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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Approaching significant days

Friday will be 7 years-hard to believe it and yet I can still feel the ache of missing him.  And life continues to be up and down.  I do appreciate the wonderful pieces to my life: the family, the kids and grand kids.  I have made some very big decisions, and I have no regrets.  Life would have been completely different with Bruce in it-that is a given.  The person I have become is still recognizable but there have been alterations.  BUT- In addition to all of the great things and changes - there is definitely a void.  
Bruce announced his presence in every way-he did not even know how to whisper.  So of course life feels a bit more empty without him.  True he has left me Bebe-who also demands full attention.  And in a crazy way I feel his presence in her.  When she barks in the middle of the night to take my warm spot in the bed-it reminds me that Bruce really needed me by his side. 

Next month another milestone-a major birthday which to me is hard to acknowledge - I really wanted to grow old with him and now I am approaching the downhill slide and he is gone.  Unable to appreciate the "fruits of his labor" - the wonderful parents his children have become, the beautiful grandchildren so full of life and enthusiasm for the world.  I am struck daily by how much he would have loved being a grandfather and how suited he would have been in the role.

Often I find myself about to utter a nutty phrase of his or mine to a stranger-hoping to get the acknowledgement of the shared joke and I do feel that pang of disappointment.  I try not to look back but instead look ahead to the life I can create for myself.  Hard on these significant days.........

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Finally-I have found my way back.  I am a bit emotionally overwhelmed these days and need to try and keep on an even keel.  Taking care of myself is important.

So off to bed, more tomorrow.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Long long time.  So have I been climbing Mount Everest?  Sailing the seas?
No-just trying to deal with the challenges of the world and my private space.
I had trouble getting to the blog it has been so long.  Grief street is still in my neighborhood.

The other day-I had a moment of longing so intense it stopped me in my tracks.  I miss Bruce.  I thought about his quirky sense of humor and I so wanted to see him.  Of course I think of him every single day-and of course I miss him.  But this feeling was like that of missing a best friend-one who you would call to check in with.  And guess what-I can't do that.  And I guess for a moment I felt angry.  I was not aware of any anger before but I felt it acutely the other day when I thought about his health and the fact that he did not take care of himself for a good part of his life and how he died.

Next month I hit the seven year mark.  Long time and lots has transpired.  So many things in my life that are good and that Bruce would have wanted to be part of - and it is so terribly sad.

Promise I will be back!

Friday, May 15, 2015

At a Loss

I have been calling my sister-in-law every evening.  And last night the phone call was so heart wrenching, that I had difficulty sleeping.  I want so much to be comforting, but unfortunately do not know what to say, or do to be a comfort.  And is there any comfort?  I suppose not.  And it is so strange to be in the position that so many of my friends and family have been in for the past 6 years.  I am definitely at a loss.

So I have been thinking about what it means to be sympathetic, empathetic, and how best to comfort.  It is not about giving advice-there really is no advice that you can give a mother who loses a child (or a wife who loses a husband).  And as I often remark-it is not a one size fits all world-so what comforted me-may not comfort her.  But it also isn't something that you can ask about to the person you are trying to comfort.  If you were to ask me - what comforted me when my husband died, or now that I am struggling with the death of my mom, or the death of my niece, I am not sure that I would know.  It certainly will be something I think about.

Can we give lessons in empathy?  Is there a rule book on what to say and how to say it?  I know that my presence is helpful-just be there.  But at what point is more required?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Managing the Losses

Last week my family suffered another huge loss.  My 30 year old niece was found dead.  It seemed that she did not show up for work and then when the police came to her apartment-they discovered her body in her bed.  They think that she went to bed and then did not wake up-and the cause of death has yet to be determined.

How do we cope with this?  My sister-in-law has been through so much loss-her father when she was 10, her mother at 24, her husband at 30, her brother at 60.  Now the loss of her daughter - and the funeral was on Mother's day.  My niece was an only child-so cherished by her mom, that they were best friends.

In the past six years-I too have been through many losses.  Bruce's death was sudden, then the death of my best friend's husband, most recently my mom, and now my niece.  And I wonder how we deal with this much.  True, I believe that we can be resilient.  But it is not a given that we will experience these losses and continue on with our life.  There are those who do not cope, who cannot move on.
I have been told to focus on what I have-and our growing family.  But it seems to me that it is not that simple.  Almost like the theory that bringing home a new dress will replace a favorite that you now must discard.  And that analogy is ludicrous - but that is all we have.

In a few weeks, I will welcome a new grandchild and I am so grateful for the family that surrounds me.  But the weight of the loss stays with me.  How do we continue to put one foot in front of the other, to welcome the additions as we mourn the losses?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cumulative Losses

I am sad.  Sad and lonely.  Bruce is gone, my mom is gone and I am alone in the house.  True - I have my wonderful children and grandchildren, my terrific aunt and cousins close by.  Is it enough?  No-I continue to long for a person to wake up next to, someone who, if in the middle of the night I have a nightmare will hold me and tell me that it was just a dream.

And yet, that one thing remains elusive.  So is the answer to try hard not to need it?  Or to continue searching for it-even though the changes of getting it seem dim.  And as time passes, I continue to be so sad and think about the cumulative losses.

My Mom

On April 4th, my mom passed away.  A huge loss and one that I will continue to deal with for a long time.  Last week I wrote this about my mom.  I am posting it here:

My Mom

There was something magical about my mom.  She cast a spell over all who met her and once anyone met her, they never forgot her.  Certainly she stayed in the spotlight for all of us.  Sometimes the talk was about the entertaining unique ideas she had about life, other times we talked about her ability to get under our skin.  Today, I want to talk about those characteristics that I hold in my heart and will live on in my memory.

My mother was my ally against the larger world.  As a child she came to my aid against anyone who dared harm me or threatened harm.  She battled lots of fears throughout her life, but in her defense of me, there was no fear.  She would face any enemy-no matter how daunting.  She often would say in a deep jocular voice, “If they hurt you, I’ll kill them”.  And even though I knew she was joking, there was also an intensity in that statement that packed a powerful message for me.  I knew that I was very important to her.

And there were many times she came to my aid without consideration of herself (a tricky feat for a narcissist).  I remember the day that Alex was circumcised.  I made many mistakes that day. I fed the baby moments before, brought my 2 year-old Kate in to see the procedure and had no idea what was ahead and how I would respond to it.  Of course, everything went wrong-I could not look while he was circumcised (even though by that time I was a nurse), and Alex proceeded to projectile vomit and Kate crouched in the corner.  My squeamish mother rose to the occasion and helped hold Alex and clean him up, and then put Kate to sleep while comforting me. 

There are many other examples, but perhaps the most poignant was when Bruce died.  Of course, I was in shock since it occurred so suddenly.  My mother called me every night for years, even though at times, I was so non-communicative.  But she did not stop calling.  She chatted with me about her day, her random thoughts on life, and told me in so many ways how much she loved me.  She even tried to get me to “come through my grief” by informing me about the pain it was causing her that her daughter was so bereft.  And if I was not answering the phone or not at home, she would leave a message:
“Hi Jill, I know that you are out and I hope that you are having a wonderful time, whatever you are doing”.  This message was consistent-and usually, if truth be told-I was not having a wonderful time or out having fun.  But those messages also had some hidden reassurance.  I was not alone-there was someone watching out for me-keeping track of what and how I was doing.

And keeping track of me, was a skill she practiced religiously.  I used to joke that she never knew where I was or what I was doing when I was an adolescent, but when I was an adult-she was like a FBI agent on a special reconnaissance mission to find me.  Although we never spoke of it, we were very much connected because of that.

She was not a phone person-she proclaimed, but we seemed to find lots to discuss and sometimes argue about.  Our political discussions were usually heated-and I would often challenge her foundation for the beliefs that she held.  She was full of contradictions: she belonged to the National Organization for Women, but would cut Irving’s meat for him.  She watched both Bill O’Reilly and Bill Maher.  She loved books-but I rarely saw her read one.  She spoke with authority even when she had no knowledge of the subject matter.  She was the entertainment editor for the Kingsborough Community College paper, but often made up the information she wrote-not having time to read the book or see the movie.  I remember driving in the car to Kingsborough and my sister-in-law and niece were in the car with us.  The security guard looked in the car and assumed that my niece was the student.  My mother proudly displayed her press pass and student ID.  The look on his face was priceless.

My mother loved to write and often contemplated the meaning of words.  Sometimes this was annoying if you were trying to have a serious conversation with her and she picked apart every word.  “What does it mean to have “fun”? Her high school education did not fit her intellectual acumen (she would have loved that I used that word).  And she loved dialogue, so conversations with her could take unexpected turns as long as she had a captive audience.  She also wrote poetry-it was often profane and always rhymed.  But she was very proud of her verse and would send it to everyone.  She so wanted to be published but never had the follow-through, a trait that she easily admitted. 

She had a computer early on but never quite understood how to use it.  A few years ago, when she complained that her computer was slow, I attempted to clean up her files.  She had many videos that people sent her-and none really were worth saving.  I remember one of a cat smoking…… She could never understand what a search engine was or what AOL had to do with the internet.  She would call my aunt or I and we would explain again how to attach a file or save something to a flash drive.  Bruce used to tell me to advise her to turn off and unplug the computer, pick it up, put it in a box and seal it and send it back.

She was enthusiastic to a fault.  Amazed by the world as if she came from another planet.  And although I often thought that she should have been exposed to whatever caught her attention at the time-I could not help being amazed along with her.  She delighted in little things.  She commented after she moved to New Jersey – that you could actually find a parking spot.  And Jersey had such great stores!  By the way, her shopping habits were legendary-she was the original Loehmann’s shopper-probably the first one through the door when it opened.  In Jersey, her favorite store was Home Goods.  Irving would drop her off and when he came back 6 hours later – she was still walking through the aisles.

I could go on……. But I will stop here.  I believe that when people die, it is important to remember the gifts that they gave us.  A few of my mother’s gifts to me were her sense of wonder and enthusiasm, her quick wit, her devotion to my happiness, her love of shopping.