Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Ron...

Dear Ron,

It’s been three weeks. THREE! I still can’t believe you’re actually gone. You left me so quickly; why didn’t you warn me? I’m jealous that Chuck got to talk to you last (I know that’s unreasonable). I wish you had called me to tell me good night – or that I had called you. I knew that our time together was short and wondered if you knew it too. I didn’t want you to die. I didn’t want you to sign a DNR if that’s not what you wanted. I know your last few years were really tough on you, and tough on me. I know you were sorry that you put me through so much. I’m sorry I was selfish through many of your trials. I’m sorry I wasn’t more patient and understanding. Was God using you to teach me something? I hope I learned it and that is what ended your suffering. I’m so, so sorry that you went through so many things. If I had insisted they keep working on you, would it have made a difference? Or, would it have meant that you’d have been tied to a machine? Neither of us wanted that for the other. I know you would not have wanted to spend your last days hooked up to machinery. Letting go was so hard but I knew it was the best for you. You would have done the same for me.

Your last few months were the worst for you. I wish I had been able to just suck it up and continue to take care of you at home. I’m not sure how much of it was selfishness on my part and how much was really my physical and emotional limitations. I worried about you constantly when you were home alone. Were you on the floor, did you have a medical emergency, did you eat, etc. Working so far from home and not being able to reach you some days really made my entire day so stressful. I remember one time when we lived in Derby and I called you on my way home from work. I was going to Wal-Mart but you sounded so groggy on the phone that I knew I needed to go home instead. I kept hollering your name all the way and all I could hear was the TV in the background. That was the longest 15 miles ever. I found you passed out on the bed with a blood sugar of 27. I’m nearly certain that if I hadn’t called you and come home, you would have died then. I would have felt so guilty for going shopping instead of coming home first.

It’s very hard being in the “W” club. No one wants to be a member of that club. I’ve had a few other club members reach out to me for when I need to talk. So far, I’ve only taken the step to talk to one... my cousin. Her husband died suddenly about six years ago. She still misses her husband. She said everyone is different; maybe since you were sick for so long my grieving has already gone through a few stages. I don’t know. I still cry pretty easily at some memories and situations. I still miss your physical presence. I know that with all of your health issues we had discussed we didn’t have the same kind of marriage that we once had. The love was still there, but the focus was changed. We didn’t focus on the physical aspect of a relationship, but the emotional and companionship of one. Even when I was frustrated with the physical changes going on in your body, I still loved your physical presence. We could sit for hours – you sleeping (off and on) and me reading – and enjoy each other’s company.

Today, I can write all this down without getting too emotional. Yesterday, I could not have. I was pretty much worthless all day yesterday, starting the day with a roaring migraine. I am not very good at this “widow” thing. Don’t like it one bit. I bought a book on Amazon written by a widow for widows. It was pretty short and not very in-depth. One of the constant themes of the widows whose words were in this book (several “club members” were contributors to the book) was how many people just don’t know what to say, so they show up with casseroles or whatever. That’s very true... most of the people I come into contact with every day have totally avoided mentioning you or asking how I am. I think they’re afraid of the answer or the reaction. (LOL – they haven’t shown up with casseroles, either. But that’s OK – not sure what I’d do with a casserole anyway.) Three days of bereavement for you was not enough, so I took four days of vacation, too. That still wasn’t enough but I had to come back to work. The one big thing I got from the book was that I’m not crazy. I can have these emotions and be perfectly normal. I can get emotional at anything my body determines is realistic. I can also be perfectly calm at seemingly unreasonable situations. Not sure why but I’m trying to just go with it. I will grieve in my own way, at my own pace, and heal at a pace that is right for me. There’s no expiration date on grief and no time stamp on healing.

I will miss you forever. I will love you always. I cherish the memories of the really great times and my last vision of you smiling at me from your chair as I said good-night. Your smile was contagious and always showed how much love was in your heart.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursdays officially suck

It's been three weeks. Three very long weeks. I can't say I'm doing great but I am coping. There is just so much to deal with that it's very hard.

If losing Ron wasn't enough, I have to deal with the insurance problems. Medical bills that should have been taken care of months ago are still hanging over my head (thanks to Medicare ineptness, they haven't). I have borderline anxiety attacks more days than not. I'm sleeping OK thanks to nighttime pain reliever but I wake up feeling very sluggish. I'd like some real sleep that restful and restorative. Soon...

I woke up with a migraine this morning so I'm moving very slowly. I need to get around and get out the door to work. I took three days bereavement leave (all most companies offer) and then four days of vacation. I don't have any more time that I could take or I would not have gone back to work as quickly as I did. Some days are harder than others and I'm glad that I've been busy at work, but I have had some trouble concentrating some days. I'm sure it will get better and I hope it is SOON!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


It is so odd to look at my phone and not see a missed call from either Ron or the nursing home.
It is so odd to know that my evenings don’t consist of trips to the nursing home.
It is so odd to know that I won’t ever get a phone call to tell me that Ron is on the floor – again.
It is so odd to know that all the things I think I’ll tell him the next time I see him won’t be said, at least in this lifetime.

I’ve read other blogs where people have lost a loved one and everyone copes in different ways. Some scream on the outside, some scream on the inside and look calm on the outside. Some have written posts to their deceased loved ones. I’m not sure I could put my deepest thoughts and feelings to Ron out there where others could read them. I’m not sure I’m ready to even put my deepest thoughts and feelings into words for myself. The void is there and it’s big… BIG…B.I.G.

I’m not sure how I’d be doing if Ron had still been living at home with me. Very odd to know that I now belong in a club that no one really wants to be a member of…

I am slowly getting back to normal, or as near normal as I can. It’s my new normal. I still have a lot of Ron’s things at home, such as some clothes, shoes, medical equipment, personal items from when he was a boy, etc. There are those things that I will part with as I go (the medical equipment) and some things that I will never part with and will leave for my kids to deal with once I’m no longer here. Some of his shirts I'm keeping for myself, such as a long-sleeved flannel shirt and some soft cotton T-shirts that he wore a lot. (I'd like to find someone to make a memory blanket for me out of the T-shirts.) I know I need to make a true will as the one I had before was only something very simple and left everything to Ron to dispose of. His was the same.

Going to bed at night is the hardest thing to adjust to. I haven’t slept in the same place as Ron since last September and even before then, he slept in his chair in the living room and I tried to sleep in the bedroom. I was always “on guard” though in case he needed me or got up. I was always worried that he would fall and he did on several occasions. It’s odd that I don’t have to sleep with one eye open any longer.

Thursdays are rough. I find myself looking at the clock for the exact time I think he quit breathing, the exact time the nursing home called me, and the exact time that I think they quit working to save him. Will those feelings go away? The first week after the funeral, I went to the cemetery every day. I didn’t go last week. I will go this week. I’m not sure why as I know that “he” is not there. I can talk to him just as well from home (and do) as I can standing there and looking at his resting place.
I have several voice mail messages on my phone still. Some are the upbeat Ron that everyone knew and loved. Some are the so sick he could barely talk Ron that he became in that last couple of weeks. Some days were better than others. February 14 was a great message that made me laugh. I took him Chinese food and he wanted me to bring him “some of those square round things with sausage in them” and did I know what he wanted (pot stickers). He loved his Valentine’s Day flowers and I’m so glad that I sent them.  His phone call on March 3 was pitiful; they had not admitted him to the hospital but sent him back with different medication. His phone call on March 5 was almost joyous – he had been admitted and was giving me his room number. They're little things and I know that as time goes on I'll deal better with them.

For now, it's just odd.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's a blur

The funeral was, and is, a blur. I know that I walked alone behind the casket; Shaun was behind me and Keith was behind him. I know my two boys sat next to me in that order, but not who was next to Keith. I know that Amy and Rex (with Isaiah) sat behind me as I could hear Isaiah talking to and comforting his mom. The rest of my family… no clue where they sat. I was so busy trying to hold it all together that I don’t even know who all came to pay their respects. I know several of Ron’s former co-workers were there, as well as a friend from our Derby church. I saw the names of many in the guest book who I didn’t even get around to acknowledging.

The church hosted a luncheon after the graveside service and many people did not come back to the church. I’m sorry that I missed acknowledging their presence. I did manage to speak to two of Ron’s co-workers; one was so emotionally shaken up that all he could do was give me a hug. The last time we had seen him was at the services for his wife several years ago. I found out from another friend that another co-worker placed a guitar pick in the casket with Ron – just in case he needed it. I know Ron was loved by so many people and I’m so grateful that so many came to show their support.

Some people I expected to hear from, I did not. Others I did not expect to hear from, I did. Both were surprising and I appreciated all of the messages I received, and continue to receive. Some people from our Derby church, I expected to see at some point. I did not. Ron spent years with the praise team there and I was just a bit surprised that they didn’t attend the visitation or the service. Some people may not have known about Ron’s passing so I let them know. After seeing they’d read my message, and didn’t, I deleted the message thread. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. I know that many people don’t. If they want to reply to the message, they still can as it’s in their inbox but there's no problem if they don't or can't.
I reached out to someone from my past who I haven’t spoken to in years because I knew that she had held Ron in high regard. I’m so glad that I did as she replied with words that no one else could have said. She had also taken care of a spouse with Parkinson’s and dementia. She was able to care for her spouse at home until the end, whereas I was not, but we still shared common feelings of frustration, guilt, and despair. She recommended a book by Catherine Marshall, To Live Again, and I have ordered it from Amazon. She said it helped her get past the dark days and to not feel guilty for experiencing joy in her life again. I want to be able to forgive myself for where I failed Ron, even though a part of me (most of me) knows that I did my best and Ron forgave me of my shortcomings.

One of the things she wrote, that could have come straight from me, was that she cursed herself for the times she felt impatient with him, or lashed out with angry words, when she should have recognized that it was the disease process and not his spirit. The hard part was that he couldn’t help it, but should she (and I) have been stronger and kinder 100% of the time? That hit home with me and I know that I discussed it at times with Ron, asking his forgiveness when I failed him. With men like her husband and Ron, having to endure the nursing home experience and suffer the health problems they had, surely their pain was as great or greater than ours. I always dealt with the physical side of his disease processes – it was the mental side that I couldn’t wrap my brain around. Even when I no longer had the physical care of him, I still had the emotional care and the mental anguish when I couldn’t “fix” everything. He always said there was nothing to forgive as he knew it was very hard on me to deal with everything.

She also told me that the one thing that never fades is the love. We lose their presence, the pain does get better, and we find happiness in our new life without them – but we never, ever lose the love. It stays just as strong, maybe even stronger. We get to keep that love forever, and it becomes the salve to heal the wounds. Some people have a lifetime here and never know the kind of love we got to have. The love we have will transcend all time and barriers and it will last forever.

The life we had at the end was not what we would have chosen for each other, but it does hold more good memories than bad. The bad ones try to jump out and overtake the good ones. With time, I look forward to being able to focus more on the good times and the happy memories that we shared together. My past with Ron is a big part of who I am and I will carry that forward with confidence and dignity, never relinquishing it – only building upon it.