This has been a year of recovery and discovery. I have had to resolve the past and embrace the future, mindful of two opposing thoughts holding sway: “This is not happening, Paul is not dead, I will never stop crying,” and “Pull up your big girl panties and figure out how to go forward without Paul and recover a sense of joy.”
Who knew his death, or anyone’s death, would/could cut so deep? Now that I know the breathless pain, I realize that one side effect of Paul’s death is the empathy I have for others faced with loss of a loved one. I always thought I was a rather empathetic person. In hindsight, however, I realize I have been almost blasé in my treatment of friends who have had a loved one die. I think I said the right things and did the right things, but then went on with my life thinking I had done my part. Now, with the huge network of supportive friends, children and my sister Darcie, who have stayed with me, checked in with me, spent time with me, grieved with me, I realize I let my friends down when I did not stay close to them after their loss. I think the reason why Darcie has kept so close is because she has gone through what I have gone through. I did not take care of her the way she is now taking care of me and I am aware that I let her down.
Right now, for me as I live my life day to day, I have more then I have lost. Friends, children, grandchildren, sister, Rotary, Community Dinner. Life remains full of support, comfort and companionship. Marking the anniversary of Paul’s death….. I had cards, emails and phone calls from high school friends, members of our congregation, Rotarians and more Summit County friends then I can acknowledge. I am surrounded with support every day as I pull Paul out the past tense and continually inject him into the present. “Daddy would be so proud of you.” “Grandpa would have loved to see this/be here/watch you perform.” “Where would Paul have put that?” “What would Paul have done?” At the same time the video loop of dancing with Paul plays and replays in my brain. I am in his arms. He spins me out and I roll back in. Over and over. We dance and we dance and we dance. I hope and pray no one mourns me the way I mourn Paul. It is simply too painful to contemplate that my death would leave such pain in its wake.
I am becoming accustomed to living alone. Interestingly, after the funeral I began to stutter. Could not complete thoughts or sentences. That is now greatly diminished. I also seem to be more on top of things mentally, more able to focus and complete tasks without becoming confused. Still missing is the energy level I used to enjoy. I continue to fight an overwhelming malaise. I feel as if I have rapidly aged. At first I gained 10 lbs, literally drowning my sorrows. Now I go to the gym to alleviate the loneliness I feel most acutely in the evening and have lost 30 lbs. Paul’s presence is receding from the house. Our motor home has been donated to LaPuente, a Social Services Agency in the San Luis Valley, that intends to use it as a Mobil Medical Clinic.
His clothes are gone from the closet. His shampoo is gone from the bathroom. His coats are gone from the entry. Our king size bed with its huge expanse of mattress has been downsized. I make my own coffee and read the paper silently. I balance my own checkbook and pay my own bills. Traveling, however, is vibrant with his presence!
He seemed with me in August as Rebecca, Alexandra, Cassie and I walked Parisian streets and explored Lisbon. The churches and fortresses, streets and restaurants, reverberated with him somehow sharing these experiences, sights, sounds, tastes. I saw Europe through his eyes and mourned the absence of his joy and pleasure at every turn in the street. Aarrggh. So painful to realize again and again and again….he should be here experiencing this joy and pleasure.
In various ways the kids have also moved on. Rebecca, in Maryland working on the James Webb Space Telescope, has purchased a house and is slowly making welcome changes so she and Alexandra, 13, enjoy it more. I am looking forward to them coming in January for their annual ski trip.
Rachel and Kellie, both Sociologists in Nevada, are kept busy with the athletic and home school endeavors of two very active sons, Derek, 13 and Andrew, 7.
Alejandro (Jonathan), flight attendant with United, and Guillermo are enjoying Houston together with lots of thrift store
shopping and reselling of their “finds.”
Pilot Matthew and Pharmacist Becky are enthralled by Caroline and Emelia, 16 months. I get to do day care and love every minute.
Ruben, of Mountain Lyon Café fame, and Cassie, 14, keep busy making sure she gets to her various high school activities.
A high point for Derek, Cassie and Rachel’s year was a trip to Peru, exploring the Urubamba Valley where Rachel was born. It was made more special as her guide was her brother! Hiking into Machu Pichu was alsoa high point.
Next up is Robert. Unfortunately he left his assisted living apartment Dec 9, 2017, a week after we saw him at Paul’s funeral. We have not been able to find him but assume he is living in some sort of shelter in Denver. We keep Paul’s phone numbers active in case Robert decides to call.
Jamie is a chef in Boulder and lives with his girlfriend Jill outside of Estes Park in a cute cabin with a deck overlooking a stream. I enjoyed spending Thanksgiving with them.
Jesse, a manager at Wendy’s, and his girlfriend Tanya are living with me until they are financially secure enough to rent an apartment. They fled to the mountains to escape the meth scene in Denver and, so far, are both successfully beating it.
Amber, her husband Jason and their son Dexter live in Denver where she works at a truck stop.
Brandon is working in a senior living home in Illinois. Alex/Carlos is in Las Vegas, happily being a stay at home dad to his three children.
All of the children are doing well and find numerous ways to stay in touch with me. It sustains me.
My immediate future involves completing an apartment in the basement of our home and then selling the house to Matthew and his family. I get to age in place just a stairwell away from family. Moving from 3600 sq ft to 750 sq ft, however, is going to require some adjustment. What do I take downstairs from Paul’s and my home, what do the kids want and what needs to go away? We are having a major garage sale in the spring as Matthew and Becky are completely remodeling the house…..walls, doors, appliances, bathrooms, cabinets, dishes, pots, pans, towels, furniture, they want very little of it! The proceeds are going to the completion of the Labyrinth/Walking Meditation Garden at Lord of the Mountains, dedicated to all those who have lost loved ones.
I hope you have enjoyed the news and photos of my family and I! I enjoyed taking them and sharing them. The image not shared is the one scorching my brain with its immediacy. Mary and Joseph, rescuing Jesus from certain death at the hands of Herod, approach Egypt and are tear gassed!
Christmas….the time when we all reach out to each other and share the blessings
and hardships of our year. I hope to hear from each of you!