Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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The Dancer’s Husband

This week I got groceries. It’s not one of my favorite tasks, but I do it when necessary. I got home and Colin helped me unload like he usually does. I sat down at the computer and I could swear I heard Tim’s voice say clear as day, “Oh, it’s grocery day? I love grocery day, Mama!” I haven’t had a memory like that in quite a while. It was vivid and it made me smile, sadly. Everyone loves grocery day. The cupboards are full. Everyone has their favorite foods again. And most times I would get that extra something or two that no one was expecting. (Of course, that was before the pre-diabetic days because now I try not have anything that I shouldn’t have in the house.)

Just about one year ago, I wrote a blog called, “Ode to a Dancer” when I wrote about the loss of a woman who died too soon. Now, it is almost time for the year marker date. I find myself thinking about her husband a lot lately. They were married over 50 years. I think of her son too. I can relate to both of them, having lost my mother and also my spouse. But I especially think about the husband. I can’t even fathom spending 50 years with someone every single day and then having them gone.

Time is a bizarre concept. Probably anyone who has lost someone will identify with that. In some ways, every day is excruciatingly long. It feels like life will never move forward. All there is, is the sting of your loss. Then one day, you realize that one year (or five years, like me) has gone by and you wonder how that could possibly be? It seems like that is such a long, long time, but when the memories come, it is just like yesterday. Fresh as can be.

I don’t know this husband all that well, but I did send him a Christmas card which I know he appreciated. I will send him a card for this anniversary marker too. I will most likely write about how he is probably experiencing that bizarre sense of time- how it is so slow and so fast at the same time. He is doing very well by all counts, but I just know in my heart that he still has those times when the ache is overwhelming. He still has times when he lies in bed and feels the tears on his cheeks and wonders if maybe it all isn’t true. Maybe she will walk out of the bathroom and climb into bed.

Life marches on. We all know that. Faster than we want. Slower than we want. We just keep going. But I will take some time to pause and remember this Dancer’s husband and let him know people are thinking of him, hurting for him, identifying with him. There is nothing quite like the loss of a spouse.

And there is nothing quite like the loss of a mother. It has been almost nine years since I lost mine. I know my siblings still miss her. I know from all my friends’ posts on Facebook that the ache never quite leaves with that loss either. And I know the Dancer’s son will be remembering his mom. I never missed my mom more than when I was watching my husband fade. I longed to put my head in her lap and let her twirl my hair like she used to.

So here to memories. And to markers. The epitome of bittersweet. To myself, and to all of you who mourn the loss of someone you love, you are not alone. Find comfort in your memories, treasure the living.


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Madame Secretary

I only watch two TV shows- The Big Bang Theory and Madame Secretary. Pretty opposite ends of the spectrum. I don’t usually get to watch either one of them when they air, but “on demand” works fine other than having to sit through the commercials. (Yes, I am the only woman in America that does not have a DVR.)

This morning while Frankie was getting ready for school, I was finishing watching this week’s episode of Madame Secretary. They are all usually pretty riveting, but this one was an especially dangerous story line. There was an explosion I wasn’t expecting so I jumped and let out a small scream. Then I was teary-eyed. Frankie thought it was hilarious. He’s such a guy. “Mom, it’s just a TV character. It’s not real you know.” Simple for him.

He got on the bus and the next ten minutes I full-out cried for the rest of the episode. Didn’t even bother trying not to, I was just so moved by the story and the characters.

I love that show. Mostly, it’s because I love Elizabeth. She is the Secretary of the State. Now I know less than nothing about politics, but I find it fascinating anyhow. The politics are interesting, but the real snag for me is her persona. She is a brilliant- I mean brilliant- kick ass woman. She takes no shit, thinks outside the box, and comes up with solutions that are no less than genious. Yet, she is still somehow completely feminine and warm.

I love her marriage. Her husband is total eye candy. (That never hurts.) But they have the coolest marriage. They are total partners. They can completely disagree sometimes, but most of the time they are on the same page and they back each other.

I love their kids. They have three and one of them is usually in some sort of crisis. But I love watching the five of them mill around the kitchen. In this episode, she was saying goodbye to them. No one but the husband knew that she was going on a dangerous, life-threatening mission. He stood in the corner, watching his wife kiss her kids goodbye, knowing full well that she knew full well that it might be her last interaction with them. It was ridiculously intense.

It was nothing crazy. But the way they walk by their kids and just touch them, the way they can give them a hug… I’m so incredibly jealous. I wonder if Frankie even has a thought in his mind when he watches a scene like that. I wonder if Colin ever thinks twice about it. Because I do. Our home is NOTHING like that. There is hardly any interaction, no family time, and most certainly no touching or affection. If I even brush up against Frankie, you would honestly think I burned his skin.

Now in a way, this show is so totally unrealistic to 99% of the population. We don’t work in the White House. We don’t work in the CIA. And yet, I feel like I’m totally at home watching them. They all seem so completely normal. Not perfect, because that would just make me mad that another media message is going out to sell the impossible dream. They all fight, have conflict, etc.. But at the end of the day, you totally respect the adults, and their kids respect them too.

This particular episode, our heroine survives (of course!) but what was moving was watching all of the different characters see her come safely home. There were no words, just music. But words weren’t needed. Her beloved staff sank into relief. Her husband gets the phone call that she is safe and he breaks down sobbing with his kids. Shit. I’m crying again, writing about it.

There are lots of good people in the show. She isn’t the only one. But seeing the impact she has on everyone around her, knowing how highly respected she is, knowing how deeply loved she is- she is a worthy heroine to me.

I think that is why I love it. In one way, it touches a deep sadness inside of me. But in another, it makes me want to keep fighting. Damn it, that is possible. And I want it. A truly loving partner, kids that love me, the respect of my co-workers and peers. Knowing I make an impact on the world. I may not ever get it, or maybe just not all of it, but I’m going to go down trying! That’s the kind of woman I aspire to be, the kind of life I seek to have.

Great show… you should watch it.