Thursday, June 30, 2016

Long term recipe

"Don't let loneliness drive you back into a relationship you know you don't belong in. Enter into a relationship when you're ready, not when you're lonely."-Author unknown

"Men replace and women mourn."-Author unknown

I've been able to abide by the first quote and I'm sort of offended by the second quote.

T will never be replaced.

I've never believed in "love at first sight" but I do believe in "attraction at first sight."

When T and I were first dating and would be out and about, we would often run into women that I knew.

Many times I knew them because I had dated them, once.

She would joke that I had dated every other single woman in town, once.

My explanation was that I would go on a date with someone I was attracted to and if there wasn't a connection I would remain friendly...just not go on any more dates.

Tori and I were together for almost 28 years.

I only had two other long term relationships prior-one for over 3 years and one that lasted 2 years.

All started with an attraction, became an attraction combined with a connection and then ultimately ended with love.

Attraction, connection and love.

That's my recipe for a sucessful long term relationship.

I have no clue if I will ever experience all three again.

If/when you fall...always get back up

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."-Martin Luther King, Jr.

"And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about."-Haruki Murakami

"The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered, there is opportunity for growth."-Author unknown

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sure could use some T

Just got home from work.

My son's girlfriend of over 4 years was driving away as I pulled into the drive-way.

She had just broken up with him.

I gave Tom a hug and said I was so sorry.

She's a great young lady and I know how much he loves her.

Shortly after my daughter called to let me know her beloved trainer for the Equestrian team at college, for the last 2 years, had just announced her retirement and would be leaving in a few weeks.

After a prolonged silence I said I was so sorry.

She's a wonderful, intuitive woman and she and Ellie have a special bond.

Both children are heartbroken.

I'm heartbroken for them.

Both are resilient and of strong faith but are really hurting. We will work through things.

I pray that I'll say and do the right things to help them navigate through these life events.

I just really miss T's wisdom and physical presence next to me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Encouraging words

I met a remarkable women recently who has been widowed for the last three years from an equally remarkable man.

Her husband was diagnosed with ALS, in his late 40's, when their twin daughters were still in high school.

His disease progressed and he bravely elected to die naturally at home.

I had heard about her and her family (and all the things they had been doing to increase ALS awareness/research and funding) and she, through the same friend, had heard about the death of my wife.

We chatted briefly. I also saw her spending time talking with both of my children.

When we were getting ready to leave the gathering, she was gracious enough to pull me aside and let me know I was doing a great job with my children.

This simple statement filled my heart.

Besides having continued guilt over losing Tori, I've also often questioned, over the last year, how I'm doing as a single parent for my children-who are now both young adults.

I know I was a good husband, father, dish washer, garbage taker-outer, weed-puller, and youth sport coach but Tori was pretty much our everything.

I was always the co-pilot, her right-hand man.

Having this woman, who has been through so much, take the time to give me such encouragement, was more appreciated than I can adequately express in words.

I hope to do the same for others as well.

"Most everyone you meet is going through a battle of which you know nothing about."

...until you get to know them on a deeper level. Be encouraging.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Super absorbent!

I had always let T know that if/when I got demented:

1. If I remained nice to let me stay home wearing diapers but

2. If I was mean and nasty to put me away somewhere

Seriously, we had this conversation multiple times, because I spend a large part of my day seeing elderly demented individuals and have witnessed the stress on caregivers.

Lately, completely unsolicited, I've been getting ads to purchase "Adult Diapers" on my home e-mail.

I've previously never gotten them before.

The ads always make me think of the pact I had with T.

I envision she's letting me know that all will be fine in the future; I will be a nice elderly demented male. I hope so.

I'll do most anything to keep smiling.

Life with grief

“Grief can destroy you-or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it's over and you're alone, you begin to see that it wasn't just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can't get off your knees for a long time, you're driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.” -Dean Koontz

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A new year

"Something quite unexpected has happened. My heart is lighter than it has been for many weeks. And suddenly at the moment when, so far, I mourned the least, I remembered her the best."-C.S. Lewis

It's just day#1 but there just might actually be something to passing the one year mark.

It's sounds absurd but I also feel less tired and achy than I have in a long time-basically, in a year.

I've always had a strong belief in the mind-body connection.

This is a perfect example.

A friend who lost his wife suddenly, years ago, told me that his first year sucked.

It did suck but it also made me a much better person.

I'm just disappointed T never got to experience Dr. Bill 2.0.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

365:4:44 pm

Four forty-four PM, tomorrow, will represent three hundred and sixty-five days since Tori died.

Passing this day will be a big milestone.

I'm just planning to get through the 22nd and see how I feel on the 23rd.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Keeping it personal

Father's Day seems, at times, to have become a contest to write the most impressive personal message to your father or husband, thanking him for being the worlds best father, and to then post it on social media for ALL to see and comment; instead of just sending the individual a message, note or card.

I heard from my son and daughter today for Father's Day.

One Father's Day, years ago, when for some reason I was temporarily feeling unappreciated, I noted to Tori that I felt last in line in the family, in regards to her attention; even beneath our dog.

She smirked and wanted to know if I wanted to pick up some additional chores and duties related to our kids and dog.

She always kept it real by a simple reality check.

I quickly came off my pedestal.

But then she and my children presented me with a framed home-made certificate that was entitled "Billy's Fan Club."

She was the president of the club, and my #1 fan, and my kids and our dog were members.

I never again felt unappreciated. It still sits atop our piano.

I smile every time I look at it.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The choice

Tori collapsed a year ago, today.

This has been the most profoundly sad year of my life with enough tears for a lifetime.

I'm getting through the day, however, thanks to a quote from the movie, "Shawshank Redemption," that's been stuck in my head.

"I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying."

I know Tori would insist that I choose the former so that's what I'm trying to do.

I rarely disagreed with her advice; she was smart, practical and always down to earth.

Friday, June 17, 2016

In an instant

"You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. In a heartbeat or the absence of one."-Joan Didion in her book "The Year of Magical Thinking."  She was describing the death of her husband who died while they were  eating dinner together.

49 people were killed this week, at an Orlando nightclub, while in the midst of having fun socializing and dancing by a deranged gunman.

A 3 year boy, visiting Florida with his family, was dragged into a lagoon this week by an Alligator and drowned.

Last evening I hit an errant tee shot, on a par 3, and struck an egret that died instantly.

Tomorrow evening at 9 pm will mark the 1 year anniversary of when my wife, daughter and I were watching TV and Tori collapsed.

"Everything can change in the blink of the eye. But don't worry; God never blinks."

Got it.

All the recent reminders aren't necessary but continue to drive the point home.

Today's mantra: "Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be."

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Starting another day

"Part of every misery, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about liviving each day in grief."-C.S. Lewis

I know I need to snap out of the funk I've been in again but the last few days have sucked.

"Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the mind."-Marcel Proust

I would choose a less developed mind right now.

"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love."-Washington Irving

I agree.

"Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life."-Anne Roiphe

I keep hoping to wake up from sleep with answers to all my questions.

I'm still waiting.

"Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life's search for love and wisdom."-Rumi

I hope so.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

T minus 13 days

A year ago today I was undergoing a revision on a left hip replacement that had initially been done in 1997, at age 37, due to dysplasia.

Tori, as always, was by my side.

9 days later she would collapse at home.

4 days after that she died.

I've been looking back through a journal I've kept and came across this from months ago:

"Cherish every moment and every person in your life, because you never know when it will be the last time you see someone."

I was so thankful of her being with me at the time of the surgery.

I just, obviously, had no idea that it would be the start of a 13 day countdown to losing her.

The next 13 days will be especially tough but I'll get through them.

The year of firsts will be coming to an end shortly.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A 180

My emotions have been all over the place for months but have never been close to a 180 degree difference over the course of a day.

Even when doing "alright," I've just been doing "OK" and not overly hopeful.

This morning, on the way home from a college reunion, I stopped by a place that Tori and I had previously visited and was overwhelmed with sadness.

It persisted for hours after I left.

But earlier this evening I had a "Clarence, please, please...I wanna live again, I wanna live again!" moment (you know...Jimmy Stewart's famous line from the classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life").

I've been feeling that way now for a few hours.

I can't explain why but I'm going with it.

Truthfully, it's the first time in over 11 months that I've felt at all hopeful about the future.

Even if the feeling wanes a bit it's nice to know it can still be there.