September 28th, 2020 I lost the love of my life. And found that mourning is unique to all of us and that it the beginning of a journey into being new. But before I get into those thoughts. Joyce Hifler writes these following words. “Through April may bring you a shower or a flower___a rainbow of every hue___through the sun may touch your nose or toes___happiness depends on you___Love may come with a flair or with care____a whistle a tune in your ear___And whether the sound of joy or annoy___depends upon how you hear___Life waits for no one, nor hurries away__It’s there for the choosing, you see. Whether April or May___or whatever the day__it’s that which you make it to be!” I think I at last understand what she meant.
After the initial shock of Thomas going POOF! I found that I needed to step back and do self care. I did not feel like crying all the time, but then things would hit me and I would cry and feel loss. I see myself as someone who applies logic and reasoning to the things I wish to process. How to move forward was the first bit of thinking, what did I need to do to feel secure? Luckily I do have a lovely daughter who was close to Thomas whom came to my rescue. She is most supportive of me and what I plan to do in life. There are good friends too who care and offer help. Together that support is much welcome! It also requires reaching out to these individuals and other new friends. How to be? What to do? When to just simply be in the present.
For me one of the first things was to change the house to be different. Thomas died in the bathroom. So the plan is to change the bathroom so I have a different image in my head than one of leaning him against me, he on the floor and I sitting on the toilet. Help arrived___and then he was gone! I sat in the living room while they did all they did talking to my daughter. You sort of move through that___perhaps with numbness. There are all these people being kind and guiding you through the process and then your loved one is taken away, and then there is quiet and thoughts of what now? You work to stay in the present because its not the time to break down, but there are those times. Exhaustion? That lets you sleep awhile. Then you move on, and do what you must. You make calls to let friend and family know. The there are the arrangements to be made.
Whether it is imagination or not___Thomas showed up when we made the arrangements. In our life there had been a lot of love and humor! My daughter Jacobie and I sat waiting for the funeral director. It got very cold just between us! I moved over making room and she adjusted her own self. We looked at each other, and both felt this was Thomas. His voice then came into my head, and in a sort of serious voice he said. “I am naked!” And so he was! He had lost his shorts and underwear having the need for the bathroom before having a bad hyperventilation experience. I will explain this later. Before me in my mind I saw Thomas naked back side too, he was moving his butt back and forth like a duck in front of me. It did not seem appropriate to see this in my mind. But for what ever reason it happened! My daughter and I spoke about it and had to laugh! Thomas was a very modest person and in real life would never have done this! What I saw left me feeling, “I think he feels free of his body!” Thomas died because his heart gave out. He had advance pulmonary fibrosis. This had worsened, he was on oxygen. The ability to breath was becoming worse. His heart gave out because in 2014 he had had a valve put into his heart being born with one less, and this he had learned not long before his operation. I think of all the things he did prior without knowing this! He could swim under the water a long ways and let people on hiking trips! He loved the outdoors, was an artist___a really amazing man. He also had worked as a toll taker and the fumes etc that toll-takers take in could not have helped his lungs much, he had smoked earlier in life, but had stopped when we got together. We were married 22 years!
Thomas also showed up at the funeral in this same way. Knocking over artwork on an easel by the casket. It just fell off! This time Jacobie was by the casket and heard Thomas say. “Ooops! Shit happens!” His face looked just like before he says this comment. He loved sunflowers! And these popped up everywhere!
So mourning is many things, many things happen as you move through it. At some point you need to find new homes for “his things” or give things away! Keeping them would serve no purpose. And I am confident in how Thomas would feel if he could talk to me about what to do in the present. I know he would not want me to be sad, mourn his not being there forever, and would understand I should not hang onto “things”. And there are many things! A lot of art work, a lot of art books, a room full of music! We loved our music! Jazz, the classics___In fact Thomas did a Jazz radio show at one point. Then he was a movie buff so there are many movies. I love these things too. But____ I will find homes for some things. His family photos was easy! He has a brother whom I am sure would love them to pass them on to his children. One finds things they need to keep among it all. But for now I think finding a special place for somethings and even photos of Thomas and me…Let them have a place and bring them out when I wish. I find I like the early photos when he was younger because I was not with him then. Marriage photos need to be set in the now special chest I have in mind. Five months out. I find myself alone, but not lonely.
I was in the middle of an art related project, in the studio working long hours at times, during the week. Thomas coming and going. We were making plans for him in the studio, once he felt better___He would do printmaking and work on old projects___ I am grateful to have some pictures of him in the studio.
Now? Now I have more time in my day. Time that used to be filled with long talks, lots of love and laughter! Teasing and flirting, making plans. Watching t.v. and listening to music. Long discussions on anything and everything! Going places, getting him ready to work until he retired. The thing is now how to plan your day. Perhaps because I am an artist, and have writing projects, research and children’s book projects at this point in life. There is a lot I can do as well as do the clearing out___the remaking of my home___the learning to be single. I have never been single before. I married my first husband out of high school. My first taste of being on my own was when I had to be away for 3 years during the week to finish my degree program. Home summer, holidays and weekends. That was hard and en-lighting. The first marriage worsened in its merit at this point. And would end as I ended my degree program. It was also a time of change. The loss of a relationship I had committed myself to, only to find we were two very different people with different needs, and other things____ I had met Thomas. Later we dated, and married. A wonderful life began at that point! We worked through many issues that arrived from divorcing and had at last came out the other side! Children grow up and you move into being grandparents, etc.
Now a bit of Joyce Hifler again. “Life is sometimes interrupted in the way that a room is when the wind thrust open the shutters and fills it with fresh air and a bit of new living. Some outside force must push its way into our lives or we might go on forever living in musty attics and dark undeveloped minds.” Then she writes: “We should always look on seemingly adverse situation as those which have come to awaken us and bring into our lives a more meaningful and fuller living. It isn’t easy to give up those things that have become a part of us. We love the familiar touch, the familiar scents, the familiar sounds but these sometimes demand their freedom and though it leaves us bewildered it also leaves a message. That message is that her is a new life, a new challenge, and if we are made of the right stuff, we can find the grit and determination to follow a way that has been given to us and make it count for something, we have taken the handles to plow a new furrow. We are never alone, for those whom we have loved are with us, urging us on to new and better things.” Thomas will always be in my head and heart, that is how it was with us! We were so into each other! I know what he wants for me, he did his best to make things ok before he died. So___breath and be kind to the self…take care of the self and live fully! So the things you love and reclaim and embrace life in new ways! Make things happen! Fill your life with joy! You will always remember. This and don’t forget to dance! Perhaps before a fire in the moonlight to embrace what was!
Pejj Nunes 1/21/2021 Best wishes!