Friday, April 19, 2013

Reflecting and Persevering and Pushing

"You have one, maybe two weeks left," the doctor at MD Anderson told Maggie exactly four years ago today as I held Maggie’s hand. Such a statement, after all we had been through, was not a surprise to either of us. That moment will sit forever in my gut like a block of emotional lead. If you are reading my words today, I suspect you’ve felt that same feeling in some fashion, the feeling of your blood running cold. I hope neither you nor I ever feel that again.

As Maggie’s Angel Day approaches, I’ve been trying to live my life, to not reflect back, to not deeply ponder – or dare I say even savor – those last few days. I feel like I should in some way hold those painful memories close but then I feel like I’m doing exactly what some of my “friends” have accused me of – milking this situation or not moving on or choosing to being dramatic. Thus, I tell no one about my trips back to those poignant moments only four years ago, except you. I know you know and understand and don’t find fault in my continued sadness. Yes, I miss my sweet wife. Yes, after nearly four years I still carry a torch. Neither my tears nor the judgmental spit from others have managed to extinguish that flame. Damn it. Why does this still have to be so difficult? Haven’t I paid my dues?

Not helping my sanity is the unpleasant surge in difficult situations. I have three friends right now dying slowly of the same disease; two are married while one is sad she’s not. Another very dear friend of mine lost her dear friend suddenly last week; he was only 37. Then there’s the nightmarish mess in Boston last Monday and Wednesday’s tragedy down the street in West, Texas. Even tonight as I type, an MIT guard has been killed. Death, it seems, has become strikingly obtrusive. I can’t help but wonder how many of us they leave behind.

I’ve been told that I should feel invincible since I’ve lived through the unimaginable. Then riddle me this, Batman: Why do I feel so miserable… still? Is it because I’m watching many of Maggie and my friends get divorced? Or is it because I’m a sideliner to many of our friends sharing the joy of parenthood? Or is it because Maggie and I were just never given a chance? For whatever reason, being widowed is hard in ways that others can’t possibly understand, despite their wild, judging imagination. This widowed journey is only for those who aren’t living the life they dreamed with their loved one because their loved one died. It’s semantically obvious but simply incomprehensible.

I’ll keep trucking on, trying to figure out what to do with my life now. I don’t have any answers and, frankly, I feel stuck. Four years is a long time to be stuck. Maybe it’s time for one of my big pushes. It’s been a while since I’ve made a big ol’ painful push.

Hmmm….. Damn. There goes the weekend.


  1. I have your feelings. 4 months tomorrow for me. I have no idea what is ahead. My mornings are very hard and basically few want to hear me talk about it. Even though I witinesed everything, I have a hard time believing she's gone. I couldn't fantom living without her before, now it's a reality of my life. As someone told me it is hard to move forward. Didn't understand that at first, but now I do. As we all read the various posts, we do feel and share the pain.
    Peace be with you.

  2. I just read about your trip m.d.Anderson. My wife worked there long ago. Anyways my wife passed away from the same senarro. Liver and lungs. We share of what we both went through.
    Peace be with you.

  3. I'm sorry for your pain, and glad that you have a place to express it. As important as it is for you to write your feelings, it's just as important for us to read them.
    As far as feeling stuck, I think a lot of that is in our heads. When you look at it objectively, I'm sure your life (like mine and so many others here) has moved forward in many different ways, both large and small. If you feel like it's time for a big push forward, then it probably is. Take the leap.

  4. Chris it is just as if you are inside my head thinking my thoughts. Just as you I feel stuck after 4 years, I feel like every aspect of my life has just been frozen in time and I wish so badly that I could be at the upcoming retreat for widows, to be with others like me, but being the only parent I can;t because it is too far from my home in RI. But it is so reassurence to come here to see that still I am not alone or crazy, because others feel what I feel.Thanks for being here and being so honest, it helps the rest of us!

  5. Boy - did this ever resonate with me! My partner and I had only just started our life together - living together for 7 months, planning our committment service together for 12-12-12; then last year (Good Friday) after having struggled with the flu (we thought) for a few days, he asked me to take him to emergency early in the morning as his balance was out of kilter. After admission and initial evaluation, I was taken aside and advised that there was a 50/50 chance of survival due to massive organ failure (undiagnosed blood vessel rupture in his stomach) and he was being transferred to another hospital in the city for follow up potential liver transplant. Within 1 day he lapsed into a coma, I was advised to call in family and counselled about life-support disonnect. Easter Morning I gave approval for disconnect and 10 minutes later his life ended and mine changed forwever... My sole source of comfort is the fact that I was there at the end, Ron did not die alone nor unloved...I guess that in the end that is all that any of us truly need or want. As difficult as it was (and still is) I'm fortunate in that I was able to be there for Ron... But, as you state Chris, where to from here? It is over a year now and I still am faced with a future without a future. I guess in time it will eventually unfold for me, and I can't help but think that if I let it happen, Ron will be ther to provide guidance and approval, as no doubt Maggie will do for you...


  6. Thank you for writing this. I'm at 3.5 years and feel stuck or in a backwards downspiral. And I'm tired.

    The past few weeks have brought sudden death to two of my husbands former coworkers and then Boston happened.
    My husband died while running. In a race. And I used to sit at the end waiting like all those people who were killed and hurt on Monday. It has brought back some terrible feelings and flashbacks that I haven't had before.

    'I’m doing exactly what some of my “friends” have accused me of – milking this situation or not moving on or choosing to being dramatic'

    It's really amazing what "friends" think is "supportive".

  7. Everything is different once you've seen your spouse die. There is no going back to the person you were before you suffered this. It's living with the pain. That's all. Maybe I'll feel differently many years down the road, I don't know, but right now, that's the conclusion I've come to. I can't "un-know" what it's like to go from married to alone. I can't "un-see" his lifeless body. It's always going to be hard. Many years down the road, I might seem okay from the outside, but this will still be here inside of me. I don't think that's milking it, I think that's feeling it. I don't think it's not moving on, I think it's living with it. I don't think it's dramatic, I KNOW it's dramatic. It was a dramatic loss and has dramatic consequences.
    Chris, you're braver than you know. ;-)

  8. Been there..those last weeks forever etched in my heart. I have used that same word "stuck" to describe where I am after 3+ years. My heart wants to move on and be happy and live life and love again, but I guess it's just not ready, so here I am. I view my grief as an extension of our love, and I have finally accepted it will take as long as it will take to get through it. Life goes on around me, I am so not a part of it anymore, and don't know when I will be. It is still incomprehensible that I am here without him by my side, day after day I am reminded of what was supposed to be.

    Hang in there Chris, maybe it's time to get on your bike and wake up the neighbors.

  9. . . . . because their loved one died. It is semantically obvious but simply incomprehensible.
    That expresses my feelings totally. He was always there, always strong and capable of taking care of me and everything around. How can he be gone?????

  10. persevere is a word I hold close to my comforts me to know how much I've endured (another favorite word) since my husband died...I know that our love was such a treasure. I still miss him too...eight years out...I still hold a torch...hang in there...I am so sorry your love has died.

  11. That's exactly what I said to my grief group, "I feel stuck", in so many ways... in this ongoing sadness, grief, lack of desire to go forward. I feel like I am doing something wrong when grieving these 3+ years, but I know it's gonna take as long as it takes. I view my grief as an extension of our love, and hope in time I will be able to feel complete with how it all ended, and accept that it was meant to be, out of my control.

    I am so sorry for your friends losses, it gets hard to remember when the focus day after day isn't death, doesn't it? Seems to always be in your face.

  12. You know, in a weird way it heartens me to hear that a man still carries a torch for his wife four years later. Do you ever sit and wonder whether a third glass of red wine might make it bearable? It's been two and a half years since my husband died and I am still as much in love with him as when he was standing right in front of me. Why would that change, really? It didn't change when he went off on a business trip, or when I did. Why do people suppose that love is so easy to turn off? Why would we want to?
    If I was dead, I hope that my husband would still love me. I can't believe that this is a failing. Romeo and Juliet killed themselves because they were not strong enough to live with what we do. We carry a torch. That is heroic. That is miraculous. That marks us as some of the few who have known true passion, true love. Maybe it marks us as the lucky ones. Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to live with it.

    1. Claire, you hit the nail on the head. It is as it would logically be. Now, how to live with it? By stiving to find joy in the beauty of the world, to share love with those around us, to show knidness always, and to make a difference. There is still work to be done.

  13. Yes, I'm stuck, too. But I'm okay with that. Too bad there are people in my life who are not okay with it...