Is that your husband? I looked down at the phone in my hand and looked back at my new dentist and my face crumbled behind my mask. She was immediately cognizant of the fact that his handsome face was a memory for me now and as the tears started to fall from my eyes, her face crumbled too.
Soon we were both standing there with tears on our cheeks as she asked me his name.
I bit my lip to stop it from quivering and I tried to smile behind my mask and as I took a deep breath, she put her hand on my arm and the story spilled out along with more tears.
This is how grief sneaks up on us with no warning. This is why I advised readers of my book to share their grief with our doctors and dentists as well as other professionals. We deserve to have people speak kindlier and it really is okay to share our feelings – it is a self-protective maneuver.
Is that your husband? Yes, and he loved me more than he loved any other. I was the last and greatest love of his life. His name is Larry, and he will always be the love of my life.
There is absolutely no blue Christmas this year in my home. I doubt it if there will ever be a blue Christmas and I say that unequivocally because of ALL the progress I made since last Christmas.
I have been reading some articles on grief, and one sticks out like a sore thumb. It is a topic I wrote about in “Fractured-Living with Grief” and it showed up again not only as an article in a blog I follow but also a perfect example landed in my life when I wasn’t looking.
I can describe it in 2 words “grief bullies”.
To be honest, I have not had to deal with a grief bully in over a year until recently. In my case I know that the incident in my life is due to the person not understanding grief at all.
Losing the love of your life is something only other widows and widowers can truly understand but don’t clothe it in telling me that you are concerned about my loneliness.
First and foremost, I don’t mind being alone. Next get unstuck from over a year ago and realize who I was then and who I am now are two different people. Being alone and being lonely are two distinctly different things.
When I actually made the decision to move to South Carolina I had many moments of stressful occurrences. However, I was ready to do this. My heart was ready, my head was ready and I am just fine 99% of the time. I found that out when I created my Thanksgiving Day/birthday meal. BAM just like that I faced a holiday that a year ago was filled with pain because this time around I had completed the PTSD therapy that had vanquished the trauma.
I have skated through the Christmas season with all the decorations I still have from our marriage, with the favorite scented candles, with a beautiful tree and I mailed Christmas cards. Let’s not forget I have music on all the time and it lifts me up.
Just because I voiced some concern before turkey day is no reason to think I couldn’t make it through. I MADE IT THROUGH. All is well in my house, in my head, in my heart and in my life.
Has that grief bully ever asked me how I am really doing this year, in a word, NO. My biggest mistake was ever sharing a momentary fear. Lesson learned.
One more thing I want to say this Christmas Eve – it is never okay to criticize anyone who is grieving. Ever.
I am sitting here in my office, and the TV is on and Kelly Clarkson’s talk show starts up and her only guest is Garth Brooks.
What are the chances I would turn the TV on at that moment and that the first two songs Garth would sing are “The Dance” and “If Tomorrow Never Comes”?
Earlier today I published an article on medium.com that I titled “The Sounds of Music”. In this article I wrote about how music has really helped me in life and how I finally had the courage to listen to songs that were songs from our marriage and our love.
What are the chances that Garth would sing 2 songs that have honor the depth of my grief with “The Dance” and then the song that brought Larry to tears every time he heard it? Larry would look at me and ask me that question. My answer was always the same. I told him I would know every day for the rest of my life how much he loved me if tomorrow never comes. If that is bad grammar, oh well.
Larry’s tomorrows stopped and all I need to do is look at the photo on the back cover of my book to see how much he loved me.
Then I think back to filling out the form to join an online dating site 22 years ago – I mean what were the chances that my answers would touch the heart of a man who would tell me “Forever’s As Far As I’ll Go” and mean it.
By the way, I listened to Garth and I wrote this article too without tears. You see I find joy in the memories of the love.
If you want to read my article on medium.com here is the link:
Chicago winters are nasty, and there I was sitting at my computer asking myself did I really accept a date for dinner with a man I had never met and walk three long blocks, freezing my fanny off ? What was I thinking?
The truth is a good friend had convinced me to sign up for an online dating service, and I was down to my last few days of having free access to it, but free also meant I couldn’t see any photos of the men there, nor could they see me. This truly was a blind date. Doing this definitely took courage because either one of us could have been a dud, and then what? Yes, this took bravery along with a dose of what the hell was I thinking because it was freezing outside. I primped. Who doesn’t want to look terrific on a first date? Then again, who looks for a new relationship during the holidays?
My brain kept telling me that the men on the site were probably trying to get lucky, I mean why else would they join at the holidays? It is like admitting they were bums that had gotten tossed out. Never mind the fact that I also had joined at the holidays. I had returned to Chicago from living in Costa Rica with a stop in Detroit to visit friends before coming back to the windy city. On top of all of this, I was still married, although the divorce was imminent.
I primped some more. I won’t lie, I went for a sexy look with a mini-skirt and low-cut top, and I added a spritz of “Obsession,” my signature scent. I walked the three long blocks to the restaurant he had chosen in low-heeled shoes, still slipping and sliding along the way.
I walked into the restaurant, and the world stopped spinning for a minute. There he was, just as he had described, tall with a beautiful head of silver hair, and a look on his face that told me he appreciated what he was looking at, and in fact that look told me he felt as if he had won the lottery. I knew I had already won it.
It was a noisy Friday evening, people were laughing and talking, but all I could hear was the beat of my heart as I walked up to this amazingly sexy man. His smile lit up the room, and for the first time in a long time I was speechless.
We laughed through dinner; we told our stories, and suddenly the check arrived and all I could think was I had to come up with something to keep this evening going. I wasn’t ready to say goodnight, and I had a feeling he felt the same way.
I suggested we take a walk over to Marshall Fields on State Street to look at the holiday windows without giving a thought to the fact that my skimpy attire was iffy for windy and blowy Chicago winter nights.
We were not that far from the restaurant when I realized I was having a wardrobe malfunction. I was wearing thigh-high nylon stockings, and they were slipping in the frosty weather. Undoubtedly this was because my thighs had shrunk from the cold, and it was all I could do to walk normally while occasionally trying to hike them back up.
I have always been a bold woman, and what I should have done was just stop and peel them off. But no, I continued to keep them where they belonged in the name of keeping this date going by doing some strange convoluted-looking dance.
Weeks later, when I admitted this to Larry, he laughed so hard his face turned red, and he came right out and asked why I hadn’t just peeled them off without missing a beat.
By this time, he had already learned how bold I could be, and the bolder I was, the harder he fell.
Yes, in looking back, that was the magical night when we both began to heal from our pasts and we both began to become whole again.
Dammit grief, it’s Christmas go somewhere else. Stop showing up as if you are the ghost of Christmas past and bringing with you a carousel of memories. Be gone. It’s Christmas.
Maybe it showed up because I wrote that piece about not liking turkey. Oh well, I don’t like turkey. I am good with saying that, and while Larry loved it to the point of filling a freezer with leftovers, I do not miss seeing those containers that he would enjoy thawing to eat turkey and stuffing as long as he could.
I spent the weekend after Thanksgiving bringing Christmas into my new home. In anger and sadness I had sold so much of our decorations knowing I would never use them again. I kept the beautiful collection of Santa’s, the ornaments that meant the most to me, and the gnomes we bought on one of our holiday trips to Las Vegas.
I put the new tree up, and only shed some tears when I hung the ornaments we collected for our dogs. The tree was sparsely decorated so I added the antique ornaments from my parents, and then I opened the box of turquoise and gold ornaments from our bedroom tree. I separated out the gold from the turquoise and used the gold ones as filler for the empty spots. I look at my tree now and see it is a combination of what Larry and I collected, my parents, and our beautiful master bedroom tree. It is all good.
Christmas music fills the house, I light Larry’s favorite candles (he picked them all out) and I am happy with everything I see. While it is different from 21 years of decorating, it is all that I need at this time.
I sat with a glass of wine, a Christmas movie on the TV and that is when it happened. That is when grief blew in extinguishing the beauty of everything I had been enjoying. While I was sitting there I heard a car door close and for one damn moment I thought Larry was home.
I am letting everyone know right here, right now that if you ordered a book in my pre-sale event last month or if you order one now through 12/14/2020 and you think you know someone who would or could benefit from reading it I will send them a digital copy of it on 12/28/2020.
I have an army of supporters who have ordered telling me they know others who should have a copy.
To do this all you have to do is send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include their email address (with their permission to receive a copy, please). I will be sending out emails to those who have already ordered it.
I am doing this to pay it forward from you and from me. My book is so important to me because my goal in writing it was to help others, but I couldn’t write it without including the love story that still lives on.