Monday, January 21, 2013

Read, Breathe, Repeat

My sweetie
Thursday was Dave's birthday. He would've turned 40, an event we would talk about so often. We completely took for granted that he'd be around and for some reason, this thought keeps circling me lately.

We believed (of course) in full faith that he'd turn 40. We had no reason not to. And yet, he is gone and will never be older than 38.

This is so unbelievable to me that I can't make it fit in any compartment in my brain. It sort of hovers there above it all, unable to click fully into place, like a puzzle piece that almost but not quite fits in an empty space.

On Wednesday night I stared for a solid hour at his face in picture after picture.

I tried to will his picture to come alive. I suddenly (for the first time) needed to see video of him. Previously the idea of seeing videos of him made me feel seconds away from a full meltdown. It terrified me.

But on the eve of his birthday, I felt almost as though I needed concrete proof that I didn't make him up in my mind. Sadly, I don't have a single video with him in it. I have video he took of the Colosseum in Rome, but he didn't even talk. I have a video he took of me when he did talk but I can't figure out where it is.

I realized, with a sudden stab of pure remorse that we didn't take enough pictures or videos. Why didn't we?

The time I spent staring at his pictures felt holy. I stared at his face with fresh eyes. His deep, dark brown eyes and handsome beard, his smirk, his incredibly perfect white teeth, the smile I believe he reserved for me alone.

I tried to turn the images into a three dimensional memory. I tried to smell him and feel the texture of his arm once again, run my fingers through his hair. It was beyond frustrating and I cried myself to sleep.

The day of his birthday I felt numb or distant or on auto-pilot, or a mixture of the three. I had some things I needed to do and I did them, staying relatively alert and present, but when I got home, there were 20 facebook notifications and they were full of bad news. So much sadness had descended on several people I love all on the day Dave should have turned 40 but is instead ashes in a box. The tidal wave of sadness crested and I finally lost it.

So much pain, and why? I don't believe in a merciful universe or god. I suppose there might be a greater power I can't fully understand, but it's not merciful. It's not evenly doling out the pain.

There's no reason behind any of it, only the chance to dig yourself out of the pits of despair and find something to get up for. It's finding silver linings and not shutting down completely, but how much can a person take, I wonder? And are we sometimes fooling ourselves with our silver linings and positivity?

I am so furious that there has to be so many broken hearts. I'm so tired of pain, my own and others'. I'm working so damn hard to remain hopeful but I'm also going to give myself a break for feeling hopeless, or deliriously angry, or brokenhearted and I'm not trying to push the feelings away, but god dammit this is hard. It's scary to feel the hope for better things slip away even temporarily.

I keep thinking of the videos of Dave I could be looking at now, if we had thought to make them. It reminds me to continue to try not to take for granted what I'm lucky enough to have now. I don't care if I'm filming my cat purring on my lap or my friend talking to me from across the couch. I'm making a record of the people and furballs I adore and I'm going to remember how incredibly lucky I am to have them at all.

What else can we do, really, when the truth is, nothing lives forever and nothing stays the same?
Isn't that the lesson death teaches us? Cherish when you can. Don't be afraid to love just because your heart will be broken if you do.

Makes me think of my favorite C.S. Lewis quote...

 “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

Read, breathe, repeat. 



  1. The pain you describe is so familiar. So tangible. The longings to see, feel touch, smell and taste are all so reasonable....but for us, so empty. I hate this. I long to see my Marty's pretty blue eyes and yes, that smile that was just for me.
    I too agree about taking pictures.....I enjoy my photos of him. They are everywhere. On what would've been our 32 anniversary, 2 months after he died, I watched the dvd the kids made for his funeral - photos of him alive and smiling - with the kids, with me, doing the things he loved - and bawled my eyes out. I don't know why I chose to watch it, but for that day, it was the right thing.
    So now, I've turned into a bit of a pest esp at family functions; and when people complain as I get them together for one more shot, I simply say, "I have learned better than most, when it's all said and done, photos are all there is to look at." Nobody argues with me.

  2. but god dammit this is hard. It's scary to feel the hope for better things slip away even temporarily ...........all I have to say to that is YES YES YES!!!

  3. So true.
    We had five (yes) five cameras from 36 years. I only have three small videos of my husband. He was always behind the camera.
    That has stayed with me. Why wasn't I taking pictures.
    However, I realized we lived it. Sometimes - now with people taking pictures of everything in some ways they aren't experiencing it. They are documenting it.
    It is better that we experienced it.
    Although - of course now I wish i had more videotape. I remind myself we lived it instead.

    1. That's so true. Often times I'll be bummed that I didn't take pictures of an event but on the other hand, when I am busy trying to take pictures I feel like I'm missing out on the present, so, I'll remind myself of that also.

  4. I hear you so loud and clear...I have always been the one who takes the pictures, so there are more of my Other Half, my Scott, and for that, I am grateful. On almost every anniversary, I would watch the vcr tape of our wedding. He was a truck driver so he was usually on the road. It always helped me feel connected to him. This coming March 25 will be our 18th anniversary; my first without my loving husband. I am not sure how I will get through that day; but yet, how can I not watch it - just to hear his voice, watch us dance together, see his face.

    One of the things that struck me after Scott went on his Journey October 5 last year, was that I didn't have a saved message from him on my phone. I remember hitting the delete button because I needed more room, thinking I would get another one....I never did. Something so small as a message on my phone looms in front of me like Mt. Everest.

  5. Yup. Same with me on the voicemails. I had only 2 on my phone and couldn't find the courage to listen to them at first. Then, I listened to them once and forgot that they'd disappear if I left them on their long enough. Now they're gone and like you said it feels HUGE that I don't have them now. In one of them he said "I'm on my way home". Dagger. in. heart.

  6. I was always the one behind the camera, so I have a ton of photos of Dave. I had located a ton of them for the funeral slide show, and since that time if I come across ones I'd originally missed, I add them to that folder on my computer.
    So I have a folder with hundreds of photos of Dave. And I have copied them to a picasa account so I can view them anytime I feel the need. For many, many months I would spend evenings just staring at all those photos.

    It's never enough.

    I have come across a few videos of him. The first time I watched them I kept rewinding them to see his familiar gait as he walked - over and over again.

    I don't obsess over the photos nearly as much anymore. Don't know why or what that means... other than the fact that I have them memorized by now. Lol!