Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (13)

May 24, 2020

Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (13)

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future

To a known God”

·      Corrie ten Bloom

My wife of 58 years (June 10, 2019) and best friend Eileen had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus, in February 2019. Eileen died on February 22, 2020, the day following the birth of our latest granddaughter Maria, and the funeral was March 4, 2020. This blog gives my thoughts, fears, prayers, and hopes during this challenging and difficult time looking at the space in my life.

05/24/2020  I am writing this portion on the 3rdmonth anniversary of Eileen’s death. It is not as painful as then, nor as numbing, but the pain is real and shutters a beautiful spring day. I still find myself sinking into melancholy, unable to give fully to the day and it’s problems and joys: the many weeds and all the bonsai that cry out for work, the flowers to buy and plant, the window boxes to fill and the many planters to fill and distribute. Tomorrow Barb and I will venture out to buy the needed plants and soil, and on Sunday and Monday we will plant. Hopefully.

Someone commented to me that I seem distracted and unable to live in the joys of today, but am lost in the past. I have pondered that, and feel deep within that a major part of me is missing, and so who am I now? We talk about a soul-mate, and truly Eileen was that to me: I feel like half of my soul was torn away and I am struggling to understand and accept that being true and part of life. I am not who I was, part of me is gone. That was the part that stabilized me and kept all running smoothly, right up to the end.

And then that was gone.

Now who am I? that is the question I have to answer at this time. Yes, God still loves me and forms a key part of all that I am; I can turn to that inner Spirit and know that the love is present and firm, but a part of the living form of the Love of God in my life is gone, transformed and lives only in the memories that fill my life. This change takes a long while to absorb, as part of what defined who I am is missing and will always be missing. I spend all day surrounded by all that reflected the personality of Eileen in the beauty of the house: pictures and colors and all that she had chosen, and almost everything else chosen by the two of us. All is part of that twin-ship of being joined in love for 60 years.

I know that as time goes on things will change: already it appears that two of Eileen’s small bonsai did not make through the winter, even though some take a long time to wake up in the spring, so I will wait several more weeks. Soon I shall pick out the spring flowers, plant new pots, introduce different things: life continues. Yes I talk with Eileen often, and feel her approval of my life, and her gentle love that fills all corners of this life, urging me on to learn to live life to the fullest.

I will end with a wonderous poem by Kahlil Gibran, the author of The Prophet:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell

         That encloses your understanding.

            Even as the stone of the fruit must break,

                That its heart may stand in the sun,

                So must you know pain.

            And could you keep your heart in wonder

                At the daily miracles of your life,

                Your pain would not seem less wonderous than your joy;

            And you would accept the seasons of the heart,

               Even as you have always accepted the seasons

               that pass over your fields.

            And you would watch with serenity

               Through the winters of your grief.


My Gentle Lover, you cradle me and rock me when things are low, as my life seems to be like a thick glue that is a challenge to cross, and Your support is a life-giving line of peace and acceptance. I sometimes rail in the flow of life, but it is as is all of life: birth, life, and death, over in a blink of an eye, but with startling beauty. But the joys that life gives is always surprising: the light pink of the wild azaleas just starting to show, the deep pink of the crab apple trees, the lilacs starting to open, the greening of nature that is unfolding as we watch.

6 thoughts on “Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (13)”

  1. The pain and grieve can break us open to ever more love and joy and appreciation of our love bonds with others.

    Comfort and peace..

  2. Who are you now? As I read your beautiful words I could not help but feel like I understand. I looked over at Joe and I thought…who would I be without him at my side? After almost 52 years of marriage and being soulmates it took my breath away just thinking about not having him at my side. I read some where that “To experience great love is to also experience great pain.”
    You certainly had great love. God bless.

    1. i understand fully, Donna. i looked at Eileen over the past year and tried to imagine her not being there, but couldn’t. So now the reality is present, and she is often beside me, encouraging me in death as in life.

  3. Your core message is to appreciate your loved ones while you can!! Adjusting to massive change takes focus that is often beyond pain and loneliness. Helping others .. as a driver to take those in need to the hospital or just visiting a friend with similar situation may provide some attention away fron your own. Medication may help to cut the depression. Talk to your minister. Join a support group with similas loss. Remind yourself that your soulmate is still with you. Force yourself to be active!!

  4. Hi, Uncle Dave,
    I have lost my father, my mother, my sister, my brother-in-law, but not my spouse. And very few people can say they had a spouse for 60 years! That means there are probably very few who can really, truly, say they have experienced the same thing you’re going through (or to the same degree). I know that doesn’t help. It is incredibly unusual, I think, to have had (and still have) a love story like your’s and Aunt Eileen’s. Maybe there will be a time where realizing how rare it really is, will help you feel the blessing of it. The grief is greater, I’m sure, though, and I wish there was a way to not feel it but that would be impossible, I know. You say “Who am I now?” You have always been an amazing person and you still are. Aunt Eileen was (and is) another amazing person and you were lucky enough to have found each other and be an amazing couple. I just want you to remember that you are an amazing person, Uncle Dave! You were always able to lift other people up and you might find that it would help you if you did participate in a group for widowers through your church (maybe even virtually) like C.K. suggested above. It might help if you are able to hear others talking about similar feelings. You’ll probably find yourself trying to help them (and that will help you!) Sending a hug, Uncle Dave! Love you!

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My God has led me on an 80 year jaunt to ever more wondrous beauty. I am led to share this journey and gifts of God that have been showered upon me, not just for me but for whoever God brings into my path.

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