Archive for the ‘Grief’ Category

I miss the recognition in your eyes. It’s been over 20 years, and I’ve come to understand over the years why I miss you still. You are the one person who really knew all the parts of me.
On the rare occasions that reunites us, I recognize that momentarily when I look in your eyes before you mask it. We all want to know that someone really knows us, that place where secrets live and are safe outside of us, the history of us, the totality of us. It’s not fair that someone can steal that from you and you can never get it back. You carry each other’s unspoken secrets with you and it’s a burden and a blessing. The agony is knowing someone walked off into another life with that piece of you, and left that piece of them in you, and you can’t give it back any more than you can get it back.
Building a new life isn’t really so difficult when you do it moment by moment, year-by-year, experience by experience. You add in many pieces, so many pieces, to make up for that one large piece you lost. But you realize that no matter how many pieces you add in that piece lost can’t be replaced and that the scene is forever changed and the picture can’t really be complete because you are always trying to find another piece to fit in that hole.
It’s not wrong that I miss you, I’ve learned that over the years. I have a full life, I live a full life, I’ve chosen a full life. But when I’m sitting by the window, and it’s raining outside, and a song comes on that pulls at me, I go back to that missing piece….and it’s raindrops falling like memories, cascading down, drenching my view.



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If you have read my earlier posts you are aware that I am one of the millions who painfully watch the slow erosion of a parent with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s much like seeing someone on a raft at sea whose mooring breaks loose and they drift out to sea and you are powerless to stop it. You agonizingly just have to watch till they are out of sight.

I’m a daughter who adores her father. I have written some about the ‘golden nuggets’ I use to get, little momentary flashes of wisdom. They have been long gone…or so I thought.

Yesterday I decided I would go visit my father, because I can still. It was a very non-busy unstructured kind of day, so thought I would treat myself to a visit and not wait till Sunday, the day I typically spend with him.

So I stopped and got the traditional Frosty on the way and had to apologize for being a nickel short and promised to bring an extra nickel on Sunday. When I got there my dad was sitting in a chair that he frequently is in now a days, he doesn’t walk/wander as much as he use to but seems to want to sit more. I leaned in to give him a kiss and he nuzzled me and said “I just love you so much babe” and stared at me so intently. I don’t care who he thought I was, I took it.

I felt a certain mission today, all week I’ve been thinking I need to tell him again how much I appreciate, really appreciate, all he has done for me, all he taught me and tried so diligently and determinedly to teach me when I know I was not a cooperative student of his lessons. I knew he wouldn’t understand but I felt so compelled to tell him. So, I did and was surprised at how hard it was to voice that without crying. It was odd, because he looked so seriously at me and said something that made no sense, but it felt like he got part of what I said.


Then as he was talking a short time later about some business thing in words I couldn’t decipher, out of the clear blue sky he says “and it’s important to be nice, not arrogant, that gets you no where”, and then he was gone again. And I thought ‘another lesson still, another golden nugget! Always teaching.

He said my name a couple of times but I don’t know in what context, it was just thrown into a group of non words. But several times he told me he loved me, so it was just hard to leave but I was so glad I went. A couple of weeks ago, when I was there he all of a sudden said “where are all my grandchildren?”, and then he was talking about something else.

Life is about the moments, and never is that so clear and true than it is with visits with a person with Alzheimer’s.

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Last night I was watching one of the singing competitions, yes I’m one of the few that is still suffering through it, and mainly for this reason ~ there is a woman on there named Candice, and when she opens her mouth to sing I am transformed by her voice. Last night she sang one of my favorite Billie Holiday songs, “You’ve Changed”.


Others have also sang this song such as the great Ella Fitzgerald, but I love Billie Holiday, there is such a raw emotion in her.


And Candice did not dissapoint, she sent it soaring.

What struck me is I’ve heard this song many, many times before, but last night I heard it different. Instead of hearing the song from not only the heartbreak of the person who is being left, I heard it from a point of saddness for the person who ‘changed’. Maybe this is simply a reflection from my own experiences and distance from them.

I realize that when a relationship ends, and one of the people, though typically both to some extent, have ‘changed’, there is a lingering malaise. It seems that the person who ‘changed’ not only disconnects with the person in the relationship, but all too often disconnects with themself.

Sometimes this is short term, but it seems at times it is ongoing. You look at that person that has changed and see a loss of not only the connection they had, but a loss of who they were, the very spirit they had. The lingering questions in their eyes that over time turn into a certain acceptance of being lost. In the phrase from the song “That sparkle in your eyes is gone; your smile is just a careless yawn” there is a warning. I can tell you from being on both ends, I would rather be left than lose myself. I have watched that struggle in others as they struggle to regain who they were and what they had, and still see the sparkle missing that has been replaced by weariness.

Now the good news is, it makes for great song material and Candice nailed it which brought me great delight and thoughts to write about!
Peace to all going through change or to someone who has changed!

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Twenty years ago I was divorced from my high school, no, junior high school sweetheart, after 23 years together.
At the time I wrote a book about how women grieve to help me through it all (the ‘all’ part being another woman). Then I forgot about it as I moved on piece by peace.

Then a couple of weeks ago I rediscovered it! I didn’t even have a copy if you can imagine that. Fortunately I had given a hard copy to my best friend. Over the years and move from one computer to the next it just disappeared.

When a recent conversation with my sister made me remember it I decided to try to find it. When I couldn’t locate a copy of any type in my possession I asked my friend if she still had it, and she did. She mailed me a copy…seems we came full circle.

It is so incredibly strange to be reading through this! I feel like I am reading it as written by a stranger. The pain is so raw in places. It makes me appreciate my journey of the past twenty years, my current life and husband of 13 years. Mostly it makes me proud of the work, focus and determination to have a ‘healthy’ (for the most part) divorce and heartbreak.

But I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge how it pulls on me too. Mainly I just want to hug that woman and tell her I admire her and comfort her. My first husband, I won’t say ‘ex’, he wasn’t crossed off a list, and myself enjoy a nice relationship. Too many ‘what ifs’ and regrets for him to let himself trust himself around me, so he stays tightly wound. It’s actually his wife and I who get along great. Our children enjoy being able to have family gatherings with us all together, with our little grandchildren, as it should be.

And each time at some point we catch each other’s eye and for a moment, we both know and share what we lost. And I feel at peace.

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that the band ceased to play. It’s odd to ‘celebrate’…definitely the wrong word, ‘mourn’, wrong word too…an anniversary that involved so many, but that you alone know is taking place or remember. A day that changed my life, so many lives, so permanently, and yet quietly it slips in and out today. Twenty years. I remember when twenty years seemed like forever, now twenty years later it seems like yesterday. Twenty years ago I just wanted to survive that day, that week, so sure that twenty years later it would all be so far in the past it would just be a blink of a memory, if I remembered. Now it is twenty years later and I remain with the question of ‘how?’, not ‘why?’, I understand the ‘why’, but not the ‘how’. How did this happen, how do I move on, how do I stop the ache, how did this happen? But I did move on, not sure how, day by day. The ache doesn’t stop, but I did learn to live with it…most of the time. But never got the how it happened, how you actually left.
I wish you peace, I love you still.

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What a week, what a month, what a year….it’s not a wonder that it has built to a point that a complete meltdown and fit needed to be thrown. The constant grief and agony of watching my father decline with the merciless onslaught of Alzheimer’s, this man whom as a child I confused with John Wayne, this man whose mission in life was to raise his four daughters to be principled, intelligent, fierce women. With the constant struggle of decades of erosion of family relationships fostered by a mother who knew too many mental struggles in her own young life that it was inevitable she would teach those manipulations and destructive traits to her four daughters, so that at a point when the family is weakened by the loss of it’s anchor, there is complete and irrevocable fracture. By the painful and terrifying struggle of watching my husband of almost 13 years struggle with the debilitating treatment for Hepatitis C, all for naught as we deal with the realization that the treatment that has been living hell for four months is not succeeding, and now are facing the multitude of ‘what if’s’ silently and singularly in our minds. I have become too weary for friends, turning too often to prescription painkillers for a nights sleep and a moment of respite, indulging too frequently in the nostalgia of reminiscing about my first husband, the lost love that was never completed. This meltdown and fit needed to be, and so I relented, I threw things I treasured most across the room feeling relief in their shattering, I screamed and cried until I was hoarse and could not summon the strength to utter further sound, I melted in a pile on the floor at last drained and empty…and then my husband walked in to ask what I was doing, I looked up and quietly smiled and responded ‘not much, just thinking’, knowing that the meltdown in my head for now would have to suffice. My head aches with exhaustion and need for escape, but today, there is no escape, there is just determination to go forward and go forward and go forward and imagine the release of giving way to melting down.

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I sit on my back porch, my sweet husband out on a bike ride, my dog whose name is Grace, but I actually call ‘mama’ most of the time, much to my husband’s and her confusion, sits near me on the ground infernally licking a paw when I have inspected her numerous times for the reason to no avail. The wind gently blows my wind chimes. I have inspected all plants to make sure they are indeed growing and alive and producing what ever it is their job to produce. It was finally revealed why I kept seeing all the strawberry blossoms, the little green fruit but not realizing any strawberries when Grace showed up with a red snout the other day. My cucumbers vine beautifully, put on big yellow flowers, but the bees for some reason have not received the memo that they need their attention, as the man at the nursery explained it last year when I got no cucumbers, they need a little help from the bees in the procreation department. But in this season of healing it is a peaceful place and reminder that life is so much bigger than my heart alone. I continue to work through the sense of having lost both parents, though both are still living, one to the wicked monster Alzheimer’s, the other to…to a frozen heart and soul. Long frozen with fear from events she had no control of in her own childhood that now 80 years later still play out. It’s not for not trying, on everyone’s part, but somethings are bigger than our heart, and so we must seek peace in the cucumber looking beautiful but not producing…the family looking like a family, but not functioning.
In peace on my porch…

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