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Last year around this time I wrote a diary for the Grieving Room on my husband's birthday. Since he died just a couple weeks after that, his birthday and death day go together in my mind.

So it's been two years now, and it seems like yesterday and yet like a long time ago. I've been thinking about what to write for this diary for some days now. The funny thing is, that having just reread my previous diary I noted most of the same ideas. It's a little more routine, two years distant, but I still try not to dwell on the loss. I know we all deal with grief differently, but I find I remember him every day, and it's often the little things.

Couples who are together for long periods of time get used to each other's quirks and preferences, decide when it's important to make your preferences known and when it doesn't really matter. Even though my husband is no longer here, I find myself still doing some things "his" way. And other things I now do "my" way. And each time I do them, no matter whose way I now use, I think of him. So it is, indeed, the little things. I will explain further below the kos squiggle.

Welcome, fellow travelers on the grief journey
and a special welcome to anyone new to The Grieving Room.
We meet every Monday evening.
Whether your loss is recent, or many years ago;
whether you've lost a person, or a pet;
or even if the person you're "mourning" is still alive,
("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time),
you can come to this diary and say whatever you need to say.
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.

You wouldn't think something as mundane as garbage bins would bring back memories. Our garbage bin system has three bins--one for trash, one for recyclables, and one for compost. Every week my husband would bring up the three cans one by one from the basement, up a flight of stairs, to put in front of the house for pickup. Then after the collection, he would move all the bins back downstairs again. They are heavy, and it was hard work. I decided to leave the bins in the porch area in front of the house instead. It is much more convenient because I can just step outside the front door to throw something in a bin, and then go down one stair to put it out for collection. But every time I throw something away I think of him, and wonder what he would think of my solution.

Then there is the washing machine. Behind the washing machine are two faucets. He always turned off the faucets after the wash was finished, and turned on the faucets to wash the clothes. After he died and I figured out how to use the washing machine (that wasn't part of my usual tasks), I continued to do the same thing. The washing machine is forty years old and when I thought there was a problem (it turned out to be a sewer problem) and had a plumber come in, he mentioned that I should be careful to watch the hoses because there was a lot of pressure coming from the water through the faucets. I told him we always turned off the faucets. He said then there wouldn't be a problem. So my husband was right.

My husband was always a stickler for checking to see that the stove was off when we left the house. I would wait impatiently in the hallway while he did his last run into the kitchen to check to see if all the burners were off. I don't do that. But one day I was in a real hurry to finish making dinner before I had an appointment somewhere and I was scurrying around the kitchen, figuring out where to put the food and whether it was too hot to put in the refrigerator. I checked my phone to see when the bus was coming, grabbed my jacket and was at the door when I thought of him and went back to check the stove. To my amazement, the stove was on, and the pot on top of the burner was empty. That might have been a disaster, so I consider that a gift from my husband.

There are still things I want to tell him or ask his advice about. The first thing I wanted to do when I heard about our State Senator Leland Yee's arrest on public corruption and trafficking charges was to tell him. He would have marveled at it as much as I did. I want to ask him how he wants the family pictures placed on the wall. It was his idea to have pictures there, but he hadn't gotten around to placing them before he died. I want to tell him how proud of myself I was when I decided to unclog the kitchen sink myself instead of using a chemical product, and went online to buy a hand tool (a drum auger) and was successful.

And then there are the items that make me think of him. The pair of shoes that he never wore that I took over. All of the Rube Goldberg type "fixes" he made in the house that I haven't the heart to change yet. Most of them involve clothespins, rubberbands, or shoelaces. I think of him when I gather my courage and throw away something that might be "useful" in the future, but I really don't need. I save more than most people, but he's the only one I know that used to use the bags from cereal boxes to carry sandwiches in. I think of him every time I get out a roll of toilet paper or a box of kleenex. He bought them on sale and stored enough so we are still using what was there two years ago. I expect we may have to get some toilet paper this year, but the waxed paper will last longer than I will, and the paper towels and soap will too.

I have no one to eat the fruit that gets soft (his favorite) so I am stuck eating it myself. I have kept the membership in the local NPR station for two years, but since I never watch TV, I think I will stop this year. And I feel guilty about it. I like to think he would be happy that I have been walking for exercise with one of my friends and gardening with the other. I'm sure he would want me to be busy and happy. But I still miss him. That's just the way it is.

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Comment Preferences

  •  everyone please share whatever you need to share (14+ / 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

    6/23   Lorikeet
    6/30   go figure
    7/7     Heavyweather (possibly?)
    7/14   OPEN

    All dates after July 14 on the schedule are OPEN.

    If you have a grief anniversary or other significant date coming up, would you like to write a diary for a particular Monday night?

    Many people have said it was cathartic, revealing, and even healing, to write about their grief process for TGR.  

    The diary can be as long or short as you want, and I will work with you on formatting and any other posting problems you might run into.

    To get on the schedule just 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 now 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.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 05:24:51 PM PDT

  •  clothespins, rubberbands or shoelaces (16+ / 0-)

    no one to eat the fruit that gets soft

    no one to re-use cereal bags for sandwiches

    no one to bring the recycling bins up the stairs

    the smallest triggers can be the most powerful, the most long-lasting


    i have been having some strange dreams this week but otherwise not doing too bad.  i've been busy and using work to avoid thinking

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

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 05:30:58 PM PDT

  •  Lorikeet, I would think every facet of (13+ / 0-)

    your life is associated with your husband-a lot of "little," but important, things as you go through your day. Sometimes I think it's those things we grieve more than how someone dies. Maybe it's because we've lost part of us, not sure if that makes sense.
    I was reading a book I've picked up and put down for 5 years but felt compelled to finish because the author just published the next story in the series. I think it's because one of the main character dies before his time. It's well written & I had such a connection-I could connect with the feelings of the characters.  
    I still haven't written in my "grief" book that I started in April, I just haven't wanted to feel the grief so intensely--I will write in it when I'm ready.

  •  Lorikeet, I was interested to read about all (8+ / 0-)

    the little things that remind you of your husband. My dad died in 1991 and there are still lots of little things that remind me of him, things I wish I could ask him, etc.

    So many books--so little time. Economic Left/Right -7.88 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -6.97

    by Louisiana 1976 on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 06:11:14 PM PDT

  •  Your diary made me miss him too. A good man. n/t (9+ / 0-)

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 06:23:15 PM PDT

  •  My dear Lorikeet, this truly connects with me. (5+ / 0-)

    From your first line,
    about the trash bins,
    I knew we had a lot in common.

    My Pam and I were married 30 years,
    and I still have the two trash cans we picked out,
    in the late seventies.

    One is bright pink,
    the other sunshine yellow.

    Rubbermaid brand.

    I still have three bookcases,
    each one 4' x 4' x 12" deep,
    made of 3/4" plywood backs,
    and 1" x 12" sides and shelves,
    all put together with screws,
    and varnished.

    I built them myself,
    sometime in the 1980's,
    when Pam and I were still young.

    I seldom cry about Pam,
    but I was in a store recently,
    and looked at some sets of dishes,
    and started crying.

    Pam like picking out
    a new set of dishes,
    from time to time,
    not so much because we needed new ones,
    but because she liked was tired of the old set.

    Coke logo with checkerboard edges,
    blue glass.

    She picked out the blue glass set
    ten days before she died.

    My parents are both dead and gone,
    of course,
    and I still have much of the two sets of dishes
    I grew up with,
    a log cabin interior scenes set,
    and a white with delicate blue flower edge set.

    My mother died in 1999,
    my father in 2001,
    and Pam died on the 11th of March,

    Little things.

    Thanks again.

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

    by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 07:38:20 PM PDT

  •  As I read your words, I found myself nodding (4+ / 0-)

    and going, "yep, yep" to myself as I went along. So much the same experience, at so close to the same point in the grief journey! I catch myself thinking about how he would have done something differently, or wonder what he'd think about something, and then I laugh at myself, and go on to the next thing. The little things, yes, indeed!

    I found this year that I had a stronger reaction to Father's Day than I have for a long time, too. I kept thinking about the fact that both my father and my husband are gone, that my husband never got to be a dad, except by way of being a step-dad to my already grown children, which is very different than having grown up with them, and how he said to me once that he thought he'd have made a good father--I thought so too. I cried, and was easily triggered to sadness and tears for a few days. I was even tempted to call my ex and express my appreciation to him for our two fine sons, though I didn't follow through on that impulse. I'll say something to him the next time I see him, instead.

    But yeah, those little things--and how the different griefs get associated together in the mind in unanticipated ways--it's an interesting and at times, definitely challenging journey, in ways you don't expect!

    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 23, 2014 at 08:30:35 PM PDT

  •  All so familiar (6+ / 0-)

    I've changed a LOT. The ironing board is just another place to put things now. I don't turn on the faucet  in the laundry room to wait until the water gets hot any more. I have new favorite restaurants in the cities we used to visit. Going on 19 months for me.

    And I travel now. I'm writing this now in New York after spending four wonderful days with newpioneer in Puerto Rico. Nine weeks for him, and I hope my visit helped. Most of the time when I ask what Jim would have thought of what I was doing I come to the conclusion he would have been appalled, I don't mind thinking that anymore.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 09:37:34 PM PDT

  •  It's the Little Things (7+ / 0-)

    What a sweet spot you have hit with this; I just had to comment.  I've been a Grieving Room reader every week since my dear wife PJ passed a year and a half ago.  I've written many thoughts and even draft diaries in response, but never actually posted.  One response I had titled just as yours. Mine was about how last year I had found some plastic spoons in a plastic bag, put away in "PJ's" kitchen.  She knew me and the kids would need them for our lunches we made to take to work or school, so she saved them up for us.  It meant so much to me  when I found them after she had passed.  And of course it had nothing to do with the spoon themselves.  It was all about the love and care and forethought I knew she was feeling when she put those spoons away, for us to use some future day. Those little things are triggers; triggers in a good way - little jewels of memories, so, so sweet.   And you triggered mine again today.  Thank you so much Lorikeet.  

    And since now I'm here, my thanks to all here at TGR, you have helped me so much.  

  •  My late sister (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorikeet, TrueBlueMajority, Kit RMP

    I miss her every day. We were two years apart in age and very close, even if sometimes in conflict. She died three and a half years ago, and this Friday, we are burying her cremated remains, along with those of her son, who died at age 37 a year ago. I am dreading this. I had not healed from her loss (if I ever will) and then her son's sudden illness and death last year made the wound all fresh again. Those little things I miss about my sister are the crazy videos she'd send me, the daily morning phone chats, a shared sense of our childhood and its pluses and minuses. And so much more.

  •  ((((((hugs))))) (4+ / 0-)

    I would imagine as you have so eliquently phrased things, that it would be the small things one would find gutwrenching.   I am notoriious for having Jack go behind me and finding the stove left on.. I really identify..  I also look at the flowers that would be reduced to weeds if something happened to him because I possess no green thumb.  I find you to be a strong ..extremely strong survivor hiding you pain very well...

    I think in loss of spouses, it would be like walking without one foot or trying to motivate with a hand tied behind the back.. They are so intertwined, emotionally, physically and spiritually with our own selves... I am not sure at all I could handle your bravery so well and all of you who have lost partners... Behind my advocacy is one vet..and that is Jack... He inspired me ..He gives me ideas and informs me of much......As far as what I do ,,,my name says it all.. Vetwife... There would not be a Vetwife without Vet, I suppose.

    Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 08:02:34 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for sharing, Lorikeet. Life partnerships (4+ / 0-)

    always leave indelible marks on us, even if the partnership is only a few years.  You honor him with your memories and preserving his influence in your life.  This may be painful sometimes, but it is also proper and good.

    If I may share a little of my history.  My mom died when I was pretty young (9yo) so my longest familial relationship was with my father.  (Grandparents weren't much part of the picture after mom died, as dad's parents were dead.)  Like many father/son relationships, especially those from broken homes, ours was often strained.  I can truthfully say I always loved the man (still do).  Very often, I did not like him.

    Yet when he passed in 2010, I felt the loss, really more deeply than I thought I would.  I was very embarrassed to break down completely when speaking at his funeral - I hadn't felt it coming, it took me by surprise.  There is much about our distant, sometimes tenuous relationship that I don't miss, but there are definitely things I do.  I trusted his voice on a good few matters, and I'd like to have him to bounce ideas off of.

    Even our companion animals can move us, despite their short spans of time in comparison to my own.  My lovely bear (dog) Merilee is going to be 12yo this October, and she is really beginning to feel her age.  Time and a fairly recent serious medical problem (lots of corrective procedures) have taken their painful toll.  I want so much for her to be with me, sustaining me as she does, but I absolutely will not willfully force her to stay in a pain-wracked body when her love of living is gone.  She still comes to me to request (nay, nearly demand) interactive play every day - this is her one communication I am sure I truly understand.  She's letting me know:  "If I can play, I want to stay."  When she tells me her joie de vivre has gone, no matter the cost to me, I will release her (weeping as I type this).

    Merry will be with me for the rest of my existence, whether I have to let her go tomorrow or years down the road.  She is in me, part of me, as I am part of her.  We are intertwined.  All deep, good, true relationships have that quality.

    The goodness of your husband, and the good things you shared, lives on in your remembrances and reminiscences.  Thank you again, and may the pain heal.

    Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

    by Jon Sitzman on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 08:11:25 AM PDT

    •  Thank you for commenting. I do believe what you (4+ / 0-)

      have said about life partnerships.

    •  tears in advance as you think about what is 2 come (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jon Sitzman, Lorikeet, Kit RMP

      but for now you still have Merry with you

      enjoy each moment and fill it with love ♥

      as for your reaction at your father's funeral, these things do happen.  no one can tell how they will react until the moment is at hand.  in my opinion it's better to do that than to try to hold it all inside.

      glad you stopped in, Jon Sitzman

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

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 12:46:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you, TrueBlue. Always good to hear from you. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TrueBlueMajority, Lorikeet, Kit RMP

        (I swear I didn't mean for that to rhyme, but Princess Bride flashbacks are rarely unwelcome.  Anybody wanna peanut?)

        Sorry for the tangent: I actually got the unlovely news yesterday morning that my left rotator cuff is about 80% torn through.  In the doctor's words, completely unembellished, it is "hanging by a thread."  We're going to try PT and rest for a month to see if the tendon can begin to re-knit itself, but with damage this bad there's not a lot of hope.  I'm probably looking at surgical repair followed by rehab.  (Ugh.)  Anyway, the doc gave me a cortisone shot in the office, and DEAR HEAVEN DOES IT HURT.  In what world is this a PAIN RELIEF shot?  I mean, I'm told it will feel a lot better once the cortisone suffuses the damaged tissues... I can only say the sooner that happens the better.

        The reason I mention it is that both my dogs were unusually affectionate last night, with Lora (the younger, much more spry and usually very flighty bear) leaping up to spend quite a bit of time curled up with me on the couch.  Specifically, she was curled up in the crook of my left arm and shoulder, right near the pain.  No one, NO ONE can tell me our children don't perceive and empathize with our hurt.  Shared genes or not, they couldn't be any more family to me than a blood relative - if I'm dead honest they're closer than most.

        Thank you again for the good words.

        Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

        by Jon Sitzman on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 01:11:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  goodness you have everything happening at once (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jon Sitzman, Lorikeet, Kit RMP

          i also believe that our companion animals have a sixth sense about our pain--when and where we need soothing.

          Merry obviously wants to comfort you.

          I've never had a cortisone shot but I have had a torn rotator cuff (probably not as bad as yours).  the rehab took a long time, so be prepared for that.  surgery at least lets you start rehabbing from a position of strength.

          {{{{{Jon Sitzman}}}}}

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

          by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 01:17:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wow, thanks. Sorry to hear you went through it. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TrueBlueMajority, Lorikeet, Kit RMP

            I used to practice martial arts in my youth, and have recently gotten back into it with a form I hadn't previously studied.  As luck would have it, this new form utilizes a good amount of large, sweeping circular blocking motions taking the arm through a nearly full range of circular motion more or less perpendicular to the body.  That, and the physical nature of practice (we are often thrown, hit and kicked with some force - we practice techniques on each other, not in the air) are the roots of this injury, I am sure.

            Thanks for the words of encouragement regarding RC surgery and recovery.  I've already had my tonsils out this year and am really NOT looking forward to another surgical procedure, but needs must, I guess.  I don't want to surrender meaningful use of my left arm (especially given I'm left handed!).

            Hugs returned!

            Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

            by Jon Sitzman on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 01:33:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Hi, Jon, thanks for sharing more of your (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      lovely, heartfelt writing with us here. I'm sorry to hear of your challenges--and Merry's. Makes me miss that darn Sasuke dog of my son's that my husband and I were taking care of, almost as much as I miss my husband. If I had the financial resources, I would get another dog, and if I were to lose my "growing-ever-dearer friend," I WOULD get one, because I couldn't make it otherwise, I don't think. In the meantime, I seem to be fated to having close relationships with cat-people, cats being critters I'm allergic to, though I like them. (In fact, I like pretty much all critters, including some of the ones that give other the heebie-jeebies, like reptiles.)

      I will wish your rotator cuff healing process goes as smoothly as possible from here on out, though doesn't seem to have been too pleasant, so far!

      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 Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 08:06:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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