This past weekend was an emotionally charged one, with my birthday, the Homecoming Dance, my son’s 18th birthday and the 6-month mark from my husband’s passing coming in rapid succession. Although I’m in a better place to deal with this than I would have been earlier this year, it was still challenging.
I spent quite some time off and on on Saturday (my birthday) alone in my bedroom, sobs wracking my frame, yet trying to stay as quiet as possible so as not to upset my two younger children who still live at home. It was as if I were only capable of holding myself together for small periods of time before I found it necessary to empty my bucket again, this time with the full body shakes that sometimes (though more rarely these days) accompany the tears. I just missed my husband in a way I’m not even sure I had to that point.
I’m fortunate to have had some lean years (well, quite a few lean ones, actually) during our marriage. I know that might sound silly, but without them, I might not have the written reminders I do. Those years when my son’s birthday trumped my own (as in, we could only afford to buy presents for one of us, and I gladly relinquished mine for his), my husband would apologize that he couldn’t get me all the things he wanted to (and that he insisted I deserved). On those occasions, I simply let him know a simple card would be enough. And then, although the card buying was usually my responsibility, and despite his handwriting being atrocious, he would spend however long it took in whatever store we were in to pick me out the “perfect” card and fill it with even more flowery sentiments than it already held. (There were occasional years where he couldn’t decide whether to be serious or humorous or even suggestive, and I would get multiple cards, one for each feeling he was trying to convey. So, it was the full realization that I would never again get a card from him for my birthday or anniversary or Christmas filled with loving reminders which would make me tear up that made me… well… tear up.
My kids , bless them, seemed to understand this without me saying anything. That morning my younger daughter, Lady A, presented me with a card from both her and my son. The card itself was very touching, but the words they each shared inside went straight to the heart of me, each having to be stronger and more mature than they should have to be at their age. The sentiments they passed along were incredibly moving (and something every mother longs to hear, no doubt), but bittersweet just the same.
My son gave me a small necklace, a whale’s tale with my initial, and later in the day a gift arrived from my oldest – a memorial necklace with a small heart in which to keep a bit of my husband’s ashes. I added our wedding bands to the chain and its satisfying weight now hangs just above my heart. Lady A’s gift is on its way (although I don’t know what it is – my kids know that I love surprises), so she made dinner for the three of us that night before my son dressed for the dance.
We took quite a few photos before Homecoming, and his girlfriend looked lovely. Seeing them together can occasionally be a bit difficult because it brings back so many memories of A and me in our early years, but it warms my heart at the same time. She has been so good for him; although she doesn’t take any nonsense from him, she also brings him out of any dark place he may start to go.
The next evening, his 18th birthday, we visited the Orlando Eye at his request. If you’ve never heard of it, the Orlando Eye is the younger sister to the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel with standing-room pods made almost entirely of glass rather than metal bucket seats that hold just two people. Throughout one very slow full rotation, you can see a great deal of Orlando, especially I-Drive (aka International Drive, considered “Orlando’s tourism corridor” for those wishing to drain their wallets outside of the theme parks).
The sun was going down as we were going up, and by the time we reached the top and began our descent, the natural light had given way to the neon wonderland that is I-Drive at night. The wheel rotates so lazily that without the ground falling away at a snail’s pace, you would hardly notice you were moving at all. (That is, unless you share your pod with heavy-footed individuals, or very active children – which we did. These young kids were quite excited and all but ran from window to window, occasionally causing a slight rocking sensation that – had it been continuous – would have likely caused motion sickness. I don’t blame the children, and they weren’t disruptive by any means. Simply excited.)
We ended the evening with a nice dinner and a stroll around the rest of the entertainment complex, which is brimming with small shops, several chain restaurants, a couple of modest yet distinctive museums, and strangely a pharmacy, perhaps to medicate those who overindulge, over-imbibe, or simply spend too much time in an enclosed, slowly-moving glass box with a group of active little people.
Then yesterday dawned, six months after losing a great man, doting husband, loving father, and there almost seemed to be a hushed tone to the morning as I left for work. As I often do, I spoke to my husband for part of my commute and told him about our weekend, and how much we missed him. He always had such a commanding presence, even though he wanted nothing better than to merely spend time with his family, and his absence has left a great void.
That’s the yin and yang of grief, I suppose – that the more love someone gives, the more empty space he or she leaves behind when it is time to go. The loss of their love creates a vacuum that requires grief to fill it until the heart is healed.
Our hearts have been shattered, breaking open and emptying their contents, scattering the pieces that we much now collect and begin to reassemble. Grieving brings about healing, helping put our hearts back together – now perfectly imperfect with scars of love. One day, if we heal and create something new yet different, rather than becoming hardened or bitter, these hearts will be capable of again holding limitless amounts of friendship. And affection. And passion.
And I expect that as long as we keep trying to live every moment, and enjoy the ride knowing that one day we will come full circle and our time on earth will be done, we will be making the most of our journey.
© 2016 Many Faces of Cheri G All Rights Reserved