Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sick, Clothes and Backwards

The last two days I've been sick.
I found myself lying in my bed, the wrong way.
Backwards (head where my feet usually are, feet where my head usually is)

The fever is making me feel backwards.

I'm preparing to move from the house the kids, Art and I have been in this home for 6 years. (Huh. The kids and I have been here for six, Art only 4.) It means going into his closet and getting rid of the rest of his clothes. The ones that no longer smell like him. It means going into the attic and going through the ones I put away for the kids and this time asking them what they want to keep.

I am at peace with this idea.
That feels backwards.
"They" said I'd know when the time was right to get rid of the clothes, to take down one of the photos. I couldn't imagine there would ever be a "right" time in his wrong death.
But without looking for it, it has arrived.

The time is right.
There is peace and gratitude in letting more of him go...
is it the fever?

Post from
August 27, 2009.
4 months after Art died.

Yesterday, I took Art's remaining clothes out of the closet. I divided them into the one's I want to keep and the ones to give away. Today I drove them to the Mission in downtown LA. Some tall homeless person with size 14 feet will finally have clothes and shoes that fit him.

Yesterday, I took down the get-well cards friends, co-workers, familiy members and students had sent him. This wall reflects me.
I am that wall. I am empty, vacant, not complete. I am not surprised at the depth of the grief, just disappointed in it. I am surprised at how quickly I begin to hyper ventilate, and how powerless I feel. I can't talk, even though I wanted to call a friend.

I think we are fine and then it hits, the wave and I swear that I will drown. And I cry so deeply and so completely that my whole body gets involved. I shake and feel nauseous. I force my breath. My nose quickly fills. My head aches, my arms tingle. My feet move rhythmically back and forth across the sheet. I hold myself, I let go. I punch his pillow. I hold myself again.

I know I need to call someone. Anyone. But what will I say? What is there to say? I don't want to be cheered up, I don't want to be soothed. I want to be held, to be allowed to grieve, with the noisy blows from my bulbous red nose and with the lines of tears from my swollen eyes.

I don't want anyone to tell me it'll be ok because right now, it's not. I want someone to wrap their arms around me, to sit with my pain, to stroke my hair and my back. To NOT say "shhhh." To cry with me even. No judgment, no better world. Just this grief here and now.

Tomorrow is my 45 birthday.

August 28, 2011

Today is my 47th birthday.

I am in awe at how different I feel, strong, relaxed and ok with my widowhood. It is a feeling I can't describe, the opposite of the black hole of grief (which is equally indescribable). I'm content, at ease, peaceful words that three years ago I couldn't even understand let alone feel.

Today I cried, not from sadness but from relief and gratitude. I'm OK, but for the grace of God and time, I'm OK!!!!


  1. Hey Kim, Happy Birthday. The shedding of their things seems to be an ongoing task and process. Michael's mother and I had made a plan to work on it together on his birthday, which we did. I then went through it again when I moved to San Diego. Then once again as I've been unpacking boxes in my moved into our new house. It feels like it will go on forever, deciding just how much I need to have around me, and what I can feel fine about letting go.

    With each of these steps I feel like I am standing stronger holding onto memories rather than old shirts he used to wear. Of course I still wear many of them around the house. I guess it's one step at a time.

  2. Thank you for this post.
    I have my husbands dresser as a remembrance chest. Some favoured shirts, his sandals and favourite shoes. Photo albums, his hospital communication book, his love notes, cards, the blanket I used to cover him when he slept on the sofa after his radiation treatments. If my grief is buried deep and walled high to keep me moving forward, I sometimes go there and open the drawers and pull things out and end up wailing in grief.
    Now I need it. I find pieces of him there.
    I cleaned out the closet and gave most things to an agency in town to help new immigrants. I gave a lot to my son.
    I know there may come a day when the chest of remembrance is too painful to keep. Like the closet. The day I went in and the sight of the empty clothes was something I could no longer look at. So, I did it. Painful yes.
    But healing too. To not hang on too tightly to the things. Because they don't bring him back.

    Happy Birthday Kim. May this year bring moments of peace to you.

  3. Kim, my heart goes out to you for the pain your are in in going through the grief of losing your husband. It's a horrible journey on many days and it never seems to end. There doesn't seem to be any control over the waves of emotions that come over us when we think we are okay. and we are pretty much alone in this journey in reality. I wish I could be there with you and just listen and let you cry and scream or whatever. Don't forget that you are not alone, and there are many of us who do understand what you are going through. I hope that your have a wonderful birthday, even though the loss of your dear spouse is always with you, every day of every year, Blessings.

  4. Kim, you are amazing. So full of life and inspiration despite the tragic loss of your much loved Art. I remember everyone telling me it didn't matter how long I waited to give away my husband's things, that the pain would still be acute and they were so right. But as we agree, healing does happen as we let go.

    Peace, blessing, and hugs as you celebrate your 45 years of this precious gift of life.

  5. I, too, wish you blessings on your birthday.
    I have saved some of my husbands t shirts to make quilts for my children, and if I don't get to it, a friend has offered to make them. They have been sitting in a pile for a year and a half, maybe some Christmas when I feel like gifting again, I'll get to them. I gave away all the things he didn't wear much, that was easy. I assume when I downsize that the rest will go. As I purge his things, I am doing the same to mine. Suddenly all the material things seem so immaterial anymore.

  6. Happy Birthday Kim! I'm having a hard time believing that you are 47. I saw you at Camp Widow and would have guessed you to maybe be almost 40. You look amazing!
    I also wanted to share with you something that was said about you at Camp. I had taken a friend with me for support, and she had not had any background knowledge about anything. I just said meet me in San Diego and go with me to this conference. Anyway, we were at a workshop that you happened to be in and you spoke up and commented on a discussion and there was some back and forth talk as you shared some of your insight. After you finished speaking my friend leaned over and whispered, "That is a very powerful woman. You should meet her."
    Of course, I already knew that you were an incredible woman after having read so much about you on this blog. I just found it amazing that just your presence and voice in a matter of minutes had led my friend to that same conclusion.
    Thank you for your leadership on a journey that I so desperately wish I could get out of. My husband died on the 28th of the month. It continues to be a tough date for me but now that I know it is your birthday it adds a little light to the date as well.

  7. If this were Facebook I would click on the "like" button.

  8. I see your blog as a very welcome ray of hope. I am just 4 months into my widowhood and I am going through quite a tough period - the journey is certainly up and down - two steps forward and one back. I too am very, very lonely - for Steve. But to know that at the 2 year point that I will have a level of peace is very, very encouraging. So many widows seem very reluctant to chart progress - I do understand that progress can be interpreted as betrayal and it also runs the risk of other people thinking that the journey is over and you are better - but from my point of view, at this stage, it is a ray of light. Thank you.