Writing can be fun, but ….

Today is the anniversary of my little sister’s death. She was fifty-eight when she died, with two young adult children and a loving husband. She died of cancer, after a long fight. I write today to fight back time. It keeps passing. The years when she was here grow ever more distant. Memories become reduced to repeated sentences that we use to conjure her up. Thin, so thin. Photos are also finite, though we have many; but there are no new ones now, showing her aging, attending graduations, creating new art, celebrating holidays as only she could. I weep but do not bleed. I would bleed if that would bring her back, but I know it will not. I line up these words on the page and conjure her one more time. Sarah.

Please share your words about a loved one that you have lost.

28 responses to “Writing can be fun, but ….

  1. Ann, dear friend, my heart is warmed by your tribute to Sarah. One of my most cherished treasures is “Onward Is Best”, it is such a true work of art. Your tears are necessary, they a cleansing expression of love. Thank you for allowing us to be some small part of your time of grief. That is what good friends are for.

  2. I just lost my husband of 52 yrs. I think Ann is asking for help on how to deal with death.

    So am I.

    Help us.

    Sympathy is appreciated but…

    help us.

    How did YOU struggle to carry on?

    What was it that gave you the fortitude to slap a phony smile on your face and “keep going”?

    Please don’t give canned answers: it gets easier… blah blah blah… and, by the way, most of us know about faith and its healing powers. Not to diminish them but what else? We (or at least some of us) want more.

    Dig deep.

    Tears? I could reverse droughts worldwide.

    Come on.

    Anyone?

  3. I find comfort in small things in nature that remind me of my departed loved ones. I wrote this on Memorial Day and it tells you what helps me.

    Today is Memorial Day. I’ve been to the Abbey and placed flowers in the stands for my parents and two sisters. It’s now afternoon and I’m weeding in my garden. The clouds periodically block the sun, so it’s not too hot. The weather guy says 65 for today’s high. It’s not there yet, but I’m comfortable in my long sleeved shirt and jeans. I pick gardening today because it’s mindless yet rewarding; the results of my work will be apparent and satisfying at the end of the day. It allows me to be alone with my thoughts of dad, mom, and two sisters.

    I become aware of the cheerful song of a bird in the tree above me. When I finally spot the bird, it’s a Robin. The bird continues to sing to me for half an hour. I move in slow motion, comforted by the melody, continuing my gardening tasks.

    The robin seems to want more attention than I’m giving it, so it hops to the top of the trellis with the clematis canopy of white flowers, and seemingly increases its volume. I can’t help it. I talk to the bird, thanking it for singing to me on this sad day. I’m missing my parents and my sisters- missing the laughter and the conversations we had. Mom’s passing last November was the last of the four.

    I talk to the robin, who is still perched on the trellis and tell it how much I appreciate the serenade. It’s not lost on me that one of my sister’s name was Robin. I talk to robins a lot. I feel comfortable telling the bird that she would love the young man her son has become and the wonderful wife he now has. How proud she would be that he works with mentally challenged children and helps teach them activities of daily living so they can be part of and contribute to society. It sings a few more happy notes, then leaves.

    Suddenly two doves land in the cedar tree beside me. They begin their haunting co-coo-co volley. I love the sound; it reminds me of the vacations we spent as a family in Hawaii. Every morning we woke to the sound of the doves welcoming a new day. Today, they also sing to me for longer than usual before they take flight together. It seems that Mom and Dad have a lot of comfort and information to impart with their limited vocabulary.

    I’m smiling by now, because it is a glorious day. I feel in touch with nature and content. I’m sitting on the ground and weeding beneath a group of delphinium that is stunning with its deep purple and blue shades. A hummingbird darts beside me and even though I’m only a foot away, takes its time drinking from the throat of the farthest stalk. It finishes its feast and stops before me midair, its wings whirring. I sense it looking into my soul. Then it takes off as fast as it appeared
    .
    I’ve been visited by four angels today. My garden has become a special place of beauty and solace because I’ve been blessed by the presence of angels with wings.

  4. Ann, Peanut and Lola,
    The grief is always there- I write letters to them, stories and poems about them. I find peace and comfort in small things in nature. This is a post I wrote on my blog on Memorial Day.

    Today is Memorial Day. I’ve been to the Abbey and placed flowers in the stands for my parents and two sisters. It’s now afternoon and I’m weeding in my garden. The clouds periodically block the sun, so it’s not too hot. The weather guy says 65 for today’s high. It’s not there yet, but I’m comfortable in my long sleeved shirt and jeans. I pick gardening today because it’s mindless yet comforting and rewarding; the results of my work will be apparent and satisfying at the end of the day.

    I become aware of the cheerful song of a bird in the tree above me. When I finally spot the bird, it’s a Robin. The bird continues to sing to me for half an hour. I move in slow motion, comforted by the melody, continuing my gardening tasks.

    The robin seems to want more attention than I’m giving it, so it hops to the top of the trellis with the clematis canopy of white flowers, and seemingly increases its volume. I can’t help it–I talk to the bird, thanking it for singing to me on this sad day. I’m missing my parents and my sisters- missing the laughter, the love and the conversations we had. Mom’s passing in November was the last of the four.

    I talk to the robin, who is still perched on the trellis and tell it how much I appreciate the serenade. It’s not lost on me that one of my sister’s name was Robin. I talk to robins a lot. I feel comfortable telling the bird that she would love the young man her son has become and the wonderful wife he now has. How proud she would be that he works with mentally challenged children and helps teach them activities of daily living so they can be part of and contribute to society. It sings a few more happy notes, then leaves.

    Suddenly two doves land in the cedar tree beside me. They begin their haunting co-coo-co volley. I love the sound; it reminds me of the vacations we spent as a family in Hawaii. Every morning we woke to the sound of the doves welcoming a new day. Today, they also sing to me for longer than usual before they take flight together. It seems Mom and Dad have a lot of information to impart with their limited vocabulary.

    I’m smiling by now, because it is a glorious day. I feel in touch with nature and content. I’m sitting on the ground and weeding beneath a group of delphinium that is stunning with its deep purple and blue shades. A hummingbird darts beside me and even though I’m only a foot away, takes its time drinking from the throat of the farthest stalk. It finishes its feast and stops before me midair, its wings whirring. I sense it looking into my soul. Then it takes off as fast as it appeared
    .
    I’ve been visited by four angels today. My garden has become a special place of beauty and solace because I’ve been blessed by the presence of angels with wings.

  5. Many here know the story of my late husband and his battle with cancer. I do understand your pain.
    If friends are annoying you with their “get over it” attitude, avoid seeing them for now. Try to stay as busy as possible, at least during the day. When the tears begin, tell yourself you’ll do that later…then do it! If you plan the time for tears it sometimes helps keep them at bay.
    Indulge in things that give you pleasure…shoes, chocolate, the library..
    Finally, give Grief Support groups a try. Even if it’s been a couple of years, it can often help, more than anything else. Being with others who share the same pain can be your crutch, and you need one right now.
    Know the pain won’t go away completely, but it will get better.

    I’m rambling here. No attempt to clean it up. Just giving hope…I hope.

  6. Sanctuary

    Mornings are my sanctuary.
    I stagger to them blindly,
    eyes puffed from lack of sleep,
    cotton congesting my brain.

    He sleeps.
    Drug induced,
    but sleep.

    I sip my morning tea,
    peruse the newspaper,
    eat my breakfast.
    I relish the peace, the quiet.
    I can almost forget.
    Almost, but for the ton of concrete on my shoulders.

    He stirs,
    needs the toilet.
    Where is it?

    I ache with a weariness bone deep.
    Deeper.
    To my soul.
    I fear I will never be free
    of this weariness.
    There is no respite from weariness this profound.

    He’s wet.
    His shorts are wet,
    the floor is wet.
    Who took the toilet?

    I straighten the kitchen,
    plan the day’s meals.
    I steel myself,
    prepare myself,
    climb the stairs
    away from sanctuary.

    My time of sanctuary is gone,
    its bit of healing erased.
    I have the whole day ahead of me.
    Another whole day with Alzheimer’s
    And this stranger who is my husband.

    (For both of us, his death was a relief.)

    • wonderful. My understanding is that it, the big “A”, is eventually reduced to hated black and white by everyone I know whose partner has alzheimer’s.
      I like the fact that while you probably didn’t mean the line to be interpreted this way – to me, the last line “For both of us, his death was a relief.” could mean ‘you downstairs’ and ‘you upstairs’. I am a bit perplexed by your ‘handle or nome de plume’. Be well trish.

      • Not sure how you meant your question, but what I intended to convey that when he died it was a relief for me as well as for him. He would not have wanted to be alive in that condition. I did come upon him with a gun once. He was loading it. I thought I’d hidden all the ammo. Plus, how he could still figure out how to load it was astonishing.

        The last line was not part of the poem. I just wanted to let people know that he is not still alive.

    • Gullie. This helps me. Thank you. Ann

    • Your weariness and pain is beautifully and vividly expressed. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Meegiemom:

    Thank you for your understanding and words of advice: Stay busy, shoes, chocolate, the library. I hear you.

    I’m new here so I don’t know about your struggle with your husband’s cancer and death. Please accept my condolences for all you’ve experienced. I’m going to have to learn patience and to accept that in time things might get easier.

    Thank you again and especially for your gift of hope.

    • I have a wordpress blog where my story appears if you’d care to read it. I’m polishing it up to post to the contest Ann suggested we enter. If you leave your email address in the comments section I’ll respond. Is your name Lola or Iola?
      jeriktodd.wordpress.com

  8. I have one more suggestion. Try writing an essay about your lost one, truth or fictionalized. Try for it to be perfect and correct in every way,

    I’ve found writing can be a way to work through the pain and anger (if you’re feeling anger..some don’t). Reread, revise, don’t leave anything out.

    You may feel better just in the telling. Post it if you’re comfortable doing so.

    We all need for someone to listen.

  9. Ann, have you ever written about your sister? I find writing about my Ken refreshes my memories of him. He was so sick for so long that was all I remembered for a long time. Finally, now I’m beginning to remember him as he was before.

    No one can take memories away. They’re ours for a lifetime. We have to make really good ones for those we’ll leave behind one day.

    Thank you for giving us this opportunity, Ann.

  10. I lost my husband on 9/11. Still those words don’t come easy to me. Don’t roll off my lips, still hard to acknowledge. After 10 years and making sure our son was mentally healthy and in a good place in his life, I entered into grief therapy. There I recounted my story only to realize how much time I had lost during that nightmarish, impossible time. My memories were condensed. In fact my body was walking around without me in it. I am frightened now that I realize what that implication is. I was reassured by friends that I was never left alone. Yes. I say. I’ve moved on. But I carry him around with me. He was my sunshine. The love of my life.

  11. Vee: I am about to enter into grief therapy. Hospice sent a pamphlet explaining the process of grief. The last sentence was: ‘We do not “get over” grief and return to “normal”. Grief will change us forever.’

    If you haven’t found peace, I hope someday you will.

    Know that we all grieved on 9/11 but nowhere near the intensity of what you’ve been through.

    “…my body without me walking around in it.”

    You can touch people with your words and you should keep doing so.
    I won’t be returning to this site for various reasons but I urge you to climb out of that very “deep hole” that Ann mentioned. Let me repeat Ann’s advice: Keep going, Vee!

  12. I hope it.helps you as much as it helped me, Lola. Just don’t be inhibited. You need to open up and let it all out.

    Please let us know how it’s going.

    Jeri

  13. Jeri; I wish we could sit crossed-legged on my couch and talk about life and death. I know you would be a person I could relate to. (for everyone who gasped and wants to chastise me for that deadly “to” at the end of the sentence: Get over it.”

    You want to know what’s really ironic? My sister’s name is Jeri. When I lost our mom 12 mos. before I lost my husband and was sobbing on the phone with her I said, ‘I don’t think I could ever watch another person die. She said, “Well, you could always kIll yourself.” Really. Honest to…

    Anyway, I’m going to grief therapy on Tuesday. Do I tell the therapist this?

    Who says this to a person who is on her knees with grief? I never want her in my life again and I feel awful about that.

    I never heard from her again and yet, every Sunday, she’s on her knees in church. Go figure.

    Anyway, I promise, this is the last of my whining. I hope therapy helps and for all of you who have suffered through grief: Be strong.

    • First, tell me if it’s Lola or Iola, please. I’m going to assume it’s Lola

      Dearest Lola

      I want to help you work through this pain, and I think I can. (Proper writing be damned). Today you’ll be beginning a very important journey, so it’s important that you are prepared. Expect to cry, and let it happen. Yes, tell all, no matter how painful. If you don’t feel a connection with your therapist, it’s okay to change.

      Are you going to a group? I hope so, as the interaction with others suffering as you are is very important.

      My name is Jeri K. Todd, and if you put all that together with no caps and add an at sign, then gmail, you will find me there. Ann, please don’t delete this. We all need someone to lean on from time to time, and it’s difficult to open up in a public forum like your blog. Sometimes I feel a grief support blog could be my calling, but I have no idea how to go about it.

      One thought as you begin this process, Lola. I think you’re also grieving the loss of your sister, even though she’s been painfully unkind to you.

      A big warm hug to start your day.

      Jeri

  14. Lola, I gave you the wrong info. Second cup of coffee hadn’t kicked in yet. It’s me dot com, not gmail.

  15. How’s the grief support going, Lola?

  16. Ann – your words are beautiful, and show how much you love and miss your sister. I know this because you describe exactly what I am beginning to feel/fear for the memory of my son, Keith, who died in 2010 (I took your BWW in 2011, and wrote about Keith). May I share your words, quoted of course, with my grief group, and FB friends?
    I think synchronicity brought me here today. I tried to express at a grief meeting last night the mix of joy and heartache I am feeling this summer as Keith’s friends move on with their lives – one is getting married, another has a new baby, and Keith’s girlfriend marries her new love in just a couple of weeks (how do I introduce her now?). I am truly happy for each of them, and so pleased to be included in their ongoing lives; but with each happy occasion that takes place without Keith, I too feel the need to fight back time.

    Linda – I also go to nature and my garden. Soaring seagulls are my “robins”, my Keith, to talk to.

    Hi, Peanut – it’s nice to meet you again here!

    • Nice to meet up with you too Melb. It is so touching that you are still involved with Keith’s friends. I’m sure they are comforted by your attention as you are enriched by theirs. You’ve stated your feelings so eloquently and I thank you for sharing your perspective. Peanut

  17. Hi Melb. I’d be pleased if you share this. It’s good to hear from you!

  18. Keith died in April 2010. I wrote this for an online poetry class, after stopping here and being inspired once again to write and share.

    I Wore Your Shirt Today

    I wore your red shirt today.
    It was warm when I took it out of the drawer.
    Sounds crazy, right, how can that be? But it was.
    Felt just like getting a hug when I put it on.
    So I wrapped my arms around my shoulders
    And hugged right back – did you get it?

    You’ve been gone four years today.
    I went out and raked the flower beds
    Determined to make it a good day,
    So you wouldn’t see me cry.
    Michelle said (you’d have liked her) that
    It’s a day to cry, if that is what it feels like.

    Found crocus and snowdrops
    When I raked the leaves away.
    Dad took my picture so I can remember
    How I felt at that moment;
    Sun on my face, fresh air, in my garden,
    With the feel of your hug still there.

    I gave Grandma’s ring to George;
    He proposed to Melinda. I thought you and
    Rachel would be first. Rachel marries her new
    Love soon. She thought she’d never find
    Anyone after you; I’m glad she did.
    She asked me to stand up with her – it will be hard.

    Your friends are doing well. Dereck is getting married, and
    Khuram has a new baby. Gino’s band, “Wagner’s Agenda”
    is very popular. They dedicate songs to you all the time.
    Justin did another “Keith Experience” set at KeithFest.
    It’s so good to hear your music performed live again;
    Don’t know why I sob when I get home.

    Well, another year’s gone by. Hope your days
    Are full of music, love and laughter.
    Miss you, Keith, wish you were here.
    Love, Mom

  19. It is so easy for me to relate to this. I’m glad you sent it along. Take care, and keep going. –Ann

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s