My husband Lyle took his last breath at 5:00 p.m. on July 8, 2018. Cancer, that dirty “c” word, finally caught him after a three-year fight. During most of those three years, I wrote pages in three volumes of thick raspberry leather journals, my fat handwriting crowding the narrow lines.
Yet, I did not write a single word the week before he passed nor a single word for days after. On Saturday, July 14, I resumed my journaling:
“I wish I had not let these 2 weeks pass without journalizing, but I have been without the energy—and on some days—the time to do so. Lyle passed on July 8 at 5:00 p.m. I drove him to Houston on July 1, and he declined throughout the week. The last few days he was basically unresponsive. He started getting oxygen on Thursday or Friday. It was so sad and distressing to watch. Not sure he even got out of bed after Tuesday. This has been much harder on me than I thought. He was such a dear friend—I miss telling him little things and teasing him. I also now realize he was being even more stoic than I knew. I want the service for him to be beautiful.”
Sunday, July 15:
“I am actually writing this at 1:47 a.m. Monday morning. For some reason, I keep waking up around 1:30 a.m. It doesn’t matter when I go to bed . . . making good progress with the [funeral] program. Decided to add Circle of Life by Elton John as the recessional yesterday. That will make 4 songs, yet I feel Lyle would love it. I also picked up the frame for his flag from the funeral home, so that’s nice. [Veteran] Getting a sense of what run of show and display details will be. Found a list online of places that need notified. OMG! It is overwhelming! Talked to Jill [sister] almost two hours last night. She thinks I should document more things and build a pamphlet that could be given out near the end [to other widows to be]. Sleepier than usual when I awaken in the night. Had a big meltdown late evening as I found Tiffany receipts and just felt Lyle’s love even more.”
Monday, July 16:
“The journey continues. My heart is still breaking and every time I look at pictures of Lyle and I having fun, it tears my heart all over again. I am still stumped by the volume of stuff. I called Social Security today for my whopping $255 death benefit. . . . Stephanie F. and I had lunch today. Wonderful, funny, wise woman.”
Monday, July 23:
“Just hard to keep writing. I closed on the house last week. What a fiasco as delayed one night in DFW with no luggage. . . On the drive from Indy to West Lafayette, I was heading west on Route 52 when I saw a little red helicopter swoop into my field of vision then climb and head north. It was such a beautiful midwestern day and I was wishing Lyle could be with me to experience it. I felt it was a sign he was OK and everything was good. . . . My heart still hurts and I miss Lyle tremendously. Especially sad when people say nice things or send nice cards or when I see pictures."
The ultimate irony is that my brother-in-law died one month ago. Like me, my sister is now a young widow. I wish I had heeded her advice to document the steps I took and hassles I faced subsequent to my husband’s passing, but alas, I did not. I am sharing this with you, dear readers, for three simple reasons:
- Journal through tough experiences. It will help you process what you’re experiencing, and you’ll be glad for the record.
- We look back to learn and forward to succeed. Memory is a fickle file system, but words on paper tell the real story and will help you learn—no matter how mundane they may seem at the time.
Wherever you are in your journey of loss, you may find some solace in knowing that grief diminishes. Scars on the heart remain, but daily normalcy gradually returns and tears—for the most part—subside.
By Teri Lucie Thompson
CEO & Co-Founder Find Your Fizz