Grief is an odd thing. It comes over you in waves, like a storm surge. But as with a storm, those waves subside. Occasionally, after the storm, a large wave will still come to the shore, swamping everything it touches – but most of the waves are smaller over time. And anniversaries of life events – that first date, engagement, marriage, birthdays, death – and holidays are like the tides, bringing surges in at regular intervals.
Most events pass through our lives like ships through the water. Some leave a wake that quickly flattens and disappears. Some: no wake at all. Others pass through like an ice skate cutting lines in the ice. The edges of those lines are sharp and painful, but over time, with wear and warmth, the edges become less defined, rounder – less painful – until they finally disappear.
The death of a spouse is like a craftsman cutting a line in glass. The edges will only dull with time and wear. But they will dull.
Our wedding anniversary was 30 December. It was not as hard as I had expected it to be, so soon after Kim’s passing. Christmas and New Year’s Eve were actually a lot harder. Someone said that the day would be a sad day for me, but I had to disagree – it was still a happy day; the day Kim and I started our life together and our beautiful family.
And that family – our five kids and our granddaughter – are probably the reason why my grief is not the dominating factor in my life after Kim. They buoy me up. They surrounded me from the start, having implemented “Family Friday” immediately after Kim’s diagnosis. A new tradition in which one of the kids is the designated “chef du jour” and concocts a meal for the whole gang that they bring to Kim’s and my house where the whole family gathers to eat and make merry. Some of those events lasted into the wee hours; some just a few hours. Every one is a wonderful gathering for us all.
Kim really enjoyed those Fridays, and we wondered why it took her imminent departure for us to make that tradition. A tradition that, so far, we are continuing.
The kids gathered in force and went to the funeral parlor with me to make arrangements for Kim. They helped choose her casket (Kim wanted a white one with gold trim), vault, and the clothes she would wear into eternity. They surrounded me and were my strength during the viewing, the funeral mass and interment. My son set up shop on my kitchen table and worked from my home every day until Christmas. My daughter took over the Christmas shopping and decorating so that there would still be Christmas in our home as my heart just wasn’t into doing any decorating this year (though I did eventually pull out three of Kim’s homemade decorations and put them on display).
Even today, I can count on one or more of them to come up from behind and give me a supportive hug, or to just be around, keeping me company.
I can’t imagine what this would have been like had I no children.