Wednesday, July 1, 2015

So Sorry For Your Loss

Later today, I'll attend a celebration of life, a retirement party for a friend I made along the way after my husband's passing.

She, too, experienced this loss. Younger and without the secondary care giving for a parent, I saw her continue her busy life and move forward knowing the piece that was missing was being a wife as well as a mother athough she still had a son living at home as I had a daughter.

How long has it been since we've sat and talked like we did before she joined the "widow's club"?  

As she started her journey, that solo time of working through life as it is becoming while staying the same through so many changes and adjustments, we moved apart.

Time passes differently now. Measured by other ways and means. 

Trying to remember one of the last times I saw her. We've emailed a few times but haven't "come together" -- ships passing in the night, as the old saying goes.

Daughter and I went to the funeral. Funerals become more prominent in your memory when you have them close in your life even when they're not of your own family members.

We went to the cemetery. I was a little reluctant to go. It was the same cemetery where my husband was buried. 

Memories of that day, of the procession from the hearse to his final resting place. 

I'd chosen men from among his friends and people who walked with him in life: our two sons to represent our family and his continuation, his sister's youngest son to represent the family of his beginnings.

One man who went to college with him (and me) and we'd remet in a local service organization many years later. 

I'd asked a much older man we'd known through our Church and who my husband worked alongside. 

Sadly, he passed within a day or two of my husband -- unexpected but understandable as he'd lost his wife, whom we also knew, just a few months before. 

He was to be an honorary pall bearer because of his age -- in his mid nineties. I'm sure he was there in spirit.

As a second honorary pall bearer, I'd chosen a neighbor who moved into their house just months before we moved into ours and ironically his birthday was the same month and day as my husband's. 

I remember going out to dinner with him and his wife (something we did very seldom) to celebrate their mutual birthday and to ask him to be our pediatrician for the daughter we were expecting -- our late in life blessing.

One was another friend from high school -- we'd become Godparents for their youngest son. And one was a friend he'd made in high school and kept through many moves around the country both on his part and on ours.

I remember being concerned about the last man because he'd just mentioned during the time we were together he'd had recent heart problems. I walked close to him at the cemetery and asked the funeral director to please walk nearby for help if it was needed. 

Yes, many of those carrying my husband were close in age; some had health issues; he had seemed to be the healthiest of the group, actually.

I remember stopping by to visit my husband's grave so many times in the beginning. Then, I couldn't bear to visit because there was no headstone, no marker, no identity. I visit more infrequently now. 

There are changes that must be made so we both can truly rest in peace. 

Death can do more than take someone; it can cause others to act in ways that are less than honorable.

I remember going back and watching as the site went from being a "new grave" to one that began to look the same as all the rest with grass growing, leaves blowing in the wind around the headstones, snow on the ground and the flowers, real and artificial, left to mark visits of those who loved and were loved.

We bury our dead but not our memories.

Death takes a mighty toll. Even when you believe you're in control, thinking and acting reasonably and responsibly, there is a form of  "shock and awe" that surrounds you and envelopes your entire being.

Death changes so many things. Plans of people, their hopes and dreams and their wants. 

So sorry for your loss is heard so many times in the beginning and then fades away.

We who remain are within a different time and place and we learn to adjust, to see the beauty again and to live the life we have looking forward while continuing to look back.

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