Category Archives: Hard Road

Quick Update

Since I mentioned I was tested for COVID-19 last Friday, I thought I should let you know my results came in this morning and were negative. Woohoo!  Also, I’m beginning to feel much better than I did last week, so will not trouble the doctor with my now minor symptoms.

Here’s a little beauty and serenity to help soothe your possibly frazzled nerves:

Ile de Ré, France
Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire
Lake Sunapee Dawn

And one more:

Full Moon Rising Over Lake Sunapee

All photos from previous years’ posts, since I’m still housebound, but hope you enjoy them anyway.

Still praying health and peace for all of you!

Ebb and Flow

I started this weeks ago and never posted it, but since it is honest and true, even though I’m doing better now, here it is:

(Written April 4): I haven’t wanted to write this. I sort of wanted to pretend I was still at Folk School leaving the grief rock among the daffodils, as if I’m now skipping into the sunrise, but that’s not really how things have been going since I got back.

I was okay for a while. A friend hosted a fabulous French cooking evening that was a super fun group effort as well as delicious…

. . . where I won this . . .

Julia Child Prize for “#1 Best attitude about mistakes or messes

. . . which I would not have won without an epic fail in the kitchen during my part, let’s be honest. But it’s true, we did all cope and laugh about it, and I ended up with a cute new apron.

And yes, I did paint the little 4 x 6 I mentioned in the comments on the last post, and I still like it, especially framed:

In the knowledge that creative things seem helpful to my general well-being, I even finished a piano composition that’s not bad. Admittedly, George Lopez, a music professor at Bowdoin College and a traveling concert pianist who offers lessons when he’s in town every few months, was not impressed. Oh well. I worked on it a bit after that lesson, and my friends have said kind things. And I guess most important, I like it and I feel a sense of accomplishment having done it, so there’s that.

Yesterday, I spent four hours at an art workshop with kind people and a patient, encouraging teacher. Here’s one I started there and finished (maybe) at home last night:

Still, it was hard driving home from that workshop on a glorious Sunday afternoon, knowing David and I, on such an afternoon, would probably have headed straight to the Rio patio for margaritas, but I was headed home alone. All my closest friends happened to be out of town, so I couldn’t even show up looking pitiful on one or the other of their doorsteps. Surely you don’t want to read about me feeling hopeless, but there it is. It seems right to be honest.

Today, April 27: Here I am a few weeks later, and I’m doing better again. I’m recently back from a quick Easter weekend trip out to Portland with my three daughters, which involved only minimal weeping, but I’d better save that for the next post.

I guess this grief journey is still about ebb and flow, even if the grief waves crash over me less frequently and are less likely to knock me off my feet. Thanks be to God, my rock among the shifting sands, and thanks also to you, my dear ones, who hold me and many others in your hearts. I know I’m not the only one walking this rugged shore.

 

Going . . .

I was originally planning to call this post “Going Solo” but then I realized that wouldn’t really be true. It turns out so far my life has not been that solo. Yes, I miss David like crazy and I’m alone much of the time, but I’m in regular contact with family and many friends.

Brittany, Courtney, and Chelsea at cousin Amy’s wedding this past August — As you can probably tell, it was a classy affair!

I also have my various clubs–book club, piano, French–although I’m not quite ready to get back into the full swing of those yet. I’m scheduled to start a three-week “newly bereaved” group on Tuesday and some individual grief counseling on Wednesday. I get six free sessions of counseling if I want them. It’s all part of David’s hospice care. It wouldn’t surprise David at all, but does me a bit, that one of my most pressing desires is to know “how to do this,” as if there were a manual I should be following. David always teased me about wanting a gold star all the time, and it’s true I was a very good student and got used to following instructions and being rewarded for it. Since I don’t have the energy right now to fight my basic nature, I went to the library, checked out a stack of books, ordered a few others online, and have been reading like mad. And it has actually helped. Apparently everything I’m feeling and doing, like sometimes speaking to him as if he were still in the room, is well within the range of standard grieving. I know I don’t need permission for how I handle this, but it’s nice to have it anyway. Courtney sent me this quote the other day:

We must do what we need to do. Those who disapprove will either come around or stop coming around. Either way, lovely.  Glennon Doyle Melton

I hate to dispel the image that I’m super strong and always cheerful and grateful, as my daughters seem to believe me to be. The fact is, sometimes I am. But sometimes I’m not. When I opened WordPress to write this post I found the beginning of a post I had written on the 6th of January, but never completed. Since the 7th was the hardest day I’ve had so far, I understand how this one slipped away from me. But I find it interesting to read what I was processing at that time. I have to say, nearly a month later, it’s still true:

It turns out grief requires staying in the present moment as much or more than living with and taking care of a loved one with a terminal diagnosis. I have to keep saying to myself, “Are you okay right this minute? Yes? Okay, then.” If I start thinking about anything but right now, I’m instantly a hot mess. Even sorting through a pack of coupons for local businesses has landmines — a simple offer for a favorite place we used to go provides a surprisingly sharp stab. But right this second, I’m okay.

Since the 3rd of January was my first evening completely alone, it was certainly a very fresh pain at that time. Which brings me back to NOT “going solo.” The celebration of David’s life and the reception directly afterward here at our home could not have gone as well as they both did without so many dear ones giving so generously of their time, talents, and even freezer space.

Once again, I find myself so grateful for so many. The flowers alone were absolutely stunning and a few are still hanging on and bringing me joy more than two weeks later.

I even love that this one ornamental branch (bottom left photo) has actually sprouted new leaves. How’s that for a metaphor? I will be okay, and it is in part thanks to you dear ones.

One example: At the last minute on the day of the celebration of David’s life, I realized I had no flowers at the house, something I rarely let happen in any case–I love fresh flowers–but it was definitely NOT what I had intended when I was about to host 250-300 people. All the beautiful bouquets that had arrived shortly after David died had finally needed to be tossed. But all the new ones arriving were at the church. Courtney mentioned to a cousin that I was a little stressed out, since I now had that on my list to accomplish along with everything else on the 19th, and this cousin instantly said, “I’m on it.” Within an hour, three absolutely stunning arrangements arrived and could not have been more perfect. Thank you, Maren! Of course, I didn’t manage to photograph them in their initial perfection, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but parts of all the bouquets are STILL beautiful and I am so very grateful.

Still beautiful a week later!

Then the bouquet above became a lovely arrangement of greenery. And even after the greenery has to be tossed, I’ll remember the kindness of those who sent these.

So, no, I’m not going solo. I’m simply going on.

 

All Roads Lead . . . Here

Back in the office, feeling pretty good!
Back in the office, feeling pretty good!

Since the end of August, when we learned that David has stage IV pancreatic cancer, we have been sustained by an outpouring of love and support. We’ve received so many cards, emails, texts, as well as wonderful life-giving comments on his Caring Bridge site www.caringbridge.org/visit/davidbridge. Be sure to check it periodically if you’d like updates on how he’s doing. I try to update it at least once per round of chemo.

We’ve also received LOTS of visits, and this seems a better place than CaringBridge to share about that. I know there are some who would like to visit, but are staying away out of sensitivity to David. It is unfortunately true that even simple conversation can be exhausting. Anything over 30-40 minutes can begin to tax his strength, so thank you for being considerate about that.

But of course our daughters visit as often as they can . . . ↓

David and Courtney, Thanksgiving
David and Courtney, Thanksgiving
David and Brittany, 30 September
David and Brittany, 30 September
Chelsea and David, 4 November
Chelsea and David, 4 November

And David’s brother Doug has been a regular  . . . ↓

David and Doug, September
David and Doug, September
I actually managed to get in a photo! Doug snapped this one.
I actually managed to get in a photo! Doug snapped this one.

Fortunately, they do much of the laundry, vacuuming, even grocery shopping, to spare us extra work.

Helen, Thanksgiving 2016
Helen, Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving weekend, we were able to host the aforementioned regulars, along with David’s brother Eb and his mom, Helen, who pretty much NEVER lets anyone take her picture, so ENJOY this one! Looking pretty great for 89 years old, don’t you think?

Thanks to kind friends, we had enough Aerobeds to go around, tucked into random spaces, and had a really great time. David was given an extra week off from chemo, so was doing quite well for the most part. When he occasionally ran out of steam, he went to the bedroom for a bit of quiet or a power nap. We are so very thankful for how well it all worked out.

David DONE having his picture taken!
David DONE having his picture taken!

What a journey this has already been, now roughly three and a half months in. David is feeling much better now than he was at the beginning, so the chemo so far is working, and the side effects have not been much more than cold sensitivity, fatigue and loss of appetite. The original “11-month average” life-span estimate now seems unnecessarily pessimistic, but we know the future remains uncertain. I find myself on an emotional roller coaster way more often than I’d like, and David has got to be tired of seeing me bursting into tears at random moments, sometimes only seconds after laughing together about something. Sheesh.

But when those emotional times come, we remind each other of all our blessings, and they are MANY. sunrise-10-21-2016

Super-moon
Super-moon, 14 November

Each new sunrise brings one more day to enjoy with each other. We had never before experienced this profound gratitude just for waking up feeling pretty good and being together. And as the moon shines down on us after another good day, we remember all of you who have taken time out of your day to reach out with a note or a text or a meal or flowers or a home-maintenance task completed or an encouraging comment after a blog post, and we are very grateful indeed.

Doug left this on our magnetic poetry board after one of his visits:

yesterday, as then

you, my friend, sing of eternity

needing no voice

&

devouring our languid winter away

He never said a word about it, but what a beautiful image to discover during the quiet of a lull between house-guests. What would we do without all of you, our dearly beloved? You are the hands and arms and feet of God in our lives. Thank you.