Tuesday, March 1, 2011


One of the first things that you will read in any grief book is not to make big changes in the first year.  My urge to purge was great.  I had to start; it was more because I felt that we were just thrown into Rick's illness and time stopped, nothing proceeded as usual.  It seemed like forever since I had gone through my own closet and dresser and drawers around the house; I felt like everything was a mess. I kept the advice close in my thoughts. As I went through things, I focused mainly on my possessions, not Rick’s.

Rick and I had a plan to get rid of our debt and to move to a larger home.  I decided to give myself a “pass” on not making this big decision because it was already a part of the game plan. Our time-line to move was about a year and that was what I was keeping in my head. We were very cramped in our little home even without Rick.

One thing I had saved in all the years we were married were the birthday and anniversary cards that we had given each other.  I had a box of memorabilia from when we were dating and I kept just about every anniversary and Valentine’s Day card.  I came across these in the bottom of a drawer.  Oh! What a Treasure!  Rick was a mushy guy with cards, not so big on saying things. He felt I should just "know" about his love but he made up for it in the area of greeting cards.

As I began to read the cards I was moved in a powerful way. I was sitting in a puddle of tears after about five of them: they were so touching to read. I felt such an assurance of our love for each other as I read.  I found many I had kept from his family and later gave them back to each.  I think it is important to know that the one who has died understood your love for them: this was why I gave them back to his mom, brothers and sisters.

When I was in high school, we had a family gathering in the spring in our backyard.  It was a barbecue and everyone was there.  Everyone in my family is a lot of people.  We were enjoying the weather outside and each other when my mom sent a message to all of us that she wanted to talk with us.  We gathered around the picnic table and she said, “I want you all to know that I know that each of you love me.  When my mother died, I wasn’t sure that my mother knew how much I loved her.  I want all of you to be assured that I know.”  My grandmother had died at least eight years before so this was something that must have been bothering her. 

We were all rather stunned as this was not my mom’s usual style to make announcements of love at family gatherings.  “Mom, we know that you love us too,” we said.  “That’s all that matters,” she said.

Two years ago, my mother was dying of cancer; she was diagnosed with four lesions in her brain.  It was inoperable. I flew up to see her at my brother’s in Syracuse  She was having difficulty walking and had just gone through radiation.  She was feeling the radiation and her hair was beginning to fall out. I shaved her head before I left; it was falling out in clumps. She was tired and dragging but tried to keep a stiff upper lip.

I was there at my brother’s house for four days; each day I was looking for the right moment to say it.  How do you say goodbye to your mother?  Leaving meant that I might never see her again.  As I was getting ready to leave, she was sitting on the couch;  I was putting my shoes on and hopped on the couch next to her and leaned over to her and took her hand. “Mom, I know that you know how much I love you.”I said through tears.  She said, “It’s all that matters, isn’t it?”

When Rick died, I knew that we loved each other and that there was nothing left unsaid; this alone was a huge consolation.  The cards allowed me to hear his voice again and his words soothed my pain.  I still have my precious memories packed away in the attic: some were saved and others tossed but he will always and forever be in my heart.

1 comment:

  1. Your entries always leave me with so much to think about. Your candid expressions of truth and emotion leave me tearful this evening! I thank you for your words of wisdom...