Marker is set

Upon arriving at Kim’s grave after Mass today, I found that they have installed the marker and have planted grass seed over her. The marker is in place. This put my emotional state into a power dive. Odd. She’s been gone almost 5 months, yet the marker being set lends such an air of finality. It’s as if seeing it in the ground, my mind says “Yup. It’s not a mistake. You’re not dreaming. She’s gone.”

I keep remembering little things. Our first campout with Jeanette over the 4th of July with a dog who was terrified of fireworks and a brand new tent that leaked in the rain. Stopping at Busch’s in Pinckney after Mass on a camping outing probably 10 years later to pick up a few things we had forgotten – it was my first visit to a Busch’s store and I remember marveling, to Kim’s flustered enjoyment (she wanted to get her things and get out of there…), at the variety of produce and cheeses and breads… Our many trips to the lake lot both before and after we were married – BC: Before Children – return often. Like the time we went out fishing on my birthday in the boat we’d bought that summer… My mind rebels at each one. “How can it possibly be over? How could this have happened?” And I remember her in her bed that last day, dead. How I woke at 2:48 am on that Tuesday morning, ostensibly because I had to use the bathroom, but I think I must have sensed her passing – she was still warm, even her fingers. How I wish she could have had a miracle – even as “bad” as life with her seemed to be prior to her diagnosis, struggling to cope with her alcoholism and depression, it was still better than I find this life without her to be. The desolation that often swamps my thoughts, no matter what I may have to look forward to or to be grateful for is… paralyzing. I know my family doesn’t understand this paralysis, this disdain for being dragged out of the house – my sanctuary.

I wonder how often my psyche will take these dives? This one has been settling in for some time and doesn’t seem to be alleviating. Not even cloud gazing makes me smile at the moment. I just feel so lost. When I get like this, I just want to be alone, but I fear being alone will only deepen the depression, and I never again want to go into that particular pit.

I pray that those reading who have not lost their spouse don’t. And for those who have, you can probably expect this emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on to be yours as well. It has been better. I expect it will be better again. and I’m hoping that these valleys become less frequent as this voyage through loss continues…

Happy birthday, Kim.

A bittersweet day. The day my beautiful Kim entered this world 55 years ago. My brothers and sisters and I (and a few nephews and nieces) all participate in a family text group, and it was with dewy eyes I read their birthday wishes for her. One in particular, from my older brother:

“Happy Birthday Kim! I cannot help but think you came into this world on the first day of the month we attribute to Love and were born to eternal life on the first day of the month we celebrate the ultimate love – the birth of Our Lord and Savior! Give Him a big hug for us! Love you!

And as I type this, Siri is telling me to call Kim as it has found her birthday in my contacts.

At 9:00, there will be a mass in her name at St. Thomas a’Becket, our parish for a little more than the past decade.

It’s starting off to be an emotionally hard day.

And this, too, shall pass…

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.