Wednesday, February 14, 2024

My beloved Warren, the journey will continue until the end of time

Grief has lingered with me because without it, its absence shuts down almost every other emotion. It defines how I interact with family and friends, how I laugh, how I cry, how I go about my day, how I perform the tasks I have to do, how I live. My entire being has been buried in grief for so long, I have almost lost any semblance of who I am. It is the heavy chain that I live with and carry every day. It is the constant companion that guides my actions and emotions. Since it is now part of my soul and my very being, Grief and I have learned to tolerate each other while we walk down the same road of life as wary and not so welcome friends.  

The journey I chose to deal with my grief was to pour my heart out through writing. As I look back through all that I've written, I realize just how therapeutic this exercise has been for me. The anger, hurt, devastation, fright, grief, feelings of tremendous loss - of the love, comfort, protection, happiness that I had known - had to go somewhere or my soul would have shriveled up until there was nothing of me left. 

I have written so many posts chronicling first, our journey and then my journey, through the horrendous turn of events that took my beloved Warren from me and our sons. And through it all, I realized that we were never taught how to cope with sorrow when it comes. It feels like fear and I have learned to push it deep within my soul, so far deep that it only pops up every once in a while.

I am still filled with despair but I also am filled with the gratefulness of having had my cherished Warren in my life with his gentleness, his abiding love, his joy of living, his infectious laughter. 

I'm so happy to know that I had his love for the 51 years we were married and the 4 years before, from the time we met.  There is no past tense here. He was and still is the love of my life and I will love him to the end of forever.

To Ethan and Abbott, Dad has left you a legacy of love, kindness, caring and laughter which, I'm happy to see, defines who you are. I see and hear Dad in everything you do which gives me enormous pride and joy. 

And to My Darling Warren, I feel your loss so acutely, still.  I continue to hurt and my broken heart will never heal but that must be a sign that my love for you still lives.  I am so thankful for all the years we got to walk together, you and I, sharing love and laughter, every minute of every day. For as long as I live, you will be packed tightly within my heart and soul, for I found comfort in your embrace, love in your heart and home in your eyes and arms. And I am so grateful for the thousands of wonderful memories that bring you back to me as I keep reaching back for yesterday.

So, here's to the memories of a life beautifully lived, a love story so extraordinary that it continues to live on and that what mattered most is that I had you and you had me.

Copyright © 2024. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 2, 2023

I have not yet crawled out of the abyss, but....

 I used to think I was a strong person. In many instances, I was. Now, not so much. It's been well over 2000 days since my beloved Warren died and two other losses have added to my misery. The most recent loss of my beautiful little Snuggles has left me in tatters. For the first time in 56 years, I am living alone. There is no other living, breathing entity living with me, in my house, providing joy, solace, happiness, giggles - all the wonderful things that living with my love and, over the years 6 puppies, provided. Sterling left me in 2020 and now Snuggles has gone to join him. 

I miss them. What else is there to say? I know I will not get over these losses. I don't have to. I just have to figure out how to manage my sorrow. I'm doing the best I can.

The house is eerily quiet and the loneliness is suffocating. To add to the distress, I'm recuperating from a fractured hip and so my singular life has gone into slow-motion. The turn of events has slowed my attempts to crawl out of the abyss of self-pity, unhappiness, sorrow and anger. But I'm doing the best I can.

All is not as dark as it might seem, though. My two wonderful sons have managed to keep me sufficiently engaged along with a few very dear friends. And, as time goes by, I can see and feel progress toward a more normal life slowly creeping back into my consciousness. Loneliness and despair are slowly finding their way to the seats in back of the theater. My strength is gently and haltingly peeping  over my shoulder.  I'm doing the best I can.

Copyright © 2023. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Let me tell you what I've learned

I've learned

- that laughter is that absolutely insatiable, most satisfying emotion, feeling, act of body-shaking, chortling, roaring, guffawing, snickering one can engage in with pure delight and happiness. And Warren provided that every day of his life.

- that when someone you love with all your heart and soul dies, they never really leave you. You hear their voice inside your head, tumbling around in conversation and you smile broadly while shaking your head in agreement and astonishment.

- that because of my beloved Warren, my life has been the best it could be. He made me whole, incredibly happy, cherished and safe.

- about intense anger at the reason he died.

- that it doesn't matter how much time goes by, grief is never-ending. There is no closure.

- the pain doesn't get any easier, it just changes with time.

- that tears pouring out of my soul can sometimes bring me a measure of comfort.

- that time is divided into before and after.

- that it's never time to say goodbye.

- that this is a journey only I can make - my way.

- that I wanted and needed him to stay forever, but he couldn't.

- that I can't hide my grief.

- that I am surrounded by family and friends who never, ever denied my feelings of utter despair and anguish, even after years have gone by.

- that our love affair continues and will until the end of time.........

Copyright © 2022. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

I drive, I think....

Enclosed in the space of my SUV, my mind works overtime when I'm driving. It flits from thought to thought very quickly. 

Driving recently with the usual tears dripping down my face, I thought: If I collected all my tears from the past five plus years, I could have wiped out the Arizona drought!

I can count on one hand the times I actually got to see some friends during the last two years and still have one finger left over. As a consequence, I've taken a lot of rides with Snuggles, just around the neighborhood for a change in scenery. And while I drive my mind goes back into the sweet memories but often the sad darkness descends. It's not something I can control.  The thoughts I have bottled up come spilling out. 

And when they do, I start my conversations with Snuggles. She's such a good listener! It's like a running commentary, reminding her of the times Warren and I used to drive over to the big park with her and Sterling so they could enjoy some new smells in a little different scenery. I actually describe to her some of the scenery we pass because she doesn't see well anymore. 

As I pass a lot of restaurants Warren and I used to enjoy I think, "There's another one I won't be going back to." Eating in a restaurant by myself is not something I would do. At least I just don't have the courage to do it.

I was driving home from an errand I had to run when suddenly his smiling face appeared in front of me. I immediately started to cry, tears dripping down my face, my chest heaving with sorrow and not a sound came out of my mouth.

I sometimes cry quietly while driving. At least it starts out that way. But too often I end up screaming through my copious tears.  I try to prepare myself when I know I will be driving somewhere. Even when errands had to be run, we almost always did it together so driving with the passenger seat empty presents its own melancholy memories.

It's been over five years, the heartache has diminished just a little, but the tears continue to dribble down my cheeks as I drive. I'm okay with that. I have to get the anguish out and I seem to be able to do that more easily in the privacy of my vehicle. It is a necessary outlet that allows me to resume breathing again. This grieving thing: it really hasn't gotten much easier for me with time, the pain of the loss has just become my companion. It has settled in and I'm learning  to live with it, teardrop by teardrop. Grief has no time limit.

Copyright © 2022.  Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

It's been five years......

From the time of the news of the diagnosis, there was never a moment when we thought he wouldn't beat this thing to a pulp. The choice of treatment was calculated out of intense and immense research and the course we took provided a good quality of life throughout the many months that followed.

Looking back now, even as we neared the end, we couldn't see around that corner. And even at the end, I never, not once, believed he would go. And when I hugged him and kissed him I didn't think it was goodbye. It took an instant to lose you. It will take the rest of my life to grieve.

With a love like ours, we always thought our lives together would be never-ending, that we would be together for the rest of our lives. But the realization is that he did live the rest of his life with me.  And what a magnificent life it was. 

When I think of the place where I found love, I think of being encircled in his arms, the place were I felt safe, warm,  protected, cherished, cozy, snug, loved and incredibly happy. 

My Darling, every minute without you has been excruciatingly painful deep within my heart. Time has changed nothing. I love you and miss you just as much as I ever did. I ache every day knowing you're not beside me. I carry within me your jokes and puns, your laughter and beautiful smile, your twinkling eyes, your loving touch. I keep my love for you deep within my soul, safe and everlasting.

I know you live on in the hearts of all you touched, especially our sons who miss you terribly. They channel you constantly with jokes and puns and are a constant reminder of the love we all shared.  We are your legacy. We are your voice and you live on in us. Our sons honor you in everything they do.

It's been five years that I've missed your arms around me. But the flashbacks of those memories will have to do. Even though the sorrow will never fade away until my heart stops beating, all the memories, those sweet memories are gifts you send to allow me an instant to reflect, to breathe, to get lost in the moment and to remember your life. 

I know you're watching over our sons and me. The love envelopes us like a beautiful cape. It's ever-present and comforting. 

My wonderful Warren, I miss you, my Darling. We had the greatest love story and I continue to live it with the sweetest of memories.

Copyright © 2022. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

It began with laughter

In the beginning.......  When my brother Ed heard that I was dating Warren and really liked him, his reaction had me convulsed with laughter. His comment:  "Warren? my fraternity brother? He looks like a taxicab with both of its doors open." He was referring to the fact that Warren's ears stuck out a little. But, so did mine! I knew it was all going to be good because Ed's reaction was priceless, funny and a portent of things to come.

Laughter was a hallmark of our time together from the very beginning.

It was not surprising that I recently found a yellow pad filled with jottings of joke lines, joke ideas and full jokes and puns while cleaning out a closet in our home office. It appears that he was preparing for a speaking engagement, I think, at the law school where he taught. I sat down to read them and was convulsed with laughter all over again, remembering when he would drop them on me, many at the most unlikely times. We laughed constantly.  What a gift. When memories coming flooding back, they're always accompanied by his puns, jokes and his incredibly beautiful, sweet smile and his twinkling eyes.

When I talk to the boys about Warren's puns and jokes, they inevitably reply in like fashion. They both have inherited his penchant for jokes. Laughter and making people smile is part of their DNA.

And the last thing he said to me (I won't write it here) was one of the most loving and hilarious things he ever could have said. I giggled inside hysterically and have that permanently etched in my mind and in my heart. I often call upon that memory when I'm in that dark place and the giggles bubble up from deep in my chest and it chases away the sadness, if but for a short while.

Copyright © 2022 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Why am I cold?

All winter long, inside my house, I've felt cold. I had the thermostat at what I thought was a reasonable temperature but I always felt chilled no matter what it registered.  It took me a while but it finally dawned on me. I felt cold because Warren's arms weren't around me. Yes, it's that simple.

We spent a great deal of time together, really together and his warmth emanated and radiated outward to encompass everything in its path. And I was usually in his path. He had an aura of wonderfulness about him and he made me feel safe, protected, incredibly loved and cherished. 

I will never get used to missing his warmth ...his smile ...his love ...his voice ... his puns ... his laughter ...his brilliance ...his beautiful eyes ...his embrace ...his touch ...his everything...........

Copyright © 2022. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Music brings me back to a time....

I listen to the current music used for a commercial (the theme from CHEERS) and I practically choke on tears because it brings me back to a time when life was good and a lot happier. I'm transported back to the time we spent in Boston and Cambridge during Warren's law school years before we were married and I marvel at the wonderfully funny and crazy things we used to do then. Enjoying going to coffee houses, listening to folk singers, walking through Harvard Square with friends, law school dorm parties. And sometimes, on a Saturday night, me just sitting in his dorm room reading while he studied with music on low in the background. What an insanely happy time that was.

But then, we did a lot of funny and crazy things throughout our lives together.  We toured the west for thirty days one summer, courtesy of the Air Force which allowed its officers thirty days of leave each year. So, during the trip, in one of the national parks, I fell into a mud hole up to my knees while I was running to get a photo of a moose! (I got the photo!) I managed to get the attention of a bear who was begging for bread. As he loped over to me, I had to scramble to get into the car and away from his reach! Warren was calmly sitting in the car, doubled over with laughter.  We drove through the Wawona Tree, the famous giant Sequoia in Yosemite, the summer before it fell in February of 1969 from an overload of snow. And on this trip we found out that deer and chipmunks love Cheez-its. 

When I hear music from that time, the 60's, and the memories come flooding back, I smile and my heart soars because I'm right back there, enjoying all the love and happiness again. Memories like that are wonderful things because they soothe an aching heart. And I will be forever grateful that we made so many of them filled with love and giggles.

Copyright © 2022 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 31, 2021

So, continuing that Dash..........

We made it to the end of the line that was created for us as a couple. But I still feel that the line should have been much, much longer because we had plans for when we entered our doddering old age! I'm getting closer to the end of that Dash I wrote about so long ago in August of 2016.

As I reflect on the time I've lived through since my beloved Warren died, I'm acutely aware of all the things we didn't get a chance to do, the places we didn't get a chance to go, the experiences we didn't get a chance to have. We had plans. BUT..........

I also reflect on the kind of life we were able to live: the places we lived, some courtesy of the US Air Force and the sightseeing we did during those years with the accompanying beautiful memories. We really had an extraordinary life. We lived at 16 different addresses in six states. And in each state we had adventures. We've been to thirty-four states in our travels. We've been to Mexico, Canada and Bermuda. And, damn, we had FUN!

Recently, though, as I was driving, an intense feeling of wanting to go home washed over me. But all I could think of was where's home? Where would I go? Images of cities we've lived in raced through my mind's eye like a film strip running through a camera. Where I currently live is just a house, it's not the home it once was. A home is where the people you love dwell - with you. A home is where you get to hug  and kiss those you love. A home is not the things in it. It's the people and pets who live there. The home I remember is fading little by little but I still have Snuggles to hug and kiss and Abbott and Ethan when they're able to grace this house with their presence. For now, that and my sweet memories have to suffice.

So, as I live in this house that we established here to be near to our boys, and while I'm walking along that Dash of a road with its end in what I hope will be a very far distance, I keep reminding myself that we had the best of lives together, the best of life's experiences and the best of what  LOVE has to offer. And while I walk along that road called DASH, I won't be alone. My beloved Warren is walking with me, right by my side, his arm around my shoulder or his hand strongly holding mine, just as he always did, just as he always will. I love you, my beloved, my darling Warren, just as I always have, just as I always will.

Copyright © 2021. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

This is like a running commentary - a stage play that has no end.

Those words of endearment: Hon, Luv, Sweetie, Sweetheart, Darling. When you met the love of your life, how long before you were able to ease into using those words?

We started out with just our names, or derivatives of them, then finding some special "pet" names we lovingly called each other. Those lasted throughout all our years together. But those terms of endearment eventually worked their way into our everyday lives as easily and as naturally as breathing. When we used them, it was as if we were being caressed. 


I saw an ad for an app that helps you find your quiet place. I live in a quiet place but the quiet can sometimes be deafening. I have resigned myself to the quietness, the feeling of emptiness, the sense that someone's missing, the daily activities that have changed. I sometimes feel like I'm drowning in loneliness.


As I scroll through all the photos and videos on my phone, I remember all the days when life was sweet, loving, comforting, fun and safe. I have memories, through photos, all around me everywhere hoping I wouldn't feel so alone but...memories are great, still sometimes they're just not enough.


Whenever a memory reduces me to tears, I ask him: "Hey, my Luv. You're so brilliant. Why haven't you been able to figure out how to come back?


I've mentioned this before but I still talk to him like he's here because I'm surrounded by photos of him everywhere, the kitchen, the living room, our bedroom. Everywhere I turn I can see him. I even have photos on the dining table. And as I go about my day, the conversations continue. And sometimes, I can hear him, in my head, reply or make a comment. It seems so natural. 


I've had 3 working professions in my life: teacher, radio reporter and talk show host, law office manager. But the most rewarding and precious positions I ever had was as wife to the most wonderful human being who ever walked the face of the earth and mom to the two boys who, thankfully, have taken after their dad. Warren had an incredibly brilliant mind in so many areas beside the law, he was extremely kind, he took great delight in being an incorrigible punster and joke teller, he had the widest grin and most beautiful smile and the best twinkling eyes. All of this, I see in our sons.                                                          


As the old song goes, "Good morning yesterday. You wake up and time has slipped away." Time did, indeed, slip away from us. We thought we had a lot more years to love together. And the years that were stolen from us have been ones of sweet memories and screaming nightmares, constant crying and swearing and many smiles at the photos, videos and voicemails. 


Shabbats are the worst for me. I don't light the candles anymore. That was the time we would stand together, his arm around my waist and we both would recite the blessing. I tried to continue to light them but it became too horrific for me. I would shake too much to light the candles and I would end up in a pile of tears unable to complete the task. So I gave up. I don't sip any wine anymore, either. And now, when I make challah, I make very small ones, enough for maybe one meal. And I have barely eaten at the dining table or at our kitchen table. I eat, hunched over, at the coffee table in front of the sofa, usually with Snuggles by my side hoping to share some of my meal. The joy is gone. And, slowly, I'm getting used to this.


While I have really beautiful memories that sometimes sustain me, the worst memory is the moment of his passing. That scene jumps into my head and destroys me for the remainder of the day. Thank goodness it doesn't happen too often, but it does happen. And it wracks my soul.


I've been taking stock of how I'm getting through all this. I've concluded that as strong as I thought I was, I'm not that person. I've found different ways to cope but intense anger remains. I'm still learning how to hide that anger. When it bubbles up, I try to concentrate on all the kindness, graciousness, humor, brilliance and loving that was Warren's essence. That seems to calm me down, almost as if he's caressing me and whispering that it will be alright.


I have cried every single day since he died. I cannot control that. It just happens.


While driving, I listen to music. I find my inner antenna catching familiar scenarios and I end up having conversations with the lyrics. The lyrics seem to be coming from him and I answer. Sometimes, the conversations can go on for miles! 


I've put away my dreams which actually were our dreams. They're locked up in a figurative box that now no longer has a key. And the box has been shoved deep, deep down into one of the millions of pieces of my broken heart.


I'm missing an essential piece of my everyday life. There is no substitute. And that just cuts me to the quick.


When is this continuous dwelling of his fight and passing going to let go of its strangling hold around my heart? And when will I learn how to handle it better than I've been able to do? I'm afraid  the struggle, the sadness and the emotional upheaval will continue. Everyone's reaction is different but that's just the way it is with me.  


I continue, but my heart sees happiness in every conversation with our precious and wonderful sons. Abbott and Ethan continue to help me retain my sanity and bring much of Warren's essence into my life through their love, humor, smiles, caring and good counsel. They both inherited all of Warren's wonderful traits: they are an extension of him....Warren's gifts that keep on giving. And I know how lucky I am.

Copyright © 2021. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Into the fifth year

 So, I am now into the fifth year of my incredible loss and I'm realizing that I have pushed my immense sorrow deep down into a pocket of my heart, safely tucked way, or so I think. I can now get through most of my waking hours without the feelings of dread and heartache that have consistently wracked my mind and body since my beloved Warren died. It never goes away though, it just changes. 

For a long time I could not face his loss. My anger and bitterness overwhelmed me, mostly because of the cancer that took his life.  He was a very healthy man and this was a punch in the gut that appeared out of the blue, no real warning, no clue....just there in the blink of an eye. How the hell does that happen? Thus my intense anger and rage which has been festering now, for years.

That smoldering anger has ruled my life and, slowly, I'm trying to let it go. I talk to him a lot. I listen to his videos and voicemails because I love the sound of his voice. I close my eyes and see him then. I sometimes smile and sometimes cry. But I'm thankful that I have them.

The apprehension I feel is exacerbated by my hold on the anger. So I continue to look for ways to release it. I've read books, I've talked to people and surprisingly, I've been able to assuage others in similar circumstances although I've not been able to do the same for me. It's disquieting and gives me palpitations but I keep trying. And I realize I feel this way because of the great love we had. I continue to feel that love, every single second that I breathe. 

What I'm really trying to say here is that I'm not the same person I was, I'm really two people: the one who will forever internally mourn his loss with pain, agony, tears and deep sorrow and the other who shows a semblance of calm on the outside, never revealing what's deep down inside, presenting a normal facade to the public. It will never be okay on the inside but it will be okay on the outside. And I consider that another step forward. My ultimate goal is to find some peace. Working on it. 

Copyright © 2021 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

1461 days

 It's been four years since my life was ripped apart, my heart was smashed into millions of pieces, my sons lost their best friend, and so did I. But during these 1461 days, I have seen Warren's strength, intelligence, sense of humor and love become so much more conspicuous through our sons, Ethan and Abbott. These two have channeled their dad so naturally and so completely that most of our conversations, texts and emails have us convulsing in laughter. And in the back of my mind, I can hear Warren joining in and I can see his beautiful twinkling eyes and wide, magnificently exquisite smile. 

The three of us are so lucky to have the memories that we do. Every conversation we have always includes Warren's input in one way or another and his presence is unmistakeable.

I'm grateful for the thousands of photos I have and the not enough videos and voicemails I still have. I carry those everywhere so he's always with me, visually and audibly. And he's in my heart and head,  always and in all ways. 

But grief has been my companion for 1461 days and it has never left me alone. It has changed but has never gotten easier because I miss his voice, his laughter, his puns and jokes, his hugs. I miss everything about him. It is ever present, it just feels and looks different now. Some days it is vivid and some days it hides just below the surface. But the grief I feel is always a reminder of the great love we had.

How can it already be 1461 days? It seems like only yesterday. My Love, my beloved Warren, I hug you in my thoughts every day.

Copyright © 2021. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 25, 2021

His presence makes a difference.

I'm beginning 2021 in a little better health than the last two months of 2020. I contracted Valley Fever with bilateral pneumonia and it really knocked the hell out of me. It was more than scary for me. I've never been so sick and felt so alone.

Over the years, I've been lucky enough to enjoy relatively good health. But during the few times when I wasn't well, I always had Warren to lean on. He always took such good care of me. I always felt protected and knew he would never let anything bad happen to me.

This time though, I felt uncertain, vulnerable and scared. There were a few nights when my breathing was so labored and I would get into bed wondering whether I would get up in the morning. The dread of being alone was almost overwhelming. As much as I love Snuggles, she had some trouble stepping into  Warren's role for the reassurance and comfort I always had when Warren was with me. But she found a way to help me in her own 'snuggling' way.

It's times like this that the wound opens up wide and the anguish comes spilling out. I let it flow until it runs out of spaces to go.

I talk to him all the time. While I am sick, though, I specifically ask him to see me through this like he always did. "In sickness and in health"............ we always took care of each other and I truly believe he has been watching over me and making sure I get better every day.

And even though I'm not quite out of the woods yet, (I still have pneumonia), I feel almost normal. I believe Warren's influence helps me retain a sense of calm and hope as I take all the precautions necessary to make a complete recovery. 

Thank you, my Darling, for the presence you still have in my life. You are always with me.

Copyright © 2021. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 26, 2020

Conversations with Warren ... in my head

 Honey, I used to have red hair. I don't have it anymore. If you were still here, I'd still be a redhead.

I no longer have my nails done. After 34 years, Covid put an end to that and I don't even care.

Please keep us safe. Watch over us and keep us safe. Keep the boys safe and well.

You know, Hon, we talk about you all the time, the boys and I. There is always something that reminds us of you, as if we needed reminding.

Both the guys come out with puns and jokes and the reaction is always the same:  That's a Dad joke! They both channel you a lot. Thank goodness they got your sense of humor! 

Snuggles, I think, is missing you more and more now, ever since Sterling joined you. She now sleeps hugged against your pillow, needing to touch it every night. Ever since you left, she has slept on your side of the bed but she seems to need to actually be in touch with your pillow now. 

Well, it's another Friday night, another Shabbat and I'm not eating my meal at the dining table. I rarely use that table for meals. I occasionally eat my breakfast in the kitchen but you're not beside me anymore so I usually bring the meal to the coffee table and sit on the sofa for most meals. Snugs is always at my side and she's reaping the rewards of being so close. She ends up getting nibbles of my food.

I tried to keep lighting the Shabbat candles but I kept remembering you standing beside me with your arm around my waist as we both said the blessing. It was overwhelmingly sad for me to do it by myself and so I've stopped doing it. Sometimes I mumble the blessing over the challah while I look at your photo. As for the wine, I really don't have any in the house anymore. So, that's done. 

I still bake challah, though. That's one of the few things that gives me pleasure now.

Since this Covid pandemic, we've been doing Zoom Shabbat services via computer. Zoom.... something I'll have to explain to you! It's a good thing I'm in the privacy of our own home because I often am reduced to tears when we sing certain songs. I remember you standing or sitting beside me at services singing them with me and those memories cause me to just lose it. You know I've never been able to hold back tears.

You left several bottles of cologne so I've been using them a little bit at a time. I want them to last as long as possible. The scents make me think you're just in another room. I wear a bit when I go to Abbott's house to watch the Patriots games. It's almost as if you're with us.

Sometimes a really strong memory sweeps over me and I have a physical reaction, almost like I've bumped into you. My heart races for a second or two and then I feel the letdown. So I wonder if you know about that...perhaps in a different universe!

I've misplaced an important document. I know it's somewhere in the house but I've gone crazy looking for it. Do you suppose you can sort of guide me to where it is????

You know, I've gone out to the back yard every night since you left and looked up at the night sky. There has been one and only one very bright star above me for all those nights. I've been imagining that it's you, shining and watching over me. I talk to it. Okay, I'm a little crazy but.... it's a short conversation! And ever since Sterling left, there has been one other smaller star to its left, a little dimmer but definitely there. It must be Sterling's star. At least I'd like to think so. He did, after all, pick you to be his main human. 

I watch that little video of you talking gibberish to Sterling almost every night and I still giggle every time I hear it.

You know, Sweetheart, one of the toughest times of the day seems to be at dusk, when daylight recedes and the light in the living room comes on. The quietness of that time of the day makes me feel pensive and I struggle to get through it because of sweet memories of you or both of us coming home from work and  settling in for the night............. together.  Together.......that's what I miss.

God, I miss you so. I miss your hugs, I miss your embrace. I loved when you encircled me with your arms.

Well, my Love, the conversations will continue...........

Copyright © 2020. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Forever changed

 I look in my mirror now and I see my mom's face. Sometimes I just stare intently and say to that image staring back at me, "Hello, Fannie." Mom used to wear her hair pulled up on the sides with a comb and she made a French twist with the long hair at the back. That was before the name  'French Twist' was even applied to that style! And now I realize I have been using combs in my hair almost like she did, sweeping up my hair on each side.  I don't do the French Twist. I just let the hair hang down. It's now half way down my back. And my mom had the most gorgeous skin. She never needed makeup. She had what she described as having "high color", pink cheeks so she never needed to use blush. I didn't inherit her color, I got my dad's. But I do see her beautiful face staring back at me and silently thank her for giving me a bit of her beauty. 

My hair is all white now, a color Warren never saw me with. I colored my hair most of my adult life, first a dark brown and then I tried a variety of colors. I didn't look great as a blonde or with black hair! But then I went to auburn because I had that color naturally, as did my mother. So, for decades of our marriage I was a "redhead," a color that seemed so natural on me and one that Warren just loved. 

After my beloved Warren died, I stopped coloring my hair. There seemed to be no reason to keep it up and the white had started to creep in. It wasn't long before my whole head of hair turned white, just a matter  of a few months really. That seemed to be record time to me.

So, getting back to the mirror..........  While I stare, I wonder if Warren would love this color on me. Of course he would. He always told me I looked great no matter what I wore or how I looked. He always made me feel beautiful. He always made me feel loved and he always made me feel cherished.

And now that he's not here with me, I talk to his photos, I talk to him while looking in the mirror, I talk to him while staring at the lone star in the sky above my patio and I talk to him in my head. I have been forever changed......... in the way I look, in the way I think, in the way I live. It is such a different life but one thing has remained constant....... the love he showered on me for so many decades still lives within my heart and the love I still feel for him has not diminished at all. We will forever be that loving 'couple' who enjoyed a fifty-five year love affair. And to me, that love affair will continue til the end of time. That will never change.

Copyright © 2020. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

I'm suffocating and struggling

 The pandemic has done a horrible number on all of us. I, like so many, have not been near another human being for the most part. For about the first 3+ months I didn't venture out anywhere. Then, one day, I went to Trader Joe's to get some food. I was the first one in the store with my mask and gloves, and I was in and out in 17 minutes. It's now nearly October and I can count on less than both hands the times I have gone into a store to do some really quick shopping. Abbott has been the one to do most of the shopping for me.

So, I've been home or rather, in the house for several months. I say 'in the house' because it's been horrendously hot here since the pandemic started.  It's been too hot to even sit out on my patio.  I'm able to walk Snuggles very early in the morning and sometimes pass other dog walkers, runners or bicycle riders but we give each other a wide berth. Sometimes we even wave. But that's it.

Since my beloved Warren died, I had become used to being alone so the self-imposed isolation because of Covid-19 didn't seem to make much difference, except that I missed the occasional breakfast or lunch date with some friends.

But in the last few weeks I have begun to feel as if I'm suffocating and gagging from the almost total lack of human contact. And it certainly didn't help my mental state to watch my precious little doggie, Sterling, get sick and eventually die. He and Snuggles were brought up together during 12 years of love and she and I are having a hard time adjusting to his absence.

I often think about how this horrendous situation would be if Warren was still with me. We'd be laughing throughout the day because that's how it was when we were together. We'd be walking Snuggles together, cooking together, and having great conversations with one another, as we often did. Together is the important word here. We may have felt a bit trapped as many of us do now but at least we'd have the joy of interaction with another human being.  Right now, I miss his hugs most of all.

 I'm grateful that Ethan calls so often, that I'm able to see Abbott a few minutes at a time, that I can keep in touch with family and friends via phone, emails and some Zoom sessions. But the struggle of loneliness continues.

Copyright © 2020. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Some more heartache

I've been living with heartache since my beloved Warren died over three years ago. I've learned to keep it from overwhelming me most days. One of the ways I've been able to do that is taking comfort in the love of both my dogs, Snuggles and Sterling.  They've helped me keep my sanity.

But now, more heartache has snuck in. My adorable little Sterling has made his trip over the Rainbow Bridge. Four and a half years ago, he survived his first bout with cancer. Our vet saved him with lifesaving surgery.  He and Warren had bonded from the moment we got him and he was absolutely Warren's best buddy, following him everywhere and sitting in his lap every chance he got. He knew Warren wasn't well and stayed by his side always.

So, when Warren died, Sterling turned his attention to me. He seemed so lost and sad. He started to cling to me and started following me around everywhere I went. Both he and Snuggles showered me with enormous amounts of love, as only doggies can.

About five months ago I noticed some lumps under Sterling's chin. He had developed lymphoma. I was devastated. And though my vet and I tried desperately to save him without putting him through painful chemo, it was not meant to be.

However, as with my beloved Warren, I feel robbed of time we should have had, had it not been for the dreaded diagnosis of cancer.

Snuggles and I feel the emptiness and she has taken to following me everywhere, not letting me out of her sight. I can see the sadness in her eyes and true to living up to her name, we are snuggling more and more because we both need each other more than ever now.

We all know that when we rescue doggies and they become beloved members of our family, most likely we will outlive them. But our love for each one makes our time with them so precious. And our time with Sterling was filled with lots of love and giggles. It was just too short and I miss him terribly.

 The image of the Rainbow Bridge which ends in a beautiful meadow is very powerful. I like to think that Warren and Sterling, best buddies, are together, along with our other four wonderful doggies, playing around in that meadow. That's a very powerful and beautiful image, too.

Copyright © 2020. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Another day, another tear

Great sadness made me think of strange and scary thoughts. There were some nights I'd slip into bed and think, "I might not survive the sunrise." The pain was that great.  Now, more than three years later, the intense pain has tamped down but, alas, another day, another tear.

The tears have not stopped. They are active daily, in moments, but especially at bedtime when I finally lay down, settle in, turn to his side of the bed and see the doggies curled up there....where he used to be. I sigh, the tears slowly roll down my cheeks and I whisper to him that I love him and miss him, as I've done every night since........

And yet, I'm not swimming in delusions or least not anymore.  The tears are just a gentle physical reminder of the love that still exists between us.

The broken heart remains but I have gently gathered up most of the pieces, put them in a velvety box buried within my soul where I have easy access to the beautiful memories and feelings.

Copyright © 2020 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Easier? Not exactly.

I'm starting the fourth year without my beloved Warren. The past three years have been a crescendo of unmitigated sadness and physical and emotional suffering and pain. The passage of time, everyone told me, would lessen the pain, the sadness and the anger. Everyone assured me that, with time, my life would get easier to bear.

I still get asked how I'm doing. I can't answer without either lying to make you feel better or telling the truth which would make you feel bad about asking. My close friends never ask. They already understand that my heart will never completely heal. They know that I cry every day. They know that his loss is more than I can bear. They know this because his loss is their loss too, and they all still feel it, deeply, in their own way.

So, easier is not exactly the word I would use. There is nothing easy about losing a person who has been such a loving force throughout most of your life. The only change that I can readily recognize is a lessening of the times the searing pain rams through my very being. But to me, that is not an insignificant change.

I can now look at any of the dozens of photos I have of him all over the house and not get totally crushed with sadness. I think I smile at them a little more, remembering where the photos were taken and what we were doing. Those flashbacks have a calming effect and bring up incredibly funny and loving memories.

This is not to say that my life is normal again. My road has been long, maybe longer than what others believe is normal or standard or commonplace. There is no "normal" in my life or at least what I perceive it to be. I'll admit I have fought "normal" all the way, unable to give up my pictures of a life I still long for. I knew it would be difficult, but DAMN!

So easier? No, it will never really be easier. But maybe heading toward tolerable. I wrote in November of 2017 that I was looking for tolerable days. I think they're finally starting to show up.

Copyright © 2020. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

He must have known

I've been having some particularly bad days lately during this self-imposed isolation period we're all going through. Even though I've more or less lived like this since Warren died, there are days when it almost feels like I'm strangling on the loneliness.

I was looking for something in particular yesterday and I opened a small drawer in Warren's bedside bookcase. I've opened that drawer before but never really went through everything in it. I came across a folded paper and when I opened it, I gasped. It was a love letter I had written to him seven weeks before we were married, telling him how much I loved him and all the reasons why.

That he kept that letter, so accessible, didn't surprise me. What actually surprised me was that I found it when I needed to. Rereading it took my breath away and brought me right back to that time of excitement and sweet anticipation, filling me with a rush of overwhelming love. Somehow, in this sequestered time and place, he must have known how much I needed a tangible sign of the joy of our lives as a married couple. He knew. I have no other explanation. He knew.

Copyright. © 2020. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Music and memories

Music was always a big part of our lives. For me it began with piano lessons as a kid, then glee club in junior high. And I babysat to save up my money to get my own portable radio. That radio went everywhere with me and at night, after I was in bed, I turned it on very softly and listened for as long as I could keep my eyes open! In college, during my senior year, my music class turned into a mini-band and I played the glockenspiel and then, the bass drum! Don't even ask! My mother and brother, Ed, were music aficionados on the piano and Ed played the clarinet and guitar, too.

Warren loved to listen to music. And he told me that, as a kid, he had wanted to learn to play the violin but that never materialized. All during our lives though, music was "on" playing in the background, at home, in the car, at work. Sometimes we'd sing together but that always ended in us collapsing in giggles. Neither one of us had great voices but I, at least, could keep a tune. Warren, on the other hand, perfected the "one-note" melody! More about that later.

Our taste in music ran the gamut. Ed introduced me to the Big Band sound: Glenn Miller, Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, etc. The list is endless. Warren had similar taste in music. We both loved smooth jazz and instrumentals as well as the music we grew up with in the 50s, 60s and 70s.  He adored the Everly Brothers and drew great delight when one of their songs came on the car radio. And, yes, he would sing along with them! He enjoyed classical music, a bit more than I did, and that station was his choice in his car.

And later on, the boys introduced me to the Hair Bands: Twisted Sister, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Motley Crew, etc. and I realized I enjoyed a lot of their music. Dad....not so much. Then, Abbott met Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme and his music interest, specifically with guitar, took off. Ethan didn't play a musical instrument. His instrument was a camera which he used to photograph hundreds of the best and up-and-coming rock bands in the world.

All of this 'preamble' leads up to this. When Warren sang, I occasionally called him "Johnny-one-note." Holding hot coals was easier than holding a tune! BUT, here's the really crazy thing. When we were at services and singing the beautiful prayers in Hebrew, my beloved one-note Warren was precisely ON TUNE and singing just so sweetly. I would often lower my voice to practically a whisper just so I could listen to him sing. It was profoundly beautiful to hear him. And he was always amazed when I told him how great he sounded. Who knows whether it was singing in another language, singing such beautiful melodies or just being in synagogue that made the difference. We both enjoyed singing those Hebrew melodies. And now, when I go to services, it's really difficult for me to get through the music because I can hear him in my head, singing as if he is standing right next to me and little by little the tears flow.

Warren, my beloved, I still hear your music. You were my love song, you still are and will forever be the music in my heart.

Copyright © 2020, Reisa Sterling Miller, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

In the beginning, there was LAUGHTER!

Laughter was a huge part of our relationship. And it all started on our very first date. We went out to dinner and a show in Boston. At that time, the attire was more formal. He wore a suit, I wore a dress and heels. He drove in from Newburyport, picked me up in Chelsea and we drove into "the big city." He found a parking spot on a little side street within walking distance to the restaurant and the movie theater, or so he thought.

I'm remembering the restaurant was at one end of Tremont Street and the theater was perhaps three or four blocks away. The dinner was lovely, we walked to the theater and enjoyed the movie. While in the theater, I had the chance to give my feet a rest from those heels!

It was after the movie that things got a little unpredictable! He took my hand and we started walking toward the car.  (Now I digress a bit to say that I worked in this part of Boston during my high school years and was quite familiar with the area.) Being the demure, lovely young lady that I was, I walked along with him as he tried to find the car, saying nothing. But as time went on, I had all I could do to stifle the laughter that kept bubbling up from my throat, realizing that we were walking in ever growing circles around the area. Pretty soon we were retracing our steps along streets we had already walked down and there was no car in sight!

It got to the point where I couldn't keep my hushed up laughter contained, nor could I stand to continue hunting for the elusive car any longer in heels! With a burst of giggles, I gently suggested that I give it a try. I grabbed his hand firmly and quickly led him directly to the car!

Once ensconced in the vehicle, he turned to me with a huge smile and asked me how long I knew he was never going to find the car. I collapsed in hysterical giggles, gasping as I tried to catch my breath. And he, watching me laughing so hard, started to laugh as well.

And we laughed and laughed and laughed for the next fifty-five years!

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller.All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Well, it seems I'm not done!

Ha, ha. You thought I was done with this thread. So did I. But my mind swirls with words forming thoughts that always go back to him. After all, fifty-five years of the most amazing, loving and funny memories don't just subside into a quiet place. They keep roaring back every day and I haven't found a way to keep them to myself, nor do I want to. They just spill out like a never-ending waterfall even though I, at times, try to gently tamp them down.

So, I was thinking of all the ways we used to address each other. When we were first married, the most common way we called one another was using Honey or Hon. Those were easy words to slip into. Or we used variations of our names: he became Warrie, I became Remi or Reese. Then we slipped into Love, or as I pictured the word: Luv. We hardly used our given names at all during all those years. When we did use them, it seemed a little strange! And as time went on, we added My Sweetheart and My Sweetie to our repertoire. Of course there were other "pet" names we used that I smile at when remembering but would never reveal them.

All of these were words of the love we felt for each other. "My Darling" came into use much later, especially by me. And now, that loving term gently flits through my mind just about every time I think of him. It's as if it's inscribed on the inside of my heart.

There are actually a lot of things inside my heart. They're what keeps it beating. Beside the words of endearment, there were the gestures, the loving touches as we walked by each other, the shoulder and back rubs, the gentle pushing of my hair back from in front of my eyes, the quick hugs as we passed each other going into another room. There were always reasons and opportunities to touch and they served as a gentle reminder of our love each time.

I am fortunate enough to have saved a lot of his voicemails and in many of them he calls me by those wonderful, endearing names. Along with some videos taken with my cell phone, I can hear his voice whenever I want to and I usually listen several times a week. The sound of his voice gives me comfort and soothes my broken heart for those few fleeting seconds.

The lesson here is: words matter. Speaking lovingly and kindly to each other during all those years brings me warm smiles. But, the one thing I'm really thankful for and brings me a measure of peace were the last words we spoke to each other. We, once again and for the last time, declared our deep love for each other. And that is a memory I cherish beyond measure.

Copyright © 2019 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

A sort of Epilogue, Maybe...or Not

I have written sixty-four previous blog posts since August 31, 2016 about my beloved Warren, our journey through one of  the most wretched experiences humans can endure and the gut-wrenching sadness that accompanied my soul and still, even now, rides alongside me as a never-ending companion.

It has been said that "time heals all wounds" but that isn't really true. Some wounds never heal but they change with time from a wide open, blood and tear-gushing, anguish-filled mental laceration to a barely tolerable white flag cease fire.

Being left with the beautiful, sweet, loving memories isn't always enough. And just because he died doesn't mean that my love has somehow subsided. My love for him is just as strong now as it always has been. My heart always raced when he came into view and it still does when my eyes fall on one of the many photos of him I have around our home. Whenever I see his handsome smiling face, I smile, too.

Every day, as I continue to live my life, I feel his influence, his presence in an ethereal way. One of the things I miss most is his all-encompassing embrace. He was a hugger filling me with warmth, comfort and love when encircled by his arms. I have always thought of our fifty-five year love affair (51 of them married) as being so incredibly wonderful, literally one in a million, blessed with the best.

His life has not really ended for me. It's just a new way I'm teaching myself to look at it.

In all the posts that have appeared before, I have poured out my heart, kicking and screaming, crying and laughing, filled with sorrow and heartache and the most beautiful memories....revealing a road I never thought I would have to follow.

And while I think I have written just about all there is to write about my Beloved Warren, this may not really be an epilogue. He is always on my mind, always in my heart, always walking beside me, always a large part of who I am. I am not me, singular, but part of an extraordinary duo, now concentrated in the actions I take and the decisions I make, guided by our compatibility and love. I don't know if I will continue to post about this journey I'm still on but if something (or someone) nudges me to take to these Warren pages again, I will return and add however many encores about him that still flow out of my heart.

Oh, but I remember that time when ........🤗🤗🤗

Copyright © 2019 Reisa  Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Because you loved me

I am the way I am because you loved me.

I am the way I am because you believed in me.

I am the way I am because you saw in me what I couldn't.

I am the way I am because you knew how strong I could be.

I am the way I am because you always encouraged me.

I am the way I am because you shared your strength, your kindness, your laughter, your intellect, your goodness, your wit, your goofiness and your total being with me.

I was and still feel deeply loved by you. Even though you are not physically present, I am surrounded by your loving embrace and feel safe knowing that you still reside within my heart. You share my heartbeat. You are my first thought on arising and my last thought when I lay down for the night. Your influence is in every action I take, in every decision I make and yes, even in every thought that crosses my mind.

We were glued together in almost everything we did and we loved that. But we were strong individuals who complimented each other like pieces in a puzzle.

What an incredible partnership we had - one of total love, respect and joy.

And all this -- because you loved me..... and I loved you. And I still do.

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Tale of the Feathers

When we took our two dogs for their walks each day, one liked to just saunter so I was the one who held her leash. The other liked to race and pull so Warren tried to keep him in check! After my beloved Warren died, it took me a few weeks for me to attempt to walk both our doggies at the same time. After a few days of trying to keep the leashes from winding around my legs, I got the hang of it. There are walkways and a park near the house so each day one of us chooses the route!

One day about a month into these walks, I found a large bird feather just outside the house on my front walk. I picked it up, put it in my pocket and went on the walk. When we came home, I absently put the feather in a small glass vase. A few days later while meandering down one of the walkways, again there was another large feather just where the doggies were stopping to sniff. I picked it up and I put it in that vase.

As time went on, it seems that every other time we walked, no matter which route we took, there were feathers showing up at where the doggies were stopping. Each time I picked up a feather and put it in the vase. It was kind of an absentminded thing that I did.

When I mentioned the feathers to friends, they all expressed the same thing. Warren was letting me know, through the feathers, that he was always with me.

I didn't find feathers every day, sometimes just one or two a week. But there was a stretch of three weeks when there were none.  Then the next day, walking down one of the walkways near the house, I came upon a bunch of feathers on the ground. As I picked them up, I started counting and there were 21 feathers! I was flabbergasted. I actually looked around as if I expected Warren to be peeking out from behind a tree!

The thing about finding these feathers, no matter how much that may sound like a folk tale or as some may think -- a crutch, the idea that I think that it could be a sign from Warren, a tangible indication that he is with me, eases my heart. And the where and when of the discoveries sometime have special meaning. I have found some on my birthday, our anniversary, days when I'm having an especially hard time. I recently took a trip where I had to fly. I really dislike flying but I found a feather on the driveway as I was leaving to go to the airport. To me, it was as if he was telling me he'd be with me on the flight.

To some, the sighting of a red cardinal is a sign for them, to others it is finding pennies. Sometimes, it's music or certain scents. For me, it's the feathers. Sometimes there is no explanation for what one sees or feels that can bring a sense of comfort to a grieving heart. Call it what you will, but his spirit surrounds me, he is always with me and the feathers are an expression of his presence and I am soothed by their appearances.

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

To those who really get it

It's been over two years and so I have flashes of guilt. I sometimes think that there are those who think  I should be showing more signs of progress and I should "move on with my life." The guilt comes from my inability to do that in the way I imagine most people think I should.

But in my very small circle of truly dear and loving friends, they completely understand my continuing sadness because they share it with me. Warren and I were blessed with these longstanding friends whose friendship goes back for decades. These friends really get it. It's not just me who feels the choking despair, the emptiness and the pain. I am encircled with the love and support of the people who  clearly understand the loss, not only for me but for them as well.

When we talk on the phone (because all, with one exception, don't live near me) we commiserate, we reminisce, we console, we cry and rage at the circumstances, we soothe each other, we laugh at the stories and the jokes and the puns. These are long phone calls and each one elicits a new memory or story.  When we talk, we don't hold back. The emotions flow and I feel safe and comforted that we can be so open with each other. These are the people who really get me and don't expect my "progress" to be any different than what it is.

During this time, though, I've felt a little bit of change but it's coming at the pace of a drunken snail. But however long it takes for the choking despair to subside, if it takes at all, my dearest friends understand.  And it's their understanding that gets me through each day.

Copyright © 2019 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

What's a little pain when it brings some comfort

As I travel through my days, usually at home (it's way too hot to be out and about), surrounded by photos of my beloved Warren, my eyes will rest on one of them and a memory floats through my head. A picture of that memory is brought up and that's when it hits me......the pain. It's a fleeting bittersweet feeling because I'm remembering specific times when we were together. However, when I feel that little ping of pain, I feel closer to Warren at that moment. It's almost as if I could reach out and grab his hand. And even though they are bittersweet moments, I welcome them because, for just a moment, I'm transported back to specific happier times. I can hear the sounds. It's like an instant video.

These moments are different from the sweet memories I have and can bring up at any time because these are unexpected. And though they are accompanied by a bit of actual pain in my heart, the visions feel so real and surprisingly comforting.  The visions are clearer and sharper which surprises me.

I wonder if this is an unusual phenomenon that others experience.  No matter. I'm just glad they happen to me.

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Donating clothes--the fourth trip

This morning I gathered more of Warren's clothes, checked the pockets and then made my fourth trip to a donation center to drop them off.  Each time I've done that it's been a highly charged, emotional event for me. The first three times, I sat in the parking lot after bringing the clothes in and had a complete meltdown.  This fourth time I silently wept all the way home. And the rest of this day seems to be a time of deep reflection and remembrance, notwithstanding the fact that yesterday was his second Yahrzeit and tomorrow would have been our fifty-third anniversary.

I came home and stood in the closet looking at the empty space where those clothes were.  Even though there are a lot more of his clothes left to donate, looking at the empty space jolted me like a flash of lightning. I felt that emptiness. And it hurts.......... a lot.

As I sniffle my way through this task I need to keep in mind what Ethan and Abbott told me: "People will get joy out of wearing his clothes and so Dad continues to do good in the world."

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


As the days in June go by, one by one, my anxiety level is rising. I haven't yet learned how to calm my heart. I still wish so many things that can never come to be. My mind floods with pictures, my face floods with more tears, my heart continues to explode with sadness and the crescendo of feelings is rising to a height I can't reign in.

I dread the anniversary. I'm grateful for all the years but I seethe with intense anger and outrage at the circumstances of his final months.

I was doing okay until June rolled around and then the flood of memories of the past few years started to loom over me like some huge tidal wave threatening to drown me with a furiousness I can't control.

It seems to be more difficult this time around because I think last year, on the first anniversary, I was still in shock. Now, I'm just angry, really angry and so this is where I go to get it out. Spilling my guts here helps because as I sit back and look at these words, I am calming down. I don't know how the next few weeks will be for me but I do know I'll be talking to him a lot and his humor, and kind, wise and good counsel will come through, as it always had and always will.  

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

I've come undone

When a tragedy hits, the mind tries to protect the heart. There wasn't one moment during the time my beloved Warren was ill that we ever thought he wouldn't survive. And right up until the last minute I held on to that belief.

I recently bought a new computer and migrated all my information from the old to the new. So, I started to review everything on the new one and that included reading old, saved emails. I just about went into shock.

In the almost two years since he passed away, I have pictured him in my mind's eye as looking pretty healthy albeit getting thin, but able to move as he always did up until the last week. And in my mind I saw my thin, fairly healthy-looking, handsome and adorable husband as he'd always been.

In some of the emails, though, my belief faltered and the reality crept into them. I realize now that I was aware of that reality as I emailed various friends who lived in other parts of the country to bring them  up to date.  I don't remember writing them. I have no recollection of anything but the positive outlook we both had throughout the whole ordeal. There were just a few of them but I was frankly shocked to reread them. I was sure that my faith in his recovery was never-ending and so I must have blocked out what deep down I knew! I never gave it credence. Never.

And now I am left with the hole in my heart a little bit bigger than it was before. I've come undone. Now I have to work on not letting that guilt I feel overtake me....because even though I wrote about the reality, I think I truly never believed it. Hope was the emotion and the belief that we both hung onto through all those months and I know we never let that go, not once, not ever.

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Who knew it would be this hard?

I didn't think it would be so excruciatingly difficult.  It has taken me almost two years to get up the courage and emotional strength to start going through my beloved Warren's clothes, preparing them to be donated. So a few weeks ago I began pulling out some shirts, slacks, jackets, and ties, going through pockets and making sure that everything was in good condition. Actually everything in the closet is in impeccable condition: all shirts had been cleaned and covered in plastic, all his pants were neatly hung on pants hangers. Many of his clothes and his suits were custom-made and he took very good care of them.

As I took each piece out, the memories started flooding my mind, remembering the times he had worn each item, picturing him wearing everything, flashes of the photos I have of him wearing each piece. As I laid each item of clothing on the dining room table, it felt a little like pieces of me were being torn away, bit by bit. It took me a few days to actually gather up this first batch of clothes, put them in my SUV and drive to the donation place. Just before I started to drive out of the parking lot, I had a total meltdown. I pulled over, parked and let it all come out. I screamed, I cried, I yelled, I swore and then repeated it all a few more times. My nose was running, my breathing was sporadic and my eyes were filled with so many tears I couldn't see to drive. After several minutes I calmed down sufficiently to drive home.

I really had not expected that kind of a reaction. It was so strong, heart wrenching and painful. And now a second group of clothes has been donated and I had the same reaction. There are a lot of clothes to go through so there will be several more trips. I can't do it all at once nor do I want to. The physical act of going through each piece may ultimately be helpful and healing for me.

And, as our boys have told me, "Dad is continuing to do good in the world."

Copyright © 2019 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The pitter-patter of the heart

From the moment I came home from our first date, I knew that I was in love with Warren. I felt it emotionally and physically. My whole being was wrapped up in thoughts about him and my heart wouldn't stop thumping.

That feeling in my heart never went away. As the years went by, people commented to us about how happy we seemed to be, how close we were, how attuned we were to each other. We just smiled, knowing how right they were.

In all the many years we were together, each day as we went about our respective jobs away from each other, during our time in the Air Force and in civilian life, arriving back at home was the sweetest time as we fell into each other's arms, hugged and kissed, grateful to be together again. And always, every day, my heart would pitter-patter to the point where I thought it might burst out of my chest.

Long into our marriage, many of our acquaintances seemed to marvel at how happy we were all the time. I found the attitude a bit puzzling until I realized that many of them didn't seem to have quite the same kind of relationship that we had. There was genuine disbelief when I mentioned that even after all these years, whenever Warren came home, my heart would start to pitter-patter and my mouth formed into an endless smile.

Happiness ruled in our house and the proof was in the heart. Every time I laid eyes on him my heart would rev up! And ever since my Beloved Warren has been gone, my heart's pitter-patter continues every time I think of him, every time my eyes fall on a photo of him, at every memory that shoots through my mind, at every video I watch and at every voicemail I listen to. The pitter-patter of the heart continues and I smile amid the tears at the sweet memories.

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Cooking is different now

I have a cousin who is an extraordinary cook and writes a wonderfully funny blog which always includes a fabulous recipe. I eagerly read her blogs and the recipes and drool over them.  Quite often I think I'd like to make one of her recipes but cooking has become a rare activity for me now. I was a pretty good cook, willing to try dishes outside of my comfort zone which included vegan and vegetarian dishes and always kosher. In recent years, the vegan and vegetarian dishes became the major choices and were generally preferred.

I always enjoyed cooking, specially when we had guests over for dinner and during holidays: Passover, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, birthdays, anniversaries... you get the idea.  Cooking always brought together friends and family for good times, happy times, times that made life so sweet, happy and wonderful. And while I did most of the cooking, Warren's help was indispensable with several of the dishes we served.

But now that I am a "single person household," cooking is not high on my list of priorities. It just doesn't seem worth the effort anymore. I've stopped buying certain foods because I just don't want to bother with them anymore. More often than not, I'll grab a veggie burger or veggie 'hot dog' and maybe some vegetables and that's it. ... nothing fancy, nothing complicated. My palate has gone from an anticipated sense of enjoyment to something quite plain.

Last week, though, I was going through some old recipes and came across a favorite that I made for us very often: a tofu/spinach quiche. We just loved it because I kept filling it with different things in addition to the spinach and tofu.  So, I decided to make it. It turned out really well and I now had four portions of this quiche for four meals. Not a bad change. I also whipped up some home-made tabbouleh. I haven't done that in a very long time. I haven't lost my touch. It was incredibly good.

Even though my cooking now is uninspired and almost an afterthought, this sounds like a few baby steps in a different direction.

By the way, you really should go to my cousin Karen's blog. It's called BAKING IN A TORNADO and is extraordinarily funny, heartwarming and delicious.  Here is her website:

Copyright © 2019 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 1, 2019

I wondered about the Sheloshim period.

I get posts on my Facebook page from a website called My Jewish Learning. The latest one that caught my attention was about Sheloshim, the thirty day period after a burial. It infers that that one month period acts as a link between the time a mourner gives vent to her profound grief when one refrains from  normal everyday activities and the time when she transforms into the person she will have to present to the outside world as she tries to move into her new life after a loss. I understand that during those thirty days, the attempt at grasping the reality of a new way of living is supposed to begin. For some, however, it doesn't work that way.

I've often wondered why thirty days. The following quote which came from the article on the website offers a bit of insight:

"Rabbi Chaim Shreiber has explained why this time frame matters: "The Jewish calendar is based on the moon. Just as the moon waxes and wanes in a cyclical period, the 30 days of mourning are an opportunity for the closing of a full emotional circle. The process begins with the funeral and the first days of shiva, when one can't even see a glimmer of light. With the passing of time, the light returns in stages, and waxes more and more. Thirty days is an important period of time, a time for renewal and grasping a new reality."

In looking back at my Sheloshim period, I'm not sure I would characterize it as a time when the light began to return. In truth, at least for me, what did rear its head during that time was all the legal and financial stuff I now had to contend with and the worry about those things that ensued. That worry was my new reality and interfered with my ability to begin adjusting during that Sheloshim period. It was only after I was able to wade through and take care of all that stuff that I was able to concentrate on the enormity of what had happened. That's when the real work of adjusting to reality started for me. I consciously began that adjustment long after that thirty day period. It's a slow process for me as that adjustment continues.

Copyright © 2019 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Kaddish prayer: what it does and does not do

The Kaddish prayer is a puzzlement for me. I say it because of tradition, nothing more.  It could be interpreted as a prayer praising G-d despite the loss of a loved one. But the recitation provides no relief, no words of comfort, no connection to the actual reason most people give voice to it.

When my beloved Warren died, I said the Kaddish prayer every day for eleven months. I said it by rote, from memory without thinking about the meaning. But each time, when I finished reciting it, as I stood in front of a favorite photo of him, I took the time to reflect on various memories that came flooding into my mind and my heart, smiling amidst the tears and whispering softly to him that our life together was one of wonder, beauty, laughter and so much love. Those precious few minutes of reciting the prayer and remembering helped me to start my day and enabled me to leave my bedroom without collapsing in utter grief.

I am not a Rabbinic scholar. I can read Hebrew but I can't speak it in conversation nor do I understand much of it. So reciting the Kaddish is an exercise in how good my memory is.  But when I participate in the recitation of it while in synagogue, it takes on a whole different meaning for me. I am not the only one who stands for it. I'm surrounded by many who repeat the prayer with me. The key words here are "with me." I am in a community of wonderful people who have experienced deep loss and together we acknowledge our pain, together we remember our loved ones and we recognize each other's loss.

Perhaps that community of mourners standing together all thinking of their loved ones creates a common bond, if only for a few moments. I want to think that such a bond may be the real reason many recite the Kaddish. And when I recited the familiar words, the words I really don't understand, alone, on all those days, it gave me time to prepare to face the day.  So, voicing the words, alone or included in a community of mourners, it affords me some precious time of concentrating completely on my Beloved and those other loved family members and knowing that I am not really alone.

Copyright © 2019 Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Friend? Acquaintance?

The words 'friend' and 'acquaintance' are really not interchangeable. I am casually familiar with a lot of people who are witty, warm and fun to be with, but good friends with only a very few. I am aware that people rarely think of the difference. But the difference was made abundantly clear to me over the past few years.

The friends Warren and I held dear gave us an abundance of support in countless ways, even though almost all of them live on the other side of the country. That kind of support can never be repaid. It is what sustained us and kept us hopeful during his illness. We never quite got that kind of support from others, not all, of those who lived closer. They were kind and concerned....the "thoughts and prayers" kind of concern. But they were emotionally and physically distant for the most part.  Nevertheless, when we did meet up with them, they were genuinely kind and profuse with their good wishes and we were grateful for that kind of affection.

What we were most bewildered and hurt about was how two people we thought were really good friends for so many years just stopped communicating with us completely not long after Warren became ill. We heard nothing............ crickets.......from them. It's as if they just threw us away. And that is what prompted me to think about this subject, again.

This is just an interesting observation I have made, not a judgment about anyone I know. With friends, we were part of their "inner circle." With acquaintances, we were on the perimeter. The thing is, we understood that people have their own lives, activities, obligations and interests. And as newcomers wherever we lived (six different states), we found it hard to break in to established "inner circles." After a while, though, in each place we lived, we made our own inner circle. But in life, it's necessary to have both kinds of relationships. Friends AND acquaintances round out a lifetime of experiences, without which we could not survive.

And so, I hold my friends who continue to provide the support I still need, close to my heart. And I deeply enjoy the relationships we made with others and welcome meeting new people who will enlarge my circle.

So, friend or acquaintance? Does it really matter? Both are necessary for a life well-lived. And a bonus to all of this is that, in our lives and in my life, some acquaintances have become extremely good friends and for that, I am deeply and truly grateful.

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

That silent presence

I've mentioned before that I truly miss my beloved Warren's embrace. He took me inside his arms and held me tight. The feel of his arms around me, several times a day, every day made me feel warm, comforted, protected, cozy, secluded and loved. Hugging was a big part of our lives. And the words that we whispered to each other were like love letters. It provided an irreplaceable and ongoing testament to the kind of marriage we shared.

So now I am left without the physical embrace. But I think about those times a lot. And when I do, something magical happens. I can see him, quite clearly, encircling me and damn, I can feel that embrace. My body reacts physically to those memories that I envision and my heart is soothed and consoled by each one.

I have a vivid imagination. That ability of reproducing images allows me to tap into the thousands of memories stored in my my heart of hearts. What I'm grateful for is that the majority of these memories are so beautiful, so filled with love, so filled with laughter and I can draw on these whenever I need to. But the amazing thing is these memories arrive when I least expect them but when they're most needed. It's as if a silent presence understands my need.

He is that silent presence who resides in my heart and in my mind and gently guides me throughout my days. He has a hand in almost everything I do and his presence and influence makes me feel safe.

Memories are funny things. They form the chapters of our lives and the more you have, the bigger the book. Little did I know that my book would become a series..... so huge because it's filled with so many wonderful recollections.

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 17, 2019

From news and commentary to a personal journey

We got the diagnosis on May 20, 2016, the day our wonderful life together did a 180 degree flip. My blog posts became sporadic after that, writing only seven until April of 2017. Two posts, on August 31st and October 29th, alluded to what had befallen us. My mind, my brain, my energy, my thoughts, my attention, and my very being...  all of it was directed elsewhere.  Every breath I took had something to do with overcoming the horribleness that had enveloped our lives.                              

But by April of 2017 I needed an outlet to express what I was feeling and going through. Thus, on April 23, 2017, I changed the direction of the subjects I had been writing about before that fateful day and concentrated on the changes to my life, our lives and everything I had known.

And so, I began my journey of giving voice to the constant see-saw of feelings I was experiencing. There have been 47 posts before this one and each one came from a heart that once was filled with hope and then...... total despair.

I started writing these posts to vent. It gave me a place to lay claim to my emotions, trying to understand them. I poured my heart out here, hoping to find some relief. Many times I did. I was somewhat surprised, though, at how many people read the posts and never commented on them. People seemed, perhaps, not to know what to say. I think a death sometimes makes us incapable of knowing how to react and renders us mute. And that's a shame. If they only knew what a simple acknowledgement would have meant to me.

One of my sons suggested that I find a way to gather the posts and have them published somewhere because the raw emotions and thoughts might help others who are in the same situation and walking the same road. I've thought about it but I have no idea where to begin.

I've re-read all of my posts and marvel at how clearly I was able to get it all out, the sheer rawness of what was swirling in my head, the hope, the desperation, the inevitable, the crashing of dreams, the pain that was all-consuming, and the staggered healing (two steps forward, one step back but sometimes one step forward and two steps back.) The continuing pain that ebbs and flows like an unrelenting tide seems to be the norm now. I truly think it will never go away but since there is no timetable for grief, perhaps it will play out in its own time. And if it doesn't I will carry it, parked deep inside my heart where no one else can see it, until my last breath.

Whether I continue to write in this vein remains to be decided. I write about what moves me but this blog site has become much more personal. Writing these posts has been a way to begin to purge the intense anger, the anguish, and the unbearable sorrow and as time has passed, the intensity of those feelings has lessened. And I hope, in time, that I cry less because he is no longer here and smile more because he lived and loved and left me to cherish his memory.

I have another blog site at Wordpress with the same name: and I've combined the two on occasion. Maybe I'll write on other subjects there and keep this one as it is........... for now,  as long as I feel compelled to document this journey that I'm on.

Copyright © 2019. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.