Friday, March 20, 2015


It's just one of those nights.

I have 40 billion things inside my head all at once, and every single one of them has to do with his death.
I'm not upset or crying or even particularly emotional tonight. Not really. But it's just one of those nights where my brain won't shut off and I can't stop thinking ....

40 billion things.
But one thing more than the other things ...

Things like - why the hell didn't I ever ask him, or actually pay attention when he told me about the very first concert he ever went to in his life? This topic was brought up tonight with a couple friends - naming our very first concert. Mine was Culture Club. Other friends were posting their own, everything from Nirvana to Cyndi Lauper to Menudo to Van Halen. And then there was my husband - the man who lived and breathed music. The man I met in a music chat room online. The man who strummed on one of his eight guitars in our apartment, daily. The man who shared every music-related memory with me, on a very regular basis. And yet, I cannot for the life of me, remember what band he saw as his first concert. And whenever I can't remember a specific memory or fact about him, it makes me incredibly sad and makes me so desperate to remember that one thing. 

Then from there, I started thinking how there really isn't anyone I can ASK about what his first concert might have been, because I don't think anyone else but me would know. Can't ask his parents. They're dead too. Can't ask his sisters, since one of them rarely speaks to me, the other one is nowhere to be found in life, and the other one never even KNEW Don until a couple years before he died. (Yeah - major dysfunctional family. Don't ask, unless you have about 6 hours of free time and don't get confused easily.) Can't ask our kids - BECAUSE WE NEVER GOT TO HAVE ANY KIDS!!! So, there's that heartbreak reminder all over again. Oh, and I can't really ask his friends, because none of them live near me and it's late at night and calling or texting them at this hour with that question is just weird. They wouldn't know the answer anyway. I am supposed to know this. He TOLD me this, probably a thousand times. Why didn't I listen?

So many memories and stories and details - just missing and gone - because I didn't listen. And then I start to think about how many times I didn't listen. Really listen. I think about how many other things were lost and just wiped away from existence, because my husband was talking to me and I wasn't paying attention. How many times did I do that? How many times do we all do that to each other? We only half-listen to what someone we love is saying. We are too busy typing or texting to someone else or staring into space or into our phones or telling ourselves that what they are saying isn't really that important anyway, and we will be sure to listen more tomorrow. But it is important. It is important because that person chose YOU to share their boring stories with. They chose YOU to hold those stories and thoughts close, and keep them in your heart or mind. So when you don't really hear their words, you are , in a sense, throwing away their very history. You are sending the message that maybe it doesn't really matter anyway. But it does. Because sometimes tomorrow turns out to be right this very second - because tomorrow never comes at all.

I know I sound silly. But it upsets me whenever I lose another piece of him, a piece of us. It upsets me greatly when I cannot recall something that I feel like I should be able to recall. It is troubling to me that his voice now feels miles and miles away, and his essence only visits on rare occasions. I wish I could hold onto every concert, every movie, every favorite food, every phrase he used to say, every everything - collect it all and place it in a jar, where it would never be forgotten again, forever.

But it doesn't work like that. My mind, instead, does backflips, attempting to recall and visualize the fragments of our life together. My head feels like it's on fire, as it tries to bring up a specific sound or event or thing that we did. I ask someone, in a begging last-ditch effort to magically make it appear: "Do you remember? It was that place ... that thing ... that day ... you know, that place Don and I used to go to ... what was it called again?" But nobody knows. And I didn't listen.

Isn't it amazing the tiny but significant reasons we can find to hate ourselves for? The things that we beat ourselves up about? I would give just about anything - I would probably give a million dollars if I had it - to hear him telling me that story about the time he went to see his very first rock concert as a kid ........

I would sit. I would stop. And I would listen.

(By the way, thank you so much to Michele Neff Hernandez, who covered for me last Friday with her beautiful post. I was away on a mini-vacation, actually staying with a widow friend in Virginia, and the Wi-fi service in the tiny remote town was spotty at best, and at times, non-existent. Therefore, no blog post from me last week. I missed you all though, and I am back. Thanks as always for reading.)


  1. Kelley,
    I know this feeling, too well. Things Chuck spoke of often, stories I heard over and over and knew I'd never forget and now...can't remember. Since his death, I've struggled even to remember the conversations we had at his bedside and that tortures me. I beat myself up for not spending more time with him in his hospice time, trying to give everyone equal time with him and my daughter, who was there, reminds me that yes, I did spend time with him, yes, I did speak with him. Why can't I remember? I want to remember everything, which I know isn't realistic, but it makes my heart cry that every second of memory over 24 years isn't imprinted. Maybe, I suppose, what we DO remember is their essence, their spirit, their imprint on our lives and our hearts and maybe that is truly the most important part? I hope so. Wishing ease in both of our hearts, in the hearts of all who grieve the absence of the one who mattered so much~

  2. This concept of lost memories may be one reason we widows cringe when we hear, "Oh, but you have your good memories." Well, no, maybe not. And we have only part of the memory -- our beloved has the rest. There is no more opportunity to say, "Hey, honey, remember that time when we..."
    Another in the long list of heartbreaks.

  3. My husband was killed in August of 2011 so we are on a similar time line. I remember after he was killed, a few of his coworkers said they would miss the way he said "hi" when he crossed paths with them at work. I could not remember at the time how he said "hi".(Oddly that week I dreamed he called me and I heard him say hi but that is another story) There was a lot I could not remember for a long time and when the memories came back the pain was so horrible I figured my brain tried to protect me. Now my memories are hit or miss. I asked myself what was my husbands first concert and it took me a minute to remember and it was with me! I bet if he were sitting in front of you right now playing his guitar and asked you if you remember what his first concert was you would remember. Grief and trauma brain rob us of what we should remember. I hate to see you be so hard on yourself. I am sure you were listening. And lets face it, one of the things about being so close to someone is the conversations you just get to have on a daily basis as life moves along. So many conversations, it would be impossible to remember them all. I sooooo miss having those.

  4. Not silly at all. Welcome back!

  5. Yes! Great post, this drives me crazy. You know what? I can't remember what Dan's last meal was. I cooked his dinner the night before he died (and ate the same thing!) but for the life of me, can't remember what we ate. It drives me crazy. Big hugs lovely xo

  6. Kelley

    your thoughts and emotions in this post resonate so powerfully with me. early on I lost the memory of the sound of Hugh's voice - I keep hoping it will come back, along with so many other memories that feel as if grief is, at times, so punishing. I often ask myself - what would it hurt if I could still remember so many dear and cherished memories and it sometimes makes me angry that on top of the absence of his physical presence, so many things I long to hold onto are vanishing - his words, his touch, his smell, his laugh and so many things he talked about. if this is a part of that letting go thing, I AM NOT READY and I HATE it. I am so sorry for what you are going through, and so sorry for all of us who are hurting and bewildered with this totally sucky side of grief. thanks for helping me to know I am not going insane, and that we are not alone when we struggle to remember...and cannot. xo karen

  7. Wow, I so much feel like this lately. And I'm so afraid there will be more that I can't remember. I'm so afraid of losing all the memories. :(

  8. I have so many of the same guilt feelings. I wish I had paid more attention, been more present, remembered more. He used to get on me about being online all the time. Mostly I was reading, articles, and books, etc, but it didn't matter to him. He wanted me to be present with him. I guess we have to forgive ourselves for being human. So hard.

  9. My biggest disappointment about losing memories of him is this: I loved him for his sense of humor, yet I have trouble remembering the funny topical jokes he would come up with. And he said he first loved me because I caught his jokes (mostly with obscure references) and laughed at them. So I have the precious memory that we shared many jokes together (he telling them and I understanding and laughing at them). But the details now escape me.
    Yes, it is hard.

  10. Oh, Kelley, you really hit a nerve with this topic! What else can I say but "Yes"!?