Kissing The Face of God

Kissing The Face of God
Kissing the Face of God

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Sadness

I am a widow, I am not a wife anymore. I no longer have the right to check "married" in the "marital status" blocks on various forms.  I have no partner.  No one to listen to me read them interesting tidbits off the internet or read to the in the car while they drive. No one to say "that's my girl" when I give him a hug.  No one to love our son, who can be a real handful, like I do.

I am not exactly "alone". I live with my two younger sons, 21 and 13, and two dogs, but the house feels empty. My days feel empty. Seeing his clothes makes me cry.  Seeing his handwriting makes me cry.  I cried so hard a few days ago, wailing in the shower so no one would hear me, that I actually broke out in hives.  My doctor told me this was a normal response to deep grief.

I have people in my life who think I should be over it by now.  I have others who totally understand.  I went to a grief support group last night for adults who have lost spouses.  Several were very fresh losses like mine.   So much pain in one small room.  Yet it was somehow comforting too, and crying was ok.

But still......

I am a widow.  I have no husband. No one who would move heaven and earth for me if I needed him.  No one human anyhow.  I know, I need to lean harder on God.  I know this.

I miss my husband.

I pray he is safe and happy somewhere and that wherever he is, he loves me still.

Friday, April 19, 2013

what to do when someone's spouse dies

I read this on another blog and I hope they forgive me for reposting their ideas here but I thought they were perfect ideas and that's all I have the strength to say today. Here is the post:

 here's what I have to say about what friends can do for a friend in grief.

I'm going to divide it into different time frames.

First ...... immediately upon hearing about the death:

Go to your friend's house.
Take several friends with you.
Answer her/his phone.  Take messages.
Call her/his family/friends to deliver the news.  No, no one wants to do that, but good friends will. 
Mine did.
Get food.  Accept food that's brought.  Stock up on paper goods like paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, paper plates, plastic cups, plastic silverware.  It will be needed.

Go through all of her/his photos and find some to copy and use at the funeral/memorial service.  A very good friend of mine did this with Son #1.  She made several posters with pictures of Jim, us, our family that covered our family over the years.  Son #1 made a slide show for the service that is still on line to this day.
This friend also set out several framed photos of Jim from different times in his life.  Thankfully, we've always taken a lot of pictures.
(Which is one piece of advice I'd give you now ...... before you get to this point.  Take pictures.  Lots of pictures.  All of the time.  And make sure that you, the picture-taker, are not always the picture-taker.  Be sure that you're in pictures, too.)

One friend took care of all things medical.  We had a lot of those things since we weren't sure why Jim died of what he died from ...... and were told that my children would have to be scanned for the rest of their lives, to make sure they didn't die from the same thing.  So my friend (who was a nurse, which helped) took care of all of that.
And she did a fabulous job.

Friends drove me wherever I needed to go.  For a few weeks.  Whether it was to the funeral home (never let them go to the funeral home alone), the attorney's office, the bank,  the funeral of one our district's high school principals (who died the day before Jim did) ...... I always had a ride.

Friends took turns staying with me.  At night.  And overnight.
I have no memory of how many of my friends spent the night with me, in my bed, but I know that they did.  And I can't thank them enough.

As days turned into weeks, they took turns coming over in the evenings, to just be with me.  They stopped spending the night, which was how it should've been, but they stayed until I was ready to fall asleep.
And I loved/love them for that.

Friends took care of all of the plants/flowers that were sent.  I couldn't take care of myself, let alone a bunch of potted plants.  I tried it for a week, but then felt totally overwhelmed by the sight of them.  So I called my friends and had them come and take them out of my house.
They planted some in my yard, which was nice.

As time went on, friends still took turns coming over.  Friends still took turns providing meals.  Friends took turns taking my children anywhere they needed to be, or keeping them busy.

Some friends wrote thank you notes.  I did not.  And that's the number one piece of advice that I can give:  make sure that your newly-widowed friend doesn't feel the need to write thank you notes.  I think that's the most barbaric practice that we, as Americans, have.  Who sends flowers/a plant because of a death, and then expects a thank you note?  If anyone does, tough crap.  You don't deserve a thank you note because you didn't send the gift for the right reason.  It's horrific to have to write someone and say "thank you for sending flowers/providing a meal because my husband died".  I have been/and am horrified when I've received such a thank you note.  I didn't send flowers/provide a meal with the intent of receiving a thank you note.  And I don't want the grieving person to even think about sending me a note.  The thought of that makes me nausous.

So those are the things the came to my mind.
The things that friends can do.

The biggest thing you can do is to just be there.
That's it.
It's simple.

Be with her/him.
Sit with her/him.
Follow their lead.
Watch TV with them, if that's what they want.
Bring funny movies/TV shows.  I needed to have my mind preoccupied and I needed to laugh.

Sit with them in silence, if that's how they sit.
Sit with them in tears, if that's how they sit.
Sit and listen, if they talk.
Sit and talk, if they listen.

Follow their lead.
But just be there.
For as long as you can.

That's what they'll remember.
That you were there.

Friday, April 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

Ok, I promise not to be excessively depressing and morbid today though it's hard, really it is.  But I don't want to drive everyone away when I just started blogging. Still it was hard to take my husband's picture down and list myself as a "widow".

(not me--but close enough)

1) I am thrilled to hear that both Jen and Hallie's little boys are here (from Conversion Diary and Moxie Wife), but concerned about and praying for Jen's little one who is having breathing issues and is in the NICU. Please pray for little Joseph Thomas, that all will be well, that Jen herself will be protected from blod clots, and that the family will soon be reunited.

2) Pope Francis--I missed the whole thing while I was in Houston with my darling during his last days, so I am only just now getting to know anything about him.  I thought he was Italian until just a couple days ago, lol! But he seems like a very decent sort of guy--very much a "man of the people" who does not put on airs--and I like that. He has a friendly smile, too.  And I love the name he chose! I can't believe no one chose it before!

Pope Francis, smilin' away!

3)  I have a TON of wonderful books to read, as I have gotten quite behind on my reading, as you might well imagine. My sweet husband got me a subscription to National Geographic just before he passed, so I get to read about all my fantasy destinations--the Congo, Denmark, Greenland, the Northern Lights, Yellowstone at Christmas, etc.  I will probably never get to any of them, as I am not the type of person who has that sort of income, but it's nice to dream, and I hope my Robert is up there in Heaven seeing every inch of God's creation and marveling over it.

Christmas at Yellowstone

4)  I really want to start celebrating the liturgical  year with my son Daniel, who is 13. But how do I do this when I don't know much about it in the first place, as a relatively new Catholic, and when his interest is minimal to moderate at best, and when we are both grieving over our loss, and when I am a lousy creative person? He's too old for most of the "kid" stuff but bored by the adult stuff, and has ADHD as well as Aspergers. Any suggestions?

Liturgical Year

5)  haven't been doing much cooking or cleaning beyond the basics--laundry and dishes--since coming home from Houston.   I want to create a peaceful space for myself, at least in my bedroom.  Our house is older--1980--and small--what they call a "starter home"---and hasn't been repainted, recarpeted or had the linoleum changed since 1987. It's hideous. I have never painted, laid carpet or linoleum, etc in my life.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around paying the bills.  But it would be nice to have at least one clean, comforting room to go into.

Not my house but you get the general idea

6)All the meaning of life is contained in the original version of Disney's Fantasia.

7) Hard core grief sucks.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Not One Bit Strong

I was reading my fellow blogger Jen Fulweiler's blong today over on Conversion Diary (I would make that into a clickable link but I don't know how--someone please tell me), and firstly I want to welcome her beautiful new son into the world, as well as Hallie Lord's over at Moxie Wife.  Lovely, strapping young men!

Unfortunately, Jen's son is having some breathing issues and had to be taken to the NICU in another hospital.  She said something to the effect that people were telling her how strong she was being, and if what she feels is being strong, she wants some examples of what "not being strong at all" feels like.  I could agree with her completely on that point. (and please join me in prayers for her young son).

I have had several people tell me lately I am handling my husband's death "well" and that I am being "strong" and one lady said she had no idea how I could do it--that she could never be that "strong".  Frankly I would love nothing more than to collapse into a permanent pile of weeping, raging terror and agony. Nothing. And I do so on a regular basis.  But, once you run out of strength to howl and scream and beat the wall and beg him to come back, please please please come back, I cannot bear it, I need you so much...........what are your choices but to get up and keep going?  Especially if you have a child, and especially-especially if you have a special needs child--one you swore to your dying husband to do everything for that he would want me to, to the best of my ability?

It hurts. It hurts when someone was picking up some ham radio equipment my husband had been repairing for him and  said while giving me money for the repair that he "certainly would not want to take advantage of a widow" (a widow??? That's me now? I don't like the sound of that at all. I feel I should be 95 and wearing black crepe).  He meant it kindly, but it's not the identity I always had of myself.  Wife, wife, wife--someone's wife--that's what I was, and still am, in my mind.

It hurts to flip through facebook and see a photo posted by my dear stepdaughter of her dad and my husband just weeks after we got together, when he was healthy and strong, holding her now 14 year old son and seated next to her now 17 year old son, who served as a pallbearer at his funeral, wearing a shirt I bought him so long ago, as a birthday present.  I wanted to die.  The pain was exactly like an icepick being driven through my heart and into  my soul.  How will this ever ease? I cannot fathom it.

I have to remember the blessings of these past few weeks--that he survived the initial esophageal bleed which almost no one does, because he was in the ER already when it happened, giving Daniel and I time to get there, and that a kind friend was willing to drive us 3 hours in the middle of the night to his bedside.

That he woke up from his post sedation coma after being given a good week to do so by a kind, caring Catholic doctor and a wonderful Catholic nurse.

That he saw us and recognized us and knew we were by his side.

That he had one good, lucid day when he was able to talk to us, and to tell me he loved me and kiss me, and even tell us a joke.

That he was baptized into the catholic faith, given an Apostolic Pardon, and went, presumably, straight to Heaven.

That I was able, despite earlier events indicating I would not be able to do this for him, to bury him where WE both wanted to be buried--in a beautiful Catholic cemetery, with a Catholic funeral service in our parish church, by my spiritual director and pastor, and using the funeral home I wanted. This was due to incredible kindness on the part of a family member.

That I was with him when he passed, and that he passed peacefully, with me holding his hand.

And finally, that a kind woman I barely knew at church said to me yesterday, "You think your relationship with your husband is over--but it is not over! It's just changed, that's all.  He's still here and you still have a relationship with him!"  That was the best and most encouraging thing anyone has said to me since the funeral.

But it's still so very very hard.  Please keep us in your prayers.

Friday, April 5, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

1)   Hanging in there. Trying to hang in there. Slipping off pretty regularly, but trying.

2)  I took some stones with words on them to the cemetery yesterday to place on my husband's grave. One said "Beloved", and one said "Watch Over Us". As I stood there crying and begging him to intercede with our Lord Jesus, I wanted to hear his voice so bad, I dialed my home phone line just to hear him on the voicemail. It broke my heart to hear him say "Bye!" at the end. 
Goodbye, my true love, goodbye. 

3)The incredible kindness of friends and those who loved him and our family has been the most radical, amazing example of true Christian love I have ever seen. Every time I turn around, another hand is reaching out, with prayer blankets, Irish soda bread, pumpkin bread, money, help for my son,  flowers, or some other much needed and gratefully appreciated item. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. 

4) This weekend the cemetery is having a day for families, with lunch, nature walks through their wooded property and trails, and a chance to fellowship with other Catholics who have lost loved ones. It is SUCH a lovely place, I wish you all could see it.  

Beautiful spring day
Garden of Precious Love, where Mary watches over miscarried babies

St Francis path

5)I think often of how Mary must have felt when she lost her husband, St. Joseph, who had always protected her and Jesus, and provided for their earthly needs. I wonder sometimes if she asked Jesus to heal him?   Losing a wonderful protector and provider like my Robert--a man who worked for us to the very end--leaves such a large and frightening hole. Only in God can that hole be filled.  But I will always miss his earthly presence. 

The death of St Joseph

6) I am praying today for Jen Fulweiller of Conversion Diary as she undergoes a difficult medical procedure to protect her heart and lungs from clots during her delivery monday, and for Hallie Lord of Moxie Wife who is delivering today, I believe. I wish them both blessings, successful deliveries and that Jen's medical procedure goes well.  Please join me in praying for them. 

7) What does one do with one's wedding rings when your spouse dies?  How do you go about going through their personal items, clothes, etc, and when? 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Funeral

Today was my husband's funeral.  It was a lovely Catholic funeral mass in the church, followed by interment at Our Lady of the Rosary cemetery in Georgetown, Tx--a beautiful cemetery with wildflowers, lovely headstones of all types, and windchimes everywhere, and wooded paths to walk along.

Many wonderful friends came--my beloved friends from Church who have walked this journey with us, and Robert's ham radio buddies. Also, his two grown kids from his previous relationship, grandkids, and my 3 boys.

We were all brokenhearted to lose such a wonderful, gentle, caring, unselfish soul.  A man who did everything he could to the very last for his family, though disabled, and who tried his best to help in any way he could. Though I had him only 15 years, they were the most blessed years of my life.

I don't know who I am now.

I'm not a "Catholic wife and mother" anymore.

I haven't worked in years and have many health issues that may prevent that.

My son has Asperger's syndrome---something that requires two parents at a minimum, and for which I am ill equipped emotionally to deal with right now--but that's another post for another day.

AT any rate, I was blessed today to have so many who cared for me come out--even many old friends I had not seen in over ten years.

I will miss my Robert with all my heart. The sky weeps for him as well today.