Christmas has come ... and gone. Another first without Rick. I'm beginning to think that my life has become a series of "firsts". Guess that is this walk of grief playing itself out.
I am trying to learn my way thru.
--A widow is what I am. It is the life that has been thrust upon me. Not something I chose. Not something I like. But it is the life I have been given to live. And live it, I will. I will embrace this grief. But I will NOT be consumed by it. I will choose HOW to live this life.
--A widow is not WHO I am. That, I am still trying to figure out. WHO am I? What do I like? What do I want? Where do I want to be? So many questions ... and not many answers at this point. But I have the rest of my life to figure it out. There is no time limit.
--This grief, overwhelming at times, and at times ... just there - this grief, will always be with me. I will learn as I go to be stronger at lifting it, and carrying it. I will find out what makes me smile thru the tears - and that is what I will choose to focus on.
--no matter where life takes me, I will always love my husband ... and I will always miss him like crazy.
--This is MY grief, MY journey, MY life. And as hard and painful as it is, as much as I need and want my friends to support me - This is MY fight song. I will do this.
Looking back at my journals, I know that this begins the hardest 4 months of this first year. All the memories of those last 4 months with Rick come flooding back.
The first 25 years of our marriage was like a dream come true for me. Then, things started shifting ... changing. We talked about the change. We both still loved one another. And we were committed to live that love out - till death do us part. Thought maybe we were just really getting to that "settled" time of our life. Perhaps that's how it started.
But then ... Rick's health began to turn against him. And for all the right and wrong he did, I did, we did together ... it got worse. Worse. Worse.
I read in the journal pages ... and looking back, I now wonder if he gave up a year ago? I think he did. I think emotionally and mentally he was worn out, tired, weary. And looking back, remembering those last 4 months together - I think it just took his body those 4 months to catch up to his mind and his heart.
He loved me. I know he did. And he knew that I loved him. Without question.
I wanted him to fight to LIVE.
He wanted to live ... but he was like Gus in the movie "Lonesome Dove" - when his leg was taken off. He refused the chance at living without any legs. What if he wanted to kick a pig? Rick wanted to kick a pig, too. And thinking back to the many conversations we had in the dark of night while he was hooked to the dialysis cycler -- he was afraid the time was coming he wouldn't be able to kick a pig. He didn't want to live like that.
Those last 4 months were HELL for Rick (for me, too). We went thru so much together. In some ways it brought us closer than we had been in several years. We had so many conversations when he couldn't sleep, when the pain was at the worst. We talked about our past, about this present we were going thru, and we even talked about the future - what it would be like to live this out together, what it would be like for me to have to live it out alone.
He was worried about me. He wanted to know that I was going to be OK. He said once that I wouldn't even miss him if he was gone. "Yeah, right! You are my soul-mate, my Sweetheart. How could I not miss you? I miss you when you are just sleeping!"
We talked a lot about those who we had lost over the years. At last count 150 since 1995. Some were those who take a piece of your heart and soul when they go. He cried for them. I wiped his tears away.
He suffered greatly those last 4 months. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. No one but me knew the extent of his suffering.
He suffers no more. He is at rest. His body is at peace.
I love him. And I miss him like crazy. The tears still come so easy ... and are still so hot on my cheeks. Sobs rack my body. No matter how tightly I clutch my stomach, it still aches - that deep and abiding ache of missing him.
Yes, the grief continues ... and it always will.
Then a deep breath ... and Life goes on. Day becomes night ... night becomes day. I cry until I laugh ... and I will laugh until I cry.
I will focus on the little things - look for them like for a hidden treasure.
I have friends that understand ... that support me. Because they, too, walk this way of grief. They are the ones that can make me smile thru the tears. They are the ones that make me giggle so over silly little things. I am so sorry that they understand. I would walk this way alone for always, if only they didn't have to understand. But since they do understand, because they didn't get a choice here either - I am so glad that they have chosen to walk this way together - with me.
I love you Rick. I look at your picture and I just love you. I know your heart to me. You would know that I am grieving. But you would not want me to sink into that hole of despair and loneliness. You would not want the emptiness to consume me. And I know that the best way for me to honor YOU - is to love, to live, and to laugh. I love you Sweetheart. Always have. Always will.
Some who read this one post will not "get" it at all. I am so thankful that you don't. Then, there will be others who will read it and say - "Yes! That's IT!" I am sorry that you understand. I wish we lived in a world where none of us "Got" this. Sigh. But we are here now, not by our choice or plans. And life goes on. Hard as that is.
I had a "moment" yesterday. During a conversation with a friend "griefer" - and we were talking about grief. What is it like? When will it just go away?
And we both realized - Grief does not go away. It will NEVER leave. It will always sit upon us. That's what makes us different. That's what changes us.
This is what my friend said --
Many people find that over time, grief becomes more manageable. This isn't because the grief lessens. It's because you get stronger, or better acquainted with it. Think of lifting weights. Imagine that grief is a weight that you're carrying around. In the beginning, it's very hard to lift. Over time, you find it becomes easier, and you can lift it with a minimum of the effort that you once used. Did the weight become lighter? Not at all! Still the same amount of weight. But YOU changed.
I was sitting here chatting with him - and i looked down at my hands, when i did, i saw my widow's ring. And i just thought "WHOA!"
My widow's ring is a small gold band, with a pearl set in the middle, and a small diamond on either side. I got it because (1) my name means "Pearl" and (2) because of #1 - Rick always said i was "His Pearl of great price".
A diamond is created with pressure being on a piece of coal - not for a day, not for a moment in time. Pressure that is put upon that piece of coal - never letting up, but creating something of great value and high brilliance.
And a pearl - an oyster has a grain of sand find its way into his shell. Have you ever really paid attention to how big a grain of sand is NOT? But that grain of sand irritates that oyster. He becomes uncomfortable. The grain of sand HURTS him. But rather than get rid of it, what does the oyster do? Add a layer of protection ... and another ... and another ... and another - and he keeps adding that layer of protection, every time he feels irritated by it, or uncomfortable with it, or it causes him PAIN. Another layer. And then one day - a Pearl is found. Beautiful. Stunning. Shining.
This has given me more hope for all of us who "get" this grief walk than what i have had in these 8 months. Thank you my friend for sharing your heart with me. Don't ever stop!
There are those in my life who don't understand all that I say or do. I am "changed" they say. Well, no shit, Sherlock! I wonder why??? (and no, i will not apologize for any "language" used - not today.)
I have been the one for 8 months to say - "I am not the only one grieving for Rick." Trying to understand and be compassionate to those that he loved, that loved him. And also knowing that everyone grieves differently. Even those who are grieving for the loss of their heart and soul - they grieve differently than I do.
I'm just tired and weary, I guess. Perhaps it has to do with the "season". Perhaps it is just that point of my own grief walk.
I know that there are days that i make no sense to you.
*I laugh until i am out of breath ... and then, the tears start and won't stop! *My attitudes have changed. My patience has changed.
-What i used to be so impatient over - muddy foot prints on a clean floor, dirty laundry not in the hamper, dirty dishes left out over night, the TV too loud, supper getting cold instead of eaten, and such - matters absolutely nothing to me anymore. And i really don't mean to not pay attention if someone is complaining to me about those little daily things. I get it - i know how important those little things are in your life, in your world. I've been there ... more often than not, now, it is a vivid slap in the face that i don't have those little things to complain about anymore.
-and there are a couple of things that i have a zero tolerance for now -
(1) rude behavior. There is a way to disagree with someone - but don't be rude! RUDE - abusive, crude, ignorant, impolite, insulting, vulgar, bad-mannered, discourteous, inconsiderate, ungracious.
(2) others who have no experiential knowledge of the grief walk i am on telling me what i should or should not do, or worse - what i can or will do, or what i cannot do. There is a difference when someone offers a suggestion - but when they shake their finger at me! Oh Hell NO! I am a grown woman! I am in a HELL of a nightmare. Be kind. Be nice. Offer me your love, your hand, your ear. But do NOT tell me what i AM going to do!
*i am listening to music again. But not limited to only one genre. There is too much soul in the songs. Songs say what i cannot. And then, there are there moments that a song will start the tears all over again. But as i wrote the other day - there is healing in the tears when the music plays.
*i don't eat the same ... or dress the same ... i don't do the same things that i was doing a year ago ...
*and the list of changes goes on -- spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. there is not ONE part of my life that has NOT changed.
I want to say thank you. There are those that really do care, who really do want to walk with me thru this grief.
*Thank you. I know I am not an easy one to walk with. I know that I have those moments that cause you to sit back and wonder - What was I thinking? But be honest - didn't i warn you? *smile*
*Thank you to my children. I know that sometimes you look at your mother and wonder "WHAT???" Thank you for loving me thru all this. I love your daddy. Always have. And i forever will. He was my Sweetheart. My Soul-mate. We went thru a lot of life together - for 35 years. No matter what - he is my husband. I love him. And i miss him like crazy. No matter what - I always will.
*Thank you to my family in the support group. Wow. Y'all make me cry ... and laugh out loud! You hold my hand in the worst times. We share everything - and i wouldn't have it any other way! I love you so much.
*Thank you to my Best Friend. You are amazing. You know me better than anyone else does. You know what i think, and how i feel. You have a way of knowing when a moment is on me - and you send me a text that makes me smile. How do you do that? Because you know. And you care. Thank you. Thank you for bringing the music back to me. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for all the tears you have quietly let me cry. Thank you for your perspective. Thank you - for everything. I am humbled and honored to be your friend. Thank you for being mine. I likes you - a LOT.
This song is for YOU. Cause you make me SMILE.
Some days there is not a lot to write about. I breathe in and I breathe out. Perhaps there are some who care to know that. But honestly, I don't always want to write it.
There are those who ask me to write - because they say I have a "gift" with words. That my words speak the volumes within their own hearts. If so, then I am honored.
This walk of grief. Wow. I never thought when Rick was sick, and even when he would talk about dying, I never thought that so much would change.
But it did. It has. And it continues to.
Perhaps one day those changes will all work out to be a good thing. But for now - mostly they just hurt like HELL.
I have read many articles written by those who, like me, are walking this way. Grief. It helps to read the words of others. To hear of their stories, their struggles. There is something about knowing that I am not alone. And often they are a step or two ahead of me, and are giving me signs of what I am going to be going thru emotionally and mentally. It helps.
I am a member of a support group on Facebook that is just absolutely AWESOME. We are a community, a family, of grief walkers.
We cry together. We can tell when the grief is getting just too heavy - and invariably one of us will crack a joke just to make someone laugh. And the giggles ensue.
There are those who do not understand the giggles and tears. But we are finding out that it is just the way of grief. Never knowing when either will come, nor how long either will last.
But knowing, as much as we know our loves are gone forever, that the tears will follow the giggles, and the giggles will follow the tears.
Woke up this morning at 1 a.m., Thursday - 34 Thursdays since Rick died. The fear was upon me ... the panic was rising ... i took a deep breath. Reminded myself that the worst had already happened. He was gone. Forever. Not coming back. A few tears ...
And then, for the first time in 34 Thursdays, I listened to music. And i just allowed myself to actually FEEL the songs.
Thank you to the one who shared Adele with me. She is amazing. Her voice and her music is astounding.
I am so thankful - and that seems like such a small word - for you stirring the music within me once again.
I will always and forever love my husband. Ricky Lee McCoy. We gave each other 35 years. Good years. Some of those years were hard and lean. But all together they were good. If i knew then what i know now, I would have done it anyway. He was worth it, so worth every moment, every breath.
I want to live this life as his widow, honoring him. Confident in the love that he had for me - even in the worst of times, he loved me. I see that now.
Thank you to the one who helped me realize some things about my husband. There are times that you really can be so close to the forest that you can't see the trees.
I also know that life goes on for me. Where will it take me? I don't know. Who will go with me on this way? I don't know that either. What lies around the bend for me? I have no idea.
This is a journey ... and I promise to take it one day at time - nay, one breath at a time. I want to breathe deeply of the days and the nights - the highs and lows - the tears and the giggles.
Life without you ... this song was shared to me this morning by a special friend in my life.
I don't know how to walk this walk of grief ... i don't know how to live without Rick. This is all new for me. And just like the rest of life - there is no manual. no instructions. no how-to make it thru with any semblance of sanity.
But i thank God that i am not alone in this.
I have one in my life who walks with me, who talks with me, who shares the heart and soul of this life with me.
One who has been there for me in the middle of the day when the memories are overwhelming and takes my breath away. This one gets it. This one's breath is taken away by this walk, too.
One who says a sweet good morning - because that is one of those times i feel the most alone.
One who whispers a precious good night - because the loneliness is almost too much to bear those moments before closing my eyes.
How precious is a friendship with one who gets this life.
I wish a thousand times over that we had never met - because that would mean that our loved ones had not left us. But a thousand times over i am thankful that if we must walk this way, at least we can be friends in it together.
Music has always been a major force in my life. From the time i can barely remember as a kid growing up. A radio played. A record was turning. And when there was neither - Momma sang. God love that woman - she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket! But she sang - with her heart and soul. She sang.
And then, with Rick.
When words would not come for either of us - there was always a song. A song to be shared. A song to be remembered.
How many times did he call me from work - even before cell phones - and tell me to listen to a certain song that was playing on the radio?
How many times he called the radio station and requested a song be played for me - at a certain time.
How much money have we spent thru the years on 8-tracks (yes, i am that old), cassettes, CD's?
Concerts that we have went to, somehow affording the time and the money.
Nights when we would sit under the stars and he would softly sing - song after song after song. Until his voice literally gave out. And still leave me wanting more.
Times when i could not sleep, troubled with life - and he would hold me in his arms, and just sing to me. Calming me and quieting me. Making me just to know that no matter what - everything would somehow be ok.
In all of the sickness and hard times that we endured those years, Music was the anchor for our hearts and souls.
Hours upon hours we listened to the music. Music had a way of easing Rick's pain when the medications would not. And music touched that place deep within him and brought peace to him in the worst of times.
The last few months of his life, the music was not fully shared. He had a set of earphones and he wore them, listening to the music. It was like he needed to be as close to the music as he could be.
But ... for these last 33 weeks, i have listened to very little music.
It was just too much for me to bear.
My soul was in darkness.
My spirit was crushed.
I cry enough tears without the music. Or so i thought.
I am slowly finding out that the tears i cried without the music were so completely different than the tears with the music.
The tears with the music actually feel like healing tears.
tears that hold more hope than despair.
tears that hold promise of tomorrow,
not just the emptiness of today.
So, to this one who has shared the music with me - thank you.
You are helping me in ways that i have no words to explain ... but there will be a song that i will share with you one day.
It's weird on this grief journey.
The different "stages" - you don't go in a straight line.
You don't move from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on.
Or at least I don't.
In all the years thru all the losses, I haven't made the trip along the "stages" the right way then either.
But now? Oh my. I am literally bouncing all over the place!
Stage 1, then 7, then 51, then 2, then 3, then 28, then ...
I wonder if this is what a pinball feels like in one of those old games?
Only I am not a steel ball - I am a fluffy and messy package of me.
And all I am trying to do is to breathe in and breathe out.
Trying to figure out who I am - without Rick.
Trying to figure out how I am going to get thru this without him.
I talk too much.
I laugh too loud.
I cry too often.
I am too brutally honest.
I write things that are most likely better left not in print.
I say things that I cannot take back.
I hear words from others that stir my soul, which they wish I had not heard (or at least not remembered).
I am me.
I. am. me.
I am surrounded by others - and yet I am indescribably alone and lonely.
I have been more numb than not for the last 33 weeks - perhaps even before that, when Rick was sick, especially this whole year.
But the woman inside of me is waking up.
And she hurts in a way that I never thought she would.
On every level.
And honestly? I don't know which is worse - to have the mind numbing pain (at least to be numb) or to now be actually FEELING what I feel.
The woman in me is waking up to find emptiness and loneliness, no one to share it with, no one to touch that lostness within me.
Always before when we walked in grief, Rick was with me.
And when the numbness would begin to wear off - he was there to hold me, to wipe my tears away, to listen to my anger, to just tell me that we would make it thru all this.
Just for the record, in case I haven't said it in a while ...
I HATE BEING A WIDOW!
I miss being a wife, a woman.
I miss being held. loved. cherished.
I miss reaching up and laying my hand on his face - just loving him and giving him me.
I want to hear that there is Hope and Promise.
But this is my life now ... and I refuse to give up.
Death will NOT have the victory in my life - not like this.
I will fight my way thru ... bumbling and stumbling ... crying until I laugh ... laughing until I cry.
This. is. me.
And this - is my fight song ...
So why "Scattered Feathers" ? ? ?
You can read it here