Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tears Amongst Happiness ......


...... is what I've experienced this week.
Yes, this is the time of year when I usually experience my annual "death march".  The time that my body marks, better than any earthly calendar.  The days leading up to Jim's unexpected death on December 18, 2007.

This has been a good year.  In many ways.
And yet, it seems unbelievable that I am coming up on 6 years.

It seems even more unbelievable that I'm not experiencing the usual depression and hatred of all thing Christmas-related.

But that doesn't mean that there haven't been tears.

The other night I was writing to a friend, telling her how happy I was that she was able to be traveling all over the world with her husband right now, with her kids in college.  As I started to write those words, the tears began to flow.  And I admitted to her that I am envious.
Envious because that is what I should be doing right now, with Jim.
But I'm not.

I'm still able to be happy for her, and to smile through the tears.

Tonight, I took my mom to see Billy Crystal's one-man show, entitled "700 Sunday's".
I had no idea what the title meant, I only knew that it was about his life.
And that he's incredibly talented.
And that I truly enjoy him.

But ...... here's what I found out:  "700 Sundays" refers to how many Sundays he estimates that he had (his favorite family day of the week) with his dad ...... before he died when Billy was 15.

He had a great childhood, to say the least, until his father died.
In the show, he talks about the night his father died, and how his mother came home to tell him about it, when he was in bed, asleep.

And as he talked about this point in his life, time seemed to swirl around me ...... and then it took me back to the wee hours of December 18th, 2007.
The night I climbed into bed with my 15 year old (and then my 13 year old) ...... and had to tell him that, in spite of what I had been told, what I had believed, what I had told him ...... his dad had died.

The tears would not stop flowing.  He talked about how his father's death affected his life, emotionally, physically and financially.  And suddenly, I could see December 18, 2007 ...... and its aftermath ...... through the eyes of my 15 year old.

I wish I could have seen it that way then ...... but I could not.  And, truth be told, if it were to happen all over again, I believe I'd react the same way.  I lost my husband, my first love, my best friend, my protector, my supporter, my cheerleader, my moral compass, the father of my children ...... my future, in one unexpected moment.
I doubt that I'd react any differently now, though I wish I could've.
It was what it was.

So tonight I laughed.  And laughed and laughed and laughed.
And I cried, and cried and cried.
It was a great show.  It was very moving and very emotional, which I did not expect.

Two years ago, this show would've done me in.
I would've been depressed for weeks.

But tonight ...... tonight I can see it for what it was.  A true story, with many, many laughs over happy memories.
A true story with many, many tears ...... because that's what life is.
Tears amongst happiness.

It used to be smiles amongst sadness ...... but that's changed.
I'm mostly happy.
Tears still come, as they have this week ...... and as I'm sure they will continue to come at this time of year.
But I am happy.  And I know that the tears will not come in waves that will pull me under.
Like they used to.

Everyone has happy memories.
And everyone has sad memories.
Which makes me ...... normal.

I thank God for normal.


  1. Thank you Janine for your post today. Yesterday it was 20 months since my husband passed away suddenly from an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism at age 52. Our two daughters were then 19 & 15. We had to tell the 15 year old that had here dad had died in her school principal's office. Almost a year and a half later, they both are doing well in school and keeping busy with activities, but I cry some nights because it's not fair that they lost their dad. I find myself trying to keep things the same as they were, but they will never be the same. I'm so glad I found this website because reading these daily posts give me hope for the future.

  2. "Smiles amongst sadness" seems to be where Im at right now, two and a half years into this. I feel joy, and I couldnt feel that just months ago, so I know Im healing. I feel it. But sometimes it is in such slow motion, it drives me insane. And the waves of grief still pull me down, they still come often - although less often than 5 months ago, or a year ago. Less often. But man, when they hit, they destroy me and they always catch me off guard. I really hate that. And I hate the anxiety churning inside me as it leads up to Christmas ......

  3. Thank you. My oldest was a month shy of 7 when my husband died. We are three months into it, and he has really started to act up, and I keep trying to put myself in his shoes. And it just breaks my heart, because my father has helped me so much throughout my life and through losing my husband. And to think that my children have lost that stabilizing force in their life...thank you for sharing this. (And I will be sure to never watch that movie...because when I go under it takes me forever to come back up.)

    1. Tara I am so sorry to hear about your husband, but so glad you found this site. I lost my fiancé 18 months ago today, but I also lost my mother when I was nine, to breast cancer, so I know too well a bit about the world your son is in.

      I can tell you from my experience… my dad never talked about her. When she died, it was as if she had never existed. The first 2 years were extremely hard on me, I was very depressed and barely passed in school. I was constantly scared about my dad dying, and what would happen to me if he did. I can't say what every kid wants, but what would have helped me is if someone just asked me how I was feeling, and listened. I felt very alone.

      He'll be okay. It will certainly influence who he is and his entire life going forward, but in positive ways, not just negative. My mom's death turned out to be one of the most significant things in shaping me to be the person I am today (a person I am quite proud to be). And in that way she is still very much guiding me and helping me through life.

      Sending you all my love over the holidays friend.

  4. What a beautiful SHARE...thank you. I love Billy crystal...wish I saw his show.
    Sorry for your pain, but happy you are healing.

  5. I loved this post. It is a year and a half for me today. And it gives me so much hope to hear from those who are a bit further out. I also lost my mother when I was nine, and so I can relate to what you shared about Billy Crystal's experience too (i never knew he lost his father so young). Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Sara Treanor...Beautiful thoughts...yes, be proud...your mom is, too.😊