Remembering

It’s amazing to me that after seventy-six straight days of blogging, I can forget to blog. I didn’t actually forget because here I am, and it’s not quite the end of the day. The truth is, I am here only because I happened to catch a glimpse of my note reminding me to blog. I’ll probably have to start leaving myself a note reminding me to remember to look at the note reminding me to blog.

Not that it’s important — I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a day off from my mental meanderings — it’s just that I challenged myself to write a blog every day for one hundred days, and it’s the one challenge I’ve ever managed to complete. (This is the second time I’ve done this — the last time, once the hundred days were finished, I kept going for four years!) It seemed like a good idea back then, but right now? Not so much. I’m too tired to make sense of this day.

I spent most of the morning and afternoon baking, and now my freezer is filled with cookies, not just those I made today, but those I made a couple of weeks ago.

It’s strange to be doing all this baking. I don’t usually keep things like flour and sugar on hand because I try (not very successfully) to stay away from both wheat and sugar, and if I have treats on hand, I eat them. I don’t know where this urge to bake has come from. Maybe it has to do with having my own grown-up Suzy Homemaker kitchen. Maybe it’s because I’m remembering my mother, which I have often done ever since I got this house. I’ve been especially interested in making the cookies she used to make at this time of year, like Cherry winks and date nut pinwheels.

I’ve been remembering my father, too. Some friends invited me to a VFW Auxiliary dinner this evening, with the hopes that I would join the organization. My father’s Navy service in World War II would make me eligible . . . maybe. He didn’t serve in a foreign country, unless the Bermuda triangle can be considered such — he was one of those tasked with trying to track down the planes that disappeared in that area. More than that, he was a great one for making notes to help him remember, so every time I make a note, I remember him.

Now that I think about it, I’ve been remembering all my dead — not just Jeff and my mother and my father, but also two of my brothers. The memories seem strong here where I now live, though this is neither a house nor an area where any of them have ever even visited. But I am here. And the memories came with me.

I might need notes to remind me of certain things, such as writing a blog, but I do not need a note to remind me of all those who are gone.

I remember.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

The Surprise and Sadness of Grief’s Journey

Every step I take on grief’s journey brings with it surprise and sadness. I’ve come far enough that I am no longer wracked with pain and sorrow at the death of my life mate/soul mate, though sadness and loneliness do shadow my life, and tears are sometimes needed to wash away my yearning to see him once more. Now that the trauma of his years of dying has dissipated, I remember more of what he once was, and those memories have both given him back to me in an oblique sort of way (which surprises me), while separating us even further because of the profound reminder that he is no longer here (which saddens me).

For so long, the two images I had of him in my mind were the last time I saw him, right after he died, before the nurses enshrouded his body in a white blanket and first time I ever saw him when he was young and vibrant. The juxtapositioning of those two images shattered my already broken heart. I could not understand how that strong, radiant being became the wasted unbeing who barely made a dent in the bed.

I had a lot to process during those first years of grief and now that I’m past the shock and disbelief and have even managed to come to terms with the anger, guilt, and regrets, those two images are fading to the same sepia tones as the rest of our thirty-four years together. His goneness — the very void of his absence — haunted me for almost three years, but now I’ve become modesert roadre used to his absence (though I still do not like it at all!), and that too, serves to give him back to me, at least in memory.

But the truth, that I will never again see him in this lifetime, is still incomprehensible. How is it possible that he is gone? How is it possible that I am still here?

Maybe I have tasks to undertake that he cannot help me with, and that is why I am here — to complete these tasks by myself. Maybe it’s simply chance that he died and I didn’t. And maybe the reason (or absence of reason) is as unfathomable as death itself. But in the end, the reasons don’t matter. It’s the reality I have to deal with, and the still unpalatable reality is that, however near he sometimes seems in memory, he is immeasurably far from me.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.