Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It Takes a Long Time ....

                                                 picture from here

.... to get from there .... to here.

It has taken me almost 4 years to get here.
Four years that have seemed like one day .... and forty years .... all at the same time.

Six years before Jim died he had an accident on his family's farm, at Thanksgiving.  As an aside, it seems that the big events in his life, and therefore, in mine .... happened either on, or very close to, a holiday.  He went out proving that .... one week before Christmas.

Back to that Thanksgiving (I never thought I'd want to go back there .... I guess that shows what a little perspective will do, doesn't it?).
He was target shooting with a WWII replica of the kind of large gun his father used, as a sniper in the Marines.  He got it as a gift for his father.
He asked me to accompany him that day, and I did, though I didn't want to.  Not at all.
It was a very, very loud gun.

But I went, which was a very good thing, because the gun exploded into his face.
Into his right eye, to be exact.
He lost that eye, but he was spared any further damage, though it came very close to going through his eye and into his brain.
So I got 6 more years.

The week after that accident, as we were trying to figure out how to live differently, I remember thinking, "If I can just make it to one year from now, I know we'll be ok."
And we were.
It turned out to be a pretty depressing year, on many fronts.
But we made it.
I was right.

After he died, I remembered that thought.
And I knew, without a doubt, that one year from that date .... would be no different.
He was dead.
And I would not be ok.
And I was right.

But I am now almost 4 years from that date.
And I am ok.
Most days I am better than ok.
Occasionally, I am not.

It takes a long time to get from there to here.
Most of you are there.
And I want you to know that, just because we are "here" .... it doesn't mean that we don't remember, and sometimes re-live, being "there".

We all hated waking up each day.
Most of us longed to go to bed and couldn't wait for night to come, only to realize that sometimes the night was the worst part of the day.
We all hated being told we "looked good".
As opposed to .... ?
We all hated being told that we were strong.
Because we certainly did not feel strong.

But as much as we hated it, we were.
It's only in looking back, that I know that I was.
That I am.
And trust me, no matter how much you hate it .... how much you disbelieve it .... you are stronger than you know.  I know you hate hearing it.  I remember.  And I've seen it in your eyes when I've tried to reassure you.
Trust.  Me.
You can't get from there to here .... and not come out stronger.
It's impossible.

A friend who holds a very dear place in my heart is dying.
She is young.
She is the person who arranged for Jim and me to "get together".
She is one of the reasons our oldest son has his name.
She was my "sister" in college, one of my roommates.
And in 2 to 4 months, she will be dead.
And my heart is breaking again, even though I thought it could not.

But, in trying to reassure her about her husband .... and what she thinks her death will do to him, I realized how strong I really had been.  And am now.
I told her that he would be ok.
Some day.
Not for a long time, but one day he will be ok.
I told her that he is stronger than he knows.
Stronger than she knows.
Because I remember "there".
I remember every inch of "there".
And I have come a very long way to get "here".

My journey is not over.
Nor is yours.
No matter how very much you wish it was.
I remember.
I will never forget.

It took a long time to get from there to here.
But it can be done.
One day, one second at a time.
One foot in front of the other .... one step at a time.  One step forward, three step backs.
Two step forward, one step back.
You are stronger than you think you are.

Trust me.
I never, ever .... thought I would be here.
It took a long time.
But, though I never thought I'd think this .... I am glad that I have made it this far.
Because now I can encourage you.
As can the rest of us.

You WILL get here.
You ARE stronger than you know .... stronger than you think.

Trust me.


  1. Thanks for the encouragement,because I need it.My heart goes out to your friend,her husband and you!

  2. Thank you Janine for your continuing encouragement. I saw you several times at Camp Widow, and I'll be honest that one of my first thoughts was, "She looks good!" :)
    But when I say that, I don't mean your cute clothes and pretty face. It was your eyes. They didn't seem as haunted, lost, or scared as so many of the other newer widows. They weren't the eyes that I see when I look in the mirror.
    Seeing you and reading your posts gives me just a little more hope that I might just make it to almost four years too.
    When I first entered this horror of widowhood, it was you that provided me with my first glimmer of hope.
    Thank you for your voice. I appreciate you so much and maybe next year I will have the courage to introduce myself at Camp and you can look at my eyes and maybe just maybe you will think, "She looks good!"
    My heart and prayers are with your friend, her family, and you.

  3. Two years ago today for me...and I THANK YOU for this wonderful post. We ALL are strong, but we have to go through the darkness to realize how much better it can get on the other side. God Bless you and all of us.

  4. Thank you....I have people say, 2 years is long enough....I have an aunt who told me 5 years before it starts to get better,and all the things in between.....I have made strides, altho not big ones....but I look at my eyes...not deer in the headlight eyes, but sad eyes....and I wonder if I will ever have happy eyes again. Again,, thanks for the hope.

  5. Thank you for a moving post. As I approach the 2 yr. mark next week, I still have difficulties but somehow continue one day at a time, I relate to so much of it but I also struggle in what is "there" or being "happy" again, or "accepting" this journey without him. This brings hope and tears.

  6. Thank you for such an encouraging post. I just hit the 8 month mark and I know that I am still "there" in many ways, but I know I am on a journey to "here." What a wonderful way of expressing the process of grieving.

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you ! I am at 10 months and very much still "there" but I am going to trust you Janine and I hope your friend can find the courage to trust you too.

  8. Thank you so very much for your encouragement. At 18 months, I feel split between "here" and "there". During the first year, I needed to hear over and over again, that I would make it. I needed to hear that I would feel again and care again and really be alive again not just measured by working organs. Thank you for your encouragement and honesty.

    We all know the moment death strikes again, it feels like another sock to the stomach. Hard....I am sorry for you, your friend and her husband. Tell him we all care about him!

  9. Thanks Janine. Although there are many good bloggers here, I relate to yours the most. Would you consider writing a post about goals? How to redefine your life? I am 55 years old, grown children, and 22 months out. I've acheived all of the big ones, but clearly my life still feels very abnormal and I feel stuck between the here and the there. I have a full time job (which is demanding but keeps me sane), and other than that, I can't get in the groove of figuring out what to do next. Kind of in limbo. Can you help?

  10. Michelle W ... Being told that I "look good" now is totally great! :) It doesn't mean the same thing that it meant 3 years ago, when I didn't feel good at all, but felt very cold, black and dead inside. Now I feel better inside so it helps to hear that I look good outside. So thank you. :) And yes, the eyes are very different now. I was just talking about that recently with another widowed person. I've been writing a post in my head about it, too. :) Thank you for your kind words and I will hunt you down next year at CW and look into your eyes. And you will look good. :)

    Thank you, all of you, for your words of encouragement and support to me. And to Anon #5, I will ponder a post about goals. Thank you for asking. No one's never asked for a certain topic before .... I think I like that. :)

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your post. Today would have been our 23rd wedding anniversary. I definitely feel "there" today! My husband once told me that he thought I was strong. Today I am trying hard to live up to his comment.

  12. Thank you. I was married 41 years It has been 15 months and I feel like I will always be "there". Thank you for letting me know I can make it to