Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | January 15, 2012

so. not. helpful.

Early on in Jeff’s illness I made it a part of my “practice” to let go of anger. I knew with complete certainty that if I allowed anger in, it could swallow me whole.

And THAT, I knew: I, we, could not afford. While Jeff was sick, I needed to harness all my energy to keep us together, keep our family functioning, keep myself from disappearing into a black hole of grief and frustration and terror.

My skills were needed elsewhere, and anger would merely sap the strength I needed to keep our daughter feeling safe in the midst of this chaos and darkness. To keep my dear husband as comfortable as possible. To keep him feeling like a man, not merely a patient. To remember all the appointments and the medications. To cook food he could eat and build fires to keep his wasted body warm. To climb up on the roof to see what was blocking the chimney. As one does.

Well, now he is gone from us. He has been gone for two years, five months, and twenty nine days. But who is counting, right?

I am healing. I am better, if not completely well. I have moments of dare-I-say-it: happiness. Progress is being made in many areas.

I do believe that my anger at losing him too soon has mostly dissipated like so much smoke. Shaking one’s puny fist at God is so not helpful. Many grieving people I know feel this way. (The rest are very, VERY angry.) We have at the same time more compassion, and less ability to put up with bullshit than we did before. We cut to the chase. We say I love you. We forgive. Even ourselves.

But yesterday I had a moment. We can all tell you: those moments come when they come. Sometimes we know a trigger, and we can face it or avoid it as we choose. But we can’t anticipate, always, what wild animal will leap out of the dark woods and drag us down.

I’ve been moving furniture around. Trying to make room for my new life. My new love. Letting go of some old things, Jeff’s and mine both, and clearing. It’s been a long struggle with stuff in this house. There is so damn much of it, and much is imbued with deep meaning. It’s taken me a long time to get strong enough to deal with his stuff, and I can only do a little of this work at a time.

Jeff built himself an electric guitar from a kit some years ago. He has – had, damn it! – half a dozen guitars, and they are all still here, although he is not.

The kit guitar has been on display in its stand in a corner of our family room since the last time he played it, which was two years, five months, and some-odd days ago. But who is counting, right? Some of the loveliest, most sacred – and most rocking – music ever played or heard in this house was in Jeff’s final days of home hospice.

Last night I picked up the guitar. It was thickly covered with dust. That hurt. A lot. It made me angry. I dusted the guitar with the rag in my hand. The strings resonated at my touch, and sound came out. And I had a sudden furious flash of anger. NOW it’s making music? For what? My sweetheart didn’t pick it up and pay a familiar riff. And he won’t. God damn it.

I had a moment. Maybe a few moments. They passed. Eventually. As they do. I carried the guitar, still in its stand and clear of dust now, upstairs into the attic room where all his other guitars rest against the eaves.

I have no ending here. I guess there will continue to be moments like this forever. Moments when I say out loud alone in a room, “God DAMN it, honey. Where the hell are you? And why aren’t you here again?”

And there will be no answer.



  1. Such a good post, carolyn. Love the photo of Jeff.

    At 3 years, 4 months and 9 days, I’m still occasionally encountering similar moments and wondering if and when they end (and don’t believe they ever will).


  2. Paul played guitar, and so do I. It is really hard. I gave away one of his guitars, to a very good friend of his, so it’s getting played, and that’s good. The friend almost declined, then confessed that Paul had tried to give the guitar to him when he was still alive, so he said OK.

    This stuff is not easy. Personally (after 3 years 1 month, and 2 days, if we’re counting) I am still at One Day at a Time. Any explanation of yesterday would be an entire blog post in itself, so I’ll go back to the football game, and Marie’s friends. Noel.


    • yup: one day at a time. I am pretty much fine some days. And some days, not so much. We lost an awful lot, and there is just no getting over it, sometimes.


  3. and it turns out we can all still count. When necessary.


  4. I was just yelling out loud , all by myself , Just the same thing.” Where in the hell are you ???” “How can it be 3 years 2 months 6 days?” a few nights ago. I scared the bejeebers out of my dog 😦 Sometimes it’s uncanny how I will think or do something and then read about the same thing from someone else that is on this path from hell in a day or so.


  5. Love you, Carrie. Chris


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