Friday, August 14, 2020

Treading Water

 Thought for the day: It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we love. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.{Lemony Snicket]

Hi. Last time I posted was July 24, when I told you the end was near. It was even nearer than I feared. The love of my life took his last breath the very next day, and life will never again be the same. 

And yet, somehow, life goes on. It's chaotic, a little scary and sometimes overwhelming, but there are still moments of levity amid the tears. Our daughter Sunshine spent the night on the 24th, and my gal pal Pam was planning to stay the next night. I guess you could say they were kinda circling the proverbial wagons around me, offering their support and trying to shield me from what we all knew was coming. I'll be forever grateful Sunshine was here when Mike died, and even more grateful that she stayed another night. That afternoon, my daughter-in-law Sarge popped in for a surprise visit. She was on her way home to Alabama from visiting a friend in Charlotte, and she just planned to stop by to give me a hug, but she ended up staying overnight, too. Sunshine's husband came over for five hours or so, and I know Mike would've approved of how the four of us spent the evening... we ordered pizza, turned on the music he and I always played while shooting pool... and we shot pool. Sure, there were some tears, but there was plenty of reminiscing and laughter, too.

There's been so much to do, so many things I had to learn to do that I never expected or wanted to do. (Being the adult in charge sucks!) Everything from having to fix a squealing toilet to dealing with all kinds of government agencies and a multitude of banks, insurance companies, and the probate court. Because the titles to all seven of our vehicles are in Mike's name, I have to go through probate before I can have them re-titled in my name. Not a pleasant discovery, I'll tell ya. The will leaves everything to me, but that doesn't matter. Nope, because those stupid titles are in his name, the kids, as heirs, still have to attest not to contest said will. Then the judge will provide me with the required letter to take to the tag-and-title folks so I can change those titles to my name. At that point, I can sign over six of the vehicles to our kids. (Hopefully, before I have to pay insurance on all those buggers.) A tip to you guys: if you're married, consider putting all of your assets in both of your  names. It makes things a lot easier.

To tell the truth, it still doesn't seem real. After being a part of my life for more than sixty years, it doesn't seem possible that he's gone. I arrange his pillow lengthwise in the bed every night, so if I wake up in the middle of the night, I'll see a shape in the dark beside me. Not that I'm fooling myself, but it's a teeny tiny crutch to keep me from breaking down if I open my eyes and see the obvious expanse of empty bed next to me. A million times a day, I think I have to ask him something... or tell him something. If I doze off in front of the TV, I startle awake and immediately look at his half of the love seat. When I don't see him there, my first thought is... he went to bed without me...?

Going through his stuff, I'm astounded at what a pack rat he was, and touched at some of the "treasures" he'd tucked away. Like ticket stubs to the movies, shows, and museums we went to together. Our kids' baby teeth! Poems I'd written to him over the years. Lots of crap, too, like a bazillion cheap hand-outs he'd picked up at the many trade shows he attended over the years. It seems like he placed the same relevance to old yellowed receipts for items we owned forty years ago and to long-defunct insurance policies as he did to current banking, stock information and insurance policies. To be sure, it's been a challenge, and if I continue working at it every day for the rest of my life, I don't think I'll ever get it all squared away. But I'll try. It's my goal to clear things out and simplify things as much as I can to make it easier on the kids when I go to that great big pool parlor in the sky. I sometimes wonder if Mike left me this ungodly mess on purpose... you know, to keep me so busy I don't have much time to think or wallow in grief.

I have a feeling he's watching and laughing his ass off at me trying to figure it all out. Before we were married, he took great pleasure in driving me to the middle of nowhere and challenging me to find the way back home. Me?  Directionally challenged me? Oh yeah, I got us home eventually, but sometimes we meandered in clueless circles for hours, until he'd start saying things like, "Are you sure you want to go that way?"  Laughing. Making me laugh. Reminding me that we both had to go to work the next day...

Now, I'm struggling to navigate through a whole new kind of existence, and he's no longer here to nudge me in the right direction. I'll undoubtedly make some wrong turns, and sometimes, I feel a tsunami of emotions washing over me, but I'm treading water as fast as I can. So far, so good. I like to think he's somehow helping me keep my head above the water. 

There's a shelf above the big-screen TV in our pool room. That's where his ashes rest... right in front of a triangularly-folded U.S. flag,...and surrounded by five smile-inducing minions. I think he'd like that. 

My kids, grandkids, and friends... including you guys... have been tremendously supportive. In a way, lots of people are helping me keep my head above the water. That's good. After all, Mike might have something better to do these days. I sincerely hope so.

                                Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. 

I've told my kids that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. To me, death is a graduation. [Elisabeth Kubler-Ross]

53 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear your sad news Susan, and very hard for you to get back into life again. There are always problems. Glad you had people around you, ad you were not alone. I know that feeling of free fall into nothingness. It will pass! You have so many lovely memories, and loving friends and family to help you, that's good. Hugs from me! Valerie

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, you're right. It is hard getting back into life again... especially in the midst of a pandemic. Not only did I lose him, but in a way, I kinda lost myself, as well. He's been my top priority... my "better half" for a very long time, so now it's time to figure out who I am without him. That free fall feeling is awful, isn't it? We just have to hope there's a nice cushy landing spot at the bottom of the nothingness. I trust that there is. Hugs back atcha.

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  2. I knew this post was coming sooner or later, but still I cried. I'm so glad you have many helping hands to see you through this. Thanks for the tip of transferring titles. Not that I have anything except furniture, but others reading here might go through their papers and sort things out. SEVEN vehicles??
    I love that big ocean wave in your header, just waiting to swamp any unwitting person, but that won't be you. You and yours are far too strong. Hugs from Australia.(((xx)))

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    1. Thanks for crying. Really. It shows what a tender caring heart you have, and I appreciate it.

      Yep Seven. Mike loved working on and building cars. He was really good at it, too. I could probably sell them, but I'd much rather let the kids enjoy them. Keep 'em in the family for a while. :)

      Hugs back atcha.

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  3. More heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring from Australia.

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    1. Thank you, dear lady. I've truly appreciated all of your support.

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  4. Dear Susan, Sincere condolences to you and family. Don't know what else to say except I've admired your positive outlook for years and, even though we've never met in person, I know you'll be equal to the tasks and trials at hand. Thank you for furnishing that example, from the bottom of my beat-up old heart.

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    1. Dear Geo. Thank you so much. I'm more than a little shocked that I've been able to handle all the stuff so far... but I've also acquired NetFlix recently and have learned the fine modern art of binge watching. Not very productive, but it keeps me sane. Mostly. Take good care of that sweet beat-up old heart.

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  5. Dear Susan - what a just delightful soft reminder of your lives together - be at peace ... and struggle on his leash through those papers ... all the best - but it sounds like you, family and friends are just quietly doing things the way they should be done ... with laughter too ... thinking of you - and with love Hilary xoxo

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    1. Dear Hillary. Thanks. I'm trying very hard to be at peace, and it helps to remind myself how very difficult things were his last few weeks. Now that Mike's finally at peace, I can be, too.

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  6. Susan, you've been in my thoughts very often these past weeks. Many thanks for this touching update. My heart breaks for your loss - may prayers of strength help you cope during this difficult time.

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    1. Thanks, Jon. I appreciate your kind words. So far, I'm coping far better than I ever imagined I would. Or could.

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  7. You continue treading that water. Mike is still nudging you along.
    Continued prayers and thoughts for you.

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  8. I love this post and so glad you had friends/family to eat pizza, play pool, and cry/laugh. Glad you shared with your blog friends here. You know we are here for you.

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    1. Thank you, dear friend. You've made it abundantly clear that you're in my corner, and I genuinely appreciate it.

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  9. Dear Susan, my heart is heavy for you and your family at this sad news. No one is ever prepared for the loss and the aftermath of the death of a loved one. The grief is overwhelming but so much needs to be done and all those tasks are there to distract from the pain. Accept all offers of help, lean on those who offer you a shoulder because they do it with love. Your family is your rock and together you will work through some of these things together. Even though lost and directionally challenged, in the end, you did find your way home and you will again.

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    1. Thanks, sweet lady. Spoken (okay, technically "written") as though it comes from someone who know's exactly how I feel. I appreciate your advise and appreciate your confidence in my ability to find my way home again. Really. That last sentence made me cry, but in a good one.

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  10. My heart goes out to you and your family. Yes, life goes on and we have to deal with it all the best we can. I've been a widow over 20 year now and still miss my better half. He was way completed me, but we do what we must the best we can and take it one step at time. Thankfully you do have wonderful memories that will keep him right in your heart, where we hold all those dear to us. They are never far away at all.

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    1. Thanks, MA. I have a feeling our sense of loss will never go entirely away, no matter how many years go by, but you're absolutely right. One step at a time, one day at a time. That's the best any of us can do.

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  11. Susan, my heart aches for you and for all you and your family are going through. Please know, that from this little house in Florida, someone is praying for you and thinking of you. Take care....

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    1. Thanks, Madeline. I appreciate it. You take care, too.

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  12. Dear lady, I'm so very sorry. Your 'new normal' frankly sucks. ('scuze me). From what you've shared, it sounds like Mike would definitely approve of your movements, however hesitant. You remain in my thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Thank you, dear lady. You're right. It does suck, but I think the world's "new normal" sucks for all of us. We've all gotta keep on keeping on.

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  13. I bet he really likes the 5 Minions. I'm so very sorry. My heart just aches for you.

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    1. I think he appreciates the minions, too. (So would YOU!) Thank you. I appreciate it.

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  14. Ooooo ... I have no words, friend Sue ... but hugs and hugs and hugs. Much love, cat.

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    1. Thanks, sweetie. Words are good, but hugs are even better.

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    2. I keep coming back here, friend Sue ... hug hug hug hug hug hug.

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    3. Thank you. Hugs back atcha. Take care of yourself.

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  15. Sue,

    I am two and a half months ahead of you on this journey. I want to say it gets easier...but it doesn’t really. I guess all I can say is now, almost four months after the loss of my Tim, at least I know to expect everything to be hard. Thankfully for me, most everything was owned jointly, and I owned both our cars. There is one pesky insurance policy that finally drove me to the lawyer though, and someday, when I have the heart, I have to sell a boat that is not in my name either. I do believe though, every day we get through is a step forward. The empty space on the other side of the bed, and looking up expecting Tim to be on the couch, well, those are the worst things. Please know I have been praying for you.

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    1. I've been praying for you, too, Liza. After reading the tribute you wrote about your husband, I had an inkling of how much you've been hurting. Yes, that sinking gut-punch realization that they aren't beside us... or in the next room... is the worst. I'm afraid those moments will haunt us for the rest of our lives. Hang in there. Times are tough, but we're tougher. (Who knew...?)

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  16. Any way you go, you will get somewhere - grief is a difficult navigator. I'm not close enough to bring pizza and I am a profoundly incompetent pool player, so I will just have to send hugs from afar xxx

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    1. Well put. You're right. Grief is a horrible navigator. Guess that means I'm stuck in the driver's seat. Thanks for the hugs. Right back atcha, kiddo. xxx

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  17. Your new normal sucks indeed. Keep on treading water and if it gets too deep you have seven vehicles to use to get lost with for a bit.

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  18. Dear Susan. You seem to have such tremendous strength of character which will stand you in good stead in the days ahead. What's real about a loved one who has passed is the memories you have and they will last forever. Here's hoping to can return to the you that all of your readers love. Love and good wished from Barry X

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    1. Thank you so much for your touching words, Barry. I truly appreciate them. To tell the truth, I dunno if I'll ever return to being the "old" old me. I feel like I'm being forced to grow up and create a "new" old me. Being a caretaker without someone to take care of may make me more independent. Or scare the crap out of me. Right now, it's a toss-up. :)

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  19. It is so hard to lose a loved one. Sixty years with someone. Wow! And with the love of your life. Figuring things out on your own is tough, but when you're grieving it's even harder. You are are in my thoughts and prayers. Sending big hugs your way!

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    1. Yeah, losing a loved one is always hard on everyone. Mike and I met sixty years ago... but we were "only" married for 51. After being part of a "we" for so long, it's tough learning how to be a "me" again. Thank you. I appreciate it. Hugs back atcha.

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  20. I like the idea of a big old pool parlor in the sky. That's my kind of afterlife.

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  21. You wrote that so beautifully that it gives me hope for the future.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Thanks, sweetie. We all need to get as much hope for the future as we can.

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  22. Susan, I’m sure your wonderful husband would’ve loved how you and your family honored him by doing his favorite things. Mike couldn’t possibly have asked for a more loving and caring wife. I know you were more than just a happy couple - you were best friends. Though you’ve been busy juggling so many tasks at once, soon you’ll feel more comfortable as the “adult in charge.” And your children & grandchildren will love and support you every step of the way. ��

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    1. Oops...I don’t know where those question marks came from. They were supposed to be hearts. Sorry about that.

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    2. I dunno if I'll ever feel completely comfortable with being the adult in charge, but I'm getting a little better at it. Better than I'd ever thought I could be, anyway.

      HA! No need to apologize for the question marks. Aren't we all full of questions these days...?

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  23. I wish I could give you a big hug. You are loved and thought of. 💕

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    1. Thanks. Real hugs may be in short supply these days, but I sure am grateful for all the virtual ones.

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  24. You're doing great and I'm sure Mike is still very proud of you. Smile when you can and especially when you don't want to.

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  25. Still thinking of you every day 1700 hrs sharp, friend Sue. Much love, cat.

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  26. It is helpful to be busy.I am glad you have loved ones around. I understand the pillow. I put a pic of my mom and me next to the bed so I can see her. I haven't talked to it yet, lol, but I did ask God to tell her hello from me. ;) Sending care from here. I am sorry for your loss.

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