Sunday, September 4, 2016

Life goes on, but never the same.

I didn't run off to Canada, nor did I drop off the face of the Earth. Today I am on an extended visit at daughter Stephanie's house in Boynton Beach,FL. Going back home next weekend after being away for five weeks.  I've had a lot of time to think and am ready to share this deeply personal journey of life after death.

I started writing many blogs that sit as drafts because I wasn't sure they were worthy of print. It was my goal to bring enlightenment as to how I cope(d) with losing my BFF, love of my life. Then I slowly realized I am clueless and naive to think I could make this easier for someone else, especially since I am still carrying myself from one day to another.

What I can do is review the emotional twists and turns I've been through since Kevin died of cancer on June 26th. Some maybe familiar or helpful to others and also serve as a personal reminder for me.

It shouldn't have been a shock to me, the day he stopped breathing, but it was. We'd been fighting the metastasized lung cancer for a year, which was a year longer than doctors first gave him. So, everyday, no matter how hard, was a gift. We weren't making plans to do anything other than for doctors' visits, chemotherapy, MRIs and countless scans. By the time Kevin took a break from chemo treatments and the cancer seemed to be diminishing last fall he was weak and we both didn't like the idea of being too far away from Dr. Tang, Kevin's lifeline. By spring cancer was once again spreading, the chemo treatments were no longer working and it was a slow downhill slide. Plans were for him to start chemotherapy with different drugs, but that never happened because everything else started going wrong in Kevin's body. We'd actually lost the battle months before he passed away. That never occurred to me until a few weeks ago. We never gave up hope. Never.

Some of you know what we went through, since you received email updates from me.

The first days after Kevin died were filled with deep sorrow, regret, confusion, pain so deep in my soul. Loneliness.

Despite having our children with me and so many others visiting, calling, texting, emails, cards, letters and flowers to keep in touch with me, I was all alone without Kevin for the first time in thirty-one years.

There was also yucky stuff that I had to do. Paperwork. Final arrangements. Much more paperwork. I'd spent my time taking care of and worrying about Kevin. Now all of that was gone and I realized I needed to take care of myself. Get to the things I neglected. And get through the grieving. Easier said than done.

First of all, I cannot overstate how everyday maybe different. Something will trigger sorrow and dread. Another occurrence brings sweet memories and peace. I plan to devote the next few blogs to different circumstances that I've gone through.

 Starting with Signs from Kevin and Cat

Kevin and Snuggles aka Cat helped then and are still holding me up. For years Cat spent most of her day off sleeping under a bed or elsewhere hidden. She was always friendly, but not overly so. When Kevin became sick she stayed close by him. Now she is my shadow and talks to me in cat language. Of course, I talk back and we discuss how much we miss Kevin.

Yes, I believe Kevin is always with me in Spirit. One of the last things he said to me was, "I'm sorry." I know he meant he was sorry to leave me. He knew how much I wanted him to be with me forever. I told him so, over and over. He wanted to be with me forever. He is with me in my heart, mind and prayers.

At first, I thought I'd hit on something. when I felt his presence and thought I'd caught a glance of him behind me or sitting in his favorite rocking chair. I even talked to him (pretended to be talking to cat). Just said casual stuff and how I was relieved he was there with me. I  felt calmed and believed this was how I would get through losing him. Even thought it was worthy of sharing with others in case they found themselves suffering from loss.. Then I realized I am on the same path as most others. It is part of grieving, of getting over. Now I am comforted feeling his presence, always, and  I "think-talk" to Kevin mostly. I keep the sobs and tears to a minimum because this interaction could be for Kevin's benefit, as well. Who knows.

According to me, he leaves signs everyday. They are things that remind me of him. Things he would normally point out to me in the old days and reminders of what we shared. Most of the time signs that show he is with me are meant to make me smile and feel his arms around me. Like rainbows, heart-shaped stones or leaves, a tuneful tweet from a bird, pretty sunsets. Here is a leaf Stephanie found while we were on a walk. There weren't any other heart-shaped leaves around. Just this one and she said it was for me from Kevin. And always beautiful rainbows.

 Other signs provoke thinking

Even signs of caution like ones I saw on my walk this morning. First a little snake (I am not afraid of snakes, but give them their space). he was pencil-thin little, silvery and made it clear about not moving an inch from his place on the sidewalk.   Then a squirrel that chattered at me as he scurried up a tree, like he wasn't paying attention and I surprised him. Next was a scary dog that lunged at me dragging the 90 pound lady along who was attempting to walk him. I was more annoyed at the woman than afraid of the dog.Last was a man on a bike who passed me from behind without warning me. He apparently trusted I would stay on the right side of the sidewalk while he sped by on his bike, wearing Dr, Dre Beats headphones.  I never heard or saw him until he was passing by me.

Pardon me if I stray from the message here. I am trying to unwind this morning's signs as I write.

Between the dog and bike guy encounters, I passed a man also wearing headphones, more like ear buds and bright red sneakers. I wear a phone pouch suspended around my neck and when I walk I hold the pouch in my hand, to keep it from swinging back and forth. When we passed each other, he smiled, said hello and glanced at the pouch in my hand. I know he was thinking I grabbed it to keep it secure as we passed. Because he is black. I knew what was going through his mind. Kevin made me notice. I am sad that anyone has to assume something like that.  Based on nothing but their race.

I am off to ponder this morning's signs and promise to be back soon. I look forward to comments and input regarding grief, healing and how to cope. Oh yes, enjoy Labor Day.

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