In the Blink of an Eye

Five years. It has been five years to the minute of this post since I changed my status from married to widowed, from husband to widower.

karen sleeveTo be honest, some days it doesn’t seem like five years. The events unfold like they were yesterday. On other days, it seems sooooo long ago. But the reality is it has been five years of mood swings, of moving on, of holding back. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing life goes on after the death of someone with whom you intimately shared your life with for any length of time — in my case 40 years — dies. It doesn’t go on … it changes. There is a piece of you that dies as well. It’s not all gloom and doom. It’s just different. Her imprint remains throughout the house and indelibly on my heart and life. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about her … sometimes with a smile, others with a grimace when I remember where I failed and still others with a tear or two.

I don’t want to be melancholic. After all, we had 40 amazing years together. And I don’t want to dwell on the months leading up to Karen’s death. She showed amazing grace during that time. I chronicled it last year if anyone is interested in reading about it (Amazing Grace, https://wisdomfromafather.com/2012/09/27/amazing-grace/).

But there are two things I do wish to share.

First, Karen “sent” me and each of the five kids a special letter, not to be opened until after she died. In mine, she gave the following life lesson to share …

“… I know I’m leaving you with a lot of dust bunnies in the ceiling, dust on the furniture and furry little balls of dog hiding in various places on the floor. That stuff never was important to you, but it was my job and I took it seriously. The hardest thing for me through this [her illness] has been not being able to do my jobs … cleaning, cooking, laundry, office. I have felt so useless. If I get a good day I want to live it, not clean it … The days may be long but the years are short … You always told me to ‘stop and smell the roses.’ Thirty years ago I wondered where you thought I would find 30 seconds to do that; now 30 years later I wish I had … The song Celine [Dion] sang, Because You Loved Me, puts into words what I never could. It is how I always felt for you …”

Right back at you, Babe!

The other anecdote I wanted to share was an incident shortly before Karen died. To set the scene, this happened on the Tuesday night prior to her death. We had just returned from the doctor’s with the somber news there was nothing more that could be done … it was just a matter of time … maybe a few weeks. That afternoon, a hospital bed was delivered and set up in the living room — not without rearranging the room three or four times {by me} to get it just right. It was set up next to my recliner, which is nestled in the corner. My job was to make sure Karen was comfortable, got her meds and to help her get around as long as she was able.

Sometime during the night, I was roused by the sound of a crash from the bathroom and a wire basket ricocheting off the porcelain toilet and rolling around the tiled floor. I bolted to the bathroom to find Karen on the floor, covered by towels that had been stored in an old crate she had transformed which was now on top of her.

“Are you okay?” I asked, to which she relied yes before exploding in tears. “You were supposed to wake me up so I could help you to the bathroom,” I “scolded” her.

“I know,” she said, “but you looked so peaceful sleeping. I didn’t have the heart to wake you.”

As I tried to help her up, she pulled me down onto the floor. We hugged amid the towels, swapping “I love yous” and salty tears on the cold tile. We just held each other close for I really don’t know how long … seconds … minutes.

I would do anything to have those moments back.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Perhaps we never had it so good — but it never went so fast either.

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About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in Faith, family, love, marriage, Memories, relationships and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to In the Blink of an Eye

  1. Heidi Viars says:

    thank you for sharing these ever so intimate moments … a beautifully powerful reminder that some things can wait … while other things should not. … I think your post will stick with me for a while … at least that’s my prayer!

  2. charbee22 says:

    I’m sitting here at my desk in tears. This is beautiful. It definitely hit home for me – I’m a breast cancer survivor (1.5 years). When I was first diagnosed, I had images of this type of scene happening to me on a daily basis. You are so right – life happens in a blink of an eye. Karen was one lucky woman.

    • I was the lucky one. Sorry I brought you to tears, but life, indeed, does flash by in the blink of an eye so we have to savor every second — the good and the bad. Glad you’re a survivor. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. What a deeply emotional post – thank you for sharing the enormous love you had for Karen, it shines through with every word.

  4. Oh my… reading this brought back so many memories of watching my Mom die and the courage my Dad had in all of that. I was 11 at the time and have two sisters, one older, one younger. Life is never the same, it wasn’t for my Dad, he changed and adapted, but, like you said, a part of his heart was gone. Beautiful post, thank you for participating in the blog party. DAF

  5. vakunzmann says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing such a personal story. The date of your post is what caught my eye, it is my birthday. But what intrigued me was the subject matter. I am sorry for your loss.
    I look forward to reading more of your writing.
    Victoria

  6. geanieroake says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing. I think I’ll shut down the computer and go hug my husband.

  7. Pingback: We Had So Many Moments | Father Says…

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