Coming home from the hospital, after watching the man I love quietly pass from this world, one of my nieces said something that I completely agree with. She turned to me and said, “It’s all wrong. There should be something more. Look at everyone, they are just going about their lives. Don’t they realize that a wonderful man died? Something should happen…it should have affected them. Something should mark his passing.”
And I agree. There should be angels singing a mournful dirge in sorrow that a great man died. The sky should cloud over and rain down heaven’s tears upon mankind because we had lost a kind and caring soul that brightened every room he walked into. But instead, the sun was shining, people were walking about laughing and talking. Completely unmindful of the tragedy that occurred just a few hours ago in that small ICU room.
My husband wasn’t famous. He never invented something that would benefit all mankind. Instead, he was something much more. He was a good man. He was a friend to everyone he met. There was a way about him that encouraged people to open up to him, take him into their confidence, talk things over and then walk away feeling better.
Sure he had his faults. I never could understand how he could walk past a pile of dirty clothes and really and truly not see it. Or that he always put the trash on top of the kitchen counter just above the trashcan which sat a mere 6 inches away.
But our motto was always to try and clean up our little corner of the world in the hopes that others would do so too. And although I strived to do that, he was able to do that. Despite the fact that he was a big man, he was a big softie. I was the firm one, the one who was ready to write someone off after we tried over and over to help them. But my husband never gave up. And when eventually the person we tried to help left our little corner of the world, either accepting or rejecting our help, he would immediately find someone else that needed a hand up. Note I said hand up…not hand out. Because both my husband and I believed in the old adage about teaching a man to fish.
We had failures, people who just took advantage of us and basically spit in our eye while doing it. And my husband would be angry and hurt, vowing that he would never help anyone again. But that lasted about 10 minutes before he once more had a wayward waif under his wing.
And that is the type of man the world lost and should mourn. Because people like that are more important than someone who can act in a movie or sing a song about killing others while dancing half naked or run around a large grassy area throwing, kicking or carrying a ball. But society doesn’t acknowledge people like my husband. It wants the sparkly, glittering people who have a dozen people shaping them and molding them, people who can’t comprehend reality. People who don’t have to struggle day to day to be good, because their entourage creates the illusion of goodness as they toss money at the more ‘unfortunate’ and smile their fake, bright smiles at how wonderful they are.
And that’s very sad for society. But that’s a topic for another day.
The topic for today is that my world stopped and the rest didn’t.
Which means, despite everything, I had to go back to work.
Luckily I work from home.
I’m a computer programmer and my work is tough and exacting, but I have the luxury of working from my home office.
Unluckily I work from home.
My husband shared my office with me. He would often spend hours in there at the same time as me, going over accounts for the ranch, handling the dozens of little day to day things that deal with insurance, utilities, bills, etc.
So I am basically working all day in an area that has a thousand little reminders of him. There is no escaping it. No going into a sterile, depersonalized environment where there was a different life separate from my home life.
Nope. Instead, I was surrounded by my husband’s things. His knick knacks that I had bought him over the years populated the top of his roll top desk that he loved. His boxes of papers scattered everywhere in a pattern that only he knew. No escape.
And that’s when I realized what a wonderful thing a person’s mind is. Without even realizing it, my mind created a little bubble around me. A bubble that insulated me from the bombardment of memories of all the days and hours we had spent companionably working. Listening to music as we each worked on what we had to do, content in the nearness of each other.
So I began to work again. Safe inside my bubble.
But then, I eventually had to talk to someone on the phone, or email someone about a project I was working on and they would say the inevitable.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
Pop! There went my bubble.
I politely thanked them for their condolences, swallowed hard and took a few deep breaths and was able to continue on with what I had to do. But my cocoon was shattered.
I tried to huddle back into my bubble and was somewhat successful, but now I was aware of what my mind was doing and I kept prodding it, like prodding a sore tooth with your tongue. You know it’s going to hurt, but you just can’t stop yourself from doing it.
I’d work a bit and manage to push aside the emotions, convince myself that I was okay, I can do this but in the back of my mind a little voice would say quietly, “You’re not all right. Your husband is dead. You’re all alone. Nothing will be right ever again”. And then I would want to curl up on my bed, my arms around a pillow and just sink into despair. But my mind would fight back and try and rebuild that bubble again just in time for me to prod it once more with that little voice.
Over and over again. Sometimes the bubble would last longer, sometimes the voice would be stronger.
One thing that helps is my husband’s wedding ring. I wear it on a little cord around my neck and grabbing it and holding tight does keep that little voice at bay. Or at least turns down the volume.
You see, that’s another thing that my husband did and what the world should mourn losing. My husband had a way of making those around him feel safe. That the negativity of this world cannot overcome the goodness and that we will all prevail.
And clutching his ring helps me remember that feeling.
Yes, the world stopped for me on January 27th at 1:53 pm. But maybe, with the help of my husband’s memories, I can get it started again.