Thu Nov 22, 2012, 04:43 PM
rhiannon55 (2,351 posts)
I am thankful for my life, even though it is now a life without George, my beloved partner and soulmate. A year ago I could not have said this. Last Thanksgiving I wanted only to die and be with him. I could not see any light beyond the darkness of my grief. He had been gone for three months then and my heart felt like an open bleeding wound. I could think of nothing but him and how much I missed him, and every day was dull and empty of anything resembling joy or happiness. Sage and Zoey could still make me laugh at times, but tears were always just below the surface, ready to break through.
During that time, I would cuddle with the girls, and we would all miss ďPawpawĒ together. We would talk about him and cry, and somehow it helped--at least for a little while. But when I tried to see beyond the awful sadness of the moment and envision my life continuing on year after year without him, I couldnít do it. It had taken me half of my life to find him and he was gone way too soon. Twenty years together was not enough. We were supposed to get REALLY old together, not just kind of old. We had promised each other--but of course, death has a way of trumping everything, even promises made by silly, mortal lovers.
Somehow I got through Thanksgiving last year, thankful for my friends and loved ones, but not terribly thankful for my own life--and reluctantly still alive. And then there was Yule and Christmas, and every other holiday and birthday and anniversary that comes as the year turns--even the first anniversary of Georgeís death. Somehow, I got through them all and am still here.
I spent ten weeks last winter participating in a grief support workshop and learned a lot about my own grief and the grief of the others in the group. I learned that losing a loved one suddenly like I did--without even a chance to say goodbye--was not necessarily the worst way to lose a loved one.
A man in the group had lost his sweet wife of 43 years to brain cancer. Over an eleven month period, he had to watch helplessly as she lost her memory and her cognitive abilities--and toward the end, even her ability to recognize his face. George was still George right up to the last morning; I didnít have to watch him suffer the loss of all his functions, even the ability to think. I am thankful for that.
Two women in the group had lost children--one of the most devastating kinds of losses imaginable. My heart went out to them as they cried and shared photos and stories. So far, my three daughters and seven grandchildren are alive and well, and I am thankful for that. I know now more than ever how quickly and inexplicably death can happen, and Iím more attuned to the preciousness of each moment than I was before. I am thankful for that.
As I look back over the year, Iím aware of and grateful for the many gifts I have received as a result of the terrible loss of my sweet George. I am thankful for the love and generosity of so many friends and family members who gathered around me, in both physical and cyberspace, and did everything they could to comfort me. All that love held me up when I could barely stand. I am grateful for all the lovely people in my life, and I hope I never again take for granted any time I am fortunate enough to spend with you. My heart is more open now, and I am both tougher and more vulnerable than I was before. Somehow that feels like a gift.
I am also much more aware of how suddenly and unexpectedly life can end, and I have decided that I can no longer wait to spend my time doing what feels fulfilling and important while Iím still here. My job as a welfare and food stamp worker was fulfilling and important, but the stress on top of the grief was making me ill, and so I took the plunge and quit. Some life insurance money and Georgeís Social Security (bless him!), a small pension from my job in Denver, and rent from my sweet housemates (bless them!) has made this possible.
Now I spend more of my time helping the girls learn to read--they are in the 1st and 3rd grades and may have inherited some of their mamaís learning delays; they have both been testing low in reading skills since they started school. Now that Iím not rushing home from work at 5:30, after a full stressful day, I can pick them up at 3:15 every day and spend a good amount of time every afternoon and evening helping them with homework, and reading, reading, reading--to and with them. Their reading skills are growing by leaps and bounds.
Iím also starting a soap-making business, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Now that Isha is here, weíre working on this together and our house often smells of lavender and patchouli and other yummy scents. So even though it was hard to continue living in this house where I lived with George, it is feeling more and more comfortable. We are making new traditions while honoring old ones. George named this house Osmyrrah (Os-mer-ah), after his ďhippie houseĒ in the 1970s (oh, the stories he has told about life at the first Osmyrrah!) and since the word osmyrrah means the pleasant mingling of fragrances, the name now feels prophetic. Of course, it is the name of my new soap company.
Iím also writing more, another thing Iíve always wanted to have the time to do, and Iím thinking about starting a blog. I have been turning the idea over in my head, trying to find a focus--grief, raising children, Wicca, politics?--and a catchy title. I am open to suggestions.
Sage and Zoey and I still cuddle and miss Pawpaw together, but while we sometimes still cry, now we laugh more often too, as we reminisce about the many funny things he said and did. They didnít get to finish growing up with George in their lives, but they got to spend most of their first five years with him, and I know that was a blessing, both for George and for them.
And though I didnít get to grow REALLY old with him, I got to spend two solid decades loving him and being loved by him. And now I truly am older and wiser, and I hope, more compassionate than I was before. I have been to the depths of despair and I have returned, still standing. The grief is still part of me and probably always will be; as the songs say, true love never dies. My love for him fills my heart to overflowing, no matter how long heís gone. I think the greatest lesson I have learned over the last fifteen months is that nothing matters but love. If we can live our lives loving and being loved, we have lived our lives well. How could I be anything but thankful for that?
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Love each other fully and well.
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Thanksgiving 2012 (Original post)
Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)
Thu Nov 22, 2012, 05:10 PM
NYC_SKP (68,644 posts)
2. Happy Thanksgiving to you, rhiannon55!
What a thoughtful and well-written memoir!
"Osmyrrah", I love that- might it be a good name for the blog you might start?