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Thursday, February 25, 2010


A year ago yesterday, i buried my husband. February 24, 2009 was the funeral, a bleak Tuesday. I don't remember everything but more than I thought I would. I thought about it all day. There are parts of this experience that make me confront that he is really gone. One of those moments was the lowering of the coffin into the grave. Another was seeing his name on the memorial plaque that we just put in the synagogue. Other times I can almost pretend it did not happen.

I have been having trouble sleeping and food has lost it's appeal. I know that I have been sad all year but certain milestones bring me back to the extreme sadness phase that accompanies loss.

Not much else to say......

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

the spiral

Sunday i was back in the bleak black hole of grief-and monday was no different. Did time really pass-has it been a year? Some days are so bad i feel that i am still traumatized.

But my mantra is now that i can get through this-i will survive and move along and i do need to be patient with myself. i think that has been the lesson that i have learned this year. yes, the world is very unpredictable, we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that we know what is ahead. At least, I did. I had it all mapped out-the day in day out weariness of life as usual-until wham-it all changed and i long for the days that i was annoyed by the minutiae of my marriage. My mother would quote that man plans, god laughs. So, I need to stay in the moment and hope that something good is around the corner for me and for the kids. Some peace of mind for me, a job for Kate and some free time for Alex. Life is too stressful. Being patient with myself and with others will enable me to de-stress somewhat.

Weird entry-needed to vent. On with the day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Start of Year 2

It is the start of year 2. Today was the first day of the second year without him and it was sad. This weekend was distracting-everyone being so sweet and caring. And it was all about him-i looked at pictures and told stories and tonight i was so filled with missing him. i am so tired of life without Bruce - so tired of the struggle to get through the day. But really what choice do i have-what choice do any of us have? i either try hard to focus on him and remember or try hard to avoid thinking of him and move on.

I am having tea and contemplating a nice warm bath-something to comfort me right now. And tomorrow, I will try and get up early and go to the gym and then go to work and be distracted by my busy life. I am going to try to connect more with others and move through the grief that is so troubling, so overwhelming. And even though I am so incredibly sad, I still can feel grateful about what I have-how incredibly wonderful my children are, how lucky I am to be where I am because although I feel pretty bad I know that things can be worse. I hope that one day the pain will subside and I will remember with more joy than sadness the incredible man that I loved so much.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

one year

There is something potentially magical about dates. I think about this often. Pregnancy due dates, birthdays, deadlines for NIH grants. The date arrives and I anticipate so much.
Today I imagined getting up in the morning and having Bruce beside me in the bed. He was on this day oversleeping because in my married life-even 6:30AM on the weekend was sleeping in. I would curl up next to him and we would chat, and pet Bebe. We would talk about the day and the weekend and the kids. We would make plans to see a movie or call our friends Chris and Sam and go to dinner. Finally we would reluctantly get out of bed and take a shower. We showered together for nearly 34 years. I always said it was our contribution to water conservation. In truth, we just liked being together in the shower. We would get dressed and then would take Bebe and do a long walk and then come home and Bruce would make us lattes.

The strange thing is that a small part of me believed that this would actually happen. We watched so much science fiction that I incorporated part of this into my belief system. And since so much of coping with a person's sudden death is magic-one minute they are here and the next minute they are gone, it seems that it is a possibility. After all, I could not have anticipated his disappearance-so isn't it possible that he would just as suddenly reappear?

And Bruce loved those movies where the protagonist would go back in time and reconnect-bringing the wife or husband with them into the future. There were so many movies that we saw where the death is rescinded - suddenly or not so suddenly through some extraordinary occurrence. So why wouldn't I think that it could happen to me?
Do we all live with this disbelief that someone we loved so much is truly gone? I remember studying child development and learning about how children have a tough time grasping the death of someone. But I am having that rough time too-I cannot really understand that he is gone. I get up every day alone and think - where is he, where did he go, can he really be dead? And that small part of me thinks, if I could apply the magic, turn around 3 times and say his name really fast-would he reappear?

Friday, February 19, 2010

his favorite things

i hang out a lot with widows now and sometimes we send each other or give each other ideas on comforting activities. A e-mailed me a while back and told me that she wrote down her husband's favorite things as a way of dealing with her anniversary month (which happens to be February as well). So, here goes. Since Bruce loved things (almost as much as I used to) this list may be long. But here are some of his favorites:

Hawaiian shirts (especially Tommy Bahamas)
Shoes (he loved Stacy Adams-long story goes with this)
His Lucky jeans in size 33!
Me (could not resist)
Limos and going anywhere first class
Alcohol-grey goose vodka, top of the line scotch, whiskey, cognac
Sci-fi series (especially the BBC ones)
Classic horror flicks
Food-especially prime rib, asparagus, lasagna, cheesecake
Kate and Alex and Jon (this is not in order)
Books (at age 45 Bruce decided he would read for pleasure and this opened up a new world for us-he especially liked detective fiction - Walter Mosley, Robert Crais)
Cars (he loved his Thunderbird, his FJ Cruiser too)
Bebe his dog
Being thin
Watching all the judge shows-even the bad ones
The Comedy Channel
Lifetime movies
Anything Christmas, Anything Disney
Music - some of his favorite artists were Billy Joel, KT Tunstall

I am tiring so maybe more tomorrow. One of the things that we will do this weekend is remember him, his humor, his generosity, and some of his not so good qualities - like his being stubborn, and his need to be an expert on everything. But Bruce was so engaging that he could talk me into anything even when I tried hard to disagree. And towards the later part of our 34 years together, I was literally putty in his hands. He could get me to agree to almost anything. He was the light in my life, the sunshine, the reason to get up in the morning and to come home in the evening. I am so lost without him - speechless and afraid.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the closet

i am letting myself wallow in the grief this week. i have given up pushing memories aside and am fully engaged in remembering not just the life but the death. Yesterday after leaving work early-i came home to Bruce's closet. When we moved into the castle, we had our closets done-I chose the smaller one because i knew that Bruce's shoes alone needed more space than all of my stuff combined. So today, i am left with a well organized closet of all of his favorite things. Most shoes boxes are organized by color and type of shoe. Each box has a digital picture of the shoe inside. The closet has a wonderful smell of leather. As you walk in you are staring at the shoes, but on the other side are all the Hawaiian shirts also organized by color. All that is missing is the man.

i keep the door closed. When i enter the closet i am visually struck by the colors of the Hawaiian shirts but also struck by the wonderful aroma of leather. And i sometimes find myself going through the pockets of clothes to find some message, or some remnant of the life that was. Yesterday, I found in the suit pocket of the suit that Bruce wore to Kate's wedding, the index card of his speech. Instantly i remembered his voice reading the speech and quaking a bit as he recited the words. i buried my face in the shirts and i cried.

i thought back to other times that were hard for me and could only come up with one other time. It was when my newborn son was so sick and i was in the hospital alone watching over him. Thankfully he recovered and came home and got well. This is a hard time and i can't see the end of it. i was very very lucky to have such a full life-full of love and joy and laughter. But once that is gone, how do you deal with what remains?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


i am being pulled into the dark hole of despair. What is it about the date of an event that takes its emotional pull on us? The day will be no different than the rest of the 364 days before. It will be my attention to the event that will distress me. Amazing that it is so hard to remember and yet we work that hard when the date is upon us.
I am trying hard to understand this process but part of me acknowledges that the process of grieving is just a ride that you have to go on and get through. It's the one roller coaster that you can not opt out of - no matter how you hate heights or speed or are afraid. The really hard thing is no matter who you have to hold your hand-you are really alone on that ride.
Enough with the metaphors. Last night I had a dream about him. And like my memories, these too are hard to pin down except that I wake up in a muddle of confusion. I want to stay asleep and be with him but I have to get up. When I have gone back to sleep-he is gone, even in the dream. I am glad to dream of him, but really sad when the reality hits me and I miss him all the more.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

looking back

It is almost a year-and i sometimes push myself to relive certain moments. Painful and sad. But i almost feel that if i push thru the memory i can get to the other side and he'll be waiting. i try hard to feel his presence and imagine that on february 20 2009 life went on as usual after the gym that day. We came home and showered, and went on to errands and other Friday activities. That weekend we would have put up the pictures in his castle-probably having some mild disagreements about where to put this picture or that picture. We would have ended the day, Friday on the couch-watching some stupid show, Bebe laying between us. And we would have had a nice weekend before the frantic pace of the week to come. I did not think it was possible to miss someone so much.
We traveled to Palm Desert this weekend, the kids and I. Hard to be there and remember all the times that Bruce and I had been there. Except my recollections are so fuzzy-hard to pin them down. The only thing with a sharp edge is the pain.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

recent and not so recent loss

From an e-mail to another widow written this am:

Since Bruce died, I have been reaching out to other widows - feeling more comfort in knowing that they have some inkling about how devastating this loss is. I read the book by Dr. Joyce Brothers and a few others and may be sending others along to you. I am reaching out to you as I can. This month has been particularly hard. In some ways it is like losing him again because this past year when I have looked back on the calendar-I could remember spending time with him. After February 20th that too will be gone. Valentine's Day was the last weekend that we spent together and we spent it very simply, going out to a nice dinner and doing work around the house. This year I am finding it hard to think about Valentine's Day-and am so aware of the ads and the frivolity around the day. I am still stunned by the loss although I am coping and doing work (am submitting a NIH grant next Tuesday).

It is good to be surrounded by people who love you and loved him. The memorial service sounded like it was lovely and I am glad that others put together a party to celebrate his life. These events bring back some memories that will both help you remember the wonderful times you had and also make you miss him. Not sure about how dogs grieve-Bruce left behind his dog Bebe. She is a very energetic 4 year old, weighing 75 pounds, and always a trial to deal with. Bruce would often come through the door greeting her before me. She still has symptoms related to grief, I think. But she is also a comfort to me-again partly because of her link to him.

Dealing with a loss like this is the hardest thing that I have ever done-harder than dealing with Bruce's illness. I think it is different for each individual experiencing such a loss. Some of the symptoms are common-the inability to sleep, the loss of interest in food, the roller coaster of emotions. But I think what each of us brings to the loss is different - in essence we are the same person we were before and deal with it in much the same way we deal with anything. If you have been a caretaker for many years then the exhaustion from that also affects grieving.

I hope that each day can bring all of us a little sliver of something that helps.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I wrote this to a friend this morning:

Bruce's yahrzeit is the 10th but somehow that date doesn't mean that much to me. I will light the memorial candle on the 10th and the 20th I guess. This year has been incredibly hard but we also have things that we can be grateful for. I think that I have thought a lot about how hard everyone has it, but in different ways. Some of my friends have difficulty with their children, I mean real trouble like jail time and drugs. I watch the impact of that on their psyche, their marriage, their ability to function. For me the trouble had always been Bruce's health-from his first heart attack 3 months after we moved to California, to bypass surgery and complications 3 years later and finally after 10 years of a bit of stability, his death. The day to day stress of living with worrying about his health was a tremendous anxiety booster. And yet, I was so lucky to have him in my life for as long as I did. And I am lucky now to have what I have-wonderful children, wonderful family and friends. It still hurts to lose what you valued most in your life.

These past few weeks have been a bit hard as well. The last weekend we spent together was Valentine's weekend. We did not do anything big-Bruce taught his last class on the Saturday, while I baked biscotti and then we went to the Bungalow for dinner. I do not even think we got each other anything. We did house stuff the rest of the weekend, finally settling in to the new home that Bruce loved so much-"his castle". This year I am bombarded with Valentine's messages-the flyers, and e-mails from stores, ads in magazines about it and it brings it home to me that he is gone. In fact, this year, this first year, has been about me accepting that he is gone. Hard to believe that he won't walk through the door and hug me and tell me he missed me.

This coming weekend, I wanted to send the kids to Palm Desert to celebrate Valentine's Day but they won't leave me so we are all going. Not sure how hard this will be because Bruce and I used to go fairly often.

More later.