Sacred things.

It’s still very hard for me to think about the day he died. While I have visited the hospice grounds several times, I haven’t visited the memories of his last days that often. It’s still too painful. Even thinking over the entire year that is now behind me, I revisit bits and pieces, grief flings certain moments back in my face, but to absorb it all, I’m still not able.

But I would like to share one thing that I really loved about my husband. He had beautiful hands; big, strong, perfectly proportioned, and soft. He loved holding hands. He also liked giving foot massages, and had funny names for the self-taught techniques he’d employ. My feet loved him. All the animals loved him, too, because he’d woo them to sleep with full-body rubs. His touch was magical at taming a beast, at turning a grouch into a slouch, at kneading the hard edges out of a tough day. Man, it was good to be a pet in our house…or a foot. Or a wife. My husband had a lot of love to give, and he wasn’t shy about showing it.

I remember noticing his hands on one of our first dates, we took a picnic to the lake, went swimming. Afterwards, as we dried in the sun, he put his hand on my back. I completely melted. I felt so cared for, protected. Instantly safe in his love.

He also became the designated jar- and bottle-opener in the house. A small thing, but a big trigger of his absence. I’ve actually thrown out several full, unopened jars of spaghetti sauce this past year, in a complete rage. I really wanted to hurl them against the wall, a red messy burst of anger against cancer and death, but at least my rational mind was smart enough to aim for the garbage bin.

* * *

My husband died early in the morning on May 28, 2012. He had been breathing heavily all night. I lay next to him for a while, but then moved to the chair, worried that I was bothering him, worried that he needed room, to breath, to be…to die.

It’s the strangest thing, you go to hospice knowing you are there because someone is going to die. But, truthfully? I didn’t understand that he was going to die there, on that day, on that morning. If I had, I wouldn’t have left his side for a second. But my mind could not make the leap from “before” to “after”.

It has taken an entire year, navigating this stoney path of loss, for my mind to grasp it. No wonder I am tired. My psyche has been working hard, and there’s no one here to massage my feet. I’m the only left walking the dog, a dog that we used to walk together. Every day. We’d walk, talk, hold hands, critique our neighbors’ gardens, discuss what we were going to plant in our own…

So I often think about him when I am walking. I think about his hands, and how I miss them. How I miss him. And sometimes I think back to his last day. How, after he died, I left the room for a while. In shock. I don’t even remember where I went. When I returned, they had folded his hands across his chest. They looked so perfect, as if they’d been carved out of marble. I remember thinking that maybe I should take a photo, so I would never forget.

But some things are sacred. Too sacred to be photographed. Some too sacred even to be to talked, or written about.

And why would I need a photo? The image is etched in my heart. Me, looking at him, touching his hands, one last time, as if captured by the great artist above, the day that my world turned to stone, my husband’s beautiful hands never again to touch my back, my feet, my face, his hands never again to open a jar, or soften one of life’s many blows.

Miles away….

Dearest followers, many a post have I started, yet I can’t seem to finish any of them. Maybe because I like to tie my tales up in a bow, and at least attempt to bring a nice conclusion to my mind’s rumblings, er, ramblings – and these days I can’t seem to wrap anything up. I will be honest and admit that lately I prefer to play games like Candy Crush and Fairway Solitaire on my ipad, rather than complete an emotionally-driven thought. I play these games over and over and over.

It’s a self-protection mechanism, and an avoidance tactic. I recognize it for what it is. Because if there is one thing I have learned in this past year, it’s that my mind is extremely powerful. It rules the roost around here, and when it tells me it needs an escape, you better believe I listen. I know it might sound strange to keep separating my mind from the rest of my little old self, but I think some people tend to be ruled by emotion, some are ruled by their bodies and desires, and some of us are ruled by our minds. Like I said, in this house, the “noodle” is in charge.

Now, I’m not going to debate whether this is a good thing, or a bad thing. That’s a post for another time, it’s just an observation about what I have been doing, and why I haven’t been writing, and how my mind is trying to steer miles clear of the pain point coming my way, the unavoidable fact, that in one month, on May 28th, it will be one year since my husband died.

Me and my mind, we’re just not sure what to make of this. That much is clear.

I have been feeling pretty good. I recently attended a wonderful retreat for people who have lost a spouse. In addition to playing games on my ipad, I’ve also been gardening, re-seeding the lawn, taking the dog to the park. I’ve been “busy”, ya’ know? I haven’t been stirring the emotional pot. Am I in denial? I really don’t know. I have a month to go, my mind is starting to tire of games, my heart is getting restless, and reality is coming knocking. Many people say that the actual day isn’t as difficult as the build-up to the day. I say, TBD. TBD.

In the meantime, if any of you are so inclined, let me know which half-completed thought you’d like me to try and finish: the one about Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, the one that references “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”, the one titled “Touch and Go”, or the most recent one about Parallel Paths…

Yeah, I know, everyone’s going to want to hear about the worm farm.