I can see a scene from The Ya Ya Sisterhood in my mind. Yes! A time to embrace and celebrate! I will do this come spring as I will invite Thomas friends and family to a get-together to celebrate his life. And perhaps spread his ashes. We can all dance! Thomas was marvelous! It was a norm to get lifted and her loud snaps when we kissed! How that for fireworks? He was a very compassionate, loving person. When we met he was in his early 40s. Had not married. I like to tell the story about his mother. Eileen was of English and Iris decent. She looked very Irish, a lot like her father. The story goes this way. Thomas came down and stopped by his mother’s room. She said to him, “Thomas, that broad called again last night!. (She was fishing out of her curiosity, Thomas and some women?) His response was: “SHE IS NOT A BROAD! And then the story skips to a later conversation I had with Eileen. “And then I said to him, “Thomas what you doing with a women with three kids!” She liked his answer! “I can figure it out!” And so he could and did! He was a great loving friend to my kids, and my oldest and he became very close, she and our grandchildren. Eileen watched out for me in this way. I would be in the living room and hear Tom and his mothers conversations. Eileen did not hear well, but Thomas could hear my laughter! When his mother was scolding him about me! “Thomas your not an old batch now! You need to take her out!” Show her a good time! Eat out and a movie! She also made me feel very loved! As did Thomas Dad. Eileen would say, ” I wish we had met 20 years ago! We would have traveled! I bet we would have and likely I would become a bit of a shop-a-holic. She would have been marvelous to know when younger I think. Truly a best girlfriend. I am sure she may have wondered at some point “what it be like with this person in our lives?” I know what it feels like to have your children move into relationships but Thomas was in his 40s and it worked for him to live with his folks as there were two homes. She would also say, “God sent me to her!” Well, he gave them all to me! I got to take care of them, and love them! At a time when I really need to nurture and love others. Life was hard at the time as I was going through an angry divorce.
I met Thomas at the University of Southern Maine. I had taken a gallery management class, and I had a performance arts class___dance mind you! I was not trained in dance. Evident in the fact that when I did my final dance___performance__A dance with Chopin as the music. My final smiling bow ended with a very loud snap accruing! There is an elastic like ligament that runs down your calf. Mine snapped! I was on crutches for 4 weeks. It was a good think it was not the leg one uses for the gas pedal… The “dam thing” went all the way up the leg and to get into the car you had to get into the middle of the seat. Lugging art supplies on campus require pulling a cart. At times people would help. Well, now! The art professors had an exhibition and the gallery management class manned the exhibition. Me all dolled up complete with crutches! One of the works was a huge paper done in charcoal and it came out from the wall a bit so people going by were smudging it. So my task was to stand so people went around me and not be close to the piece. This is where Thomas and I first met. He was very handsome in a really lovely suit! I can still see the color and pattern in my mind. He kept returning and offered to get me drink and food. We talked a lot. Enough that I though “This is what a nice man is like!” Thomas was always the gentleman! Always! That is how his mother raised him and his brother. Things had been bad with me an my first husbands and I did not feel it would last, but I was still trying to make things work. But I recall thinking. “If ever I do divorce I would like someone like this person!” I had no idea I would end up with him. My marriage such an nightmare I did not want to get married ever again. I was certain I would repeat having a bad relationship. I had married right out of high school. What did I know? Not enough! Thomas was like having a best girlfriend. LOL There were six of us older students who hung out. He was the only guy. Thomas knew how to be a good friend. After three years the degree program was to come to an end. I had been practicing how to say good by to this lovely person. I played with the idea that I could say to him after all the things we talked about. Basically___”I really love who you are, and hope you have a very good life!” I had to go back home and solve what to do with a failing marriage. I had made a commitment to my first husband so I had not entertained any idea about Thomas other than friendship. I was not free to get involved with anyone. It was not right! And Thomas had never been inappropriate towards me. Just two good friends who really liked who the other person was. Well___we were wrapping up our printmaking class, our finals. And Thomas was doing Lithography. He, myself and our friend Nancy were working late. Thomas did large editions of Jazz prints. He had forgotten to take of his watch and the solution he used as a part of the process was getting under the watch, the acid was burning his skin. He quickly took it off and tossed it over onto the table where it knocked over his coffee mug onto Nancy’s newsprint proofs. Not really a big deal but to Thomas it was! Skipping to the next morning he was talking to Larry our printmaking professor and Thomas’ friend. He was the best man at our wedding. My room mate who loved to find ways to tease bounded up and said to Thomas in front of Larry. “I heard about your hissy fit last night! This would have been his profusely apologizing to Nancy for the coffee spill. This embarrassed Thomas and angered him to think I would have said something to Linda my room mate. I had not! Nancy had! But a very upset Thomas called me! He trusted in our friendship and would have believed it was a betrayal for me to say anything like that. My response was, because I was now very upset to think he would think I would ever say anything! “But Thomas! I would never say anything about you! I love who you are to much!” Yup! That came out of my mouth! I clamped my hand over my mouth, especially when the phone was so silent! And then this voice came on and said. “I love who you are too!” If there had been a hole in the floor I would have fallen through! Once I gather myself together. I said, “Look I have a lot to straighten out. We can keep in touch….what else I said I don’t know….but I realized how much I did like Thomas and he me in these moments, gods or cupids! Something beyond me! I had seen me with the kids, dogs and cats and an apartment somewhere up north! It turned out I lived with Nancy a year. And began to sort things out. If that had never happened___ we would have gone our different ways I think because of the distance between us, I do not know. But I felt very lucky! I was so well loved for who I was for 22 years! His touch was electric, always! Such tender kisses. He held me in his arms all night. He loved to cuddle. He bought me rings, and would spend over an hour picking out Valentines Day cards of birthday cards! He would touch my face. In fact the first time he did this he put his hands on both sides of my face and said, “I love who you are! You are so beautiful!” And then he kissed me with the most tender lips. I had never been kissed that way! That was electric too! These memories do make me cry. And miss him! When we got married everyone made comments about how we looked at one another and how we glowed! You can see it in our wedding photos. I Have been a very, very lucky lady.
Joyce Hifler! My favorite way to balance my thoughts. “We are never alone, for those whom we have loved are with us, urging us on to new and better things. Those whom we shall know and love are waiting along the way to give direction and to stretch forth a hand to help us over the places that are unfamiliar. Life demands that we step past self-pity and pick up the loose ends of our lives and begin the weaving process that will eventually. as quickly or as slowly as we choose to work, make a stronger fabric of life. A constant questioning, regret, remorse over thought of failure are not a part of the God of life._____” As usually my references are from the book To Everything there is a season.
Joyce Hifler continues. “I grieve so for little things. I wonder sometimes why I allow small things to become so important that I am hurt when I allow the small things to become so important that I am hurt when they are destroyed or damaged. Especially when there are so many truly important things such as life and limb and soundness of mind. Yet, I find myself having a personal acquaintance with the dearness of a book, a vase, a figurine, all so unimportant to those who need bread and joy and comfort. But to give the necessities of life one must be capable of loving the great and the little, to be capable of understanding, to have a desire to comfort, a need to share the small things, and have a sense of oneness with the beauty in a thing or a person. Small things inspired the English novelist Bulwer to comment, “There is so little ot redeem the dry mass of follies and errors that make up so much of life, that anything to love or reverence becomes, as it were, a sabbath to the soul.” Perhaps when we grieve we know we are capable of loving, and that indeed is a sabbath to the soul.
I am a write and poet as well as an artist. I have been an advocate and developer for abuse counseling. And sat on an abuse counsel. You share life experiences when your an advocate. I don’t mind sharing my life so that others know they are not alone in their experience. I do not believe it is any more unique than anyone one else, but there is a common bond, for no one is alone in what may be experience. What is experienced feels unique to us, yet “NO! Not so!” By sharing experiences from my life I can let someone else know they are not alone with what ever their experience is. Someone else has had something like their own. Writing is a way to show compassion, incites, empathy and sympathy as well as to give food for thought. Me? I loved what I found in books! The things that helped me to think about life, people, possibilities and choices I might make. I also learned you can not depend on these things fully without experiencing life it self. With this there is no comparisons regarding experience. When I fail to have the words to express what I want to say ideas are found in the written words by others. You can then say! “Yes! That makes sense. Like art writing facilitates on our behalf.
I did not think about my experience. I set what I could not deal with in present time on “the shelf”. Thoughts crop up no matter how much you know about what the experience is. The incites you have into psychology, counseling or therapy give you food for thought, but knowing and even having some experience as a caregiver do not ward off emotions.
Now time has past I understand, can acknowledge to myself I was in a role of being the caregiver, I just had not thought about it! I was just taking care of someone I loved very much! Helping him to have quality of life, and making things happen so he would not have regrets like contacting his friends and family on his behalf. I knew where he was headed and wanted his life to be worthwhile.
I did not know what it meant to have Advance Pulmonary Fibrosis. I learned the lungs become like leather and breathing became harder. I thought then that means someone is going to suffocate? Someone it made it too real to think it was Tom but I knew the difference. Thomas would find it harder to breath, he was on oxygen. Which he hated. If his heart had not given out, it would have been so much harder to watch him die. If he had been taken to the hospital____Covid___ So his heart giving out seems a blessing. I would rather it was different, but you can not pick how it happens.
The months before I feel Thomas was making sure everything was ok for me. The pension would happen and I would be ok. We did not talk much about death. I did tell him I was there no matter what and he understood I would be there. He had such a lack of energy that it was hard for him. The kindle and tv were his best friends, music. Going out became too hard to do. Only doctors appointments. The doctors had him do a sleep test he never should have done, it was way too much for him! He could not sleep at all, and being hooked up to a machine torture. It was so hard to drop him off and pick him up, But we both were doing what was recommended. I look back and I think we knew for some time that some day he would die.
I don’t now what is ahead of me. I don’t know what mourning is. I don’t like the word widow. I don’t mind the word single. May some day I will meet a person who like similar things, and I will do things with him. I don’t plan on it. Can’t foresee it. A Friend seems ok. But that person wont be Thomas. I don’t know how you get past that. I have a good friend and she explained how she felt after the love of her life died, She has a wonderful fellow in her life now, and he too had lost the love of his life. They love one another, but the love of their lives is still there! So I think maybe a friendship. But for now, however long it will be for. My work, my grand kids and my children can catch up with life, and live it. Being “single” is something I have never experienced. And so how to live in the present. It seems to be I can see it as an adventure! I can reclaim the house as my wise brother-in-law said. It’s what happens. It’s nesting in a new way.
Well! as the artist I love color so I am attracted to Boho. I can paint things in bright happy colors and make it cozy! I suppose a bit girly? LOL I want it to be things I like and that comfort, a place for what means a lot to me. Thomas’ things will be a part of that too I know. Favorite paintings we bought together. His art work. Lord knows we have artwork! And things his Mom gave us, for I miss her too! A lovely lady, a best friend for Thomas. Living with Thomas folks was like living with Abbott and Costello and Tom was the straight guy! The love and laughter began there! When I came into the family I did not know what had happened before, it was in the present for me. All of us with our own stories. I was able to be Eileen’s hands and feet and help her to have fun and bring joy to her and the Dad. I was given someone to nourish and love when I go them. Gods? Cupids brought Thomas and I together. I was blessed to have him and his folks. What is it Forest Gump said? “Life is like a box of chocolates, You never know what you will get! Me I was very lucky, very,very lucky! I am grateful for gods or cupids! I am still not so sure how I ended up with Thomas. But so pleased I did, he is forever in my head and heart. I was so very, very loved!
Pejj Nunes 2021 Best wishes!