“I live about 60 miles northwest of New York City, and whenever there’s news of a big snowstorm coming, everyone runs for the store. The perishable items are usually the first things to go, which doesn’t make sense because they perish.” Susan Beth Pfeffer
I had been watching the weather report for several days as the news had been predicting a major snowstorm to hit my area. I went to the store and got essentials for every storm: batteries for flashlights, gas for the generator, salt for the driveway, bottled water and canned foods, I dragged a ¼ cord of wood into my garage and got something sweet to eat.
In the past the anticipation of a snowstorm would only cause me anxiety because of what that really meant for us. Due to my loved one’s illness the preparations were extensive as they included making sure that we had plenty of oxygen tanks, all prescriptions had to be filled and no matter how much snow fell the driveway had to be cleared as soon as possible just in case we had to call for an ambulance.
But today was different as this was the first major snowstorm that I would be going through without him. I found myself enjoying the thought of a real snow day. We had lived in the northeast for twelve years and this snow day would be the first with no worries. It reminded me of the kind of snow day that the kids look forward to – only fun, relaxing, book reading, game playing and eating comfort food.
I put together a pot of soup and it was simmering on the stove; the living room was warm from the fireplace and I sat on the bench in front of my picture window enjoying the view as the snow started to fall. The flakes were big and beautiful and the woods were covered with a blanket of snow within a short period of time.
I was filled with gratitude and appreciation for the beautiful woods that surround my home even though there would be three feet of snow in the morning. I was enjoying the quiet that came from this snowstorm and as I sat on my couch, I realized that the peace I was feeling was actually calming my soul. This was the perfect snow day.
“Give back in some way. Always be thoughtful of others.” Jackie Joyner-Kersee
My loved one was blessed with many gifts and one of them was his artistic ability. Knowing this I would start bothering him in late October so we – well really, he – could start designing our upcoming holiday card. I had grown accustomed to him creating some very lovely, unique, and at times irreverent cards. The cards ranged from a takeoff on Beavis and Butthead to him spending hours photographing our decorated dining room table and turning it into a masterpiece. His health was the determining factor on whether we would have a beautifully crafted card in a given year.
But on this day what comes to mind is what turned out to be the last card he ever designed and what is my favorite card. It was one of the simplest with a navy-blue background with multiple white religious symbols on the cover and Peace on Earth as the message inside. I remember sending this last card with fondness but on this day, I’m overwhelmed with sadness and anger.
December is here and it is ever clear that he is gone. I do not have a personal artist to create a card and frankly I’m not in any kind of holiday spirit to even buy cards to send. Whatever joy or happiness usually accompanies the holidays was buried with him. But time doesn’t stand still and even though I did not send any cards I have started to receive them. The theme seems to be the same throughout – instead of joy they are more like condolence cards. They acknowledge that the holidays will be difficult, that my loved one will not be here to share in the joy, that he is physically gone and it will be a hard adjustment. They even comment that he was special and will be missed and all I can think about is that this is the last fucking thing I want to see in my holiday cards. I did not need or want another dose of reality and this is what I’m getting.
What do I do with this? How can I turn this around? My experience has taught me that I can stay in this feeling and be angry but I know that staying in this feeling is a choice. I find myself saying a quick prayer which helps me start my day over so at this moment I can chose to focus on the kindness and compassion of everyone who bothered to send the cards.
They took time out of their busy lives to send something to me. I know that it must have been hard to write a meaningful message to a recent widow and at this moment I chose to focus on how blessed I truly am to have these individuals in my life.
“My love can’t be purchased… Best gifts have been well-thought-out surprises.” Nina Dobrev
I woke up this morning with one thing in mind, and that was to begin my spring cleaning. I made my breakfast and sat at the dining room table, sipping a Diet Coke and gazing into the backyard. It’s a beautiful day, and it is clear that spring is here as the perennials are starting to bloom.
The goal for today was to clean my little library. I started to remove books and knickknacks off of the shelves when I came upon a marble jar. This jar was given to me by my loved one. It was one of several gifts received on my birthday five or six years prior to his death. As I picked it up and began dusting, I decided to look inside.
As I opened the jar, I remembered all the little pieces of torn card stock and how each piece had a handwritten message in gold ink. One by one, I pull out the pieces of paper and read the contents. His thoughts, his love, and his sense of humor were all there with personalized messages just for me.
The jar contained everything from the thirteen I Love You’s to ‘I couldn’t find a Dust Buster.’ However, when I got to the torn piece of paper with “Isn’t this romantic,” I began to cry.
I sit in my library, reliving the memory of this birthday gift. What I do remember is that when I first received all the presents, this marble jar was the one that I liked the least. Little did I know that of all the gifts to be received on that day, this would be the only one I remember and the one that I cherish the most.
Reading through each piece of paper gave me an opportunity to embrace the memories of that day. I was painfully reminded of his absence; however, what was still there and what I clearly felt was his love for me.