There are days when I want to burn them all. Every single flat, one-dimensional photo that I have of him. Because I hate that it’s all I have. I hate that I can’t feel the stubble on his face, only run my fingers across the high-gloss sheen of a 4×6 from Walgreens. Is that all you’ve got for me? A shiny fake finish on a life that was so much more? It’s not enough to fill the void. Not. Enough.

Actually, hold on, we can frame it differently if you’d like, we give him 4-6 months. How do those dimensions work for you? 4-6? 4×6? More like getting smacked in the chest with a 2×4.

I never thanked his oncologist. I think it’s because she was the one who said those words. She wasn’t to blame; she tried to help. But it was on that day that I felt the floor give out from under us, and down the rabbit hole we went. It was infuriating and sickening to look up and see them all watching helplessly, with pity in their eyes, knowing there was nothing they could do. But 4 months is more than some people get. And cancer? I guess I can be thankful that I have a convenient enemy to direct my anger at.

And so I continue to flop around, some days thankful, other days resentful. Surrounded by photos, and his folded t-shirts. Memories. A drawer full of socks. His shoes, sitting in the closet, empty, never to be filled again. And the photos, a precious, precious facsimile, but devilish in their trickery. I hate them and love them. The reminder of everything I had, and everything I lost.

Pop Therapy

This summer, after my husband died, the only music I could tolerate was “Top-40” hits. Not exactly sure why. I just couldn’t listen to any other music. Certainly not anything sentimental that would remind me of him; I just couldn’t bear it. And I couldn’t deal with the news, it was empty chatter that I couldn’t make meaning of. But I had to fill the silence otherwise my mind would just go crazy. So I gravitated toward the morning-show people. The ones who play hits, make jokes about bodily functions, and intentionally banter about nothing. No dark corners there, just pop. I’ll take it! An escape. Continue reading

Stronger Than Bone

“It looks so prehistoric…like elephant grass, or something. Why are you taking it out?”, my neighbor was admiring the tall ornamental grass I was furiously trying to dig out. I mumbled something about how this grass was actually a bully…squeezing out other plants and grasses with its “survival of the fittest” attitude and roots.

My husband had planted this grass; he loved ornamental grasses. And it was beautiful. It was at least 7 feet tall, and looked so elegant blowing in the wind. But it also seemed to triple in width every summer, was messy, crowding out the other plants, and almost impossible to cut down in the fall because the stalks were so thick. Last year my arms ended up full of jabs and scratches from its bamboo-like stalks and razor-sharp blades. Truthfully, this grass was just a pain in the ass, and I decided it had to go. Continue reading