I always wondered what was worse, losing someone suddenly or having the time to work through things, knowing the ending would be the same. It seemed like it would be easier in the end if you had the opportunity to say and do things you needed to as you said goodby. Well I don’t believe any loss is easier, they are all just plain hard.
When someone dies suddenly, your last contact, your last words, your last thoughts become so important. My last visit with Lindsey was on Easter Sunday 2010. She and her family came for dinner and Rick was going to do some impromptu burgers on the grill. She quickly corrected his menu idea and ordered steak on the grill with her favorite salad. He of course complied and we had a great dinner and sat outside. I had to leave for work after that and I remember standing at my kitchen door and getting what would become my last hug and the treasured words “I love you”. I left to deliver babies having no idea I would never see or hug her again.
Watching Cancer take over our life and Rick’s body was possibly one of the most painful experiences of my life. From driving his car one day and working full time to hardly being able to catch his breath was like a raging forest fire. Everything was in shades of green with a bright blue sky and all of a sudden it started to burn away and the green turned to shades of brown and eventually to black. The gorgeous blue sky was now in grey hues and it was difficult to see sky any longer. The beautiful forest was gone and all it left behind was ash.
Although the illness was short lived, having that time was both good and bad. When Rick was diagnosed, he looked at me and said “Aren’t I lucky to be able to say the things I want to say and do things I want to do in the time I have”. What an incredibly positive way to think. I asked him what he’d like to do if we had the chance. His next answer was this, “You know, we’ve done a lot of really neat stuff already, I think I’m good.” We did what most people do in retirement, we did it with our girls”. Rick was always trying to find a silver lining. I guess this was his. I know not a day goes by that I don’t remember these words and they comfort me.
We had a lot of hard conversations, as you see, this was the farthest thing from our minds. We were planning retirement this year certainly not a funeral, however in the end those conversations would be treasured because I knew what was most meaningful to him. I asked a lot of questions, he usually gave similar answers “Do what’s easiest on you and the girls”.
We had 52 days to love and lose someone so incredibly special in our lives. Was it any easier to be able to grieve slowly and get acclimated to the inevitable. The answer is a resounding NO. Each and every loss is unique and each and every loss is grieved at 100%. No loss is worse than another in my book. The worst loss is the one you are dealing with right now. It’s the current pain that causes the most discomfort.
I’ve heard many discuss and compare types of losses, parents, grandparents, children, siblings, even pets. Sometimes people even get upset because someone compares a loss to their own. I believe it’s just us trying to find common ground on one of the most difficult parts of life. Maybe they need to talk about their journey and haven’t been able to. Maybe no one understands. Maybe that time with their stillborn has never been brought up since the day they left the hospital. Maybe that pet was the only thing that ever showed them true unconditional love. Maybe, just maybe, they are grieving too and maybe we can help each other.
My loss is my journey and my pain and my mountain to climb. It is not better or worse than yours because a loss is unique to the person and the relationship they had. I believe everyone has their own journey and this is mine. There is no easier way to lose someone you love so dearly. I am so blessed to have had 46 years of good healthy life with Rick, three amazing daughters and wonderful family and friends. While my road may be rocky right now, it is my road to travel and I want to remember the “good stuff”. There is so much good stuff and that is my blessing.
On the walls of the maze are sketches of my life with my family before Lindsey died and before the forest fire. They show happy times, challenging times, vacations, milestones and tell the story of US, Rick and Carolyn. I’ll take in each and every sketch as I navigate the maze, committing to memory the things that matter and as the images start to change so will I as I search for the exit to the maze…