Monday, June 8, 2015

Days for Lost Hearts

Some of you may have noticed that I've been quiet lately.  There are so many reasons for that but that's something to discuss another day...

The last few days I've been preparing myself for today.  Today is KB's birthday and I have been thinking about her a lot this past weekend.  Hot on the heels of our anniversary and Mother's Day today is just another day where my heart could feel lost because the person that I want to talk to, hold tight and kiss isn't here and won't ever be here again.  I've shared a lot of my feelings here and I thought that I had such a good handle on my feelings but as time goes by I have started to accept the fact that I have no control over my emotions and most days I feel more empty than anything else.

But not today.  Today, like our anniversary, I feel an overwhelming feeling of love.  Even though she's not with me the love that I feel for her remains and I hope it never leaves.  It might seem strange to some and there might be some who feel like I'm not letting myself heal.  Maybe that's true.  Maybe I am strange but if healing means letting go of the love that I have for KB then I'm ok with being wounded until I die.

There are so many things that KB enjoyed so deeply and purely and she chose to share those things with me with no hesitation and with such certitude that they naturally became part of me.  Sitting under a starry sky with a cool breeze on my face reminds me so much of being with her that I feel like I could reach out and touch her hair or see her smile and sparkling eyes.

So many days my heart feels lost but not today.  Today I feel that my heart has purpose and the thoughts of her make me whole and feel like I'm home.

KB, pictures of you, images of you in my mind and the feeling of love that I recall when I can think about you bring my emotions to the surface.  This is a song that always makes me think of you.  Happy birthday KB! If I tremble at the thought of you it's not because I'm cold...



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dating

At Christmas time K.B. and I would watch Love Actually.  If you've seen the movie you know that Liam Neeson's character has recently lost his wife and at the funeral he makes a joke that his wife had asked him to take Claudia Schiffer as his date.  If you've ever watched a movie with K.B. you have probably also had to pause the movie to have a discussion about something the characters were experiencing.  As a result, K.B. and I discussed the topic of dating in the event that one of us should die.  I didn't expect that I would ever actually be in this situation but life has a way of throwing you curve balls every once in a while.  So to people who have said things like, "I'm sure K.B. would want want you to carry on with your life." I can say that she most definitely did want me to have a life should she die before me.  She was very adamant that she did not want me trying to "have a relationship with a ghost" as she put it (that was from our discussion when we watched The Ghost and Mrs. Muir).

Nine months after K.B. died I found myself in a situation where I had reconnected with a woman who I have known for almost a decade.  We would meet and have coffee and just talk and it was really great to have someone who I felt comfortable with to talk to.  As time went on we found that we really enjoyed the time that we spent together so I took the plunge and asked her out.  We have been dating for some time now and things are going great!  Well, almost great.

To be clear, the new relationship is great but quite often the reaction of others is less than great.  There are a lot of people who are very supportive and happy for me and I really appreciate that.  There are also a few people who feel... awkward that I have started dating.  I guess I can understand.  It's very romantic to think that because K.B. and I loved each other so much I would never find anyone else and to be honest I wasn't even considering dating.

In my grief support group people would say things like "when your spouse dies part of you dies too."  I understood the obvious meaning of that statement but it wasn't until recently that I realized how much of your old life "dies".  People will come into your life and people will drift out of your life and sometimes it's surprising which people come in and out of your life.  It's a difficult thing to deal with because your friends change quite quickly and even family members can't accept that you are moving on and trying to find happiness again.  Sometimes it's because those who were once close to you are still dealing with their own loss and even though I might be ready to try to move forward, they aren't.  When you're grieving there seems to be a natural tendency to want to keep others sharing that grief in the same place that you are.  When I would feel like other people were dealing with their grief better than I was it kinda made me angry but I just told myself that everyone deals with things in their own way and in their own time.  It's strange how we take more comfort when other people hurt the same way and are progressing through grief at the same pace.  Grief is a lonely place and I've spent some time in some very dark places for many months and I really wouldn't want anyone to have to endure that darkness any longer than necessary.

In the past couple of weeks I've come to realize that it's not just the fact that I am choosing to live my life but I am also not the same person I was when KB was alive and with me.  I've come to understand that letting go and moving on with my life means letting go of a lot of different things in my life.  Some of the changes are part of the natural changes that come about when you're in a new relationship but some of it comes from the different stages of grief that my co-grievers are experiencing.  The threads that tie people together expand as changes occur in our lives and that's just part of the natural progression of things.  Just because they expand and people seem further away, it doesn't mean that it will always be that way.

I've probably said it before but I'll say it again because I think it's something that we all need to consider: I'm not afraid of dying, I'm afraid of not living.  That fear of not allowing myself to be happy and enjoy life to the fullest keeps me moving forward and knowing how much KB loved life I would be disappointing her if I didn't appreciate the good things in life that come my way.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Nothing Gold

Short and true. Thanks Robert Frost:

Nature's first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf's a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf, 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day 
Nothing gold can stay.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The River

Last week I took a trip through Alberta and BC.  I wasn't on vacation but the opportunity to escape from my day to day was welcome.  Sometimes when I take these little trips I wonder if I'm running from something or running to something... or just running.  I'll figure that one out eventually.

On my way back home I stopped in Waterton Lakes National Park.  Waterton is part of an International peace park and extends into the US with and incredibly vast number of trails and beautiful old, upside down mountains dotted with glacier lakes, streams and waterfalls.  I had always thought that it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen and felt so fortunate that it was a single day's car ride away from me.

One of the gifts that KB and I received for our wedding was a night at a resort in Waterton where our friend Stephanie was working.  KB had never been to Waterton before but I knew she would love it and she did.  I wish I was able to take a picture of her that would have captured her joy but as good as cameras are these days, they can't capture an emotion like that... not easily anyway.  The images are in my mind and that's good enough for me.  We had such a good time with each other there and we both knew that it would always be a special place for us to get away when we just needed a break from the world.  Although she didn't say that it was what she wanted, I decided that some of her ashes should be spread in Waterton because it was such a special place for both of us.

Entering the gates was a bit overwhelming.  The memories of the trip from last August came flooding back and the drive up to the Blakiston Falls trail head was spattered with chuckles and tears.  Entering the forest everything became very still and quiet and it was almost like entering church.  When KB and I had walked the trail we would stop at these points of stillness and just feel the forest around us and the closeness of each other.  The ability to experience this with someone you love is a real gift and I don't know that Steph will ever really know how great her gift was.  It wasn't just a place to stay it was an experience that I will never forget and an opportunity to share such peace and contentment with the person I love.

I finally reached the spot by the river just beyond the falls where KB and I had stopped almost one year earlier.  This was the spot where I would take KB one last time.  From this point the river would run East through Blakiston Falls and is fairly accessible for anyone who wants to visit.

I expected the ashes to disperse quickly in the water but that wasn't the case.  The river clouded all around me and swirled and I could see currents in the river that weren't visible before. It seemed to be a fitting metaphor.

KB's life was like that.  She seemed so small and her gentle kindness made it seem like she wouldn't be one of those people who would make such an impact in life but the complete opposite was true.  It was her kind and gentle nature that made us see the currents in life that we normally wouldn't and even though her time was short she reached much further than I could have imagined.  Even now she is touching people's lives when we tell our stories of her.  Every time I get together with friends who knew her you can be sure that there will be laughter and a few tears when we remember her.  That will never change I'm sure because even seven months later I still feel the hurt of losing her and the joy of knowing that for a moment, like the stillness of the forest, I stood in the still, perfect calm of love.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Words

This is something I wrote while I was surrounded by mountains and forests.  A fantastic thunder storm had rode through and in the quiet afterward I couldn't help but think of KB and think about how short life is regardless of how many years we have.  When love is in the mix one year or 100 years is never enough.  With love there is always pain but every second of suffering is worth it just to feel what it means to be loved and be able to love.  To be clear this isn't about sadness this is about giving yourself over to passion because when the moment that is life passes the last thing you want is to feel that you missed a chance to truly embrace your passion whatever it may be.  I realize that this probably won't make any sense to most people who read it and maybe that's because you are still in your moment and you still have a chance to give into passion.
Standing in the rain and standing in that moment with no others before and no others to follow. A thousand clich├ęs dance through my mind; all are true and none are enough truth to be deserving of that title.  Her name on the wind as sweet as her breath against my face.  The rain mixed with tears shed for a moment that will not be spoken of in my heart now in this particular moment.  The waters of the sky and of man mingled so perfectly that none could be sure from where the streams on my cheeks are drawn.  The moments that are not forgotten yet don't exist in this still point of my existence will ring of perfection when the world turns once more.  I know that when the world turns again it will turn at an agonizingly slow pace with days drawn out too long and nights too short to ever find rest and peace. 
All of these are truth and yet all fall short of the truth that is buried deep in my soul dying to be born into the world with no words to carry the truth to light.  I feel the frustration of knowing that there will never be words to bring satisfaction.  Her sweet breath, soft hair and warm embrace will linger in the moments to come.  All of these are just moments and memories and the dearth of their presence in my reality may bring tears but it is the absence of the unyielding truth of her words that crushes me. 
If I could do no more with my life I would tell you that love is not what you know it to be.  As beautiful and soft as it may seem it is also a terrible beast that tears you limb from limb.  It greedily imbibes your essence leaving a blissful husk of what was once a man who is not now aware that he is dead and cold.  Love and death are unlikely lovers yet there they walk hand in hand one beautiful and one terrible and both bring about torment and misery that no words can describe.  Before these lovers can steal them, we must turn our words loose with barbaric relentlessness.

Strike without hesitation when you know that love is upon you.  Let your words fly out with rampant passion and grip her soul where they will wring out feelings so viscous and succulent that a mere heart could only dream to emote this way.  Where love comes sweetly to quiet your words, death will follow all too soon and you will know the horror that your words are no more.  If only I had known that I could espouse love to rage and rally and loose a volley of words that would echo beyond the reach of eternal sleep and she would have no doubt. 
But that moment has passed and the chance to speak is gone.  The words come from my soul and find no ears or heart to fall on but I have to believe they are heard and I have to believe that she knows.  I had only a moment, as we all do, and all I can do is wonder if I've made the most of it with my words and actions.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Musings from the Cradle of the Mountains


As I write this I am currently on vacation in BC on the Shuswaps.  If you've never been here I really recommend it.  It's very beautiful and even though it may not be the same kind of relaxing as a hike into the back country, just not having to worry about carrying my cell phone around with me is a major stress relief.  In fact, unplugging from the connected world for a day or two can be relaxing in itself regardless of where you are.

This is an interesting trip for me.  This the type of trip that I would have taken with KB and last night she would have been so excited to see the lightning flash over the mountains and the thunder echoing throughout the valley.  Now, for me, that is an echo of her life and a reminder of the indelible imprint she left on mine.  As I write this I am surrounded by mountain and water. The sun is gently rising over the mountain peaks and spilling on the glassy water. I'm caught in the eddy of this moment. The world is still and I can't help but feel all at once everything that I've lost and gained in my life and the emotion is overwhelming.

I'm travelling with two couples and my two youngest children. My daughter has occasional bouts of panic when we lose our 4g signal intermittently. My son is normally quiet but he has had moments of excitement.  His first time driving a jet ski was probably a highlight. Being an introvert I think being on a boat with six other people for seven days is exhausting.  Also for couples, being in tight quarters for seven days can be a challenge.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of times when everyone is able to embrace the moments of peace and solitude but it's difficult to forget what troubles you may have or leave behind your daily routine without feeling somewhat lost.

I may not be normal in that I seem to enjoy leaving behind the routine and feeling lost for a while.  I think that as we go through the process of finding ourselves again we gain something as things come back into perspective.  We tend to see ourselves just a bit differently as we re-discover ourselves and we can come to terms with who we really are.  Maybe if we are really lucky we have the chance to make changes and become just a bit better than who we were...  It's possible that I just think too much.

What I've learned on this trip is that we all have something that haunts us and everyone has suffered something.  The degree to which we suffer is naturally subjective but we all know what it's like and we all have scars and stories to share. There can be beauty in suffering as well.  All of the scars and the stories behind them can bring people closer together if you are brave enough to share them.

It is very clear that I have some truly amazing people in my life who have been with me unwaveringly through the most difficult times.  Not only are they there to support me but they are there to enjoy the really great moments as well.  In fact they are often the reason for many of the great moments in my life. Maybe that's the point where friends become family.

In a few days I will be taking KB to a place that she loved and I know it will be emotional and difficult for me but it's even more difficult to not have her wishes fulfilled.  Songs and words come to mind but I don't know that I will be able to steel myself and let them flow with any semblance of elegance.  Regardless, I will be with many of the people I love.  This trip has shown me what an abundance of love and caring I have been blessed with.  I choose to recognize that rather than give into the anger that comes from thinking about what I've lost.  Love is not a gift that expires it will always be with you and it grows the more you embrace it.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Dance

I was really trying to keep myself from publishing another weepy grief post but today was one of those days where emotions got the better of me.

Those of you who knew K.B.  know how much she loved the rain and especially when you mix in some thunder and lightning.  This morning was one of those days here in Saskatchewan where the sky opened up and let loose with all three.  Of course, this made me think of K.B. and how on more than one occasion we had danced in the rain not caring how wet we got because we were together and nothing else mattered even the fact that there was no music.  The rain may have been cold but love washes over you with a warmth that can't easily be abated.  It seemed odd (and fitting) that as the rain came down this morning and the memory of dancing in the rain with K.B. came to mind that Wynn Anne sent me a link to The Dance by Garth Brooks.

No matter how much I miss her today, I wouldn't have missed that dance for anything.