Saturday, January 29, 2011

Anniversary Rituals?

This month would have marked the 25th anniversary of our wedding if my husband was still alive.  I wonder if he knows?  If things had turned out differently, I’m sure we would have thrown a big party for our family and friends to help us celebrate 25 years flying by since we first said “I do” to each other.

I looked at the calendar this year and thought about all those other anniversaries.  Of course, I haven’t celebrated a wedding anniversary for the past eight years and, truth be told, some anniversaries were more fun than others.  I think that’s true for every couple because it’s just part of the emotional roller coaster of being married.  But the important thing was we always tried to make time to do something special, remember that eventful day and reminisce about the wedding itself.  We had such a good time at our wedding that after the reception ended we joined a group of our friends who were going to a local bar to continue celebrating.

For our first wedding anniversary, I made the dinner reservation and I put a lot of thought into trying to find a place neither of us had been before.  I wanted to find a restaurant where the food was delicious, the atmosphere was comfortable and romantic but it wasn’t too expensive.  I thought I had done well but instead I had flunked reservation making big time.  We walked into the restaurant and my husband didn’t like it AT ALL.  Since I didn’t really want to go through that again, we agreed that in the future, he could make the anniversary reservations.

Fast forward to the wedding anniversary that arrived just after my husband died, and I was emotionally drained.  I didn’t really feel anything except numb – just as though I was walking through cotton candy.  Life’s daily routines were definitely surreal.

The next year was much harder for me because as silly as it sounds, it took me about a year to really absorb the fact that he was gone.  In that first year, I still was sort of looking for him.  Once, I was driving the car to the grocery store and I saw a man walking on the opposite side of the street with the same physical build as my husband,  dressed in the same uniform my husband wore: khaki pants and a denim shirt.  In that split second I thought it was him.  I remember there being something about the way the man walked that made me do a double take.  I had to pull into a parking lot and collect myself.

25 years. . . how could it be?  We were married for 17 years before he died and we had known each other for three to four years prior to getting married.  He was my best friend.  I recently browsed through the album of wedding pictures and shut it after a few pages.   The flood of emotions was unsettling.  In some ways, it felt as though it happened yesterday but it also it felt like a dream.  Did that really happen to me?  Is that really me in that wedding gown?  My God, we took so much for granted. 

Now the date is a day without rituals but I still have my memories.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Beautiful Song

The multi-talented singer songwriter Jewel At The Golden Globes
While watching the Golden Globes this past Sunday night, I was reminded of a beautiful song that the singer/songwriter Jewel performed in 2010 during the "In Memorium" section of the program.  Jewel said she wrote the song, titled "A Hole In My Heart," about a friend who had recently passed away.

Thanks to Google, I found the lyrics to her touching song and thought I would share them with you:

"A Hole In My Heart"
By Jewel

September settled softly
Leaves are starting to fall
I recall, last time you were here
Your laughter a melody that lingers still

There's a hole in my heart
And I carry it wherever I go
Like a treasure that travels with me down every road
There's this longing lonesome and deep
Kind of bitter, kind of sweet
There's a hole in my heart in the shape of you.

Time stealing swiftly
Children having children of their own
And around life's merry-go round goes
And there you are wanting what you cannot hold

There's a hole in my heart
And I carry it wherever I go
Like a treasure that travels with me down the road
There's this longing lonesome and deep
Kind of bitter, kind of sweet
There's a hole in my heart in the shape of you

Even though my heart aches
There's a smile on my face
Just like a window to heaven
There's a light shining through
This hole in my heart so I carry it wherever I go
Like a treasure that travels with me down every road
There's this longing lonesome and deep
Kind of bitter, Kind of sweet
There's a hole in my heart
There's a hole in my heart
There's a hole in my heart in the shape of you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's A Love Thing -- Valentine's Day Workshop

The human heart is an amazing organ. We fall in love, break up, and then perhaps fall in love over and over again, testing the resiliance of our courageous hearts.  Somehow, throughout our lives, we ride this emotional rollercoaster and our hearts manage to survive and keep on beating.  When a relationship doesn't work out, we are sad but eventually we pick ourselves up and carry on until we meet the next person who catches our fancy. 

But when your loved one dies, it truly feels as though you heart has broken into a million pieces and the first thing you want to do is shut it down forever . . . because you never want to feel that kind of pain ever again.  You don't want to be vulnerable to feelings so intense you feel like you might die yourself.

Then slowly, you do begin to heal and realize that life is about trusting your feelings and taking chances, losing and finding happiness and appreciating the incredible memories that were made with your loved one.

In the face of loss, it is even more important to keep your heart open to love.  For love is what brings excitement to our lives.

Being Open To Love/Valentine Workshop -- Art Therapy @ Sibley Hospital

WHY: Art Therapy is a conduit to express one's feelings and can facilitate communication and healing.  One's art can say things that one cannot or will not verbalize.

WHEN: Monday, February 14, 2011 from 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM

WHO: Art Therapist Erin Brindle will lead you through art exercises.  No artistic talent is required.  All materials will be provided.

WHERE: Sibley Hospital, Renaissance Building, Room 2, 5255 Loughboro Road, NW, Washington, DC

COST: Free

REGISTRATION:  Contact Julie Potter at  202-364-7602  or

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Holidays 101

This is to all of you who white-knuckled it through the holidays... After eight years, I know this for sure: you can make the holidays anything you want them to be. Only you know how much you can take of the 24-hour holiday music that follows you wherever you go, the marathon holiday parties and the general holly jolly holiday atmosphere.

This may sound simplistic but it's not.

 You need to give yourself permission to do what you think you can handle and nothing more.

You don't have to celebrate the holidays the way you did before your loved one died.

 There are no rules.

When my husband died in November of 2003, I was hit with a rapid succession of what are supposed to be celebrations: Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday and our wedding anniversary. They say that timing is everything and his death came at a particularly hard time of the year.

If I could have I would have gone away and traveled to some tropical place that wouldn't have reminded me of anything to do with those special days. But my son desperately wanted everything to remain the same so I whiteknuckled it and followed through on all the usual holiday rituals.

Eight years later, we have changed a few things and kept others. We come at the holidays from different places and now are more open to change. We have also come to the realization that the holidays are yours to define any way you want. And that's a truly merry thought.