One flew over…

This is what it must be like for insane people.

I know Kim’s gone, but my mind fights against that reality at times. For instance, I would complete some non-mundane task that Kim usually took care of, and I would have the urge to go tell her to not worry about it: I’ve already done it. Or when I consider making changes in the house, and stop myself with the thought “No – Kim likes it this way.” Or, how when I go into her craft room to take care of her plants in the morning, I reflexively look over to her chair at her main table, half expecting her to turn around and smile at me.

The name’s Jacob. Jacob Marley…

There is a point to all of this that often gets lost since, when I am specific, I target others who have lost their spouses in my posts. But there’s something here for those who HAVEN’T – and that thing is for people who love ANYONE; not just their spouse.

Like the ghost of Jacob Marley warning Scrooge to mend his ways, I offer the following point:

You do not know when the last time you will see your loved one will be. It could be tomorrow. It could be next year – it could have been a few moments ago.

With this in mind, I implore that you become and remain aware of your relationships. Give your wife, husband, mother, father, child, grandparent… no matter who: give them a hug and a kiss whenever you can. Be patient with the irritations that come with any relationship. Never forget that neither you nor they are permanent. Remember the finite nature of this life, and you will have no regrets if one of your cherished ones should pass out of your life.

I know this is very general. And I am keenly aware of how hard it can be to follow that advice – even now after having experienced the loss of my life partner. But I try and I will continue to try to remember that, at any moment, they could be gone.

I cannot tell you how much pain comes with such a loss – if you haven’t experienced similar, my words cannot possibly convey the width, depth and breadth of the hole that is left behind – not just a figurative hole in your heart, but a gaping maw in EVERYTHING that your life was, is, and will continue to be. Regrets are like razor wire around the periphery of that hole, tearing you further as you try to rise above the edge of that abyss. Don’t let the neglect of your relationship be one of those regrets. If you manage this alone, all of what I put to digital paper here is worth the effort to me.

God bless.

A well-beaten path

That I’m not the first to have walked the empty path of widowhood is not lost on me – the floors are well-worn. I personally have known many who have lost their spouses at various junctures of life. What was lost on me in the past was the pain and torment of having lost your life partner. I sincerely apologize to all those I’ve known with whom I didn’t adequately empathize. I simply didn’t know.

And therein lays a lesson to me and others walking the well-trod path of widowhood. They don’t know. They can’t know. They have nothing with which to compare this loss. When their advice and platitudes seem unbearable, remember this point: They. Do. Not. Know. Moreover: you cannot teach them, nor adequately explain what you are feeling for them to empathize.

It can be hard, but have patience. It’s far better to endure the irritation that comes of it than it is to burn bridges.


As I go through the things in the house trying to make order out of what’s there, I continuously come across things Kim has created or bought to create things with. Kim was so talented. She could draw, she loved to paint, she loved crafting and coloring.

This wasn’t something that she had started when we were married, but before – there are crafts she made long before we were married at her dad’s house.

I remember the first full launch I did for Ford- the 1992 Ranger in Edison, New Jersey. It was the first time we’d be apart for more than a day. It was not easy on either one of its, but I always thought it was easier on me. We had Jeanette by then and I think Kim had returned to work by then. Kim worked midnights, so she had to drop Jeanette off with my mom in the afternoon, then pick her up in the morning. Somewhere in there, she had to get some rest.

Me? I’d go to work, return to the hotel, lather, rinse, repeat until every other weekend when I’d get to fly home. Kim would drop me off and pick me up at the airport. The hotel I stayed at had “points” with which we could get prizes. I spent so much time there that we were able to get a few things – a play tent for Jeanette (which HER daughter now plays with!), a stereo for Kim (it has been retired by mp3s, but still works and is still in the basement), a juicer for the kitchen (which was GREAT, but died decades ago). With the overtime, I was able to buy Kim something that would fuel her crafting passions for her remaining life: a New Home Memory Craft sewing machine that would do all kinds of stitches as well as embroider – and scan in her own embroidery designs! I honestly don’t remember whether Kim had wanted it, or if it was something I came upon myself, but she loved that machine. One of the first things she made was a little pink and grey jumpsuit for Jeannette on which she embroidered a bunny with a basket of flowers. For Halloween, she made a cute costume for Jeanette that is still around – I think each of the kids wore it for at least one Halloween, and it is still in the basement. I think our granddaughter may even have worn it.

A couple of years ago, that machine broke down for the last time – the repair shop couldn’t get parts for it anymore. She had already bought a bigger machine that, frankly, we couldn’t afford, but I wouldn’t let her take it back (and, lo and behold: we afforded it). The new machine could do bigger things, and you could put patterns to embroider on with via flash drives, but the only way to design your own was through some VERY expensive commercial software, or some very confusing open-source software. We kept the New Home – I figured I’d get the time to open it up and troubleshoot the board and maybe get it going again. It still sits waiting for me to find that time. Sigh…

Kim had made a beautiful quilt depicting The Last Supper on the new machine – she had just finished it and started on what was to be her lap quilt for cold weather chemo trips when the chemo caused her to lose feeling in her fingers and she couldn’t sew anymore. She was so proud of that quilt, and everyone who saw it raved to her about how great it was. I had promised her I would build a special frame for it that would incorporate internal lighting to show it off. Of course she passed a month or so after finishing it. I’m not in any hurry to make the frame – handling the quilt is emotionally painful to me – but I will get it done as soon as I clean all the extraneous crap out of the garage and have access to the woodworking equipment therein. I really need to get a new shed built.

Her craft room and the basement are full of so many half-done projects that will never be completed. So many supplies for new projects that will not be started…

Are all lives left so unfinished? When people die of old age, do they leave so much unfinished behind? Or is it only those who go too young?

Random memories

As I was driving to a dental cleaning appointment this morning, I looked over to see a pretty young lady driving in her car alongside mine. This brought back memories of how, shortly after we were married, Kim would tell me how guys would “still check her out” as she drove by as if simply being married changed what others saw. She would also delight in the surprise she’d see on faces on the occasions she would be driving my Bronco- she’d comment on how they’d look up at the big ol’ beast to see a little girl driving it. A pretty little girl, if you asked me.

Last night, I was remembering how, when we were dating, we’d take her family’s dog, Ginger, for walks – the dog would carry her own leash in her mouth – insisted on it – and she wouldn’t stop to poop, no. It would just come rolling out as she walked, so you had to watch out for it! In the summer, we’d take her along the periphery of the neighborhood park, stopping so she could visit with each of her “friends” in the adjoining yards. I had forgotten about those walks through the park with Ginger, and cannot conceive of why they suddenly came to the fore of my memory.

We certainly enjoyed our walks. We’d go up the street holding hands, and then, once we’d turned the corner, it as time for a hug and a kiss, and then we’d continue on our way. We used to go for lots of walks before I started launching. Not so much afterward. I was usually “too busy,” but we did go for regular walks, off and on.

Kim loved to walk in the nearby nature trails along the Rouge River. I went with her a few times before Wayne County had developed them and made them “official.” One time as we were walking to go through the trails, I got hit with a bizarre dizzy spell, and we had to turn home -YEARS before this vestibular thing (maybe it’s always been there, and it just got exacerbated by something in October, last?). She an Jillian walked them a lot, and I have lots of pictures of Kim< Jillian, and the dogs out there.

I find it a bit funny how the majority of my memories of Kim lately are from our early days together. She was so beautiful – but not just then – she was beautiful her whole life. I don’t think she realized that whenever I looked at her, I saw the woman I loved. Looking back at pictures, I can see how she changed over the years, but I honestly didn’t see anyone other than that beautiful girl I fell in love with when I’d look at her. I guess that’s what love does. But she had her demons. Some I knew about, some she only hinted at, some I’m sure were totally private. I know when I first started launching, she was worried that I would find someone else. I’d assure her time and again, but I know this bothered her. I don’t think she realized that I’m truly not wired that way until that Christmas absence when she and her alcoholic brother were on a bender and she didn’t come home for several days. Her dad was afraid that I was going to divorce her, but, as I said: I’m just not wired that way. I guess I’m loyal to only one woman. This was true even when I was dating – I’d not go out with more than one girl at a time. One. Maybe it’s a fault; a flaw. Don’t know – I think it’s a virtue. Some I dated didn’t deserve that loyalty. Kim did.


Well, the meatless jambalaya is in the history books. It turned out pretty good – much better than I actually expected. The dinner, though, was pretty much a bust: Jeanette, Jillian, and Vanessa were off to a pageant in Kentucky, Chris had a late meeting, and Kenny is like a badger – he comes out for food and drags it back into his lair. Tiffany, Chris’ girlfriend, was the only one to show up. She liked it- had seconds and we had a nice visit.

Times like this will occur, but it was a a little depressing to not have our gathering. Next week being Good Friday, there will be no Family Friday. That will probably be depressing, too.

Small distractions bring big memories

Keeping busy keeps my mind off of Kim – but that, too, depends on the type of activity I am keeping busy with. Some become unbearable as memories flood in – like cleaning things up in the basement. Even the most mundane items remind me of Kim or bring me back to a time long before now when she was still vital and alive.

Getting ready to break down an oddball rack that held all of those tax records I spoke of earlier, it simply brought me back to when we moved in, and when we had our boat. Kim never really had anything to do with that rack, but it is still steeped in memories for me. I had to stop working on it and go upstairs to find something else to do.

And Jillian, my youngest, is really getting into exercise and fitness since I put the old Bowflex back together. She likes to get up early, go into the basement and do her workout with that machine and the resistance bands we bought the other day. All of which hearkens back to a memory of Kim on the floor in the family room doing her leg-lifts every morning in the time before any of the kids were born.

The weather being fine today, and having been cooped up in my office chair literally the entire day, due to meetings stacked upon meetings, I decided on a fast-paced walk around the block – which invariably follows the route Kim and I took every day last year. Generally not a problem until I come to the “crack the whip” turn, in which I still choke up a bit.

Finally, tomorrow is Family Friday. No-one wants to cook, so I decided to do a meatless version of my jambalaya – which necessarily sent me off in search of meatless substitutes for andouille and chicken. Kroger has veggie sausage, I was told by Jessie, so off I went to the closest Kroger – a store that I think I only set foot in once before without Kim in tow. (No veggie andouille, but veggie chorizo – I’ve made jambalaya with chorizo before, so hopefully…. and some extra firm tofu I should be able to fry and season to taste and act like chicken. Wish me culinary luck…)

It seems no matter where I go, or what mundane thing I choose to occupy myself, it draws my attention back to Kim. I suppose this will continue as I’m not sure why it seems to have escalated. Like exercise, the more I am faced with these – the more I face them – the stronger I will become. And, as they say: no pain, no gain. So it will continue to hurt until I drive my emotional threshold higher by continuing to work through them.

That rack needs to be broken up, and I need to strengthen myself. It will be ready for next trash day…

Shoulda, coulda, woulda…

A recurring theme among those of us who are left on the wrong side of the heavenly divide when our spouse passes is: if I had known, would I have gotten married? This is particularly resonant with those of us who were caregivers to our dying spouses and watched as some insidious condition or other had its way with them.

In my many bouts of introspection, I’ve often ruminated on this concept. My answer is “probably.” Why not a definitive yes or no? Let’s explore the reasons for it not being “no” first.

    Reason 1: Like those who are outside of the prison of our loss looking in, I do not believe the younger version of any of us would have any inkling regarding the magnitude of the pain we are now experiencing.

    Reason 2: We generally were not attracted to our spouses based on their life expectancy.

But why not “yes?” You would think, based on the logic above, that that would be the foregone conclusion; however, the foreknowledge would interfere with the “probability cloud” that drove us to where we are today (remember that Schröedinger guy?), so the probability that anyone with that foreknowledge would react as they did without is less than one.

Once a geek, always a geek, I guess.


Who would have thought that the sight of flowers poking their heads out of the ground would be so depressing? Kim loved planting. She loved her flowers, and she loved planting vegetables. The porch was always full of hanging baskets and potted plants, usually flowers. Each side of the house usually carried her vegetable garden – last year, in pots as well. She was always so proud of the colors, and of the produce she would get out of her vegetable patch, and doubly proud of what she would make with the vegetables. I still have several jars of her last batch of canned tomatoes – she was particularly proud of those.

The first flowers to poke their heads out of the dirt this year were three snapdragon-looking flowers – don’t ask me what they are: I’m clueless. I just know that they are some of Kim’s favorite – particularly the purple ones.

Kim’s Flowers, Reborn

When I first saw these about a week ago, they made me happy. Now, as things are warming up, and I see all the dead plants in the hanging baskets and her pots, I’m finding them depressing. The weather is nice today, but all I could focus on were the pots full of dead plants, the empty starter pots, the rotting wood from one of Kim’s favorite planters which we were planning to replicate…

I honestly don’t know what is at the root of this mood swing. I was feeling so “up” for so long! And one would think that, with the advent of warmer weather, I’d be hyped to get outside.

Part of it, I think, is that the warmer weather brings memories of the walks Kim and I would take last summer – she was still very playful despite her condition, and at one turn in the park, would do a “crack the whip” turn and zoom in to get a kiss. I miss that goofiness. Odd that as the warmth of summer started to fade toward winter, Kim faded right along with it, passing on the same morning as the first snow.

And some of it is probably pressure I feel toward my Mom’s and Kim’s Dad’s care.

My Mom has my sister Cindy locally to see to her needs – which, too, makes me feel like I should be doing more – but since Mom had her two health breakdowns, I can’t pop in there before work, because she no longer gets up that early – that, and I now work from home. And Cindy is feeling the stress of Mom’s failing memory, and mom’s focus on her caregivers instead of on visiting family members.

Kim’s Dad has no-one within 400 miles aside from me and our kids. Rhonda comes to Michigan when she can, but I struggle with the “what do I do” if something goes sideways – especially with him complaining lately of his knee locking up or giving out, and dizziness when he stands up.

The clouds I can see out of the corner of the window near my desk are beautiful. I think I’ll go outside and look at them.