Monday, February 11, 2013

C Dave

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This is the license plate I see frequently when I walk a client's dog.

I might not get visits from his actual ghostly spirit, but I see reminders of him everywhere. Every single one stabs at my heart. That's a cliche way to say it, but it feels like a blow to my actual, physical heart. It knocks the wind out of me for just a second and I wince from the impact.

The worst is reminders of our "things". Shows we used to watch, foods we used to make into rituals, our nightly "feed the cats their special treats" routine that I do alone now, moments I can't BELIEVE he's missing.

Today I discovered that I'd have a chance to accompany wildlife biologists on some field work for which I'd need waders and boots. I realized I'd have to borrow a pair from some friends.

Dave was a fisherman extraordinaire. We had 2 fishing boats, multiples pairs of waders, both chest and hip, boots, several tackle boxes, countless fishing rods and reels, nets, float tubes...

I sold it all.

And now I need a pair of waders and boots. I wanted to tell him how ridiculous that was. It was easy to imagine him teasing me for selling all his things. I couldn't believe, even after 19 months of living with the fact of his death, that I couldn't tell him that I'd be experiencing this now. I couldn't believe that he wouldn't get a chance to do it with me.

At some point this will finally stop surprising me, right? One day I won't shake my head in stunned disbelief when I see the box his ashes are in, sitting next to my jeans in my closet. One day I won't hear the words "my husband died" come out of my mouth and feel so surreal that I almost split into two - one me who goes numb and carries on and another inner me who crumples to the ground screaming a frustrated silent scream. I can't remain surprised by this forever. Right?

The other day I organized and cleaned out my closet. As I was pulling a messy pile of jeans off a high shelf to refold, a social security card drifted out of the folds of denim and fluttered to the floor. Before it landed, I knew it was Dave's. I reached down and flipped it over and looked at it.

His sweet, young boy, left-handed scrawl of a signature.

The stab to the heart, the woosh of my breath as I gasped, the shock that even though the feeling is now familiar, it doesn't seem to lessen. The disturbing way I have to just continue with my silly daily activities while carrying this giant gaping absence around with me.

I don't have a good explanation for how his social security card ended up in my jeans. I don't understand it all. I also don't understand how it can take the human brain so long to fully grasp a fact as blindingly obvious as "he's gone". I don't understand how I just keep going on with things as though I'm not breaking apart.

But, the thing is, I do keep going on. Sometimes it feels like I'm swimming smoothly through the seas, with an awareness of which direction to head. Sometimes it feels like I'm drowning. Sometimes I just tread water, completely lost. For some reason, though, I'm here now. I'm supposed to be, though I don't know why.

I can't see the bigger picture because I'm too close to it. I'll only see it when I can look at it from the distance of time passed. Which is annoying, but unavoidably true.

I think a part of me has been waiting for his approval of how I'm living my life now. I keep asking him if I'm doing okay. AND HE DOESN'T ANSWER. I don't see him or hear him. Which means that I have only myself to answer to and that might be the hardest thing to come to terms with. I think I've been lost from time to time because I've been waiting for his guidance. If I'm going to sail off into my own life, I'm going to have to stop waiting for that, as much as it breaks my heart.

My own guidance is worthy. Whew, it was hard to admit that, but now that it's out there, I can feel it.

I can handle this. I have been and I will continue to. I will make mistakes but I will handle this, even if I can't see Dave.


  1. Thank you for this post,its so helpfully to know others feel the same way.It's been 13mths since my husband died I go round thinking "so he's still dead""STILL", when will it sink in!!I'm hearing messages in songs on the radio,songs that talk about neverending,un-dieing love mostly they are conforting.Wishing you peace

  2. "The disturbing way I have to just continue with my silly daily activities while carrying this giant gaping absence around with me."


  3. That's just it - you are "seeing Dave". How did his card get there? He put it there so you would KNOW you are not alone.

  4. Thanks Cassie,
    Yesterday was my drowning day. At 28 months, I still find that I hit these moments. I listened to a song that reminded me of him "Kathys song" by Simon and Garfunkel. The strange thing is this was not his kind of music, I introduced him to folk music and he learned to love it.
    But this song took me to a place - where he was dying and I was watching his final breaths and my heart was beyond breaking -
    I looked at his pictures over and over "the song I was writing was left undone" . . . is how it feels. Our life together wasn't done. We were going to get old together.
    The lyrics
    "And so you see I have come to doubt
    All that I once held as true
    I stand alone without beliefs
    The only truth I know is you."

    Like you _ I ask myself over and over again. What would he be doing?
    What would he think of this?
    Would he be proud of me?
    We were equal partners but best friends. I am missing my confidante and my best friend.
    I loved when you talked about the rituals. I feel that on the weekends most of all.
    In some ways the final line "There but for the grace of you go I."
    It could have been me but it wasn't.
    He died.
    I live.
    Somehow I have to keep living.

    Thanks so much for articulating something that is so hard to put into words.

  5. Friends have told me I'm making good progress in this grief...if they only knew how hard it is to go on, to get up and take a step into the day without him. I too keep finding things that take me right back to him, and I don't want to do this alone anymore.

    I want an answer, too, to " am I doing ok?" and I guess the only answer we will get comes from us. I'm doing the best I can do, which on some days isn't very good, other days I have a sense of direction. It's not the way I expected my life to go, but then no one knows the future.
    Dave IS guiding you, he was a part of your past, and will always be in your heart. Just listen, you will hear him.

  6. I think a part of me has been waiting for his approval of how I'm living my life now.

    Wow, this really resonated today. I have done one thing (move to a townhouse with my kids) that we certainly wouldn't have done if he were alive, but now I need to hire a new nanny and I so want his input, and there is no way to really have it. What would he think of how we are doing?

  7. Another great post Cassie.
    " it can take the human brain so long to fully grasp a fact as blindingly obvious as "he's gone"."
    I ask myself the same thing on a regular basis.
    I think I'm moving along just fine, and then become unglued again by a thought as simple as, 'I'm never going to see him smile at me again.'
    How can that be true?

    1. It's so incredibly hard to fathom, isn't it?

  8. Thank you so much for putting into words what we all are going through. I dreamed last night I was talking to my husband and asked him what it was like to die. He said you have feelings and then you dont. I also asked him if he heard me when I spoke to him and he gave me the answer "i am here". Just like he always does.
    Sometimes I get angry at him for leaving me here but most of the time I just love him.

  9. Thank you for this post. I feel a little less alone in my loneliness.

    1. I'm so, so, so glad to hear that. You just have no idea how much it means to hear you say that. Hugs.

  10. It has been almost 6 years for me, and I still, particularly this month, feel the same way. You are not alone in your disbelief, either that he is gone --- or that you are suddenly all alone, even though you've been alone for some time now. We are with you, each of us in our own places. Keep writing.

  11. A very awesome post Cassie! So, true the first statement in Valerie's response. I am coming up to 36 months and still have days when it doesn't seem possible that my husband is gone. When I sit quietly and reflect on this fact, the grief comes roaring at me.

    Thank you again for your honesty!

  12. Your sharing your feelings if so good for a lot of us, I can really relate to "how long will it take to realize he really is gone". I too go along each day trying to 'do something' small tasks, but then I heard a song about people hugging in heaven and it hits home that I can never hug my Jim in the present I will have to wait until I go to heaven to do that, and I fall apart all over again. Somehow I will go on, I have so many good friends and family who are with me in this, but none can take his place, I have to go on as this is God's plan for me whether I like it or not. Thank you for sharing your pain and feelings with us,it helps especially on the bad days.

  13. My husband has been gone 6 months. I try to put on a good face, but I'm falling apart. I feel so alone, I have close family and friends, even widow friends, but I don't want to talk about it to them. They will tell me it will never end. I had a dream the other night, I'm not a person who dreams or remembers if I do. My husband came to me in my dream all of a sudden he was there. We talked and hugged, I asked about my deceased parents, he asked about our grandson. He told me everything would be ok. He hugged me and I truly believe he was there. I felt him hugging me. Then he was leaving and I cried don't go, don't go.. he was gone. I woke up and cried. It was so very real.. I actually felt his hugs.I know now that he is really here with me. I prayed to the Lord to let him come back sometime and talk with me again. I so hope someday it will happen. I can't believe my life has changed forever. I want to believe I will feel better... some days are alright and I think I'll be ok. Most days I wonder when.

    1. You will feel better. It is SO scary to hear "veterans" of YEARS of this saying they still feel devastated, but I think that it is entirely possible to feel joy and peace once again. We'll still feel that sadness and pain, but we'll somehow be able to hold both the new, good feelings and the ongoing loss feelings at the same time. It will get easier. Just since the 1.5 year mark I've been feeling noticeably better. It won't ever be EASY or simple, but it will be easier. Promise. You can do this. The thing that I need reminders of is that just the same way I could never have imagined that this would be my life now, we cannot imagine what waits for us around the corner. It could be more magnificent than we can fathom right now. We just don't know. We do know that we are survivors and that both terrible AND wonderful things happen all the time. I know you feel utter disbelief and pain, but it won't always be that intense. Keep looking for reasons to hope. Hang in there. Hugs from here.

    2. thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I'm so happy to have found a place to write my feelings.

  14. I am so jealous of people who get "visits" or direction from their loved one. I don't, But that's Ron. He wouldn't tell me what to do in life he isn't going to tell me what to do now. He'd tell me he knew I would make the right decision I just needed to do it and I know he is expecting me to do it now. I always felt so strong when he was around. I could take on the world. People tell me now how strong I am but I don't feel it at all. It's so much easier to be strong when there is someone to help hold you up. I really want to know that he would be proud of me, that he would approve of the decisions I've made but I see that desire makes me normal. That's comforting when I feel so abnormal these days.

    1. I totally understand what you mean about someone there to hold you up. I use to be so more social, I could talk to anyone anytime when I was out and about. Now, for some reason, I just don't have the confidence to do that. I think it's because he was always had my back, no matter what, he would be there. He didn't have to be there physically for me to feel safe. Now I worry even if I'm with friends, my leg or arm touches another man, I feel so uncomfortable, before, I never even noticed. I miss the confidence I had. I have to build a new backbone, so to speak.

  15. This was a great post for a lot of us.
    I used to yearn for a dream visit from my husband, Dave and it just never happened.
    It was driving me nuts for a while. I never believed my husband was gone.
    I know I had the funeral and held his ashes yet How could someone who has spent every day with me for 40 years vanish into thin air? My mind could not wrap around that! The first year I thought he was hiding or something. The next two years I thought he was somewhere I just did not know where. About year 5 I figured it out.
    The pain of dealing with that was horrible but then started to ease and I was able to start to form my new life with more joy with his memories. I still have pangs but they are fleeting and I love catching myself smiling or laughing and remembering how far I have come. Please just hang in there all of you who struggle with this.
    My sister widows are in my prayers. Sandy in San Diego