Tag Archive | surrendering

Autumn and Spring


autumntear

I was leaves floating on the wind,
Reds, greens, and yellows floating gracefully,
Joining in that annual farewell dance.
I was cool, brisk mornings, foreshadowing
Cold winter days to come
And kissing the carefree summer nights goodbye.
You were the bright colors bursting forth
After the winter killed the fathers and mothers
That left their seeds in the rich, fertile earth.
You were the warm March breeze
Foreshadowing the carefree summer nights to come.
When you and I would kiss happiness goodbye.
How could you and I ever stay together
With winter always keeping us apart?
How I long to stay afloat on the air with you
Where seasons never end
And happiness forever embraces us.
Just to kiss you again.
©2014 Relinda R.

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The 10 Best and Worst Things I’ve Learned after Losing my Spouse


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Best Things:

1. You learn which people are your true friends. (People who really care will show up, not to dispense advice, but to be there for whatever you need)

2. You realize to what great depth you loved someone. (Love deeply, you will grieve deeply)
3. You notice your loved one’s presence from time to time. (An important reminder that his or her soul continues to live)
4. You learn the truth about people. (People will show their true colors by their actions)
5. You learn to listen. (Listen to people, read everything—non-verbal behavior, verbal behavior, and between the lines, and you will see either their compassion or their annoyance with you)
6. You learn that cemeteries are sacred, and not to be feared.
7. You get to know yourself completely. (You may not like what you find, but at least you know the truth)
8. You realize how important love is during incarnations. (You discover that love is the only thing that matters)
9. You learn that people live to love.
10. You become strong. (Even if you were already strong, you become stronger)

Worst Things:
1. You learn which people are your true friends. (You realize that most people are merely acquaintances, and really do not care about your well-being unless it affects their life in some manner)
2. You realize to what great depth you loved someone. (Realizing the extent of your love means you also realize that your heart is ripped open and beyond repair)
3. You realize you can drink straight from the milk carton and it does not matter because there is no one there to care.
4. You learn the truth about people. (You learn that most people do not really care what you feel inside, but are concerned about what you reveal on the outside)
5. You learn to listen. (Unfortunately, while learning to listen—you develop an uncanny ability to read non-verbal clues)
6. You learn that people make assumptions based on appearances. (You realize that unless you are attractive, no one will ever get to know you)
7. You get to know yourself completely. (You may discover that it is impossible to function as yourself because people merely tolerate you)
8. You realize how important love is during incarnations. (By discovering that love is all that matters, you realize that everything that mattered is gone for the duration of this incarnation)
9. You learn that people live to love. (You realize that without love and affection, you cannot live, only exist)
10. You become strong. (If you were already strong, becoming stronger means that your heart begins to close, and eventually, it closes completely)

We all know that grief is different for everyone. We can read about the stages of grief, and the stories of grief, but ultimately, everyone experiences it differently. For me, losing my husband meant losing the best part of me. For nearly 20 years, I functioned on the premise that life was about happiness, affection, and love. For the last four years, I’ve realized that I was right—without those emotions, life is an unfulfilled journey. My husband and I were very passionate, and we laughed . . . we laughed so much. My personal experience dictates my list of the 10 best and worst things about losing a spouse. Everyone’s list is different.

You will note that many of the things on my “best” list are also on my “worst” list. It is all about perception. For instance, there is a positive and negative about learning who your true friends really are. If you think you have a wide circle of friends, you may realize that you only have a few. The true friends will not change the subject or ignore you. They will show up unexpectedly to mow your lawn or just listen. They will be there when you call them in the middle of the night, just to listen. And they never tell you that you are wrong to grieve. Treasure those people in your life, for they are few. On the other hand, finding out who your true friends are is a good thing because you realize where you stand with people. If they tire of your sadness, they tire of you. Those are the people who do not care about your feelings, but rather about what it is you can do for them. It is good to know where you stand. The cliché about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer is accurate. Know who your friends are and make adjustments accordingly.

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Realizing that you loved someone so completely that he or she was a part of you is wonderful, and equally devastating. You begin to know just how fully and completely you were loved and gave love, but at the same time, you realize that is gone and you will never have it again. For me, life has no purpose beyond that of loving. I can accumulate degrees and awards, but they mean nothing because at the end of the day—I have no one with whom to share those accomplishments. My life centered on affection—there were always good morning hugs, middle-of-the-day hugs, and night hugs. Now, I am fortunate to receive a hug once a year or so, and those hugs are usually forced. It is difficult learning to live life devoid of human affection. There are usually children and true friends to hug, but that is different, I am speaking of no holds barred, all-out partner hugs. Eventually, you learn that you can exist without affection, but that is all it is—existence. I continue to exist.

Learning the truth about people, much like learning who your friends are, is equally wonderful and devastating. You learn so much about people by reading their mannerisms and listening to their words. Unfortunately, you learn that the majority of people want to avoid you and just want to see you smile. They do not care whether those smiles are real or not; they just do not want to deal with the negativity or sadness. Essentially, you learn to wear a mask in public. Wearing a mask is not about deception necessarily, but about functioning in society. You must maintain a mask to work efficiently.

Learning that people live to love is a quandary. Love is the most powerful of all human emotion, and it does not matter how independent one is—when there is no one who looks into your eyes with total love, what is the point of anything? I’ve recently heard a lot about loving yourself, etc.—that is all great, but human beings still need to hear “I love you,” and not while gazing at your reflection. It is great to love yourself . . . to a point. When you love yourself too much, you become narcissistic and indifferent. I’ve always been independent, but I’ve also always believed that love is real. Ultimately, accepting that you will be alone for the rest of your days and no one will ever truly love you again is a pivotal point in life. For me, I have to accept it so that I can continue, but for anyone else—I would say never do this. Never accept solitude. Only the extremely strong will survive this way. Once you accept solitude, your heart begins to turn cold. I liked the “old me,” the person who loved completely and was loved in return. The “new me” has been alone so long that the thought of not being alone horrifies me. I am to the point that I look forward to coming home to an empty, cold, lonely home because for two days, I can be the “old me.” I can shed the mask and stop pretending, even if for just a few moments.

I was already strong. In fact, that was one of the qualities that my husband loved most about me. The “new me” has become even stronger. Colder, yes, but stronger—after all, the cold is a side effect of strength. You have to maintain a wall in order to build strength. You build a wall to cope and keep people out. Unfortunately, the wall eventually becomes so high that no one can penetrate it.

This list is primarily for me. I would never want anyone else to learn about grief in the manner I have. I will stop writing one day, I will stop talking about my loneliness one day, and I will completely accept solitude one day. I am still straddling the fence right now, with most of me almost there. “Hope” has all but taken his last breath inside my heart. When he gasps for the last breath of air, and I accept solitude completely, there will be no turning back. None. The “old me” looked forward to every day; the “new me” has nothing to look forward to, which is pointless. When Hope dies completely, I will have fulfilled my purpose in life as my heart closes forever. No doubt that it will be a great relief to most—they will no longer have to read about my grief or sadness, they will not hear negativity, they will see what they want. There will not be posts on social media sites, there will not be any more pleas for help; all will be silent. This is a good thing though, a good thing indeed, but not for those few true friends in my life, and certainly not for me.

©2014 Relinda R.

The Key


My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.

‘Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.

‘What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
‘I never know what you are thinking. Think.”
― T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

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I continue to exist. . . breathing, barely so, but existing. They tell me I should be grateful for that—for existing. They tell me many things, but the only one who I truly hear whispers from inside my mind, quietly reminding me that I should go. I argue, of course, I say that I must withstand my punishment, but the whispering says that no one wants me here anymore—not really…did they ever want me here? It’s sad really, so sad that they believe punishment comes after death when in reality, we live our punishment amidst the fires of our hell every day. Empty streaks of blue try to hide the gray shades of my hell. The blue masks the gray skies; it is not really that beautiful shade of blue. Blue—what is blue but a shade of black that we think we see. I saw only the blue before; it was a long, long time ago. I don’t see blue anymore. Eliot’s Waste Land is real. I should know; I possess the key.

©2014 Relinda R.

The Last Hurdle


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I have but one more hurdle to overcome,

Learning to live life empty and alone.

As the time passes, the heart grows numb,

Cold, and as hard as stone.

I miss the sun,

I miss you.

I miss the joy,

I miss you.

I will jump and clear the hurdle.

Wait for me, I will come.

©2014 Relinda R.

Stains of Life


Once again, as I near the monthly death day anniversary I begin an endless routine of torture. Sleep eluded me during the night and all I managed was a couple of hours of broken and jagged slumber even after two sleeping pills. Approaching three-and-a-half years in hell and I can understand the enormity of the words “eternal damnation.” The moments, in which my mind was lucid, memories of my life before filled it—memories of when I was still adored. Memories of a man who loved me more than I ever deserved filled my lucid moments. It was during those lucid moments that tears ran from my eyes to puddle upon the pillow that I clutched ever so tightly—his pillow. However, during the moments in which my mind hovered somewhere in the twilight land between our world and a realm of chaotic nightmares, this is what emerged from beneath the growing cobwebs within my mind:

red lips

The day Alice Bentley learned that the lump in her breast was benign, she fled the physician’s office to rush home and share the good news with the man she loved. She smiled because she knew that the man whom she had pledged her life to 31 years ago—the man who she promised to love in sickness and in health—the man who fathered her only son—the man whom she had baked bread for would take her into his massive strong embrace and kiss her as though she were his new bride and they were making love for the first time.

But as Alice neared the home they shared, an eerie feeling crept up her spine and she shuddered as chills made her whole body shiver. She opened the door that once displayed the prettiest Christmas wreath, but had long since stood empty without any sign of joviality. Alice threw her 1950s-style purse onto the counter where she had cooked and baked chocolate chip cookies for her husband and son. She carelessly slung her car keys atop the yellow 1960s dining room table where the three of them had eaten together every night of the week but they stopped cold when they slid and sank into the spot where Bob Jr. had dropped a screwdriver after his team had won a football game. Elated, he had grabbed the screwdriver from the hall table where he had left it earlier. He had been working to restore the 1948 Ford F-1 pickup that he had bought with money saved from mowing lawns and carrying groceries to cars that belonged to little old ladies who had no qualms about presenting him with tips and patting him on the arm for being such a good boy. He carried many groceries and shared many smiles to earn enough money to paint the pickup a flat hunter green. The pickup was so old, but to Bob Jr., it was brand spanking new. But Alice did not think of any of this as she called her husband’s name.

She saw the top of her husband’s balding scalp as he leaned back in his La-Z-Boy recliner that she had bought for him on Father’s Day 13 years ago. On the television set, a sultry young woman rambled loudly about how Clearasil had changed her life. Thinking Bob Sr. must have dozed off while mindlessly watching Archie Bunker insult his son-in-law, Alice quietly tiptoed to the back of the treasured recliner and kissed the top of her husband’s scalp, leaving a stain of ruby red lipstick on his skin, something he never seemed to mind. As Alice leaned down to lovingly stroke Bob Sr.’s shoulders, she opened her eyes. Bob Sr. was cold. His fingers still clutched the 1978 Ruger Single Six Convertible pistol he had bought at Smith’s Pawn Shop on the corner of Bellview and Basin streets. Alice looked intently at the way Bob Sr.’s mouth hung open as though he was only sleeping. She half-expected a ground-shaking snore to emerge, but there was no sound but that of Michael Landon’s voice explaining to little Laura why Bandit had to die. Oddly, as Alice studied the blood staining Bob Sr.’s beloved recliner, she wondered whether she would be able to remove the stain from the fabric. She noticed some gray colored clumps too. She wondered what it was.

Alice did not scream nor did she cry. She simply took the afghan throw she had crocheted years ago from the arm of the La-Z-Boy and covered Bob Sr. with it, carefully pulling the edge up to his nipple line and tucking the sides under the enormous belly that 31 years of good cooking and good loving had nurtured. She put her hands on his temples and leaned down to kiss his forehead just the way she had done countless times, again leaving a ruby red stain on his now pale skin.

Alice calmly walked to her bedroom closet and removed the knee-length pastel yellow dress covered in a ghastly array of every colored flower known to man. She thoughtlessly used her fingers to swipe at a stain near the hem. She recalled that she had dropped a mug of coffee to the floor and it splattered near her feet, soaking the hem of her Sunday dress. Alice was not a clumsy woman, but Bob Sr. had innocently allowed a police officer into the front door of their home. After all, Alice had hanged a welcome sign adorned with straw-colored flowers and a little bluebird perched on the “em” in “Welcome.” How could the police officer know that he would not be welcome in the little two-bedroom home that Bob Sr. and Alice Bentley shared for 31 years? When the uniformed police officer told them that there had been an accident involving a hunter green 1948 Ford F-1 pickup and a brand new 1980 Chevrolet Camaro and there were no survivors, Alice had dropped the coffee mug she was holding. She screamed at the officer to get out of her home while Bob Sr. tried to harness his own anguish and instead console his hysterical wife. The police officer quietly left the little house that seeped with love.

Alice donned her pastel yellow dress with the flower explosion and coffee stain because it was so appropriate for the occasion. She had never worn the dress since that awful day. She gazed into the full-length oval mirror that had belonged to her grandmother and reapplied her ruby red lipstick to lips that would never again leave stains on Bob Sr.’s scalp. Alice still did not cry. She went to the bathroom where tile once sparkled and pencil marks revealing Bob Jr.’s height each year adorned the hollow wood-panel door. She closed the door and drew some water in the claw-style footed bath, not caring whether it was warm or cold. Alice reached to open the medicine chest and thought about how Bob Sr. had built a little stool so that their son could reach the sink to brush his teeth every night before they both tucked him into his twin-sized bed. She took a single blade from her husband’s cache of blades for the razor that he used to shave whiskers to avoid irritating his wife’s delicate ivory skin. Alice turned off the water, which was ice-cold. She removed her black shoes that seemed to be from her grandmother’s childhood and carefully placed them in the shoe rack that still held Bob Jr.’s cleats from when he ran track and won the hundred-yard dash during his sophomore year of high school.

Alice stepped into the ice-cold water without even flinching as she sat and leaned back as though she were going to nap. She ran the single razor up the length of her right arm from her palm to her elbow and watched numbly as crimson blood began to pour. Before the water could turn ruby red like the lipstick she wore, she ran the razor up her left arm much like the right, just numbly staring as the clear water turned the same ruby shade of the lipstick stain on Bob Sr.’s forehead. And she thought—“I just don’t know if this stain will come out of the fabric.” Alice went to sleep.

©2013 Relinda R.

 

 

 

Crazy World


 

nightsky

It is a crazy world and we are all a little crazy. The older I become, the more obvious the insanity becomes. I remember calm and organized days in which I carefully mapped out the day’s activities with precise calculation. Those days lay buried beneath a two feet stack of philosophical theories ranging from Kant to Zizek. To the right of that stack lays a pile of newspapers with random marks highlighting certain passages, longing to cling to some type of memory. Teetering dangerously close to the edge of the room-sized desk, a stack of Jane Austen novels appear, just begging to share its own philosophical perspective. And peering from beneath Jane Austen, a tattered corner of Homer’s mystifying account of wars and heroes whose bones have long since turned to dust. Perched atop the growing stacks of knowledge is the Tibetan Book of the Dead, reminding me that although death is inevitable, absolute oblivion is impossible. And there above the chaos hangs a photo of my beloved.

 

The more cluttered my mind becomes, the more I drift from the shore that keeps me safe. Photos surround me; photos of children whose childhoods remain permanently etched into the canvas of time. Televised accounts of the simplest things knock me from my perch of avoidance. I stay immersed in work so that my mind seldom has time to remember a time when there were moments for stolen kisses or much needed hugs. Just when I think I have completely forgotten what a kiss feels like, I will catch a glimpse of two lovers in a movie. I cry. I cry because I remember being kissed just because someone loved me. I cry because I know I will never be kissed again. tears

 

My days of organized plans are long gone. My life has become a series of chaotic moments drowned in the ugly reality of survival. I am tired. I fight the moments in which I want to surrender. I know that surrendering is not an option. I trudge forward because I made a promise. I miss moments with embraces in the moonlight; I miss shared kisses and hugs; I miss the feeling of knowing someone loves me simply because I am me; I miss returning to a house where so much laughter filled it that it became a home; I miss feeling safe; I miss feeling as though I matter; but most of all, I miss you.

 

Through it all, I put my smile on each morning to appease everyone. I know that each person I meet has his or her own heartache with which to contend. They certainly do not need to see mine.

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I am beyond tired-I am exhausted and during those rare moments when I entertain how wonderful it would be to see you right now, I drift and wonder if my punishment will ever permit me to go home. It is a crazy world and we are all a little crazy and the longer I have to stay, the more I want to leave…the more I want you to hold me once again and whisper that you love me too.

 

©2013 Relinda R.

Part I: Learning to be a Widow


How do you learn to be a widow? You do not learn how; you simply take one moment at a time. I was only 44 years old when I realized that I was truly alone. The man I love has gone on to a destination that I cannot travel to…yet. The beginning is survivable. Why? Because you are, numb. You become so numb that you cannot feel whether you are hot or cold or in pain. You just become absorbed in waking up and carrying on as though life still mattered. I learned that it takes more energy to crawl from the bed and attempt to eat than it does to build a house. It takes more energy to get dressed than it does to run a marathon. Sometimes, you just fall to your knees without warning. It does not hit you as a brick might; it hits you slowly like a gentle rain and gradually increases in intensity until your feel as though a storm of softball-sized hailstones are pounding you. As hard as you try, there is no escape from the pounding hailstones.

It hurts to know that you will be alone forever. It is like the final blow. You spend each day wondering what will go wrong on this day. Through all the wondering, still, you know that the next day will be worse than the previous one. You see the people you love moving on with their lives and realize that you have nothing in which to look forward. There is only the knowledge that you will never hear his laugh or feel his touch again. That is a hard pill to swallow.
Your face almost becomes plastic as you attempt to smile continuously, not because you are happy, but to comfort others. Yes, it comforts them. The tears make people uncomfortable. You begin to pray for lightning to strike you or never to awaken again. You have to do this in silence though because if you express the intensity of your sadness, people will undoubtedly discuss having you committed. No one wants to be committed against his or her will.
After the first year, the numbness begins to wear off and everything gets worse. The realization that he is never coming home begins to sink into your heart. The knowledge that no one will ever love you in the way that he did tears at your soul. Knowing that you will never again share a kiss or make love just makes you want to claw your way through the wall. Sometimes, you just cry instead.
During the first year, people are generally patient with you. As time goes on, they begin to lose their patience. People will ignore you and you may encounter those who berate you for grieving. One person ended his friendship with me because of my grief. It is difficult enough to exist with the knowledge that you will never again see the love of your life; it becomes even more difficult to know that people will abandon you unless you manage to laugh all the time. Oh, you will wear that familiar façade of the bereaved and try to make jokes even while your heart is breaking. You may even find yourself trying to laugh and struggle to hide your tears. Eventually, the façade begins to crack.
Every day, you slip a little deeper into an abyss of grief. Routine may become a savior. Get up. Get dressed. Go to work. Go home. Go to bed. Just those simple things are exhausting but they are a tie to some kind of normalcy. I spend the weekends poring through photo albums and journals, trying to pretend that I still have a life as half a person. I would not recommend that. It does not work. You risk staining the photos with your teardrops and coming perilously close to joining your other half quickly.
You cannot learn to be a widow; it just happens. You wake up alone, knowing that this is now your life. It does not hit you as a brick might; it hits you slowly like a gentle rain and gradually increases in intensity until your feel as though a storm of softball-sized hailstones are pounding you. As hard as you try, there is no escape from the pounding hailstones.

©2012 Relinda R.