Gratitude, One Year Later

The time has slipped away so fast, and the seasons have run faster and faster, stumbling over each other in a mad dash to get to the finish line of 2013. I look at my photograph that I first posted on this blog, and I look like a small, frightened child, which in retrospect, I believe I was at the time. I’ve spent the last year changing formats of expression, going from the spoken word to the visual form, finding photography an easier way of expressing myself. Learning to be quiet again has taken a long time, but has been an important tool for me. Sometimes there are things that just can’t be put into words, they go beyond the ability to express in the language of the spoken word. As for myself, I am so very grateful for music, with it’s rich vocabulary, or the quiet, God filled moments you experience in a sailboat on the ocean at sunset. Peace on earth. Peace. Loving children. Loving life. Being loved and giving love in return. These are bold, brave hearts, who choose to stay open and move ahead. Every day is a choice. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s a cold dive into the deep end of the pool, each and every day. Just thought you should know.

Ironically, when I opened my blog this morning, I was feeling compelled to write about gratitude, after having it repeat as a theme in my life in the past few months.Turning to my neglected but not forgotten page, there was the title of my last entry, written in July. GRATITUDE. Well, there you have it!

I do still write, many times a week in my personal writing, and at some point I will transfer that writing to a more public agenda, having been working on both a novel and the outline for a screenplay, as well as a few short stories and even an outline for a piece of work involving a single British woman friend and her American cat who secretly runs her life, behind the scenes! I can’t write that without cracking up every time, I think there’s a lot of staying power in that premise. I’m starting to piece some of my photography together now, along with my writing, and it’s amazing to see it is all beginning to dovetail itself into a natural order. Kind of like life.

Hope you and yours will have a peaceful and prosperous New Year, filled with gratitude and lots of cold dives in the deep end of the pool!

Yours,

LivingWinters

Sandy… LinkedIn wants to know: “Do you know Scott Winters?”

I received an invitation this morning. My recently deceased husband, Scott invited me to become linked to him on LinkedIn. He even invited me to leave a personal message for him. “Staying in touch with valuable contacts can help you in your career. Quickly connect to this person you may know.”

It came in my morning email. Asking me, “Do You Know Scott Winters?”  There is this little thing that happens inside of me, every time I see his name in print, or hear his name said out loud  It is the same feeling I had when I met him for the very first time. My heart skipped a beat, like leaping for joy, really. I am so grateful that after (wait…doing the math on a piece of paper)  twenty-eight years of loving someone, that they can still make your heart be so joyful.

As I listen to the church bells at St. Augustine’s ring 10 am, it reminds me of one of the reasons why we bought this home. It was our fourth home, one we purchased after renting for a year in Providence. I couldn’t wait to get back into my own space with a back yard. Scott’s backyard, really. How he loved to sit outside and listen to those bells. me, I’m not so much of a sitter downer. More of a get stuff done person.

So Scott’s invitation to send him a personal message was too good to pass up. It got me to thinking about what would I say to him, if I had the chance to speak to him one more time:

“How’s the weather in heaven?” (It could be a bit awkward in the beginning, so just casual banter to start.)

“Who do you have lunch with?”

“Where did you put the _____?” (there a million of those questions)

“Do you miss us?”

“Did God tell you why you had to leave?”

“When will we all be together again?” (ok, no real rush on that one!)

“Do you see how hard I’m trying to keep it all running?”

“Am I doing a good job?”

and the most important of all…

“I’m so glad I had the chance to love you.”

Yes, Linked In. I do know Scott Winters. And thanks for letting me tell him how much I love him, one more time.

July 4th, Hospice Day

Coming up on a year is serious business. June was tough, with our wedding anniversary and remembering the day, a year before, when he was found unconscious in his car, while I was at work. He called me from the ambulance, trying to make me feel calm, but failing miserably as I heard the fear in his voice. Scott was going for a CT of his brain, full contrast. I had insisted on it, seeing subtle changes in his behavior, noticing he was harder to wake in the morning or after a nap. His mobility on the stairs was becoming dangerous, and he was making choices that were not safe.He insisted he felt fine, and everything was status as usual. I sensed otherwise. I certainly did not want him driving if it was unsafe and time to give up.I knew that would be the most difficult freedom to give up of all.  He even took to wearing a “Pepe” hat, to go with the giant Grand Marquis the church Pastor had given him, so he could slide in and out of the car, on those bench seats of blue leather. He loved that stupid car. It reminded me multiple times a day that I was losing my husband, who was now driving a Grandpa car, complete with a stupid hat and walking like an 80 year old. Damn that car! That was my denial. Angry. Not wanting anyone to feel sorry for us. Proud. Not dependent. Denial is a hard place to exist. It is static,bitter,selfish.Very resourceful. Scott’s denial was much more like him, fun-loving, graceful, grateful and loving. I still marvel at his ability to smile and have the capacity to love and be loved.

Now it’s The 4th of July, one year later. My denial is back, still kicking and screaming. To be honest, it never really left, popping up at unexpected times. Like, when I look at paint colors or have imaginative fights with someone who no longer lives here and I find myself defending my choice of drape colors to no one in particular. “I really want those light blue raw silk panels…and they’re on sale… and I think they will go great in the dining room with the…”. So buy them and stop arguing with a dead person. But I can’t, because it doesn’t feel the way I remember it. It’s so hard. These invisible rules. These invisible people who you feel but can’t see. Right now, I’ve spent way too much time trying to buy a new car. I want more than anything to get rid of that Pepe-mobile. But a large part of me just can’t. I’m more of a VW convertible or Volvo station wagon girl. I’m working on it, bit by bit. I have a wonderful grief specialist. We’ll get there, little by little. At the moment, I’m looking at our closet, which is empty for the first time in 10 years. I managed to get a lot sorted, but then I came across his bureau top, left exactly the way it was a year ago, on July 4th. The day I had to have him go to Hospice. We could not control the pain anymore at home. I had been up three straight days, giving morphine and sedatives under the tongue, on top of his oral meds. The breakthrough pain medicines were not working.Doing it alone. With two teenagers who were very concerned. Sometimes our decisions we make are for the good of the group. Not easy. In some ways, harder than his death, which was a release and a peace I now understand.

I thank God everyday for sending a good friend of ours, Steve. He sat on the side of the bed for a couple of hours and just whispered in his ear, one arm around his shoulder and the other, holding his hand. I can’t tell you what it is that they talked about. I do not know.It was a private conversation, between two of the best husbands and fathers I know. It was a shared moment between two friends. I do know, had he not showed up, I don’t know what would have happened, because my love refused to go to hospice that day.  Again, denial at it’s worst. Scott was willing to do whatever he had to to not leave us. But it was time. Without a doubt in my mind. Steve and his wife Cheryl were at a crossroads in their marriage. And so were we.

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