As the title suggests, it has been one year since Keith died.  I am a widow; the very word I hated when he first died is who I am.   I survived!  I did it!  Yay me!  If that sounds a bit sarcastic, I suppose it is.  I don’t find survival enlightening, inspirational or anything more than what is.  Have you ever met a person whose voice has just a flat affect?  Yes, that pretty much sums up my feelings today.  Flat.  The high peak came last week on the actual day Keith closed his eyes; never to have them open again.  Sure he was breathing … but the transition was happening and he definitely was not in the “here and now”.

Yes, today is the first anniversary of my husband’s death. It is a day for me to remember how much he loved me and his family. It is a day for me to say what an amazing person he was and a day to acknowledge the gift his life was – to me and to so many others.

I’ve had emotional outbursts that, so far, have only happened when I’ve been alone.   A very large piece of me died a year ago.  The piece that held me together and made sure that I was always taken care of emotionally – just the look of “we’ve got this, babe” was all it ever took.

You cannot imagine the long days and even longer nights that have existed these 365 days.  And today they are all rolled neatly into a year of ups and downs with  never-ending gratitude for his life .  One day I literally sat in my walk-in closet and cried for what seemed like hours – it was only ten minutes.   Sometimes I cry so hard it’s difficult to know if I am going to cry myself to sleep or cry myself to death.  Something always brings me to the present and I emerge; red-eyed and swollen, maybe a little broken and sometimes, even guilty that I dare have  the audacity to cry – I am not the one who died after all.

I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be but I often do not feel complete anymore; at least not in the way that I was completed by Keith.  There have been days though, that I feel so weak that I literally have to force myself to stay engaged with life.  Many times I feel like I’m in a time warp.

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Things I miss. 

               His touch: softly on my shoulder just to say “I’m here”.

               His smile: as warm as the sun shining on me.

               His laugh: the one that would generate happiness every time I heard it.

               His voice: as sweet and soothing to me as a lullaby.

               His eyes:  gazing into mine with deep, tender, longing, love.  

              His arms:  wrapped around me tightly.

               His hands:  holding mine every chance he could.

               His breath:  the very breath that could take mine away.

I have lived this nightmare for a year.  I don’t want  this to be  a nightmare anymore.  I want to stomp my feet and shout “F— You Cancer – F— You”.  How unfair that he didn’t get to live into old age.

I suppose I could act out that tantrum anytime I want.  I don’t know why I don’t just do it!   Maybe because I know how blessed I am that he was my husband and I, his wife.  Perhaps because I have the most amazing memories of him and of his love and his devotion. He was never afraid to tell people about that either.  He got cheated out of growing old; that is what is not fair.

Now what?  Wouldn’t it be great if I could just say “okay, move on; step on the gas and just go forward”?  Sigh.  I cry every day.  I don’t dwell there, but holy cow; this pain is deep.  Keith cried so hard and so often toward the end and I was able to hold and console him through it.  Sometimes, when I am crying I almost feel him pushing the hair from my face and saying we will do this together – the very words I spoke to him.  Much like that day in my closet, I believe his hand reached my shoulder to say “I, along with God – we are here”.   When I have these days of doom and gloom, I let them happen and then I move on.  Some days turn into a few days, but they always turn around.  This is God’s promise to me –He will give me the strength to carry on until my work on earth is through.  He did not promise to make this easy for me, or for any of us, He only promises us everlasting life with love.  This is what I cling to.

I am woman blessed.  Keith died loving me.  He loved me for well over 20 years.  He used to say he couldn’t live without me.  I told him the same thing.  I was not wrong in saying that, however what I could have said is that I will be able to exist without you.

There is joy in my life, just not the kind I was lucky enough to have for 20 plus years.    I have love from family and friends.  I continue to be an active support and advocate for those who suffer from the very disease that took Keith from me – appendix cancer.  Early next year I will have some exciting news to share on that front.

One year. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes and I have missed him for each one.

If heaven is as I believe with universe of souls who find each other after we stop to living in our earthly body, where no sadness exists, no pain , no suffering, no hatred or bias, then the heartache of losing Keith will get better.  If it doesn’t get better in this time continuum, it definitely will, in God’s time.

Oh but he is free now and I have to believe that he is waiting for me – no matter how long it takes.   God gave me an incredible best friend, lover and husband, in one amazing man – I am a woman blessed.

Be grief, but do not dwell there. 

Be well. 

Be love. 

Be hope. 

Be joy.

What a Year

6 thoughts on “What a Year

  1. Therese thank you for sharing your most intimate feelings of grief, loss, loving, and hope. You are an amazing, exceptionally strong and loving woman to be able to share with us what you are experiencing. Much love to you. Renee

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  2. Therese. I am so in awe by your strength through this all. I wish I had the pleasure of meeting Keith but through your words I adore him as much as everyone else did. I have thought about you a lot this week and hoping that you were doing ok through this all. Love as always sent to you from me 😘😘 Danielle

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  3. I hope this year finds you tipping the scales of happiness and leaving behind a year of sorrow. By His mercy you are blessed! We have a lot of babies due in 2016 …and that gives me so much joy! One in January, one in February, one in May, two in August! The two in August are due 5 days apart. Just as I was with your Mom when you were born and our cousin in Portland, Oregon, Helen Merrell. Her son, Randall, born Feb 16, You, born Feb 21, and Diana, born Feb 26!! Follow us on Facebook!! for news….And at least one joyful wedding!!! There is a slight possibility that one of the August Moms may have twins….but that is only speculation at this point! Love you and our ever expanding family!!!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your experience. My experience with family death doesn’t involve my love; but my mother, sister, father and last sister within a few years. I haven’t allowed myself to feel; but reading how your pain has flowed helped to open a little part of me. Thank you. Bless you!

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