Thursday, June 05, 2014

The life of a widower writer

I don't want to get all maudlin here, but the subject matter can be quite depressing, so if you're in the mood for something sunshiny, you might want to look elsewhere today. Just a warning.

Anyway, I've had a lot of people voice their sympathy for me over the last month since my wife died on May 11. I've also had a number of people voice sympathy over the fact my father has also been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer (of the lungs, liver and stomach) and he is entering hospice care within the next day or two. Most people don't ask for details, but some few do.

I'm not going to go into morbid, specific details. I'm not here to tell you how my wife died, though I believe it was peaceful enough, and I could easily recite the events of every single minute of the last two days of her life. I'm not going to go into details about my dad's suffering.

What I am going to do is provide a few snippets of my thoughts over the last month.

For instance, I had heard of widows and widowers speaking about the anger they felt towards their deceased spouse, and I never understood it. It seemed unfair and even a little silly to me. But now I understand. I've not been overwhelmed with such anger, but I have felt it a few times, especially when I found out about my dad's cancer. A rage boiled up inside of me, and I was angry at my wife for not being there with me to help me get through what I was going to have to face with my father. Also, during all this, our beagle Lily had a tumor rupture and she had to have surgery, and even though she has mostly recovered and is doing fine, I was a little angry at my wife for not being there for her baby.

See, Lily is a daddy's girl. Ever since I began staying home to write full-time, about four years ago give or take, Lily has stayed with me almost constantly. I can't leave a room without her following me, and if I go outside without her she will stay by the back door and sniff and sometimes cry.

Until she gets sick, or has surgery. When Lily does not feel good, she wants her mommy. She has always run to her mommy when she has had an upset stomach or ... well, anything, really. But mommy is no longer here, at least not physically (as for other possibilities, I'm not here to debate them).

And of late, after Lily's surgery and without her mommy, poor Lily has been doing a lot of pouting. She spent an hour or longer with her head under the wife's side of the bed, just laying there. A hundred times she has searched the bedroom, gone back to my wife's bathroom, climbed up on the bed, looked all over.

But no mommy.

Onto other thoughts and situations.

I find myself still using the word "we" a lot. I catch myself and often repeat myself with the word "I." For example, I can no longer tell someone "we" are proud of our beagle girl, who turned 15 years old on June 3. No. I now have to correct myself, repeat myself, and say "I" am proud of my beagle girl, who turned 15 on June 3.

Grocery shopping is weird. I now only shop for one, and despite the fact it might sound fun, I don't particularly like it that I can now buy whatever I want. Because I'll buy crap. Also, I no longer have to make three or four calls to the house to ask for specifics, or to report about some new item that looks interesting. I also no longer can expect the usual call or two to remind me about something.

Her stuff ... it is everywhere, and all of it has some memory. I can't go into the bedroom or the kitchen or ... well, really, I can't go into any room in the house without my eyes landing upon something that has some kind of meaning or memory or something reminding me of the wife.

And I still have all her stuff to go through, to throw away or donate, to sell or give to friends and relatives, or to keep. I've simply not had the time, what with dealing with my dad's situation and the beagle's surgery.

I don't want it all to sound awful. There have been times when I've felt relatively good, when I've felt that at least she is beyond the pain, and maybe, hopefully she and I might see one another again someday.

But then there have been the long nights where I sort of putter around the house in a daze, going from room to room, looking from item to item, picture to picture, occasionally putting something in a bag or box to be shipped off or taken for donation.

And of course there are the moments where all I want to do is break down and cry. Sometimes I do. I would like to say such moments are fewer and fewer, but ... well, it's been weird. I didn't cry much at first. Then about a week after her death, I had several days with a lot of crying. Then things seemed to get better for me for a while. But of late, there's been lots more tears.

My days are relatively easy. There is plenty during the days to keep me busy, at least most days. My nights are often filled with tragedy, and weekends are rough.

There have been moments where I've not feared death, where I would almost welcome it, because I feel like I would get to see her again. Please, don't take this as me being dramatic or dangerous to myself, because that's not the case at all. I have no intentions of harming myself. None.

I also have no intentions of climbing into a bottle. That has a certain appeal to it, but I think if I did that, I'd probably never come back out. And I do have Lily to think of, and my dad is still around for some while, and there's my mother (who had better stay healthy for a good long while, damn it).

I could say more, lots more, but this is depressing enough, really. Isn't it? Besides, as is often the case, I'm writing more for myself than I am for you, the reader. I hope in this instance you will forgive my indulgence.

Speaking of my writing, I actually have done a little. Not a lot, but a little. It's total crap. I know that. But that's not the point. The point is to keep doing something. I have to work, after all, because there are still bills to be paid. Maybe I can edit and rewrite at some future date, or maybe I can scrap it all and start over, but at least I'm writing.

That's all for now. Just ... hug your loved ones, and never take them for granted.

P.S. I'd like to add one last ... sensation.

Even though Kelly, my wife, and I were only together 12 years, it felt as if we had known one another all our lives, as if the time before we had met had only been a waiting period until we found one another. Now, it feels strange without that sensation. It's like I'm starting my life all over again, having to restructure my thinking, having to recreate myself.

Will that affect my writing? I don't see how it can't. But how? That is yet to be seen.


Charles Gramlich said...

All I can say is, you've been through the wringer. I'm thinking of you.

Jaq and Lin said...

My deepest condolences, Ty.

EdwardLorn said...

I'm speechless. And someone must be chopping onions.

Damn fine post, Ty.


audrina said...

My sincere and deepest sympathies.

The Wasp said...

My deepest sympathy and continued prayers.

Virginia Llorca said...

Even after a while, that empty space where she once existed will surprise you. And I understand the anger. It makes you wonder. I still cannot believe my mom would leave my dad.
Wow. You really came across in this post. My thoughts are with you.

Keith West said...

Wow. That is some of the most powerful writing I've seen from you. And you remain in my prayers.

Torah Cottrill said...

I'm so very sorry, Ty. My thoughts are with you.

Patti said...

Asking angels to surround you again during the loss of your father...know we are thinking of you. If there is anything we can do,just let us know.