Category Archives: Hard Road

The Sweetness of Memory

David – August 2011

I’m writing this on the eve of David’s birthday — he would have been 68 tomorrow — and he is still so very much missed. But in the midst of the missing, I am so frequently flooded with fond memories of our nearly forty years together, I find myself more often smiling and feeling grateful than weeping and feeling sorry for myself. Admittedly, there are a few of those moments, too.

But I am so profoundly glad we had both the opportunity to have so many adventures together and the  . . . whatever it took to grab onto them with both hands. I think about so many great times in La Rochelle . . .

La Rochelle 2014
BBQ chez Pascale et Jacky 19 juin 2014

. . . and on the Outer Banks . . .

Sunset over the Sound — Outer Banks, North Carolina – 2014

. . . and Folly Beach . . .

Sunset on Folly Beach – January 2015

. . . and Key West . . .

Sunset from Sunset Pier, Key West – 2015

. . .  and of course, Sunapee . . .

Sunrise over Lake Sunapee – 2015

. . . and so many more. None of these are possible right now, so I’m enjoying the memories and making the most of being home. I’m still taking my weekly French lessons via Skype and doing a lot of writing as part of those. Apparently I’m writing my memoirs . . . in French. 😉

Although I haven’t needed to buy gas for my car since February, I have taken a few bike rides recently, loving the cool of a summer evening, and occasionally finding something so gorgeous, I have to stop and snap a photo . . .

Evening beauty from the bike trail

. . . but I’m still very much a home-body, while this pandemic tortures so many. There just haven’t been many good reasons to go out.  The bike trail at dusk is a pretty good one, though.

Poudre River from the bike trail

Sunset from the bike trail

I remember David and I had such big plans for our new bikes and all the rides we would take together. That didn’t happen, but it is certainly something I can enjoy on my own.

Our lives are not going quite the way we had imagined they would.  I don’t think anyone would say they are. So many are suffering so many losses right now. All the anguish in the news has been so troubling, I spent an evening in the ER a few weeks ago and had to follow up with a cardiologist.  But it’s heartache, not heart disease, fortunately.

So for now I start my day with as much of God’s peace as I can soak in. Then I read as much good news as possible, and there’s more than you might think.  Of course it’s important to stay informed, and I do, but I have to try to resist the pull of the black hole of endless heartbreaking and/or infuriating news stories and videos.

I hope you are finding ways to cope as well. One of the few things I can do is offer you a bit of beauty and a few words of encouragement. Please know I hold you in my heart. There’s room for you there as well as David.

 

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.