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On March 25th, 2008 my first wife, Lisa Garner died at 5:34 a.m. in the I.C.U. unit at South County Hospital after going into what is called “Septic Shock” after a bout of pneumonia. She was 44 years old. She was the mother of my child, she was my best friend and, she died surrounded by strangers with machines that couldn’t do anything. Yes, it still bothers me and, yes, I get to be bothered. Lisa died and my heart broke. It should have been me! I should have done something earlier! Why was I such a pest to her? Why didn’t I do this? Why didn’t I do that? I should have known! I should have had a crystal ball! None of this would have happened if I had a crystal ball, but, I didn’t.

Six years later, a lot has changed. Some things still ache every once and a while and others don’t. My life is full of life. I’m remarried to a lovely woman who suffers and supports me in ways I would never ask or expect someone to do. I have a fifteen year old stepson as well. Eden, is out of town helping her family move so I’m alone with the kids and the ultimate question of “What do I do to bring meaning to this day?”

Here’s what I got going so far.

Right now, I have French toast cooking in the oven for the kids breakfast, I’ll pack lunches, I’ll drive them to school. Then, I’ll wander around South County looking for some pictures to make. At ten this morning, I’ll go to the dentist. After that, more skulking for art. Then I get to pick up the kids from school. I’ll call some friends and wish them “Happy Birthday” because it is their birthday. Kiki has hockey tryouts tonight and after that, we’ll make dinner.

It isn’t much, but I’ll take it.

I’m aware that the journey I’ve been on for six years is just starting for someone today. My heart goes out to them. I would never pretend to know the full spectrum of grief and loss. I know my grief. I know my loss. I hope my sharing is helpful.

 

  1. There isn’t a book written that softens the pain you’re feeling like the voice of someone who has been where you are.
  2. You’ll catch yourself laughing or being happy and then feel guilty for enjoying yourself. It’s normal
  3. Some will think euthanizing their cat gives them understanding of how you feel. Just smile and say “thank you”.
  4. Eat the food people bring even though it feels like wood chips in your gut.
  5. You’re not crazy but you might need outside help.
  6. It won’t always feel so weird.
  7. Experiencing a loss like this doesn’t give you superhuman powers.
  8. One day you’ll be the one who gets to comfort instead of being comforted.
  9. It’s okay to miss them.
  10. It isn’t going to be okay. It is okay.
  11. Finding a healthy way to bring the departed into your current day is the purpose of grief.
  12. You might feel alone, but it just isn’t true.