Monday, January 10, 2011

It's 3:00AM

And I can't sleep. This used to be a normal time to be sitting at my computer fingers tapping, and tears streaming down my face. I can't count the number of times my feelings have been pounded out on my keyboard, but its been a good long time since the familiar ache of missing Phil has kept me awake into the wee hours of the morning. My heart is aching in that unforgettable way, and I knew you would understand. So here I sit covered in blankets, futilely trying once again to reconcile the fact that Phil is dead.

This afternoon a good friend sent me a message. I opened the e-mail on my blackberry and saw a link but no greeting. After a quick glance I decided to investigate from my computer later. The indecipherable text was forgotten until I was working in my office later in the day, and remembered to open the message. All I found was a note that my friend shared a facebook page with me created by the community track team that Phil coached with for ten years. I clicked the link and immediately felt the oxygen being sucked out of the room. There were three photos of Phil among a gallery of old track photos posted front and center on the screen in front of me. The tightness in my chest that used to make my breathing shallow and my head ache returned as if the five years since Phil's death was only five minutes. I sat just staring at the photo above.

There is something about this picture that trumpets everything I lost when he died. This pose is so him. I know him, I can hear his voice, I can almost smell him, and I can hear his laugh in the corners of my mind. As I sat dumbfounded by my reaction, the grim helpless feeling that follows the realization that I can't turn back time began creeping in on me. The questions that used to torture me when the house was quiet and I was alone came whispering tonight...Why is this man dead? Why does this 100 watt smile only exist in my memory? Why does the boy in this picture have to mourn the death of his father? Why is it that one photo, one moment in time can throw me with such speed back to the helpless, breathless, unfair reality that dead is dead?

When I watched the photos of the track team scroll by on my computer screen I was gripped by a piercing longing for what used to be. Not because I am unhappy. Not because the life I live now isn't wonderful in ways I wouldn't have believed possible five years ago. Not because I don't love the man I am now married to who has blessed my life in countless ways. But because it still sucks that Phil is dead. When this hilarious, mischievous, infuriating, dedicated, stubborn, kind hearted, single minded man died, the rest of us were robbed. Sometimes the force of this reality still takes my breath away.

12 comments:

  1. I understand completely. Finding a picture you haven't seen, or don't even remember having been taken can as you say so perfectly "take your breath away". We had my husbands memorial two weeks ago (he left 10/8) and my daughter made a slide show of about 100+ pictures of him. I made myself watch it over and over, so I could sit through it without sobbing. It's almost as if that second captured in time is piercing your soul.

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  2. Can relate to this in so many ways. Death truly sucks. Lost my husband almost 4 years ago; and now I am dealing with the death of my mother who died a few days short of Christmas. No matter how you slice it, it hollows you out and you are just going through the motions of getting through day by day, wondering if you will ever feel whole again.

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  3. I understand...I'm so grateful I have pictures of my husband...but sometimes it hurts so much to look at them...and realize I will never be able to take another picture of him...

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  4. Been there, can still be there and totally understand. Still can't get all the way thru my husbands video without sobbing and it has been 5 years. Hard stuff.

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  5. Death is so difficult to integrate. The turmoil that it cuts into our sense of internal security is so surprising. I cried reading about your reaction to the picture, and the sadness of a boy without his Dad. Blessings.

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  6. Julie Richards DiBeneJanuary 10, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    The reality of death DOES SUCK,I just celebrated my DH's 2nd BDay without him yesterday...Sometimes reality is very overrated Sending You Big Big Bear Hugs Michele!!

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  7. i had a similar situation happen except mine was video. i heard his voice, his laugh...cut to the heart. i can relate.
    in memory of brian 9/9/09

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  8. My husband passed away four weeks ago. I made sure we took pictures of him with the kids and with me during the final week of his life (not sure if it was a good idea but it seemed important to me at the time). When the kids and I were on vacation just two weeks following Steven's passing, we were looking at the pics we had taken at the beach that day. Suddenly I scrolled back to the pictures of my husband in the hospital bed in our family room. I lost it! I wasn't ready to go back there, apparently. It was too raw, too fresh in my heart and mind. Pictures are so glorious and evoke so many beautiful and painful emotions. I find myself staring at pictures of Steven that are scattered throughout our home -- pictures of him before his brain tumor and pictures following his diagnosis (when he was still doing well). I talk to him....I find comfort in those pictures. The ones where he was still, well, Steven. Pictures truly do speak a thousand words.

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  9. What a heart felt post. Thank you sharing that. These reminders of what was and what should have been only we can understand the true depth of it. Hugs to you.

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  10. Pictures. So awesome but so hard.
    Photo's have that ability to transport us. So does music. They are tapestries that are woven with emotions.

    Today as I walked through a store a familiar song in the background dragged me back in time and forced me to sit down and cry. Right there in the store.
    (Matt Kearney - Closer to Love
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMRXXBGotnw)

    Almost 7 months now. Still absolutely sucks. :(

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  11. Michele... As I read your post, and then read the above comments of the other widows... I was once again struck by this 'sisterhood of widowhood'... It doesn't matter where we live, what background we come from, our ethnicity, our socio-economic status... We all grieve the same... and the same things can bring us to our knees. I had a wonderful holiday season... my second since 'My Ricks' death, but the FIRST CELEBRATED, as I boycotted all things 'holiday' last year (It was the first without him)... However, I was determined, this past holiday season, to embrace them... and I did. I had a blessed Thanksgiving, and one of the MOST WONDERFUL Christmases with my family that I can ever remember... Christmas day was soooo joyful, and it was as though I was experiencing my family through different eyes... eyes of DEEP gratitude. Christmas day, after the festivities, I brought my 14-year-old niece home with me (a little extra girl time was in order)... We had such a fun night, laughing, listening to music, watching movies. We stayed up way too late... So, at 2am I decided to check my facebook, and RIGHT THERE at the top of my fb wall was a photo of 'My Rick' that I had never seen before. The caption below it said, "DeNece, this is the last picture I took of Rick. Thought you might like to have it."... The photo was taken on Christmas Day 2008, by my brother-in-laws father... and he was JUST THEN, 3 Christmases later, sending it to me. I felt, as you described, "the oxygen being sucked out of the room"... and then the uncontrollable sobs started. My niece came over to me, and when she looked over my shoulder at my open laptop, she too began to cry... and then she put her arms around me and said that she missed him too... We just held each other and cried and cried... AND THEN IT HIT ME... My 14-year-old niece, and 'My Rick' shared the very same birthday... July 8th... and here she was, with me, on Christmas Day, comforting me in my anguish... trying to make me feel better... and that's when I KNEW that it was all part of my "I love you, Boo...Merry Christmas" message from him... The surprise photo (which should have been sent to me 2 Christmases prior), and my niece (with the shared birthday) being there to comfort me... And when that realization hit me, the tears stopped, the oxygen returned to the room, and I felt eternally grateful, once again, for such a wonderful holiday. Happy New Year, Michele... My gratitude extends to you, as well! xoxo ~DeNece Beckman

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  12. Amazing This post came across today.... There are pictures all over the house of my wife, I see them everyday. This morning I decided to tackle a closet in my bedroom that I have been putting off for almost two years, First thing I came across was our wedding photos, which prompted at least an hour of crying . As the extreme anguish subsidies I find myself greatful for finding those pictures, It brought me back to what is the most important thing, Our true love for eachother, Somtimes I let my grief overtake me and tend to forget that We found what most people spend a lifetime chasing....

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