Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Dearest Valentine

My Dearest Valentine

Honey and I never really participated in this holiday. She thought the very idea of putting aside a single day to express your feelings to the most important person in your life was ludicrous. She and I loved one another and expressed that every day. Our first year together, I made a card and bought the traditional flowers and candy.

My honey hugged me, kissed me and giggled. Squeezing me tighter, she grinned and told me she'd be right back. I thought she was retrieving a similar offering...instead she brought back a shoe box and started taking out little trinkets and notes I'd left her throughout the year. Pictures of goofy things we'd done for each other and ticket stubs of events and movies we'd attended. Turning back to me, she'd taken my face in her hands and kissed me harder before pulling away to look into my eyes, saying.

I'm the most loved girl EVER! I'm blessed with the way you love make all my days Valentines!”

We'd held each other and I realized I too had a “goody” box of notes and daily memories. My girl always put me first. When our schedules allowed, she greeted me at the door, smiling and with a kiss. Tucked me in (I worked nights) and made sure I wanted for nothing. We took care of each other happily and it was an equal partnership.

What makes me sad today is the memory of this time last year. She was in the middle of a chemo treatment and as it happened, on Valentines she awoke with a real appetite. I told her we'd go wherever she wanted and she choose a seafood place. As I watched her eat crab legs and lobster covered in butter, I took pictures and video clips. She surprised me with a card that inside contained a letter expressing her love. Looking back, I think she knew even then it would be our last.

Still she ate with gusto, we laughed and spoke of our dreams and the future. There was never any quit in my girl.

I woke up very early and have read that card and letter a dozen times...Lord how I miss you. Your dazzling smile, the tickle of your hair and the scent of you near me. All of the tiniest things that made up our love which fulfilled and sustained me dear, are highlighted today. I don't know so many things...

I'd never envisioned my life without you in it and even now I sometimes reach for you in the middle of the night...and each time I'm still shocked to find you gone. I've completed most of your wishes my girl. I take comfort in that...and hope that somehow you know and still feel me and my love for you.

I return to work in two days. The months have blurred by and I know in my heart that I was well and deeply told me a heart well loved is a life well lived. I know it's true otherwise it wouldn't hurt so very much.

Still now and always, my sweet Valentine. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Updating My Girl...

Updating My Girl.....

I'm quickly approaching the seven month mark without you by my side honey. Unfathomable....but I'm writing this as a long overdue update and to try to make peace with my soul. I hide it well these days but in those quiet moments, I still fall apart my heart cries out for what it knows cannot be and it's then that I shudder in helpless rage as the tears fall. This isn't how it was supposed to be!! For all of it's intensity, my anger and heartache are impotent. I can no more confront a disease than I can God and I know what you told me sweet girl...there isn't a reason or an answer.

Once upon a time just being in your arms was enough. I knew because of the way you loved me...I was blessed to have had you at all but it also makes missing you that much harder. I will forever love you Tammy Jean.

On the positive side, your belongings have been donated to the battered women's shelter as you wished and I returned your training manuals and donated your equipment belt to the Urbandale police department. The new chief was kind enough to not only meet with me but spend thirty minutes of his busy day sharing his thoughts and honoring your service. He also sent me a challenge your honor. An impressive and compassionate man indeed. Everyone loved my girl...

I've taken you home to our boys and you'd be very proud of how well they're doing. I know I am. My knees are doing well and with minimal direct therapy; I was released to continue on my own without follow up, yesterday. I also joined a gym and have dedicated myself to four days a week. You're always in my ear whispering encouragement and chuckling when I'm sore babe. I've lost 32 lbs to date and the goal is another 50 by years end.

I'm also trying to be present and remain engaged with family and friends. You know that this most of all is hard for me...but I do try.

I see the surgeon on Monday and baring the unforeseen, he should allow me to return to work on the 16th of February. I'm going to SD afterwards to spend time with my father, brothers and family again before I return to the grind. I'll return in time to clear the company doctor and prepare myself to get back into a work routine once more.

I've set the goal of returning to some kind of writing schedule by the end of June. Hopefully, that won't have to be adjusted but we'll see. Life marches forward and I reluctantly accept that...but I miss our life. Your laughter most of all. There is still beauty in this world and I truly try to see it as you did...full of optimism and hope. I want to continue to carry that which you taught me...that beacon of belief into the better natures of all. It's a struggle and not in my nature...but I hear you dear. Now and forever, my honey. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Outlook on 2018...

Outlook on 2018....

For the first time in many years, I was awake to bring in the new year without being scheduled to work. There was no magical transference allowing me to forget or leave my grief behind. I can honestly say that I'm both deeply saddened and glad to see 2017 come to an end. I lost the love of my life, my dearest honey but it also brought an end to her suffering with cancer. Oh how I miss your sweet kisses my girl!
It seems only fitting then, that the new year started out with record breaking cold here in Iowa. Sub zero temperatures not seen since 1887...actual temperatures at -20, with windchills as low as -45 below zero. It mirrors the arctic wind that howls thru my heart.
My honey had a that I'm trying to honor as best I can. My knee joints have been replaced and are healing on schedule. I returned from a trip to Tennessee a few days ago, returning my beloved's ashes to our boys along with mementos collected over the years. Regrettably, the trip was cut short by inclement weather both in Iowa and surprisingly, Tennessee as well.

This weekend I packed the majority of your clothing as you wished for a local charity. A task that should've taken a few hours took two days and a river of tears....each piece a memory to let go of. I kept a handful of things for myself and family. For me, this was harder than the knee replacement surgeries by far. One of your friends came and took things I know she'll would've liked that and I thank her for sharing some of that burden. There are a few other things to sort through, mostly fitness or police gear and books but that can wait for another day.

Another PT evaluation in the morning and then I will deliver your clothing to the shelter. The final tangible task on my honey's list....and I can't help but wonder what next? I know I still have a month's worth of work to do before I can return to my job but that purpose alone does nothing to calm the ache or the sorrow.

I know my girl...promises. I'm doing the best I can. As for the rest...One day, sometimes one minute at a time. You were my peace and my purpose. My happiness and joy...and while I treasure our time, I cannot help but mourn it's loss. Still.

I can't see what the new year holds...none of us can. I only know that the love in my heart still belongs to you...always and forever, my honey.  

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Taking Honey Home....

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, coupled with long hours of solitude while driving to and from Tennessee where honey and I lived for so long. While primarily it was to spend time with our grown boy's and return their mother's ashes and mementos, I was also able to visit some very dear friends and even witness (behind the curtain!) the birth of the fifth grandchild in a very special family.

To ALL of them, I say thank you, for including me in such a precious moment and I know that the upcoming sixth grandchild (in about a month) will be a wonderful blessing as well. I am honored and blessed beyond words by your love and kindness. To those of you that I missed, I apologize...inclement weather (In Iowa) cut my trip shorter than planned. Such is life...we do the best we can.

The time spent with my boy's was emotional and special as well. I got to see firsthand how they're not only coping with the loss of their mother but doing their best to fulfill her (our) desire to live fully and to pursue happiness each day. I'm proud of both of them and I know my honey would be bursting at the seams. David and Josh...I love you. I know that juggling your work schedules and personal schedules is always challenging, I enjoyed every minute we spent together! :o)

I was able to visit many of the places honey and I lived and loved...time changes many things but the memories remain. Bittersweet and tearful as it was, I'm glad I took the time to see them again. The next task on her list is too give her personal belongings (clothing, etc.) to those in need. I found a local shelter for battered women and children and it will be receiving most of it. I think she'd have liked that...boxing those will be HARD but I intend to have it finished by the end of this coming weekend.

After that? I just don't know...the rest of honey's list isn't something I can predict or put a specific time to. The knees are coming along but are stiff and swollen from all the hour's of driving. Ice and elevation will take care of that in a day or two. Baring the unforeseen I should be able to return to work by my target date of February 16th.

I'm still trying to find my footing and struggling to keep my mind and heart open to the possibility of happiness and love. I KNOW I have those things in my children and dear's what keeps me moving me forward. At this point, I can't imagine ever finding a personal relationship like I had with my sweet honey. Impossible. So...I will just keep doing the best I can each and every day. I have goals and task to complete once I return to work and that in itself will keep me busy for the immediate future.

I am thankful for what I have...yes dear. But damn, I miss you my girl....forever my sweet honey. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Letter To Honey....

A Letter To Honey.....

In three short days it will be five months...since I had to let you go. Since I've held your hand or kissed your head....add a few more days and even though you were so very sick, since you told me you loved me and smiled your beautiful smile. My God how I've missed you....

I tell myself that it's getting better. That I'm learning to live without you...but that's a lie. I HATE being without you. I've had days without tears...even moments when I can smile and laugh but they are fleeting and often filled with guilt. Yes dear...I hear you...but I cannot change how I feel.

I've worked hard to try and fulfill some of the many promises you asked of me. Both knee joints have been replaced and going into the fourth week, (3 days past the third week on the first knee.) I'm ahead of the curve physically and am aggressively weening myself off the pain meds. I mostly use them to help me sleep and am strictly adhering to the medical advice of the doctors and therapist. I'm still watching what I eat and have lost 26 pounds. The goal is another fifty by this time next year. Ambitiously, my return to work date is February the 16th. We'll see.

I should be allowed to drive after the 18th of this month and hope to go and see our boys and spend time with Joe and Lisa and the family as well. The holidays have been truly miserable...I don't expect that to change anytime soon. The memories of better times...of your laughter and merriment are what keep's me going and of course, brings me to tears...huddled on our bed, miserable and sobbing helplessly.

Which brings me to those things that I've not done so well at...I haven't been as receptive as I could be to offers of assistance. You know I've always sucked at that. I also haven't been writing...very little anyway. This small piece has taken many hours and even more tissues. The focus just isn't there. The honey-isms that I want to share, simply won't come. They're too painful to think about...still. I find myself withdrawing more and more...and I know. It's not what you wanted. It is what it told me not to be angry. But I am.

At the disease and people in general. I resent what I no longer have...knowing a thing is petty and wrong doesn't prevent you from feeling it anyway. Not one damn bit. The world moves do we all. That simple truth hurts...each and every day. That it would continue without such a beautiful soul seems wrong...and out of place. Am I alone? Of course happen's every day. My feelings are not unique...but my heart doesn't care about reason or logic. It only knows that without you, it feels barren as a field on winters morning and that harsh wind that blows through it, leaves me shivering and broken.

I don't know what tomorrow short term goals are simple survival. A to B, day in and out. You know I won't quit. It's not in me...much as I sometimes wish it was. You were my joy and made everything new and possible. I find it harder to care...but I will keep going.

I try hard to be thankful...for all that we had. For those that still love and support do as you asked of me...but baby it's HARD. So Goddamned hard...I love you Tammy Jean and I miss you so much.

I'll keep swinging honey...I promised I would.  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tear's At Dawn...

Tears at Dawn...

I was beginning to wonder if it'd ever happen but for a couple of days this past week, there were no tears for my girl. It lasted two days and returned with a vengeance that's left me hollow and numb...the minds a funny thing. We can rationalize a thing, KNOW the reality of it and accept the logic but our hearts will still give not one damn for any of it.
Once again, it's O'Dark thirty....and the ache of my heart seems to leave a gap in my soul that erodes my ability to feel things normally. I'm either raw and on the ragged edge of tears or closed down completely, shutting out everyone and everything. I try very hard not to default to the latter...but I realize that I've failed miserably at that recently. If I've hurt feelings in that regard, my apologies.

In five days my first knee replacement will take place, followed by the second seven days later. Everything is in place in terms of, physical therapy and sufficient distractions to keep me from going stir crazy (I hope) for the first 5-6 weeks of isolation. After that, I should be able to drive and I hope to spend some time with my family both in South Dakota and Tennessee. My targeted return date for work is February 16th. Three months....which will complete a promise I made to my sweet honey. Beyond that? I just don't know. I have some long term goals and like most people, I'll be bound to my place of employment for the foreseeable future. I'll be 5 hours from family in one direction and 11 in the is what it is. Four months past that and I'll be 54 and nearly a year without the love of my is that even possible?

It hammers home the simple truths we all know but tend to ignore. The world will continue without you...time will march forward, relentless and uncaring no matter how much we rage against it. I understand now how so many people simply give up...what's the point, right? It's something I've wrestled with these past months daily. If God is the answer and everything happens for a reason, then was my honey's suffering for a higher purpose? If so, Gabriel is going to have his hands full when my time comes...

My honey was the spiritual rock in our household. I'm not talking about organized religion, which has failed miserably in my experience but there ARE people who; like my dear girl, exemplify both the example and the intent of all religions. They are compassionate, caring and selfless....they help strangers because they want to make a difference. It's these few that give me hope that there is a bigger purpose in our existence. They're spiritual but not necessarily religious in the conventional sense. They believe (as my honey did) they have faith. I truly wish I did...I've been reading her much marked and highlighted bible lately. I've read it (and most other spiritual books) many times over the years. As a soldier and police officer, I've seen the atrocities people of all nationalities can inflict on one another...the price of free will? Maybe. She believed in the goodness of people...of the ability of almost anyone to become a better person if given a chance. It's one of the things I loved about her...and something I've always struggled with. Trust. Mostly, I don't...

I can almost hear her chuckle and repeat the mantra she whispered so often into my ear... “Love and encourage, boy.” She did teach this knuckle dragger to do that, albeit with one hand figuratively still firmly placed on the butt of a handgun. the sun comes up this morning, it reflects off the tears that stain my face...I see her beauty there...her heart and her desires for me to embrace another day.

I'm trying baby...but oh how I miss you and your loving embrace....I hope and I pray that you're in a better place. Beyond the pain and the hurt...I love you Tammy Jean.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

An Update and Admission

An Update and Admission....

First a word of thanks for all who have taken the time to let me know that they're thinking of me and dropping by with a kind word of encouragement. It means more than I can possible tell you...greatly appreciated.

My doctors appointment for my finger went well and I'm cleared for surgery on the 9th and 16th of November. I do still have to see the surgeon this coming Monday (30th) and do another pre-op physical. Baring the unexpected, everything should be green lighted. more working days with my 12 hour schedule. Avoiding boo-boo's will be my top priority! :o)
For those whom have never done industrial maintenance...easier said than done! There's ALWAYS something to stick, poke, cut or burn you...a slip of the wrench, brush the wrong piping...instant oowee! Mostly minor nicks and the like but when the doc says NO open wounds...challenging. Even with rolled down sleeves and gloves. Nature of the beast and all'll work out.

I've been asked by a few folks what my plans are and to be honest, I don't know. I've got some rather long term goals but no specific plans beyond the upcoming knee surgery and the recovery, which the doctor optimistically hopes will have me returned to work by mid February. He said complete recovery, i.e. no swelling, pain or stiffness generally takes about 18 months. Terrific...I think!

A wise friend told me I needed to try and let go of the why (of my honey's death) and focus on the what now and when...sage indeed. This is also what my girl told me...repeatedly. I have no earthly idea of how to do any of that but it has made me think more deeply of late on what I want...eventually.

I know that if and when my heart is ready, I will not settle. I want what I lost...balance. Some people can be happy alone and I was once very much a loner. My honey gave me a different perspective on life and people. I still don't trust easily but I am much more open and willing to listen than I was. Some people can feel happy alone. I don't know if you can feel complete that way...I used to think I was but I know better now. For me there is a special joy in sharing an experience with the simplicity of pleasing another with a touch or a gesture.
The act of looking into another's eyes and feeling them touch your soul...of KNOWING that you're touching theirs...that's completion. Its joy. It's living and its love.

That's what I've lost...that connection...and it's what some never find. It's certainly something worth looking for but I'm not certain I have the patience or the ability to do so anymore. We are each unique but unified in our desires to live a life worthy of remembering. Of leaving our mark in this world. Empires fall, trends fade but memories are eternal. They can be passed on for generations. We should all strive to make remarkable impressions on those we love and those we can help in our own way. My honey did...

With her I learned that intimacy transcends the purely physical...without that soulful connection it's just sex. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but to me, holding her in my arms or laying together and running my fingers through her hair and massaging her scalp as she drifted off on my chest...heavenly. Those simple things...hearing her sing happily unaware I was home...stolen kisses at inappropriate moments...a pat or passing touch...all of THAT and more...that's what I want. Can lightning strike twice? I don't know...but that's some of the what.

As to the when...SIGH...someone said God would tell me when my heart was ready. Since we're not exactly on speaking terms at the moment, I won't hold my breath...but it's not now. All I can offer is this...
Find what makes you happy and gives you balance. Hold on to it and cherish that vocal and make the time. Make memories...they needed be extravagant. Just heartfelt. Dance in the the store or the parking lot. Steal kisses...hold each other naked! Whatever makes you laugh or smile... be silly and real.

We each get one day at a time...don't waste a single one.