Monday, March 23, 2015

Someone's Missing

Stan and me, at his daughter's wedding,  October, 2011

Saturday,  I attended a family 'do'--a term used in England to denote a celebration, or important event. This was a 40th birthday party for one of Stan's nieces, held at a Greek restaurant, with over 60 people, most of them relatives of Stan's. Two of his sisters were there, as were two of his children. The room was filled with conversation and laughter, food and drink, love and joy. The only thing missing was him.

 Because Stan had a large family, and a host of friends, we were often invited to these 'dos', when we were together--a friend's 50th birthday, a sister's 60th, a son or daughter's 40th, a grandchild's 16th--wedding anniversaries, retirement parties, Christmas parties, and, always, gatherings to ring in the new year. We usually arrived early and, more often than not, we stayed late. Stan insisted that we be there, at each of them, to join in celebration with the people he loved, to show them, with his presence, how much they meant to him.

I have attended several of these 'dos' since my husband's death, and I can't say they are getting any easier. I enjoy being with the people who knew and loved him, and I appreciate their warmth toward me and their welcoming me into their fold. But, for me, these gatherings are bittersweet. We mark the important dates of our lives, and the passage of time, and he is not here to share in them. I sit in the midst of the people he loved, and I ache for him to be by my side, celebrating, too. His absence is so glaringly obvious. There is a hole in the room that only he could fill.

Saturday, his children and his sisters and I brought Stan to the family do through sharing our memories of him. We spoke his name. We acknowledged his absence and mourned his passing. We talked about who he was as a child and how he was as a father. We made a place for him, there.

Perhaps, one day, I will be able to attend a social gathering without the constant reminder of his absence, but not now. It still feels so new. I carry him with me, wherever I go, and I can only be a part of these events if I can share my memories, express my sorrow, and thus make his presence known.

I don't mean to bring sadness to what should be a joyous celebration, but I can't attend it without him. To leave him outside the room and outside of the conversation feels disrespectful. I can't erase him from it. He belongs there, with me--with all of us. And I won't hide him away in the back of my head.

Monday, the day of this post, is my 58th birthday. I won't be celebrating, much. I will be working, all day, and I will be remembering him. I will remember my first birthday, with him, when he bought me a prayer rug and gave me a beautiful card. Or the second birthday I spent, with him, when we shared a nice meal at one of his favourite pubs. Or last year, our last one together, when we spent a quiet night on our own. It didn't matter, what we did. Only that we did it together.

And I will allow myself to be sad, to feel the loss, to notice the hole in the room that only he would be able to fill.

It is another big day, and someone's missing.

I'll light a candle to his memory.

 I will speak his name.


  1. I understand. Evelyn was the social one, and I tagged along. Going to gatherings after her death was so uncomfortable because they were mostly made up of her friends. All I had to talk about was Ev, and that was awkward. It did get better in time. Today, be kind to you.

    1. thanks, Mark, it was a good day, lots of people came round and sent cards and stuff.

  2. I, too, understand. I recently retired and, while quite happy about that fact, I found myself tearing up on that last day of work because Vern wasn't here with me to enjoy it. Yes, "another big day and someone's missing". We do what we must to get through them and I'm happy that you were able to make a place for Stan at the family 'do'. Warm birthday wishes sent to you, Tricia, from across the pond.

  3. dear Tricia, I find it so ironic that during the very worst time in our lives when we are mourning and in such pain with having lost the love of our lives, indeed, lost OUR lives in so many ways - we ask for so little to give us comfort, and no one hears us. say his/her name, share a memory, and when tears well up, just extend a warm hand and say "I am sorry". I am so glad that you and the others brought Stan to the "do", and together shared memories of him.

    today, on your birthday, I will say his name, I will recall so many of the wonderful stories you have told about your Stan and what a very special person he was, and about how you made each other so happy. and I will send you warm and gentle Birthday hugs...

    ...with love,

    Karen xx

    1. thank you for your post and for remembering Stan.

  4. I too understand. You are fortunate that Stan's family likes to remember him...mine likes to ignore the fact that he is no longer here. Date of death and his birthday come around every year, and no mention of it, I remember the dates on my own now, 5 years later. makes it really hard to attend family gatherings, I usually make excuses not to go anymore, as I get so tired of trying to fit in and put on that happy face. I don't understand their lack of wanting to recall him in their and my lives, are they trying to protect me by not talking about him? Confusing, and sad.

    I so understand not wanting to celebrate birthdays, mine is coming, I will pass my husband in years on this earth. Not something to celebrate, but trying to embrace what is. Thinking of you today, lighting a candle also.

    1. Dear Cathy,
      I am sorry that your husband's family just shut his memory away. It is so painful to be around that and I understand why you had to quit being a party to it. I guess they think it will be easier for everyone, but it's not. It makes it harder.

  5. Someone is missing. I still feel this, although not as acutely, and it's been almost seven years. There are events, weddings for one, where it feels impossible to be there without Vic. I try to celebrate to honor others. Fortunately, with my sons and daughter-in-law, my husband and our mutual loss isn't forgotten. We speak of him and often have rituals of remembrance. We had a "five year" ritual two days before my son's wedding with prayers, stories, candles, and flowers. Then we could celebrate with the wound partly bandaged by the gift of loving friends and a beautiful new family member.