Things I Miss

It has been seven and a half months since my husband died.
I miss him so much.

I worry that as time passes I will forget the most endearing parts of our relationship.  I take notes on what I miss most.  I look at pictures each day. Surprising to me, I do not miss his image as much as I miss his actions.

I miss cuddling.
He was a great hugger.
He would spontaneously hold me.
At our age, and with his physical being, sex was not the great part of intimacy.  It was holding me.

I miss his presence next to me.
The way he would look at me and let me know that he was in love with me.
We fell in love the first time we saw each other and it never stopped

He was also good at verbalizing his love.  He would tell me each day that he loved me.

I have recently gone through a lot of paperwork to get rid of the stacks of things that need to be gone.  I found his cards that he had given me for birthdays and Valentines and Mothers’s day and anniversaries.  I read each one and the wonderful words he would add to the already lovely message of the card.  He was great at expressing love.

I really miss affirmation.
I have no one that tells me that I am doing a good job or I am an OK person.
I have no one that lets me know that I am a hard worker or that they appreciate me for all that I do.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have wonderful children.  I know that they love me.  But there is just something about having someone who tells you that they appreciate you…frequently. My husband did that for me. I knew he admired me for what I did and he let me know that my mind was sharp and my actions and hard work was in concert with him.  I felt good about myself.

I miss the little things he did that showed he cared.  He bought the gas.  I did not have to be concerned about a car on empty.  He took care of that.  He carried the garbage and the recycling to the center.  He wrote the checks and paid the bills.  He bought the groceries. The list could go on and on.

When I start looking at these things I begin to wonder what I did.  But we were good partners so I did the laundry, the cleaning and making the grocery list.

He loved to run errands.  I would make the list and he would run the errands.  He could spend all day running errands.  He love to interface with people when he ran the errands.  If I do the errands I make a list and try to do it with as much efficiency as I can. Not Ray; he enjoyed running errands and would dilly dally and backtrack and enjoy each person and each experience.  That is why he is missed by so many people.

To say that there is a void in my life is not doing it justice.  There is a huge hole.  As good as I feel I am doing without him, I cannot seem to fill this hole.

They say that time will heal.  I don’t want time to take away my memories or to replace missing him.  But there are some things that hurt so much I don’t think time could come close to repairing.

Be My Valentine

Since I was fourteen years old I have had a boyfriend give me something special for Valentine’s Day.  Even before that we had boxes in our classroom where each student would put a paper valentine in for all other students.  We coded our names by putting numbers for the letters in the alphabet so it was fun to figure out from whom the valentine was sent.  Valentine’s Day has always been a special day for me.

This year I decided to ignore Valentine’s.  I knew that my true love was not going to be here.  I knew that I would not get that special card, those flowers and that extra long hug. I had prepared myself for the fact that my husband had died and Valentine’s Day for me would be just another day on the calendar.

I did great.  I was rocking along getting my chores done and my “to do” list was getting checked off in the speed of lightning. I was proud of my moving along and ignoring the special day of love.

Then my wonderful daughter comes up to me, gives me a great big cuddly long hug and says, “This was sent to you from heaven from Dad”.  That was it.  I looked at her and lost it.  My big bravado heart broke wide open.  I could no longer ignore the day.  I loved him so much while he shared my life and I love him now in all of my many memories; I could not act as if it didn’t matter.

Valentine’s Day is a special day to acknowledge our love for our special people.  I know it is usually marked for the romantic love in our lives.  It is designed for dinners out, flowers, candy in heart shaped boxes and expensive jewelry.

But shouldn’t it be a time that we say “I love you” to all of our special loves?  I, as much as I tried, could not get past the hole in my heart where my true love had lived.  I ached as I let myself release those feelings of emptiness, loneliness and sadness.

I was on the way to church for Ash Wednesday services and the radio seem to play every song that my husband and I had called “our song”.  I cried through everyone.  Then the next song would play and it was, once again, another of the songs that we loved.  Those songs reminded me of many special moments that only the two of us shared.

By the time I got to church I was a basket case. Probably, for the sake of others, I should have turned around and gone home, gone to bed and cried through the night.  But I didn’t.  I sat through a very moving service and thought about repentance and the sacrifice of Jesus and how I was going to ponder that for the next 46 days.

Thankfully my friends are sweet, caring people and they accepted my quiet sobs.  They knew my distress because they knew how much my husband and I were in love.  They understood my pain.

I made it home and the next day I was moving on with life.  But I learned that as hard as I tried to ignore the love that is expressed on Valentine’s Day, it has to be acknowledged. I hope that everyone could have a Valentine in their life as dear and loving as mine was. He was a true romantic. We fell so deeply in love that it is hard to imagine living without him.

So now in my memories, I think of him and want to say, “Please be my Valentine forever”.  I love you and miss you.


I had an epiphany the other day.

I. Am. Alone.

I guess as you read this you would say, “Really, you are just realizing that?”  But yes, it just became so apparent to me that I am all alone.  I realized that we are all traveling through this world alone; as an individual.

We come into this world as a single being.  Although we have relationships, we are still individuals.  Some of us have very good relationships.  We have close friends with which we can share both the happy times, as well as our sad times. In fact, some folks share every intimate detail with close friends.  Some of us never have close friends and we are only comfortable sharing a limited amount of our lives with others.

In retrospect, I had a great relationship with my parents.  I don’t remember having many moments that were trying with them.  They were reasonable, flexible, and easy to get along with all of my life.  My mother died at 98 1/2 years old and was a good friend the entire time.  My brothers were younger and different from me, but we always got along.

I left my parents home after college and married my best friend. We had 54 1/2 years of great friendship.  It was such an amazing journey through life with him. We enjoyed years of goal setting and accomplishments.  We were partners in raising six children and fulfilling our mutual desires.  We dreamed our dreams and worked on them through the years. We sort of melted into one person, instead of two, living together.

Then, life happened, and he left me abruptly.  I now realize I came into this world as an individual…I traveled these years as an individual…I will leave this world as an individual.

I cannot expect anyone to be responsible for me.  I don’t have to get permission from anyone to do something.  Sometimes there is no one that actually knows what I am doing or cares what I am doing.

I am alone.

As this concept occurs to me, I find that there is some good and some not so good things to this.  The good is the independence.  If I want to eat chocolate all day I can do that.  I am the only one that is accountable.  But eating chocolate alone is no fun.  As a person that always had a partner, I really prefer the connection to another person.  I want someone to know where I am and what I am doing.

There are lessons to be learned here.  First, I think we have to appreciate the persons with which we are connected.  With all of their faults or irritations, we need to stop and consider that if they were not there, we would be so lonesome.

Second, I think we need to prepare ourselves for the alone-ness.  What will you do if you find yourself alone without people around you. Do you have hobbies? Do you have projects to do?  Can you amuse yourself enough to be alone? Do you feel comfortable reaching out and starting over to find new relationships?

I am very alone.
I am experiencing major loneliness.

My comfort so far has come as I am experiencing a great joy in my relationship with God. I am trying to deal with this new individual life.  It is God’s will and he will give me the courage to be alone. Then someday, as an individual, I will return again to God just as I came alone from Him.

The Return of the Squirrel

Do you believe in reincarnation?  Do you believe that persons are sent back to earth as animals?  I don’t know.  But the little light grey squirrel has returned.  You may have read the story of the light grey squirrel that got my attention by dancing for me on a Sunday morning shortly after Ray died.  He looked just like my husband with the shaking of his bootie.

I distinguish him as the light grey squirrel because most of the squirrels in our yard are dark grey or black.  This stylish thing is very light grey, so I think he is unique.  He certainly is different.  And he certainly does different things from the other fuzzy creatures in my yard.  He is bold, knows no boundaries and pushes the limits.

I was in the keeping room the other day and looked out to find this creature on my porch.


How dare him to come up on my porch.  My husband and I purposely cut down some gorgeous trees on our property so that no tree would be close enough that a squirrel could jump on the new house.  I HATE SQUIRRELS.

I have had experience with squirrels.  They can get in your attic.  They can nest in your attic.  They can chew through lines in your house; electric lines and water lines.  They can urinate and do other things that are disgusting in your house.  And ultimately your house will smell from all of the things that squirrels can do there.

So, I’ll say it again, I HATE SQUIRRELS.

So here is this sassy squirrel on my porch.  I carefully watched him.  He came up to the door.  He perched up on his hind legs and looked in the glass of the door.  He turned his head from side to side looking in the door.  Then he casually walked to one of the windows.  He perched up on his hind legs and looked in the glass of the window.  He turned his head from side to side as he looked in the window. [If you are visual like me, I hope you are actually picturing this as you are reading it.]

By now, I was sure that he was assessing the best way to enter my house.  While he was doing this, I was assessing the best way to get rid of this pest.  I walked around to the door of the porch.  I was certain that he would see me through the glass and run away. That was not the case at all.

He walked casually back to the center of the porch, raised up on his hind legs and looked at me.  Amazing.  Who did he think he was?  I stomped my foot to scare him away.  He just kind of turned his head as if to acknowledge that I was there and to say hello.  I waved my arms to scare him away.  Amazing.  He just looked at me as if he was amused.

After a few minutes of me looking at him and he looking at me, he slowly turned away and SLOWLY walked down the spiral staircase.  Oh yes, this is not a porch on the bottom floor.  This squirrel walked down a twelve foot spiral staircase to get up and down to the porch.  It was as if he felt he owned the place.

When telling my granddaughter about the return of the squirrel, she laughed. She said you have to see the humor in this.  And I replied, “What is humorous about this?” She said, “God has the last laugh.  He sent Poppy back to us in the form of the thing you hate the most, a squirrel”.

Secretly, between you and me, the little light grey squirrel is really very cute. He does remind me of my husband.  Bold, no boundaries and pushes the limits. Thank you God.


Busy, busy, busy.

That is my new motto.
Stay busy.
Keep moving.
Keep doing.

Wake up with a things to do list and don’t stop until it is finished.  There is lots to do and I need to get it all done.

I believe that distractions are the key to keeping sadness at bay.  If you don’t have time to think about the loss in your life you will not have time to focus on the sadness.

My children have been great to help me with this plan. In less than four months, I have traveled to Boston for a week, Seattle for a week, Phoenix for a week, the beach three times, the mountains one time, Ohio one time and (at the time of writing this) am in Healy, Alaska.  I have cleaned, organized, learned new things, visited the sick, written lots of letters, worked puzzles, painted walls and generally stayed busy.

I have found that when my “things to do list” gets done too fast, I have time to think. Having time to think is my enemy.  When I am not busy I begin to travel back in time and remember when my husband was alive and when we were having fun and doing things together.  I miss him greatly and that leads me directly into sadness.

They say that time is on your side.  As time goes forward you will heal.  You need time to move so you are further from the loss.  I am not sure what the words “closure” and “healing” really mean.  But when I am not busy, time stands still.  When I am not busy, time drags and the days are long.

I believe that your mind controls your thoughts and your thoughts control your moods and your emotions.  So if your mind is focused on your “things to do list”, you do not have time to let your thoughts go to the things that will make your mood get sullen and your emotions become sad.

Others say that you need to process for “closure” and “healing” to take place.  But when I think about processing it takes me back to thinking about my loss and thinking about my loss takes me into sadness.

Maybe I am all wrong.  Maybe someday I will wake up and find that I have just put it all off.  I may see that I have locked everything away in a trunk for another day. I may find that I totally fall apart.  Maybe I will someday become a basket case.

But I don’t think so.  I have made my peace with God.  I have processed the death.  I have reviewed my personal thinking about life and death.  I have come to terms with my new life.  I can talk about my sweet husband without being sad.  I can remember our fun life and reflect on the past sometimes without being emotional.

I really believe I am doing OK.  But I know that I am better on the days that I am busy, busy, busy.  When I was doing grief seminars (yeah, imagine that) I taught all the theoretical concepts of the grieving process.  I studied the experts and I, as Dr. Priestino, presented the information as if it were the tried and true.

But if I were to do that today, after I have lived the experience, I would have a different story to tell.  I believe you need to process, think, review and then stay very busy to get through it.  Yes there is shock, denial, etc. but essentially it is acceptance and stay busy, busy, busy.  Thank you God for giving me caring children and good friends that will keep me distracted.




When there is something hurtful, either physical or emotional, the natural response is to cry.  Obviously, tears were shed when my husband died.  It was the display of a horrible event.  It was the natural thing to do when the hurt was so deep.

As the days went by I was encouraged to cry.  “Let it out” I was told.  “It is helpful to cry”.  “You will feel better if you cry”.  “Crying will cleanse your soul”.

I am here to tell you that I don’t agree with any of those statements.  But to be honest, I have made the same statement to many people.  I really believed it to be true.  I thought there was something therapeutic about shedding tears.

Now I put these statements in the same category with those other myths my wonderful mother said to me.  You know, things like “If you cross your eyes they will get stuck like that forever” and “If you go outside without your coat you will catch a cold” and “If you swallow seeds they will grow in your stomach”.  We grow up and figure out that these are myths.  Now I believe that ‘crying is cleansing’ is yet another myth.

Don’t get me wrong.  Crying has a place in our lives.  Babies use crying to tell us something is wrong.  They are hungry, uncomfortable, sick or distressed.  It is a way to alert us that someone needs to pay attention.  Older children also use crying to let us know that they are hurt or need attention.  You fall off your bike, skin your knee and need to cry to alert someone that it hurts.

But crying does not make the hurt go away.  It is a way to get attention and to alert people to a need. But to me, crying is not cathartic.  It is not cleansing.  It is not therapeutic.  It gives me a headache.  It makes me more sad.  It deepens my despair.

I realize that I may feel this way because I see crying as a loss of control and…

let’s face it…

I am a control freak.  

I said it.  
I know it.  
I own it.  

I don’t know why or how I got this way but I do not want to let myself be out of control. Therefore, I do not like to cry.

I know all of my friends are trying to help me the best they can when I get emotional. After all, they heard the same myth from their mothers.  And they want to help me.  So I do appreciate them when they say I should cry it out.

I am trying hard to be rational, logic, sane and non-emotional.  I try to block all of the sad thoughts.  I try to put myself in control mode and think happy thoughts.

But just in case I am not successful, I will announce to you now…

My red eyes and sniffling nose is because I have bad allergies.
And I have lots of headaches these days.

Gonna Miss You

On the Wednesday morning after my husband had died on Saturday, I woke up at 6 am. It was a very quiet morning and the lake was as smooth as glass.  For a skiing family, this is a call to get out on the lake.  I looked at the dock and as I expected the ski boat was gone.  They were out there taking advantage of the beautiful day.

So I went downstairs, brewed a cup of coffee and stepped out on the porch.  In three steps I realized that something was wrong.  It was deathly quiet.  The usual sound of this porch is a constant chatter of song birds, the whirling of the humming birds up to the feeders as they fight each other for territory and the movement and chirps of the squirrels as they play tag with each other in the trees as children would on a playground. On this morning, none of these sounds were there.

It is always a symphony of blended voices of nature, harmonizing and producing a cacophony of interesting music. They chirp and call out and respond in the many pitches of the loud, soft, high and low sounds of the natural beings in the yard.  This day, none of them were singing.  None of them were playing.  None of them were scurrying or flying or fussing or discussing as they usually do.  It was quiet.

Suddenly, I heard a single loud mouth bird.  It was so loud and clear.  It was right there in the tree in front of me.  It said, “I’m gonna miss you, gonna miss you, I’m gonna miss you, gonna miss you.”  I was astounded.  What did the bird say?  It flew from one tree to another, closer to me as I walked to the railing of the porch.

Once again it said, “I’m gonna miss you, gonna miss you, I’m gonna miss you, gonna miss you”.  I looked up to see where it was coming from.  I could not see the bird.  I looked up again and I said, “I’m gonna miss you too.”  I knew without a doubt that God had set this scene up for me.  The sounds of nature had all been silenced so there was no chance that I would miss the message.  The chosen bird had a very loud mouth and I don’t know what it was but the rhythm and the volume has made me decide it was a cardinal.  It was the exact message that I needed to hear.  My husband was well, happy, content and letting me know that he would miss me.

A good friend gave me the book, Gift of the Red Bird by Paula D’Arcy sometime after this experience.  In essence it tells of a divine encounter while she is on a quest to find peace. I enjoyed the book but I already had my divine encounter. I knew that God was letting me know that He had messages for me as I grew closer to Him through this tragic part of my life.

I think that it takes a life stopping event to halt us long enough to see the absolute blending of the physical and spiritual world. It is amazing how God has woven all of it together to let us feel and know His presence, His power and His love.  Although I grieve the loss of my greatest love, I thank God for the ability to draw closer to Him and experience the many encounters of his winks.


Have you ever wondered if your card made a difference?  Sometimes we send cards because we care.  Sometimes we send cards because we feel obligated.  Sometimes we send cards so we can let others know we are good people.  You know, sitting around in a group and saying, ” I spent my morning sending get well cards. So many people seem to be sick”.

But what about the receiver?  Does it matter that we send cards.  Honestly, I cannot speak for other people, but I am so thankful that someone remembered me enough to take a card, write a note, address the envelope, stamp it and put it in the mail.  That is a chore. That takes time.  That takes brain power and physical energy.

Yesterday I started putting the cards we received, after my husband died, into plastic sleeves and into notebooks so we can read them over and over.  There are 182 cards.  Big cards, little cards, expensive cards, less expensive cards.  Lots of beautiful cards.  Cards of sunsets, sunrises, flowers, poems, butterflies, beaches, famous paintings, and so many more pretty things.

There were some homemade cards.  Clever and beautiful.  There were cards made by children.  So special.  There were computer generated cards that were personalized with Ray’s name in them.  I was so impressed.

But most impressive are the notes written in the cards by the sender.  There is so much care expressed in these notes.  You can feel the sentiment of the writer and how they are trying hard to show you how much they are hurting for you.  You can feel their agony as they are letting you know that they cannot imagine the shock and horror of this tragedy. They are sincere, honest and open with their feelings.

You can tell they are thinking, “What if this happened to me?  I cannot imagine the pain connected to a sudden death like this”.  On these pretty written pages you feel the raw emotions of your friends, family and acquaintances.  You feel the strong human expressions of love.

Cards can be bought for fifty cents or cards can be bought for several dollars.  If you buy in bulk they can be even less expensive.  Some of the sayings and poems in the cards are right on target to tell the story that you wish to send. As I sit and read the cards over and over, I can just visualize you at the counter picking out the one that says what you want it to say.  Card writers are marvelous with their wit and their understanding and their ability to hit the point.

But it is not the expense of the card nor the beauty of the card.  It is the note that is written by you that causes it to mean so much.  These notes are hard to write.  So many people said, “Words are just not available to let you know how much I hurt for you”.  I get it.  It is very hard to know what to say and how to say it.  But it is enough that you make the effort.

Just write the most honest and sincere thing in your head.  In a few words, open up your heart and let this person feel your joy, your hurt, your concern and your faith.  The receiver knows you are caring about them when you send the card.  Now let them see your feelings for them.  But do more than sign your name, write a few words to let the receiver know how you feel.

It does not matter if you spend 25 cents, 50 cents or four dollars on the card.  It is the written notes inside that mean so much.  I cherish every card that I got.  I read them over and over.  You bring me so much comfort.  I thank you all, my friends, that you spent the time, the energy, the effort to write to me and help me find my peace.





I don’t think I am crazy.  After you read several of my thoughts you may think I am crazy. But I think I am still sane.  Shortly after my husband died I would wake up in the night or early morning hours and look out of my window.  Now my bed is facing a bank of six large eight foot windows.

Early in the morning I would see this brightest of stars.  It was there so big and so bright. It was beckoning to me.  “See me” it would say.  Look at me.  I am here just for you to see.

It was mesmerizing.  It was so bright that you could not divert your eyes.  If there were other stars, this star was so much brighter and bolder you did not pay attention to the others.  So I would stare at this star.

Now I am not a student of the stars.  I remember when I was a Girl Scout and my wonderful leader would teach us the constellations.  I just did not get it.  I am fairly visual but I could not see a Lion or a Bear.  So I do not know much about the night sky.  I do not know if this was Venus or Mars or some other planet or star.

But I do know that it was a heavenly body that begged for my attention.  So I started waking every night to see this bright light in the sky.  In my mind, I imagined that this was my dearest friend that no longer shared the bed with me.  This was the spiritual image of my love.  This was the soul of my lost husband.

He called to me each night to notice him.  To share with him.  To talk to him and to feel comforted by his presence.  So I do.  Each night I love to see him and think of the days activities and let him know of my things to do list.  Each night I feel his approval of how I am progressing without his physical body.

Now, you think that is strange.  It gets worse.  I recently went to my mountain house. Way up there in northern North Carolina on a remote ten acres away from everything. At this house my bed is facing two large sliding glass doors that open onto the second floor deck.

At 6 am on the first morning there I wake up and, you guessed it, the star is there.  It was so bright and in your face.  No other star was visible.  Although the sky was dark, this beauty of a light was so bright it was hard to take your eyes off of it.

So we talked.  We laughed.  We enjoyed our presence with each other.

Later on that day, I started to consider the orientation of my bedrooms in each house.  At the lake I face South/Southwest.  In the mountains I face East/ Northeast.  Am I crazy? Are my eyes and mind playing tricks on me?  Do I miss my husband so much I am seeing things and trying to make them into something real?

I don’t know.  I don’t care.  I wake up to see my bright star.  I enjoy sharing and feeling comfort.  I feel an intimate pleasure in his presence.  Crazy or no crazy.  I love it. If it feels this good and helps me get through the days.  I will just be crazy.


As you might guess, we have discussed a lot of theology since my husband died.  Was this God’s plan?  Do we all have our days numbered?  Are we born with a definite death date and way of dying?

So there has been a lot of thinking ,sharing, discussions and opinions on these topics. There has also been a lot of interesting thoughts thrown out.  I am not sure yet where I stand on any of these.  But I am willing to share what we have discussed.

Theory one is that, when we are born, there is a definite plan that is finite and is to be carried out in spite of what happens in other parts of our lives. This seems to me to be a bit rigid but then I am not the higher power so maybe that is the order of the world.  The Bible does talk about numbered days and the knowledge that God knows even the hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30 And even the very hairs of you head are all numbered.) So who am I to say that there cannot be a master road map for our lives?

Theory two says that there is a basic master plan but there is also free will.  So there are choices we make and some of those choices will lead to death during our lives. This would include drinking while driving as a negative, as well as poor health choices.  One person suggested to me that we have as many as three or four scenarios when we are born and we basically could choose any one at any point to go back home to heaven.  If you stay through all of the plan, you have to go back on the last exit strategy.

Theory three has a larger role of free will.  We are born and we have lots of choices from the beginning and our choices play a large part in how and when we die.  Overriding all of this is the fact that, at any given time, God has the power and can and will call us back to heaven. So, in spite of our choices, our time may be up just because God wants us or needs us back home.

As I stated earlier, I am not sure where I stand on these theories yet.  I certainly believe in free will.  The Bible teaches about choices.  If theory one is a fact, it sure would be nice to know when you are dating to avoid falling in love with someone with a short term plan.  I have become interested in people’s thoughts about the transition from this physical world to the spiritual world.  I am surprised at the amount of books on the subject and the amount of research that is being done in the area.

I guess, there are a few facts that I do know.  (1) Everyone dies.  It is a natural part of life. Do not act surprised about death.  It is inevitable  (2) You are not promised tomorrow.  So be prepared.  Do not leave your house in the morning with assurance that you will return in the evening.  In other words, make your bed so you won’t be embarrassed.  (3) Get your affairs in order.  Your loved ones need not be burdened by your lazy lack of preparation.  Wills, labels on knick knacks, funeral plans and clean garages are to be done. (4) Get right with God.  Since you do not know how and when, you had better be on good terms with the power to be.  I mean intimate, talking every day terms.

The Big Bang might be a good TV show, but when I die, I am putting my stock in my Savior.  He has proven over and over to carry me through this world.  I just don’t think physics, chemistry, sticks and rocks have that same power.  I don’t have the answers about the theories.  But I do have the blessed assurance that God is real.