Sunday, October 16, 2011

Widowhood: Six Years Today

Six years ago, on Sunday, October 16, 2005 at 9:10 a.m. my husband died. His heart stopped beating, his lungs quit taking in air, his brain waves went flat. A few minutes later, the doctor on call pronounced him dead.

Lives end in such a cold, clinical way. Within an hour, after the chaplain had spoken with me and the children had come to say a last goodbye, the nurse urged me from the room. Another patient would need the space, another battle would be fought…maybe won, maybe lost.

So this is my sixth anniversary of widowhood. People congratulate me for how well I’ve “gotten over” the loss, how I’ve gone on with my life. I had no choice, did I? There was no, “Would you like to go on or would you rather not?”

I didn’t imagine I could ever manage alone. I didn’t think I’d smile again or wake without reaching for Ralph or look forward to the future. I do all those things, but I haven’t gotten over the loss. I’ve just learned to live a different life.

I’ve learned to look forward…and backward. I cherish memories of conversations, laughter, even arguments (Yes, once I socked him in front of his mother. No one in either of our families has forgotten that.) I look back on the times when our children (two mine, one his) were small, when they had their tedious, awful teenage years we thought we’d never live through, the weddings, our granddaughter’s birth and how she loved Ralph, her Popo. We had a good life and I can be glad for that, even if our time together was too short.

Last weekend was the Jewish Day of Atonement. Not only do we pray then to be inscribed for life for the next year, but we take time to remember our loved ones who passed away. So here, in memory of Ralph, is the part of the memorial service that I love the best:

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
We remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We remember them.

In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of the summer,
We remember them.

In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
We remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart,
We remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share,
We remember them.

So long as we live, they, too, shall live,
For they are part of us,
As we remember them.


Kit Courteney said... [Reply to comment]

What a lovely post to write in memory of your husband.

Clearly, a very fitting tribute.

Best wishes :)

Carol Apple said... [Reply to comment]

What a sweet post Thelma. The memorial poem is really beautiful and it sounds like you and Ralph had a beautiful life together. I understand the death of a spouse is about the hardest thing you can go through and you seem to be moving on in the best way possible.

Michael Krieger said... [Reply to comment]

Hard to believe it has been six years. I think you have managed well beyond your expectations.

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you Carol and Kit. TZ

And Michael. It's hard to believe this much time has gone by. Ralph would be so proud of Gabriella, and I'm glad she remembers him so lovingly. Mom

Elizabeth Young said... [Reply to comment]

This beautiful post truly honours your late husband Thelma, and is an example to all who have lost someone they loved. You shine like a light in the midst of darkness, pointing to the beauty of what was and what remains. Thank you for sharing. Elizabeth.

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

Elizabeth, thank you for your kind words.

Virginia said... [Reply to comment]

"I've just learned to live a different life." True and beautiful words--and something most people don't understand. I lost my son almost 8 years ago and I have heard so often the "getting over it" speech--it's not possible, but you change, and it changes you, and you learn to live with it.

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks, Virginia. I'm sorry about your loss. Life is never the same but I think you just learn to live with the differences. TZ


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