My older daughter emotionally posted Monday, “Lord, get me through Wednesday and I will be okay for another year.” My younger daughter responded, “I’m with you sis.” My three boys are unusually quiet. I continue to cope.
I’ve been through the details before. If you’re interested, just page back to this date over the past five years. The details are the details. More important are the memories … and there many, well over 40 years worth. Karen touched her family in so many ways.
While I’ve navigated — and continue to navigate — through the stages of grief, I haven’t lost sight of the fact our future was cut short. As I’ve said before, this was supposed to be OUR time. As countless widows and widowers following long relationships can attest, there is a hole in your heart. It closes over the years, but you still wear the scar.
I try to keep a positive attitude and project it to the family. They see right through it. I try to support them as they journey through the grief process, but each one approaches this day with a flood of emotions. I tell them to dwell on the memories — they can never be taken away from you — and not the loss. I wish I could salve their hurt, but, unfortunately, the best I can come up with is death is a real part of life.
Karen wrote each of us a personal “goodbye” letter. In her letter to me she wanted me to make sure each of our children knew, though she made a lot of mistakes along the way, she did her best and above all, she loved them with all her heart and soul … unconditionally. Take that to the bank!
To be honest, some days it doesn’t seem like nine years. The events unfold like they were yesterday. On other days, it seems sooooo long ago. But the reality is it has been nine 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. Karen’s imprint remains 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.
Yes, I certainly miss her. But even more, it saddens me she never got the chance to meet three of her grandchildren or her two great-granddaughters. Even as I move forward, there is a twinge of sadness Karen isn’t sharing those adventures.
There is a Funky Winkerbean cartoon that pretty well sums it up. I look at it — tattered and torn as it is — every day. Les Moore lost his wife to cancer and he is driving with his daughter Summer. She asks, “Dad … Do you still miss Mom?”
I still treasure my last letter from my wife and am awed by the wisdom and grace she displayed. “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 …”
We always kidded each other. I would say “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone” and she would respond, “No, no, no. You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.”
Once again, she was right.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: A quitter never wins and a winner never quits. — Napoleon Hill