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One of the hard things to accept about the loss of my husband, two years ago, now, (the
“official” date is June 7, the date my son found his body in our home, which was my house, and
where I still live) is the fact that I can never know for sure exactly when he died. (We've been able to narrow it down to somewhere around May 29, based on his Facebook activity, but that's at best an approximation. I could not have afforded to pay for an autopsy, and since it was clear it was natural causes, nothing triggered one as far as legal requirements went. The process of decomposition had proceeded far enough that I couldn't bring myself to ask for any sort of embalming; I told them to just go ahead and cremate him, so I never got to see the body. Maybe that's a good thing: I'll always remember him as alive, and not as a cold corpse, though the sad look on his face as I drove away that last time will never leave me.) I was not there, and he was alone when it happened, except for his last remaining elderly cat, (she’d actually been slowly failing for some time, was a big part of the reason my husband was not with me, and she is now gone as well) of the five he’d come to Oregon with, when he left New England, and specifically Connecticut, after the termination of his first marriage.

I noticed, over the course of the month of May, this year, a feeling of impending doom. I spoke of it to TrueBlueMajority, when I asked for this diary date, as a “death watch.” That’s how it felt to me, as though I were waiting at the bedside of a loved one who was dying, though in this case the death had already occurred. What I remember of that time leading up to his actual death, was the fear, the desperation of trying to contact him, communicate with him, with all efforts resulting in nothing, until the day my older son actually entered my house, with the key I’d given him, precisely for being able to keep tabs on things when I wasn’t there, to deal with emergencies in my absence, to find my husband’s body, slumped in his office chair, as if asleep, but obviously lifeless, and having been so for many days. I can remember saying to my son, “I thought of the worst case scenario, as a way of trying to cope with what might happen, but it wasn’t supposed to actually happen!” Or words very close to that.

It’s PTSD, of course. The experiences of the horrors of war, for those in the military who experience it, gave rise to the terminology, but “shell-shocked” soldiers (an “old” term for it, one of many that have evolved over the years) don’t own the experience, nor is war the only circumstance that gives rise to it, as I’m sure Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy survivors, among too many others, could tell you. Any earth-shakingly devastating event, as my husband’s death, in the way it occurred was, for me, can cause it. It’s a piece of why people who lived through it can tell you where they were and what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated, for example, or when the events of the infamous 9-11 took place, which irrevocably changed the lives of not just those who were immediately affected, but many who were at some distance, both physically and emotionally, from what happened.

As hard as any death of a loved one is, I can’t help but think and feel that when it happens so suddenly and shockingly as it did for me, it has its own special dimension of horror. It leaves a special mark, the way losing a child to a sudden, untimely death does for a parent. It shakes you to your deepest foundations and you are never the same again. It’s a watershed event. Life, forever after that, is measured and thought of in terms of “before” and “after” that event happened. That’s how my husband’s death is for me. A fundamental shift in the world, in how “life, the universe, and everything” is, and works. Who I am now is not the same as who I was before my husband died. I have been literally rebuilding myself and my life since then. And that
will be true until the day my own life ends.

That’s not to say that everything that happens after such an event is bad. Of course, even devastating events can open up possibilities for good things to happen, things that never could have happened if the watershed event hadn’t. There have been positive, as well as negative changes flowing out from my husband’s death. One of the biggest of those is the presence in my life, in a very different way than formerly, of the man I refer to here as my “growing ever dearer friend,” or GEDF. He was one of my husband’s best friends, and they shared the appreciation of vintage SAAB automobiles, cats and dealing with the vagaries of computers, among other things. I can’t say I knew him well, prior to my husband’s death, but he was one of my favorite of my husband’s friends, someone I always felt comfortable with. He is the one I asked to speak, at my husband’s memorial service, for the SAAB side of Andy’s life, which he did, in his own humorous, yet deeply felt, and completely inimitable way. He was someone I instinctively went to for comfort in the wake of Andy’s death, and he never let me down when I called upon him for that comfort.

I remember being a little surprised, but pleased, the first time he asked me out to dinner after Andy died. I’m not sure when I started to wonder if he was interested in me as maybe more than just giving comfort to the widow of one of his best friends, but over time it became clearer that the interest was there. We have now discovered each other as, and have grown to become very good friends in a way that would, and could never have happened if my husband hadn’t died. I cannot see this as anything but a good thing, though it has not always been easy. GEDF has emotional, and other kinds of scars of his own to contend with. I wouldn’t trade the experience of getting to know him the way I do now, though, for anything in this world.

I have felt all along that Andy’s spirit is and has been blessing this particular development in my and his friend’s lives. I can almost hear Andy saying that if he can’t be there to love and care for me in this life, he couldn’t leave me in better hands than those of his dear friend, a man who has a heart at least as big as my dear Andy’s was, an unexpected gift I cherish more than words can convey.

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We can't solve each other's problems,
but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
Unlike a private journal
here, you know: your words are read by people who
have been through their own hell.
There's no need to pretty it up or tone it down..
It just is.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    What I want to know is, who's going to pay for these crimes against humanity that those b@st@rds are perpetrating against the rest of us?

    by Kit RMP on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 05:01:17 PM PDT

  •  everyone please share whatever you need to share (9+ / 0-)

    Even if it has nothing to do with the subject of the diary.

    As always, TGR is a grieving Open Thread.

    Participating here is an act of trust between blogfriends who know each other and between people who have never met.  We send our needs, our cries for help, our poems of loss and recovery, our honest emotions, out into the blogosphere.  We trust that someone reading our words has been in a similar place and truly understands.  We trust that someone out there will offer a kind word and stand beside us as we rant and rage about the unfairness of it all. We read without judgment and offer presence, not advice.

    TGR hosting schedule
    6/2     Kit RMP
    6/9     OPEN
    6/16   TBM
    6/23   Lorikeet
    6/30   OPEN
    All dates after June 16 on the schedule are OPEN.

    If you have a grief anniversary or other significant date coming up, and would like to write a diary for a particular week, please post a comment in the diary asking for the date you want, and/or send me a kosmail, and/or send an email to TrueBlueMajority AT gmail DOT com.

    The Grieving Room is open for discussion.  What is on your mind and heart tonight?

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 05:17:56 PM PDT

  •  picking a date (10+ / 0-)

    i am curious as to whether in your mind you have picked some kind of date, or whether the entire period between May 29 and June 7 is just a zone of mystery

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 05:32:24 PM PDT

    •  It was "mystery" only in the sense that (10+ / 0-)

      I think we all knew something was wrong, we just didn't know what it was. Andy was so active on the internet, that to have no response to anyone's initiatives was a clear indication of a problem. It was just so hard to be so far away and feel so helpless to figure out what it was! In the end, the greatest comfort was knowing that it happened quickly for him, without pain or struggle, of which there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever. To have known that he'd struggled, alone there, at the end, would have been well-nigh unbearable!

      What I want to know is, who's going to pay for these crimes against humanity that those b@st@rds are perpetrating against the rest of us?

      by Kit RMP on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 06:10:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It sucks no matter how... (11+ / 0-)

        My friend's husband died suddenly, she woke up one morning and he was dead in bed beside her.  And yes, along with the grief she suffered a kind of PTSD.  My Steve was dying of cancer at the time... but insisted on going to the visitation with me.  She cried even more when she saw him..

        Steve would talk about how he wished he had died like Mark did... I would say I would rather have the time that we had together after the diagnosis.  None the less, that was not the choice either of us were given.

        It is never easy to lose a chunk of your heart.. when you lose a beloved mate.  I'm at 19 months now, over 3 years from the diagnosis date.  It still hurts.  And now folks are starting to expect that I'm "over it".. that I should be "moving on with my life"... Just irritates me to hear that.  I'm glad you have found someone ..

      •  {{{{{{{{{Kit RMP}}}}}}}}} (5+ / 0-)

        thanks for writing tonight.

        it touches me so deeply whenever you talk about your growing ever dearer friend, and what you said tonight was quite precious:

        I have felt all along that Andy’s spirit is and has been blessing this particular development in my and his friend’s lives. I can almost hear Andy saying that if he can’t be there to love and care for me in this life, he couldn’t leave me in better hands than those of his dear friend, a man who has a heart at least as big as my dear Andy’s was

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 07:38:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  my second husband commited suicide over the July (6+ / 0-)

    4th weekend of 1990-he choose to drink himself to death.I have
    never felt such a sense of cold terror in my life as I did for
    several years after,imagining how alone and angry he must
    have felt.

    Conservatism is killing this country. Jayden

    by swampyankee on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 06:33:34 PM PDT

  •  When my mother died, it was sudden (8+ / 0-)

    because it was a suicide, drug overdose. She had given many signals and my younger siblings noticed strange behavior. I wasn't living at home at the time so had no clue. It was more of a life changing event for me than losing my father this year. I've had 35 years to grieve and become my own person &  cope better with a death of someone close to me.

    Everyone experiences grief in their own way. I've never felt really emotional on the date of my mother's death or the time leading up to it, but always remember the date (june 25), and her birthday-Nov 4th-which happened to fall on the date Obama was elected. I shared with one of my sisters & she said she cried-so did I. I tend to remember events-Christmastime, for example, when my mother baked cookies is the more emotional time even after all these years.
    For my Dad, it's whenever I hear someone speaking Russian (masters in russian studies), news about golfers (yes, he was a golfer!), and when I was younger he always had to remind me how old I was on my birthday.

    Our loved ones are part of us & when they leave the earth, we carry them with us in some way, but we do move on.

    •  we carry them with us, and yet we do move on (7+ / 0-)

      certain reminders will always be triggers.  the question over the long term is what exactly is triggered by the memories.  

      after seven years of grieving my mother i am noticing that some triggers have flipped--what used to evoke aches and tears now can bring wistful feelings that hurt a lot less:  more of a "wish I could share this her", or "she would laugh if she could see this"

      my mom was also known for her Christmas cookies and fudge and those sense memories are still pretty raw

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 07:26:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think the 2nd anniversary date is almost harder (8+ / 0-)

    than the first. {{{Kit RMP}}}

    I'm glad you have someone trustworthy to be with in your life. I know how bewildering it is to be in the world and yet for everything about it be different because you are now without your beloved. It will be 4 years for me on June 24th.

    I'm glad we have each other, you and I, as we navigate this new world.

    You better brace yourselves for a whole lotta ugly comin' at you from a neverending parade of stupid. - Motormouth Maybelle, Hairspray 2007 -

    by FlamingoGrrl on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 07:04:59 PM PDT

  •  Four years for me on July 12 (5+ / 0-)

    and two near-death experiences for me in the last two months. Life is certainly interesting. And lonely. BTW, hospitals suck.

    What did in my husband was drinking; what nearly did me in was drinking, trying to numb up (bottle up?) the lost feelings. My mother is 94, quite demented, and I will never see her again because I know that trying to cope with her would push me over the edge. Back to drinking and certain death. My search for other triggers continues. Grief figures in more than a few.

    So, here I am, four yeas out, re-thinking my life and its possibilities. And the regrets, and the happiness, just little things like that.

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 12:35:51 AM PDT

  •  Fear and tears, and re-assurance. (4+ / 0-)

    That's what my wife, Tonia, and I
    have been dealing with since ten AM
    Monday morning.

    I woke up feeling worn out,
    out of breath,
    very tired.

    I got up to use the restroom,
    take a shower,
    etc.

    Tonia said,
    there is such a thing as a very mild heart attack.

    For at least two hours,
    I felt worn out,
    desperate to lay down,
    rest,
    sleep.

    I had the feeling,
    that I'm not going to live so many years.

    I slept a few more hours,
    and gradually felt better.

    I had to get up again,
    at 2 PM,
    to take Tonia to a doctor appointment,
    another one leading up to her surgery,
    on the 26th.

    In the same building is our
    immediate care clinic.

    So,
    it was a long day:
    Tonia's appointment first,
    then I checked in to the first floor clinic,
    they did an EKG,
    and blood tests.

    Everything shows normal,
    but the doctor agreed to write me a note,
    restricting my hard work at my Walmart.

    I feel that I often get sick,
    as a delayed reaction to working way too hard,
    at my Walmart workplace.

    This way,
    with the doctor's note,
    I can do what I feel is common sense:

    Don't expect the old dude
    to do what younger workers do.

    We stopped on the way back home
    for baked chickens from a grocery deli,
    and a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

    I took another nap.

    Tonia and I,
    lying in each other's arms,
    cried,
    and talked about,
    how lost she'd feel without me,
    and thinking of that made me cry,
    and I cried even harder,
    imagining me without her,
    trying to date a new woman,
    while holding down a job,
    and taking care of details of life.

    I did that for three years;
    I thought it was okay for a while,
    but I would find it much harder now.

    So,
    Tonia and I cried,
    and reassured each other,
    we are going to do what we can,
    to stay alive and well for each other.

    Famine in America by 2050: the post-peak oil American apocalypse.

    by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 02:16:52 AM PDT

  •  Last Wednesday (3+ / 0-)

    ...would've been our 8th Anniversary.

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 09:12:06 AM PDT

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