how did i get here?

my husband, my beautiful Dragon, died suddenly at 12:03 AM on 9 February 2009. there was a cold, lovely full moon and 3 feet of snow on the ground. i "slept" for the following 10 months and "woke" to the physical and emotional pain and torments of deep grief. i "woke" to find i had moved the day of his funeral and that i am lost. i am looking for me while i figure out the abstract, unanswerable questions that follow behind any death. my art has evolved. his death changed that as well because i am forever changed and will forever bear the mark of losing the only man i can ever love.
there is alive and there is dead and there is a place in between. i am here wholly in my heart for my children, but i feel empty inside at this time. i miss him. i have not gotten very far in my grief journey. i make no apologies for this.
this is my place, my blog, where i write to tell the universe that i am still here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What the Dragon Sees - Grief as Prose

This post is to mark the two and a half month passage of time since my husband's untimely death. It is for me. It is for anyone who has suffered a devastating loss. Laments are meant to be shared if for no other reason that for the desire of the sufferer to be heard. I feel old tonight. I feel the loss of him so deep around me that writing was all I could do. If the knowledge that I am hurting shows someone else that they are not alone out in the darkness of sorrow, then this public expose of pain was worth it.

Tomorrow my wit should return. But tonight, ah, tonight is for remembrance.

I love (loved) my husband. I hear other widows speak of having loved their husbands. They speak in the past tense though they do say they still carry that love but in a passive form. Passive is my word. They have told me that after a while my love will feel less intense than it did when he was alive and walked into a room. Is that true? Does love go through a transition after the one who is loved dies? Will I love him less actively? At this moment, tonight, a sticky, hot Friday night when I am alone with my shattered dreams and derailed life, I cannot imagine loving him in any different form than what I do at this moment.

I love him per Elizabeth Barrett Browning's criteria.

"Unless you can die when the dream is past —
Oh, never call it loving!"

I love him per William Shakespeare's criteria

"Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved."

I love him per Aristotle -

"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies."

I love my husband. He had the gift of knowing what I was thinking, and I was able to see inside him. We fit. Physically, we fit. His hand in mine. Toe to toe. We fit. Our natures complimented each other. His sense of adventure pulled me out of my shell because I wanted to be wtih him so much, be in his presence, follow his lead, and go see what he saw. My quiet study of him allowed me to gently free him from the horrors of war that he kept suppressed. All I had to do was hold out my hands and ask him to give them to me for safe-keeping. And I have.

He is a dragon disguised as a Marine, disguised as a man. He is no less those things because he has died. He is still a Marine. He is still a dragon. He always will be. Legends grow with the telling and retelling of stories that are true.

I love him. This is my poem to him. I wrote it to him while we were still dating, while he was coaxing me out of the shadows where my soul lived for a great many years.

fill your eyes with what you believe you see.
love so blind should be treated with care.
i will not hide in shadows dark
but boldly approach strong hands scarred
in battles with evil men,
and beg them to touch me.
close your eyes that reality does not crowd too close
and let this woman,
humbled by your attention,
give you her love plus all she owns:
her words.
let her give you her thoughts
that come from a tattered heart
that has been laid before a Dragon
blinded by what he believes he sees.

He saw into my soul and I saw into his. He liked himself better than I ever did me, but he managed to show me the me he saw. I knew him better than he knew himself and I showed him the monster he thought he was, was a weary soldier whose name was hero.

Good night to all who weep.
Good night to all who cry.
Close your eyes and try to sleep.
Give up to the angels all your sighs.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Unanswerable Questions

it is a beautiful day here where i live.  the only drawback is there is no ocean near.  i can't walk to the water's edge like i did when my husband was alive.  i find that i'm going a little crazy with the feel of the breeze off the water.  i miss the sand and searching for shells and sand dollars.  i have not enough to look at here in this city.  i guess i could try to photograph the architecture and the lovely trees in bloom but, there is too much city here for me.  yet i've no where else to go right now.

i think when i can financially, i might go visit Tybee Island, consider moving there.  it will be halfway between my children.  i will be beside the ocean.  the drawback is that i will be completely alone.  i don't know a soul there.  i'm rambling.  i want what i cannot have.  i want my husband back.  i want to be in his orbit, included in his excitement for life, surrounded by his sense of adventure.  i want to feel whole again.

i want to know if he still loves me.  i want reassurance that he is able to still think about me without causing any great sorrow.  in Heaven there isn't supposed to be any sorrow.  i don't want him to hurt, but i would like to know if Heaven allows him to still care about me as more than just a child of God.  i want him to still love me as a husband loves his wife, as we loved each other in his life. 

do you ever think of me?
do you wish you knew,
if i was tired or happy or
if i was sad or blue?

do you wonder where i am?
do you wonder who i see?
if i tell you how i worry now
could you send a sign to me?

do you ever ask "what if?"
do you ever want to cry?
if i ever get to Heaven
will i see you or was that our last good bye?

do you ever think of me?
do you say my name?
if i were never there again,
would you "never be the same?"

on this absolutely beautiful day, i am absolutely miserable.  i miss my husband more, not less as time wears on.  i have my okay days but they are not good ones.  and i have my bad, really bad moments.  and they are every day.  my life has fallen down around me and i have sat down to pick up the pieces.  i guess it took an absolutely beautiful day to shine enough light for me to see that not all the pieces are here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Apologies to William Cowper

My most heartfelt apologies to William Cowper.  I had memorized the entire poem, "The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk" for eighth grade and it has never left my mind.  I admit my insomnia got the better of me late, very late, okay, really late last night and I had had two glasses of wine with some cheese and crackers.  Not in the cool European style.  I was eating Wheat Thins and that sharp cheddar you spray from a can.  And I was lit, not Hollywood lit where a sorrowful woman can look hauntingly beautiful.  I was lit by the harsh glow of my computer screen.  And the only haunting was my sadness that pounded at me with the choppy waves of an incoming storm.

So I wrote.  I worked on my book which has been so very cathartic.  It's a violent, cruel book and I'm sending everyone in it, with the exception of two people, to Hell.  But even that didn't touch my anguish.  So I started taking W. Cowper's beautiful poem and I changed it.  It became my lament at 3:30 AM - boy that really was late, or early, my mind is off center.  The only reason I'm awake now is the woman who wants three  -   count'em 3  =o)   - quilts is coming over at 10 this morning to discuss design.  The way I feel right now, it will be a crazy quilt.  I need a shower and some hot tea.

But here is my lamet of last night offered up to the world to view.  Again, Mr. Cowper, I am so sorry of altering so much of your beautiful poem.  There are a few lines that remain but most of it is unrecognizable.

*takes a brief bow*

"The Late Night Ravings of womanNshadows

by womanNshadows with credit given to William Cowper and Sutter Home White Zinfandel

I am monarch of all I survey;
Though my reign can come under dispute;
If I don’t come up with my rent money soon
My dire situation could become acute.
At this moment the worry is moot.
O Solitude! I see none of your charms
That sages have seen in thy face.
I wish I felt none of the pain that I feel,
And my husband could come live in this place.

I am within humanity's reach;
But I spend so much time alone;
Never again to hear his voice again
As I try to ignore my own;
My two little dogs roam around me here but
It’s his form that they’d like to see —
They miss him as much as I do and so
Sadness is shared between three.

Longing, crying, and living alone
I oft times beg the dear Lord above,
Please let me have him for just one more day
And we’ll crowd in a lifetime of love.
But my pleas fall back down around me and
My heart falls back down in the abyss.
I’m not living in a Mitch Albom book,
So I have to write my own ending to this.

His love was a love that was the stuff of dreams,
That he was mine was a mystery;
But because of some weird twist of fate
Some deity gave him to me.
No one could believe the two of us
The reclusive artist and the gregarious Marine
But let me give you some insight to us,
He was my dragon fierce and he treated me like his queen.

He took care of me and brought me out of my shell,
From shadows that I’d lived in for years,
He taught me how to stand up for myself and to laugh
But now the laughter has turned to tears.
Angels stole into our room one night and stole his life from me.
Stole is the operative word for those thieves took my world from me.
I sat beside his body so still in a sterile room so white
And I asked them, “Why?   Why take him?
You didn’t even give him a chance to fight.”

There was no answer for there is none to be found
That can explain why they took him from me.
So here I sit in the darkness again with such sadness to bear,
For a soul mate I can no longer touch or see.
There's should be mercy in every place;
But mercy—for the grief-stricken me, I think not—
My heart can find no solace these days so
I must reconcile myself to my lot.

I know I could have gone on and on, wine and spray cheese have that effect on me.  But I think by the end there I could no longer see the computer screen for the tears.  It was like trying to drive through a rainstorm with really bad windshield wipers.  Like it used to say, (oh, Lord, has another technology bitten the dust - videocassettes?  I still have videocassettes.  Course I also still have a handful of old 8-tracks.) but it used to say "Please be kind.  Please rewind."  If you leave a comment, think of this.  "When you review.  Consider the view.  Wine, spray cheese, and 8th grade poetry recitations might not mix."

*takes an embarrassed bow*

*gets up and walks away from the screen*

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cries Unheard

it's Tuesday.  it will be Tuesday again in seven days.  and seven days after that.  i'm sewing on a girl's skirt i picked up from Goodwill, embellishing the denim with little small roses, hoping to resell it and make some little someone feel pretty.  and to bring in some revenue for me.

i'm alone everyday all day.  twice a week my daughter comes over as her schedule allows, and she tries, she really tries, but she is busy and things don't always go our way.  if she can stay for two hours twice a week, i feel lucky.  there is 168 hours in a week and for upwards of four or five of them, i'm with her. she is the only person i see.  she is the only person who is empathetic to what i am feeling on a day to day basis, minute to minute sometimes.

yesterday evening she called to say she was home from work, tired, had to take the dogs out, wanted to eat something soon, how was i doing?  how was my day?  i went the usual route of saying "fine.  wrote a bunch.  sewed even more."  about an hour after we hung up, a wave of sorrow slammed into me and threatened to drown me.  i couldn't breathe.

my husband was dead.  during those last moments had i done enough?  my CPR hadn't been good enough.  he had died.  was it my fault?  i had not known what to do.  

i had to get outside, away from the confines of the apartment i sit in day after day all day and so i took the dogs for their evening walk.  i still could not breath though the air was fresh with a strong breeze.  i felt like i was trapped in a box without air.  could i have done more for him?  the chaos that had surrounded me that night welled up around me as if from the ground.  somehow i thought i felt his anguish as he died.  those last moments when he realized he was being taken from me.  it brought me to my knees.  i sat in the grass and sobbed against a fate that had robbed me of the one person who mattered.  he was the one person who loved me and wanted to live with me and be by my side forever.

i called my daughter and when she heard my voice i heard the panic in hers.  mom was suffering again, and so, i toned it down.  i accepted her words of comfort and then told her i was better.  i could not lean on her young shoulders that much.  i took my dogs and went back inside.  i sat down and stared at nothing.  i continued to cry that way until exhaustion sent me to bed.

and the dream came.  the one where he was only deployed.  but then the call and he was coming home safe and sound.  i woke up startled.  but there was no phone in my hand.  there was no deployment to return from.  my arms were around his bivy bag.  i saw his photo by my bed in the dim night light i keep on.  it had been the dream again.  he wasn't coming home.

he'll never come home to me again.

life seems like an endless line of days that will march stoically by me but i won't live in them.  i will just see them from my balcony.  and i will cry.  but no one will hear.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Grief As A Personal Journey

Over the last two months of grieving for my husband, I have been given advice about what and when I should be doing something.  It is all well meant but it doesn't fit what is happening inside my heart. The advice I'm being handed is given with such authority and yet, I can't find any personal connection to it, either from me or from the givers of this knowledge.  No one that has told me what to do has lost anyone, yet they know what I "should be feeling by now" and what I am supposed to be doing about it to "get over it."  What if I don't get over it in the way they are intending for me to do?  Just a question.  Another question is what defines getting over it?

In the face of all this advice, I have looked for and read books with certain titles to see if I could find something, I'm not sure what, an answer?  A guideline?  A sentence or thought that sounds remotely like what I am feeling?  I am sometimes rewarded with the author expressing something that clicks with me.  Sometimes not.

One book spoke of "simple grief" and "complex grief."  It explained that "simple grief" can be defined as an expected death such as from a long-term illness.  Because of the expectation that survival may not occur, family issues can be resolved, preparations can be made, and though we are never ready for it to happen, the expected death is in a small way easier to deal with though by any means no less tragic.  "Complex grief," it goes on to explain, is when the death is unexpected such as from a sudden heart attack, stroke, accident, or from violence.  The person was with us and then they were not.  There was no warning.  Issues were not resolved or even discussed.  How the deceased had wanted to be treated afterwards:  organ donor, buried at sea, military funeral, buried or cremated.  None of these things may have been discussed and it becomes an enormous task to make these decisions, to grapple for any shred of memory of what they may have said in passing or to explain that you're not sure but based on knowing them so well, this is "what they would have wanted."  "Complex grief" is said to be much more difficult to live through because the survivor knows they can no longer ask.  This emptiness of that particular chair at the table is like a fist on the heart.

The facilitator of the widow's group I sit in with talks about grief work.  Working through your grief.  Grief is a job that I am not qualified to do.  My search through the science of it (counselors' and therapists' books) and through the spirituality of it (faith driven books), and through the personal and existential point of view (published personal journals) has turned up a few common threads.  "Don't harm yourself or others."  "Allow yourself the time to heal, and it could take months or a couple of years."  "Grief is a job and you cannot not show up for work because that is unhealthy.  Grief will find you sooner or later."

I wasn't a fan of this next statement.  "You will get through your grief and be a stronger, better person for having lived through it."  I felt I was becoming a better person for having known my husband.  I learned from him.  I wasn't afraid of trying anything new with him there smiling at me, telling me I was doing well.  He showed me things and let me experience things I would never have done alone or with a stranger such as bouldering at my age with arthritis.  He showed me how and I am forever grateful for the pictures I got to take from perspectives I would never have seen.  I still want to be a better person but I don't want to think I will be better BECAUSE he's gone.  He never held me back.

Only one book suggested this concept as a carved-in-stone fact.  "Grief forever changes us.  We will never be the same and that is normal."  Other books say that those who grieve "will always miss the person who died, but indeed you will move out of the darkness and into the light of a renewed sense of ourselves.  You will find that you are not defined by your relationship with the one you lost."  I admit at first I felt affronted by this statement and typed here it is taken out of context.  I know some people are defined by their relationships, seeing themselves only in relation to who they are to someone else.  But to include it in a book on understanding grief, saying that the only way to move past grief is to "diligently work to leave your loved one in the past as a memory of a joyful relationship, but keep moving away so as not to recall them daily" does not work for me right now.

I showed this chapter to a woman I know whose husband died eleven years ago.  She told me, "Then I did the whole damn thing wrong because I still talk to my husband every day.  It makes me happy to do so.  I lived with him, put up with him, and loved him for twenty-five years.  I couldn't not remember him every day any more than I could forget one of my kids.  Close the book and forget it.  Take it back."

And I did.  I've decided to not read about grief any longer.  If a book catches my eye, I may scan it.  If I see that the text brings me comfort, I may read it.  If it has a guideline, a workbook, or a timeline, I think I will put it back.  I don't know that I will ever successfully finish my grief work by anyone else's standards.  I love my husband.  I liked him when I met him.  I respected him as I got to know him.  And I grew to love him deeply.  Love is the most powerrful connection we can have with someone.  We love them.  Excluding any and all afterschool special family dynamics, we love our parents, our siblings, our children, and our mates.  We love and when we connect deeply, we love deeply.  When they die, that huge part of us dies as well.  I feel a little dead inside, detached in a way that I know will not come back.  And I'm not really worried about it.  It is part of loving someone.  It is part of grief.

“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief -
But the pain of grief
Is only a shadow
When compared with the pain
Of never risking love.”  ~ Hiliary Stanton Zunin

When I was in 7th grade, I used my study period to volunteer in the school library.  The librarian was a lovely woman named Mrs. Stiles.  She had a picture of her husband on her desk in his military uniform.  It was an old photo.  Over the course of the school year, we talked about all kinds of things and while sitting in her office going over lists of missing books, I became brave enough to ask about her husband's photo.  I vividly remember her expression as melancholy.  They had been married for just over a year when he went off to Wolrld War II.  He was killed in action, she told me.  They gave him back to her.  That was the way she put it.  "They gave him back to me."  She buried him.  She still loved him.  Her answers were short and simple, kept concise for me to understand since I was only thirteen.  When I asked why she'd never married again, she looked at his photo and said, "I never loved again.  It is my belief I will see him again."  Then it was back to business.

It was a small town and I asked my mother if she knew Mrs. Styles.  She did.  She knew the story.  Mrs. Styles did acquiescto a few dates that her family and friends set up for her but, as my mother put it, "she never got over her loss of her husband."  My mother went on to say, "She misses him still but she's doing all right."

Back in the dark ages when I was a child, it was all right for a widow, or widower, to continue to miss their spouse.  After a few tries, people accepted that Mrs. Styles would always be Mrs. Styles.  I don't think anyone gave her a timeline or told her her personal identity was in danger because she kept her married name.  I know she never finished her grief work because I went to her funeral several years later and she was still Mrs. Styles.  When I passed her coffin to say my good-bye, I saw that someone had put her husband's photo in her hands.

"She has been dead two hours. It is impossible. The words have no meaning. But they are true; I know it without realizing it. She was my life, and she is gone; she was my riches and I am a pauper." ~ Mark Twain

It is generally accepted that Mark Twain "never got over" the deaths of his wife and daughter.

Poem From a Recent Widow ~ Me

How can I make it, make it through another night?

How can I last alone, last without your warmth and light?

When the angels came and took you it was far too soon and so

I have no idea how to go ahead when there’s no place to go.


How do I get up each day, get up to “move on” as they say?

Where am I supposed to go when I can’t even face the day?

Why is moving forward the thing to do when doing it feels so wrong,

When all I see is you not there, knowing life will be so long?


Why does time continue on, continue the wear and tear,

On a sad and lonely woman who now no longer cares?

The seasons now will come and go and holidays will pass me by

But the emptiness that I feel right now will never, ever die.


How do I live without you now, have any kind of life?

When my whole world was you and I just wanted to be your wife?

I need your touch, your voice and your strong hands holding onto mine

I can’t do this without you so “move on?”  I graciously decline.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Sun Rises on Mourning

I was twenty-four when I lost my baby, my first child.  Nineteen weeks isn't long when measured against a life.  I remember feeling chilled all the time and voices seemed so far away; as if there was a group in a room down a long corridor talking to each other.  But they were talking to me.  I just didn't answer.  But then no one expected me to.  I have a fuzzy white star that I keep out hanging off the handle of my roll top desk.  It has a softly embroidered face, eyes closed, a sweet smile.  The key on the back turns the tiny parts inside and, if I can stand to hear it, it plays “Twinkle twinkle little star.”  I don't listen often and if I'm in public and for some random reason that some starts to play, I have to leave the room.  I can only listen to it on my terms.  It's been twenty-seven years.  I still have questions that have no answers like, will my son know me should we ever get the chance to meet?  Was he old enough to be afraid?  Did he know to be afraid?  Did he know my voice?  The one I can't ask out loud in my prayers is, "Will he know my voice?"  It’s not a grief that is resolved.  It is one that lingers until it is part of the fabric of your being.  My baby died.

“You can have others," they told me in that comforting callus way people have.

My mind was screaming, “Shut up," but they weren't listening to my expression.

And now I am forced to take that journey again.  And it is a journey.  "It's not the destination but the journey."  I don't want to take this journey and yet what are my options?

My husband died suddenly.  One moment he was asleep.  Then he was dying.  There was nothing I could do.  I called to him, screamed for him.  I performed CPR while calling 911.  His face.  I will never forget his face.  It will haunt me forever.  

And then they came and made me walk away from him while they tried to save him, to bring him back, I don't really know.  The doctor at the hospital told me that from the sounds of it, he was gone before I really knew anything was wrong.  The sounds I heard was his body shutting down.  I could not look at her after she said that.  She walked off down the hall and left me to my shock.

He He had (has) the most powerful life force of anyone I had ever met.  He was more alive than anyone I'd ever seen.  You could feel it coming off him.  He loved life and took it in with all his senses.  He was unconquerable.  He was a United States Marine, Force Recon with  three tours in Vietnam, Grenada, and countless other missions in his memory.  It haunted him.  He hid it behind a gregarious nature that was always smiling, always out-going, and always ready to laugh.  He was more than I had ever dreamed of having.  I am his opposite.

I always stood against the wall.  I am an introvert.  He is the extrovert.  I am an artist.  He was the soldier.  He called us the hippie and the Marine.  I called us the Dragon and the womanNshadows.  He found me and he saved me.

When he hugged me I felt safe and loved.  I adored this man for everything he was.  I never knew love was so much like the blending of souls to make one.  

"If ever two were one, then surely we."

He was flawed and imperfect and perfect for me.  He gave me my smile, my joy, and my belief in loving for eternity.  I know he didn’t want to go.  We had plans.  God, knows everyone has plans but so did we.  Our plan was to grow old together and live by the ocean.  But then he fell asleep and started dying.  Right now, I cannot describe it.  I can only see it playing out in my mind over and over.  The film starts at 11:29 PM every night and I can't fall asleep until after 3:45 AM, the time the hospital told me I just had to go.  I hate mornings, mournings.  I am so tired I can't speak.

I am distraught and terrified and so lonely.  My life is over.  Not over over, but over in a way that I will never retrieve.  It’s almost as if I don’t want to “get over it” because that might mean he meant less than he did and that is not true.  He means everything to me.  My grief for him is of the same magnitude as when I lost my baby, yet it is so vastly different.  I lost what could have been in both of them.  I lost a child with the first, someone I wanted so desperately to get to know.  I lost my soulmate with the other, someone I so desperately wanted to have stay with me until I died.  Bicenntenial Man.  "See ya."

His death means I can no longer touch him, hear him, see him, sleep next to him, or feel cherished and loved in the way only he could give to me.  It means that the very person who could hold me and comfort me to get through this can't help me through this.  Again, I hear people talking but they sound so far away.  I nod and take part but it's like they are all on a slowly turning platform and will soon fade from my view, from me having to pretend to listen.  Or maybe it's me that is on the platform and I'm going back around into the darkness from before.  Before he came and found me.  Before the dragon rescued me and kept me safe from all those stupid knights in shining armor.

I’m a widow now.  I’ve joined a club that has no list of membership, no special uniform to distinguish you, and no dues other than the ones you pay privately to yourself and to that pain in your heart.  It has no clubhouse other than the one you can go to in a utilitarian room that houses your widow’s group but also may tomorrow host a bridge club, a fund-raiser committee meeting, and so on.  No one can look at you and see that you’re a widow.  Widows don’t cut their hair anymore, well, I did but I think I’m in the minority.  They don’t wear black anymore although I find it’s all I want to wear.  We don’t recognize each other if we happen to pass on the street.

Oddly enough, a man recognized my husband, though they’d never met, as part of a select group.  We were on the train going into Boston and a man was sitting across from us.  He and my husband sort of sized each other up, then they both had cryptic smiles.  They nodded to each other.  The man spoke one word to my husband, phrased as a question.  “Vietnam?”

My husband nodded once and said, “Semper Fi.”

The man smiled and they clasped hands on each other’s wrists.  The man said, “Brother.”

And the moment passed.  They spoke no further.  It was a singularly mysterious moment, one Marine recognizing another.  After we departed the train I asked my husband how he had known.  He told me that, of all the places he'd been in, there is just a certain look about a veteran of Vietnam.

I don't have that gift and from what I can tell, other widow's don't either.  I can’t detect a widow if one walks by and no widow has walked up to me to embrace me with that kind of camaraderie.  When I walked into the room for my first widow’s meeting, they all looked like normal women to me, smiling and talking.  I was the only stand out.  I was the only one crying, but I was new.  I went to the second meeting last week.  I was still the only one crying though I know I wasn't the only one hurting.  I was given this website, this blogspot address, by one of the other widows.  She looks so young to me.  Is it easier or worse to be so young?  Is it harder for me to see anyone else because I can only see his face in front of me?  Is it my carrot on a stick that keeps me moving?  Am I a good widow, kind to other widows, or am I still so raw that I can't see anything but my own pain?

How do you say, “good morning” to someone who is mourning?  How do you know they are mourning if they don’t tell you?  How do you say “good-bye” when you know it’s the last time?  How do you say good-bye when you don’t know it will be the last time you can speak to them?  Are the good-byes you know are the last ones more heartfelt than the good-night I shared with my husband on that last night of his life?  I don’t know.  I could spend the rest of my life trying to answer these questions and all I would still come up with is, I don’t know.  All I do know is that everyone lives through death, someone else’s death.  I know that it is intimate and can run a spectrum of relief, guilt, numbness, and from feeling nothing to feeling like all of you died with them.  I am aware that nothing I feel or do or say or not say or not do is considered wrong.  It's grief.  Who's going to really take the hard line and try to correct you on it?  It's mine, ours, to live with, to call for help for, or to sit quietly alone with and really get to know yourself.  Introspection is a powerful tool and there is no better chance for introspection than what grief can bring you.  People may talk to you.  They may talk at you.  Ultimately, regardless of who died, how they died, and why, you will end up alone with your grief to face a world that may not know, or care, that you’re trying to face a life that’s changed overnight whether you were ready for it or not.

Good mourning or good morning.  It’s all the same to me right now and that’s normal.  I’ve been through it before.  As, most likely, you have.   Maybe someday we’ll meet, and surprisingly, we’ll see in each other the lack of a certain spark of joy.   We’ll nod and one of us will say one word posed as a question.  No, not “Vietnam.”  One will ask, “Mourning?”   And the other will know how it’s spelled.