was so darn cold.

Who has chalk around the house?  That’s what it was written in, nice white teacher-type chalk.  Kevin was a teacher.  So in my crazy world, to me, that message in chalk was a gift from my husband, from Kevin, for me on my birthday.  Love that I can wear everywhere and anywhere.  It was a visible mark, a written word for the world to see, and a reminder to me that I carry his love with me for ever and always; love that is there whether I see it or not.

Crazy story, puzzling coincidence, and absolutely true. The best birthday gift ever.

Shine On

i am heading into the hard part of the year.  January to March – hard for a multitude of reasons.  Deaths, lots of them, close and personal: my mother (January), father (February), father-in-law (February), mother-in-law (March), husband (March) topped off with what would have been my anniversary (March) – significant events that loom ahead of me.   I can’t remember last year’s Christmas it was overshadowed by the impending sadness. All I could think of was what I had lost. Loss, over and over again.  My mind, my thoughts consumed by the pain of death.

Now we head into Christmas again, marking, for me, the onset of a dark period.  That’s how I think of it – those life events that will be with me for always – sadness, darkness, heaviness.  I know it’s coming, can’t escape it and actually don’t want to. It’s part of my family history now, of who I am.  I know I can move through it, my family beside me, where I need to be with the people that matter the most.  I know it will be hard; I am keenly aware of the uncertainty of being, we all are in this family.

Twenty months after Kevin’s death and I think I am resignedly moving on in this loss journey from the “what ifs” to the “what is”, but that I will always carry the “what was” in my heart and in my mind.  Otherwise, what was the purpose of being if not to be remembered, of love, if not to be mourned.  Kevin’s star will always shine bright in my universe.

It’s harder than imagined

Today I spent the day cleaning out a closet.  It was far harder than I expected.  I went though almost a box of tissues, and I still haven’t finished.  I will go at it again tomorrow, finish it in a haze of tears.

I was packing up Kevin’s things, trying to figure out what to keep, and really why to keep it.  It has to be done, not for any other reason than I am getting some work done on the house.  Survival techniques differ for everyone – for me, I couldn’t stay in our old bedroom.  I moved across the hallway, but the new room doesn’t have a bathroom.  I’m having that done, but it means tackling Kevin’s closet and going through his  stuff.  Not easy.

The thing is, almost everything we own, all the things we hold dear, become just ‘stuff’ after we are gone.  My house is crammed to the rafters with stuff.  Things that I will never touch for the rest of my life.  Books I will never read.  The things collected over 31 years of marriage.  It meant something at one time, but it doesn’t have the same pull for me anymore.  But to get rid of it?  It means opening up all the doors and windows in my brain, looking out and looking in.  Seeing things that were and are no longer.  Touching things that belonged to the person I loved.  Things he wore, wanted, played, read or listened to.  Missing him, desperately wishing life hadn’t been so cruel.

But really, life isn’t cruel, life just is.  It takes and it gives, indiscriminately.  It’s the fact that we are able to love, to feel joy, and consequently, to feel sorrow; that creates a painful longing for what is no more.  I wouldn’t change what I had, I just wish I had it longer.  It’s still just as complicated for me today as it was right after Kev died, my heart is still wrapped up in him.  Lucky and unlucky at the same time, that’s my lot.