Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I'm different and it's okay.

As the months have slipped by since my Beloved passed away and I reflect on the physical and emotional residue that I'm left with, I am not the person I once was. My words and actions are measured and hesitant. I'm more introspective. I've become a bit reclusive. I'm not as comfortable in public as I used to be. I hide behind a facade of what might appear to be cheerfulness but inside I'm still broken in millions of pieces. The passage of time hasn't seemed to change that.

I'm most comfortable with our sons and just a very few others. I've gone from a happy, carefree, full of fun existence shared with the love of my life to a quiet, contemplative, thoughtful kind of life with lots of time to think about what kinds of things should fill up my days. There are a few possibilities that I'm thinking about. But first things first.........

I haven't paid much attention to or taken care of myself for a few years and I'm reaping those "rewards" now.  So I'm taking steps to change that. And the joy I feel when there's a camera in my hands is returning now that I've picked it up again. Warren would love that and I can envision that gorgeous smile on his face, encouraging me as he always did. That's what will keep me going. We were so attuned to each other. That really hasn't changed. And for that I am grateful.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The end of Kaddish

I have been saying Kaddish (the Mourner's Prayer) every morning for my Beloved since he passed away. We have an extraordinarily wonderful friend in Connecticut who has been saying Kaddish for him, two times a day, for the same amount of time. It was his way of honoring his dear, dear friend.  This week, during our conversation, he told me that today, Saturday, May 12th, would be the official Hebrew calendar date that the tradition of saying Kaddish for him would come to an end.

So, as I had done every morning for so many months, I stood in front of the many photos I have of him adorning my dresser, lifted the written prayer (which I had committed to memory years ago) and slowly recited the familiar prayer through copious tears. At its conclusion, I felt bereft, uncertain, sad and a little lost.

I spoke to him then, explaining about the ending of the recitation and reminding him (and me) that this was not an ending but now I would spend those precious few minutes each morning starting my day with a specific happy memory in place of the Kaddish.  And at that, I could see him smile.

My life with Warren was such a wonderful gift. What better way than to begin each day now with a smile, a giggle, or an outright laugh at one of the thousands of happy memories I have to draw from.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I miss.........

It's just past ten months and through the solitude of my days my thoughts are always of my Beloved and the myriad of experiences we shared. I have been avoiding, consciously or unconsciously... I'm not sure which.... going to places where we went together. I'm not including places like food stores where I HAVE to go. Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix was one such place where, because we were members, we delighted in spending many, many days there, leisurely walking through this peaceful and beautiful sanctuary.

I went there, with cousins, for the first time without him on Sunday. It felt strange and bittersweet but I was able to enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of the place. And while walking through, I envisioned our previous visits, almost as if he was beside me. That was strangely comforting.

There is so much that I miss about him, our intense love for each other, the jokes and puns, the incredible laughter that was always part of our days, but I really miss his companionship. I miss him actually being with me as I go about my daily activities because we literally went everywhere together. The one place I didn't go was to the law school when he taught. If he could have figured out a way to keep me occupied for the duration of his classes, he would have loved to have me drive him in and back because he hated driving so much!

And because we went everywhere together, we talked a lot, enjoying a running commentary on everything and even singing along to some songs on the radio. I was so lucky to have that. Maybe that's why I talk to him so much now when I'm driving. It's certainly not the same but I can't be silent as I drive around. My thoughts come tumbling out as if he were right beside me in the passenger's seat. In my mind's eye, he's right there. And I consider that a good thing.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Another sighting.......

He appeared again this morning, just for a few seconds but it was unmistakeable. I was in bed and I glimpsed him at the foot of the bed looking at me. He was wearing a white tee shirt, his hair a bit rumpled. It was a look I've seen thousands of times before and it was a comforting sight.

A short while later I was reminded of the words from the song, Hello Stranger: "It seems like a mighty long time, so glad you stopped by to say hello to me...."

This was his third appearance in eight and a half months.  After the second one, I hoped these appearances would continue.  Yesterday I experienced real physical and emotional pain for several minutes, again while driving, when my thoughts centered on that day last June. I think he heard me and knew he needed to show up.

The vision, this morning, made me smile.  Please continue appearing, my Darling. I need the smiles.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 4, 2018

I choose to believe

My driving narrative continues.  By now it's evident that driving is an emotional chore for me. I do it as little as I can get away with. And, as with most people, music accompanies me on every trip so as I drive I listen. The lyrics I hear become the story of my life with my Beloved.

The song today was To Sir With Love and the particular lyrics were:  "How do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume".  As I mouthed the words the rest of the song faded as that particular line became a metaphor for our early relationship. And as my mind started to race back to that period of time, I experienced a slight fluttering sensation throughout my body. I felt as though I was being surrounded by Warren's arms and it seemed very real to me.  I even asked, out loud, if he was with me and in my mind's eye I could "see" him smiling at me.

I choose to believe that what I experienced was another indication that my Beloved Warren is truly with me all the time and makes his presence known when I really need him.  My drive today didn't result in the usual tears.  I smiled!

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Why now?

In the past few weeks I've had a couple of days of complete meltdowns. But these were different. I was completely engulfed by a tremendous sense of guilt. And once again, I was driving each time when it hit me. What came racing through my mind was my inadequacy in dealing with our situation. I didn't do enough, I didn't find enough ways to keep him encouraged about what we were doing, I didn't say all the things I should have, I didn't........... I didn't....... I didn't.......

What was so frightening was the physical feeling I experienced. I felt as if my whole body was devoid of oxygen and I couldn't breathe. I became agitated, crying my eyes out and raced to get home before I couldn't see anything at all through my tears. By the time I got home I was breathing so hard I was hyperventilating.

The thoughts that precipitated these guilt-ridden meltdowns have not yet been resolved even though I know they have no basis in fact. I guess this is the emotional price I will pay from time to time unless and until I somehow find a way to feel a sense of peace and healing.

It's been only eight months but it's as raw and crushing today as it has always been.  And I still have no idea why these two episodes happened at this time. What does that say about me? I always thought I was a rather strong person. Perhaps I was and still am in most situations. But in this case, this may be the one area where I'm allowed to cry, scream, question and doubt for however long I need to, even if that's until the cows come home!

Maybe I have survivor's guilt, as a friend so delicately put it to me. Maybe so, but I do have days that aren't that bad and they outnumber the meltdowns. Perhaps the cows are thinking of heading home.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I chose this life

I chose this life fifty-three years ago when my beloved Warren and I became engaged.......on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1965. When we married seventeen months later, we embarked on a lifetime of love and laughter.

What a ride it was! We lived at sixteen different addresses, from the East Coast to the West Coast to the South and back, in six different states, all providing adventures and memories beyond the normal. Who else would think of driving 90 miles, over the mountains, from the Mojave Desert (Edwards Air Force Base) into Los Angeles for a Kosher sandwich and then drive right back again?

On a thirty day tour of the West, we brought our car into a Denver dealership to be serviced, flew out to Chicago for a few days, flew back to Denver to pick up the car and continue our tour. Having the car serviced while we took the side trip offered a safe place to leave the car during those few days!

At the beginning of that tour, Triple A made a mistake and routed us to the north rim of the Grand Canyon (when there were absolutely no tourist places). When we got there and asked the Ranger where the Moqui Lodge was, he nearly convulsed with laughter and then told us it was only about 30 miles from where we were except that there was a big hole in between! We raced around to the south rim (after calling the Lodge to keep the room), arrived about 10 p.m. and thankfully got the room amidst several people who were looking to find a place to sleep.  We toured national parks all over the West and sent postcards back home exclaiming this was what was meant by America the Beautiful.

Stories. Our life together was made up of extraordinary stories, all filled with hope, joy, some misfortune, excitement, wonder but always filled with love and laughter. Always.

Those stories live on in my memories and bring me great joy. It was always the best of times, no matter what happened, because we had each other and we had our sons who have always added untold joy and happiness to our lives. I'm reminded of these lyrics from a Jacques Brel/Rod McKuen song:  We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. That we did, all of our lives. Oh, my darling, I chose well. We chose well.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved




Sunday, January 28, 2018

Traveling through my mind.......

"Oh my god, he's not here." That thought travels through my consciousness a few times a day. It takes me a little while to let that feeling of despair wash over me. I give it the time it needs to cycle through my soul.

I've taken to saying goodnight to him every night, either in my thoughts or out loud. And every morning I greet him, again silently or out loud, as I always did, "Good morning, my sweetheart," as I look at the several photos of him adorning my dresser and walls in the bedroom. I hear his response and I picture his smile which lit up all of my mornings.

I go over in my mind what could have originated the turn of events that tore our lives apart. What could we have done differently. I wave those thoughts away because it doesn't matter now.  My thoughts turn to the things we used to talk about during the day: the boys, the dogs, sports, his law students, old law cases that are still churning, and then, interspersed...the inevitable puns. Oh my, every day I was convulsed with laughter from his never-ending puns. I used to describe this ability to constantly come up with them as kind of a disease.... he just couldn't help it. They just rolled off his tongue.

Puns have been popping up on my Twitter feed and Facebook page. Some have Warren's stamp on them. As I read them I can picture the times he used them, similar ones or the hundreds he made up on the spot, where he was and who was the unsuspecting victim! He was always asked if he was writing them down for a future book. He never did. So, whenever I hear a pun or read one, the giggles start bubbling up amid the sweet memories.

Ah, memories. The sweet and happy ones are now outnumbering the sad ones. I'm enjoying the giggles. I guess that's progress.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved






Sunday, January 14, 2018

There is no timetable

Going to Erev Shabbat services is proving to be extremely difficult for me.  I've attended a few in the past four months. When I show up I'm greeted and hugged and welcomed by so many friends. When I went in November, I couldn't stop silently crying. It was awful. Every hymn sung brought searing memories that just tore my heart out.

I wasn't able to attend in December but I went again this past Friday night. I thought I'd be okay, that I would be able to contain myself. I was doing well for a short while but then the floodgates opened. Trying to be quiet while feeling the tears erupting and engulf my whole body was a near impossible situation.  It happens as the music begins. I envision Warren sitting beside me, singing his heart out. Warren couldn't hold a tune ever. I joked with him about that and described his singing ability as being "as good as Johnny-one-note." He always chuckled at that description and totally agreed. But when he sang in Hebrew, he was always in tune.

So as we sang each prayer, in my mind's eye I saw him sitting or standing next to me, singing, and I just couldn't stop the tears. I desperately tried to hold them back by stuffing tissues in my eyes. That did't help much. Friends sitting next to me became concerned but I assured them I was all right. The struggle to appear okay was difficult. I eventually got some control but I felt worn out by the end of services. I couldn't wait to get home.

This is not the way to spend a Shabbat evening.  But this is proof that grieving has no timetable.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved


Saturday, January 6, 2018

My quiet village

I live in a very small, quiet village, replete with lots of silent time. And while I'm there, my thoughts  flood with memories of our life together. I first met Warren when I was sixteen and had so many freckles he thought I looked like Howdy Doody. Some will remember who that was. And then I didn't see him again for two years. I had changed considerably. After our first actual date, I remember coming home and telling a friend that Warren was the man I was going to marry. Our love affair lasted over 56 years!

I heard the song, Memories, written by Mack Davis and William Strange, the other day in the car. One line had me shaking my head in agreement and with tears streaming down my face: "And quiet nights and gentle days with you"...... a perfect description of much of our life together. The rest of the lyrics seem to describe what I'm going through now.

Oh yes, the pain is still there in my heart. It's just not screaming as loud (most of the time.) I'm remembering the quiet nights and gentle days more often.....and I smile. The memories engulf me like a cocoon and the quietness of reflecting makes me feel surrounded by his love.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved






Friday, December 29, 2017

Sightings.......

Just for a second, he was there sitting in his chair in the living room, wearing a dark shirt. Just for a second. This was not the first time he appeared. The first time he was standing right next to me, in the bathroom looking in the mirror over the sinks and we were having a conversation. It took one, maybe two seconds and then I was back in my reality, kind of like an out of body experience.  I've never had experiences like that..... ever, not after any of my other family members have died.

Each instance left me with a kind of awe, a bit shaken but with a feeling of calmness and wonder. So the questions started. What did these mean?  Will they continue happening? I don't know the answers. What I do know is that I wasn't hallucinating. Of that I am very sure. I hope they continue.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved






Friday, December 1, 2017

A truce

Anguish, heartache and I are trying to come to a very tentative truce. Even after the months that have gone by, their effects haven't lessened very much and it's taken a toll on me physically and emotionally. So, I've read the books and the pamphlets. I've read and listened to the advice of friends and relatives. All were helpful. I'm even getting out of the house a bit more (other than grocery shopping.)

Since I'm now doing all the things that Warren used to do and taking care of the all the things he used to take care of, my 'conversations' with him have become more pointed. My mind races back to scenes of him doing those things and I find myself doing them exactly as he did.

The 'taking care of stuff' is a little different. He had expertise that I don't have in some of our personal affairs and so I'm trying to figure out just how to proceed in these matters. It's a daunting task even though I've reached out for help. What I've learned is from my gut and from remembering our past conversations: not to rush into anything and to take time before making any decisions. He would approve. Though the conversations seem to be one-sided, they are not. Remembering his good counsel is standing me in good stead.

And so I come to the truce. I'm trying to balance my reactions to my memories and tasks at hand and trying to make sure I find a way to live so that I remain healthy physically and emotionally in this new reality I'm living in. The anguish and heartache have not thrown up the white flag but it is within sight. And I'm reaching for it.

It looks like I'm taking baby steps but at least one foot is going in front of the other.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved


Sunday, November 19, 2017

I'm looking for tolerable days

The days are getting a bit more tolerable. The stages of grief are running their course with a few stumbles backward from time to time. There is no shame in those backward stumbles. They are a more direct and strong reminder of my loss.

The worst times are when I'm driving somewhere. I listen to music on Sirius radio and hear songs with lyrics that tear my heart out. And while I listen to the lyrics, I talk to him, using those words to tell him how much I miss him, how much he made me so happy, what a wonderful life we had together, how much I still love him and always will. And inevitably the tears flow. But by the time I get back home, I'm spent emotionally and that meltdown is over. After getting out all that devastating physical emotion, I'm okay for the rest of the day.....until bedtime.  Maybe I should try listening to an all instrumental station!

Bedtime. I send the doggies outside for one last time, turn off the TV, shut the kitchen lights, make sure the front door is locked, get the doggies in and shut the doggie door, lock the patio doors, turn on the alarm and head for the bedroom. The dogs are already on the bed, Snuggles in her favorite place...Warren's side of the bed laying right next to his pillow with her head touching it. Sterling is on my side of the bed watching everything I do.

This is the quiet time when my thoughts turn to the events that shattered my life. The tears roll as I try desperately to fill my mind with the good memories. It doesn't always work. The doggies inch closer and lick my hands, my arms, and my nose. They nuzzle me, calming me right down. As I softly say good night to him while gently rubbing his pillow, Snuggles and Sterling settle in right next to me, as if to keep me safe. They comfort me and keep me sane and make the days and nights a bit more tolerable.

 The days are going toward tolerable, inch by inch, a step at a time. Tolerable. That's what I'm striving for now.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved


Monday, November 13, 2017

Planning for the unveiling

It was a difficult day. Although there is no religious law requiring an unveiling, it is customary to have one. An unveiling is the time when the gravestone for a loved one has been set up at the grave and "unveiled" to family and friends, usually just before the time of the first anniversary of the date of death. Today was the day I began those preparations. No final decision will be made until our sons and I decide together what will be on the monument.

I had not been to the cemetery since the funeral. But today I found myself standing at his grave and I lost it. There was a small marker there with his name on it and I just lost it. I did manage to place a stone on the marker, touch his name with my fingertips and gasp at the intensity of my anguish.

It was a distressing, difficult day.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 9, 2017

What I'm learning

Some lovely, caring friends have been kind enough to provide a few books dealing with grief. One is aptly named LIVING WITH AN EMPTY CHAIR. Just the title says a lot for that's truly what I'm doing. But the empty chair allegory also means the empty side of the bed, the empty passenger seat in the car, the emptiness of his presence in the house. It's how I must now live. But the real empty chairs (one in the kitchen and one in the living room) still retain his aura. For me, I picture him sitting beside me at breakfast or snoozing in the recliner in the living room with Sterling snoozing on his
lap. And though those pictures in my mind are there every day, my heart doesn't always accept that it's pure illusion.

What I found comforting about some of the advice in that book was that there is no timetable. My grief has many faces, some very intense, some very subdued and quiet. And as time goes by, it waivers between the two. And I don't question or wonder whether I am really dealing with it. I am, in my own way and it will take as long as it takes, even if that's forever.

I've also read Sheryl Sandberg's OPTION B. She's the COO of Facebook who lost her husband very suddenly. Even though her circumstances were different, her devastation mirrors my own. She, like me, began writing. She calls it journaling, I call it blogging. We both acknowledge it as a compulsion.  Letting the words pour out of me allows me to give vent to the insanity, the anguish, the memories replete with humor, giggles, sweetness, loving and, yes, punning.

I have been deeply wounded but I am not beyond repair. While my loss is profound and sadness will always have a home in a part of my heart, my 'option B' is to look forward and find a way to walk down this road with lessening pain, even if it's tinged with a bit of guilt. I'm not walking this road alone. Our sons are walking with me, bringing me much strength, support and joy (they are so much like their dad.)

The wonderful, happy and funny memories of our life together are coming a bit more often and crowding out the sad ones. But my Beloved will always be by my side, sharing the memories and joining in the happiness I feel when I think of them.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved




Friday, November 3, 2017

A case for laughter

As I drive around doing various errands, my conversations continue, almost like a running commentary. The other day, however, out pops the question: "So, how are you doing?" I immediately repeated it in my head, not as a question but as an exclamation, thinking, "Oh boy, I've just gone over the edge. I'm losing it." But I can hear him laughing his head off at the absurdity of the remark! And I actually had a good laugh about it, too.

And then I think about all the times I loved hearing him laugh. He was an extraordinarily good punster and for over fifty years he had me laughing and, yes, groaning, at his 'gift' and he would laugh, smile and giggle at each one. He couldn't help it. The puns would come tumbling out in a nanosecond during conversations with just about everyone he met.

We laughed a lot during our life together. I mean A LOT!  There were so many times I laughed so much, I almost keeled over from losing my breath. He got a kick out of how long I could laugh at his puns and jokes. And even though I had heard many of his puns over and over, they would evoke my giggles and laughter every time.

When he smiled or laughed, his whole face lit up, and you could see the joy in his eyes. I'm so lucky and grateful that I have so many memories that I can call up in my mind's eye and immerse myself in those moments of pure joy. I can hear his laughter, I can see his smiles and I can feel a great warmth pouring over me when those moments crowd my mind.

Laughter is good medicine.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 28, 2017

So much hope, but........

We had so much hope, right to the end,
I did not think I would be saying goodbye,
Watching him go to that place
Where neither of us expected to be...

A final breath and then peace...for him
But not for me.
For me, the war began...
The war of words and thoughts,
The war of screams and anguish,
The war of heavy breathing, trying to catch my breath.

Even with time, the war rages on,
But the battles are fewer
And I am limping more slowly.

A quietness has descended
But the sorrow has not abated.
The heartache is still there
Just not as loud.

We talk in my mind
And that saves my sanity.
The memories flow in copious amounts
And I am thankful that there is an abundant supply.

I am adjusting, albeit unwillingly
But it goes slowly and
I prefer it that way.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved





Friday, October 13, 2017

Another phase......

I am turning inward. Even though I still talk to him out loud daily, many of my thoughts and comments just pass silently through my mind. Some of my 'thinking out loud' has become soft whispers in my head and those are occurring more often. While I have these conversations in my head, I take no action on conclusions that 'we' come up with.

I spend a lot of time alone even though I do see a few friends once in a while. The calls have mostly stopped and I don't initiate very many anymore. Thus I have more time for introspection. I feel as if I'm in suspended animation.... not really here.... or there, as if I'm traveling through each day in slow motion.  My inclination is to just be.......  I'm becoming comfortable with that.

My life has been smashed into a million little pieces that have flown in every direction with many so far away. Trying to gather them all is a Herculean job. I'm not sure I'm up to it or even want to try to put them back together. Maybe I'm hoping all those pieces will magically gather themselves up and come back to me.  

I have no illusions that this is not a particularly good way to be but it is, for me, at this time.

A  question: When (and/or if) the intense pain begins to lessen, will I feel a sense of guilt? Those of you who have gone down this road - Is there an answer?

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Reality yet? Um, no.

Nope. Not yet. It's clear to me that I haven't really accepted the reality. I cried out today in silence. Not a sound came out of my mouth as my chest heaved in pain and the tears flowed copiously down my cheeks. Not a sound, even as I gasped for breath. This happens every once in a while but today's episode was more crushing than before.

My mind's eye is doing a number on me.  Most times the images I 'see' bring a smile for the warm memories they invoke. It's the other times when those mental images bring a sadness that becomes more overwhelming because I can't actually share them with him. That's when the "oh gawd" refrain bursts from my mouth, followed by the silent "He's not here." Even then, I shake my head as if to shake that notion into oblivion.

It just still seems unreal. That 'someday' and 'time' I keep mentioning.... stills seems far into the future.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The W word

I can't even conceive of me being categorized. I recently had to make a selection and automatically started to place the check mark on the box indicating married. Before I could actually put the pen to paper, I gagged when I saw the other box with the W word. In a matter of milliseconds the thoughts came crashing through my mind: That's not me. I can't be that now. I refuse to acknowledge that. Holy gawd, I'm not one of those.  Please, not yet.  A feeling of total despair washed over me. It was a visceral reaction.

I think as if we're still a couple. I suppose I do that because I continue to talk to him every day. Visions of my Beloved appear in my head as I see him walking around the house doing the things he used to do, sitting beside me when I eat breakfast or in the car, sitting in his favorite chair in the living room watching the Patriots and Mercury games. Yes, we're big fans!

I have photos of him everywhere so I can catch his twinkling eyes looking at me. Most of the time, not always, locking our eyes brings me a moment of peace. I savor those moments.

I say the Mourner's Kaddish every morning and then I look at his photo and think, "I shouldn't have to do this" because even though it is just me now, I still feel married. I think of myself as a married person, nothing else. I just don't feel the W word applies to me, not now, maybe not ever.

I'll always think of us as a couple, a continuing loving partnership, because he's always at my side and that's just they way it is.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Grieving doesn't go away

I've recently had some not so bad days. Today wasn't one of them. I spent most of the morning  crying so hard, my chest literally hurt. The pain was sharp enough for me to take a baby aspirin. It started, as usual, while I was driving.  I cry out so loud I sometimes wonder if people driving beside me can hear me. I can't seem to get out of the chaos that envelopes my whole being.

I'm not looking for this chaos to stop any time soon. The way of grieving is such an individual thing. I suspect that these meltdowns will be with me for the rest of my life.  Maybe they won't occur as often....or maybe they will. I'll just have my bottle of aspirin handy and a lot of tissues.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved







Friday, September 15, 2017

Sometimes .......I just can't..........

Sometimes I just.........can't.............stand.............it!

The void is huge. The realization overtakes me and it's like a blow to the head and I cry out at the top of my lungs. The tears are copious and I sometimes have to struggle to breathe. Too often it happens while I'm driving. That's not a good thing although I haven't had to pull over to the side of the road yet.  When it happens in the house, I scare the hell out of the doggies. But then they 'scooch' over to me and bury their heads in my chest. That calms me down. They are a lifeline for me.

I can go through some days in a fairly normal manner with just a few outbreaks of sadness. Then there are those other days. I suppose my road is not really different from the road others have taken in this situation.....and I understand that.  But I hate it, I just hate it.

These are strong feelings that get to me but I allow them to wash over me because if I don't I'll explode.

I haven't forgotten to laugh, though.  Friends call fairly often and there's always something to chuckle about in these conversations, especially when they bring up Warren's puns! And when they do, I picture his beautiful smile, his laughter and the twinkle in his eye.

I keep thinking what a blessing it was to have such an extraordinarily wonderful man living with me for almost 51 years. But I wanted more.........more..........more......so much more time. So sometimes I just..........can't......stand......it.

I'm dealing with it........badly perhaps........but I'm doing the best I can.  Everyone says ...... TIME.  It's going to take a lot of time, a whole lot of time for me.........if ever.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved





Friday, September 8, 2017

Some random observations

Sadness plays games with me.  Sometimes it really shows its face and sometimes it's pretty well hidden, lurking under the surface but it's always there. I'm thinking it will never really go away.  The mantra running through my mind is that I will never get over losing my Beloved but I'll learn how to live with it. It's the act of learning that is so damn difficult.

Some days are better than others. I can go about three hours without being brought up short with a flood of memories rushing through my mind. Sometimes those memories are comforting and sometimes they fill me with anguish. I try really hard to concentrate on the wonderful and funny  memories and when I do, I can hear him chuckling and reminiscing with me.

I don't feel comfortable like I did before. His arms are no longer around me and I remember how much he made me feel calm and comforted in times of stress or worry. So now I worry on my own and it's a little like walking on 12 foot high stilts through a gravel pit!

I look around the house and see all the 'stuff' we collected, all the things that made the house uniquely ours. Now, the only things I treasure are the photos, the thousands of photos. And the doggies, my constant, loving companions.

I used to love to drive. I don't much like it anymore because he's not there. We were such a team, always going places together, conversing about a variety of things and laughing as we traveled. I was a captive to his constant punning and no matter how many times I heard those puns, I always ended up giggling.

 I'm still talking to him every day. The words just pop out of my mouth. I discuss sports: the Red Sox and the Phoenix Mercury and how they're doing. Now it's football season and I'll wrap myself in his Patriots blanket as I watch the games and I'll hear him dissect the plays every once in a while. The one saving grace is when I talk to him, it's in private. Public muttering to oneself is probably frowned on!

My days of being busy with finishing up estate details and all that that entails are winding down.  Each step of the way, I asked him if I was making the right decisions. I could hear him, in my mind, affirming those decisions. I guess that comes with how closely we worked together in the office. I learned a thing or two from the best.

Family has been extremely important during this nightmare. They are the glue that has held me together. What I find a bit amazing is the continuing contact from friends through emails and telephone calls. People actually are still checking in with me to see how I am, touching base with me. I'm very grateful for this and delight in these calls and emails.

Life goes on, as they say, but it's a different life. My Beloved may not be physically here, but he's always with me in my heart, in my mind and sometimes there is a tangible reminder that he's sticking around. And that's a good thing.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved



Friday, August 18, 2017

Our doggies feel his absence, too.

We moved to Arizona with Snuggles, our little, adorable rescue pup. Five months later we added another rescue pup, Sterling, because we thought Snuggles should have a friend to grow up with. They both are about the same age.

Sterling became very attached to my husband and the two were just about inseparable. So, during his illness, Sterling knew something was wrong. He'd sit on his lap and put his paws on the affected area and he would just stare into Warren's eyes.

During the last several weeks, it's been sad watching the doggies look for him.  They go to the rooms where he spent some of his time and look around almost every day.  They sleep on his side of the bed. I placed a towel that he had used (and I didn't wash) on his pillow and the doggies sleep on it. Sterling now follows me everywhere I go, even if it's just a change of a few feet. When I leave the house, he barks and cries and Snuggles just looks at me with a very concerned look on her face. I tell them that I'll be back and that sometimes seems to calm them down.

For the first several weeks, Sterling exhibited definite signs of depression. He wouldn't eat, he would just sit with his head drooping, he would sigh as he lay on the sofa. Snuggles sighs quite loudly and her eyes follow me as I go about the house. When I'm at my computer, she's right at my elbow, always. And so I've lavished an enormous amount of cuddling, hugging, kissing and just loving both of them. Even when my son's dog comes over he knows someone is missing. He, too keeps looking for him.

The looks on the doggies faces have changed. There is a sadness in their eyes, especially when they look at me when I'm having one of my meltdown episodes and when we settle in bed at night.  They crawl right up to my face and stare... I think just to make sure I'm all right.  I cuddle with them, hug them, stroke their heads and tell them I love them.  Doing that makes me feel better and they seem to love that.

I'm thankful that I have them. They provide a lot of love and emotional support and comfort. I hope I do the same for them.


Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sleep is elusive

Getting a decent night's sleep has eluded me.  It doesn't matter what time I go to bed, sleeping through the night has become elusive. Night after night, my eyes pop open at two, three or four o'clock, I get  up, wander around a bit, try going back to bed hoping sleep will come again. Sometimes it does, for a little while, sometimes I remain up for whatever is left of the overnight hours.

Once in a while I wander into the living room, settle on the sofa and read a bit from a book I've started. Occasionally, the reading sessions last until sunrise.

None of this surprises me. This problem started several months ago and has only escalated recently. There have been some nights when I've managed to sleep almost all night but those are few and far between. But there are days when I find myself napping so I guess sleep comes when it's really needed.

While I'm up in the wee hours, my memories of our life together surface and I spend time remembering so many happy, wonderful things. I remind myself how lucky we were that we had each other for over fifty years.  If my sleepless nights are filled with loving memories, it's a good price to pay.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 4, 2017

The meltdowns

It's Friday night, Shabbat. I'm hoping to feel a modicum of peace but it doesn't come.  The meltdowns are coming more often and I think I know why.  The days and nights are getting lonelier. A few friends still call. The inquiring emails have trickled down to almost non-existent.

Being alone is affecting me badly. I was almost never alone before. We were such a team for so long, comfortable in our togetherness, always doing something as a duo. Now the 'aloneness' is so difficult. The quietness gives me too much time to think of the loss. The anguish is still so raw.

Time is going by but I'm not yet getting used to this different kind of life I now lead. I hate it. I simply hate it with a passion. I rage against it. Sometimes I scare the doggies with my outbursts. But bless these two beautiful little creatures. When I am almost out of control, they come to me and nuzzle me. They look at me with eyes of concern and then they lick my nose, my fingers, my arms and, yes, that calms me down.  I'm thankful they are with me.

What a different world it is now for me. It is filled with tears that I can't control. I give into them easily. Maybe someday the meltdowns will subside.  Maybe someday.......

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 31, 2017

An unpleasant task

Shopping has become a distasteful chore.  I haven't done much of it for the last several weeks so I  ventured out today to get some stuff I actually needed. I was in a drug store and walked down the greeting card aisle on my way to another part of the store. I slowed down and physically caught my breath as  I silently thought,"I won't be buying him cards any more."  I was breathing hard and choking as I left the aisle.  I made a quick purchase and left the store.  I went to another store and as I went through some aisles the same thought popped into my head: Look at all the things I won't be purchasing anymore because they were his favorites.

It's disconcerting to realize the small ways my life is changing. I've had a lot of very good advice from friends, some who have walked down this road I'm now on and others who want to do anything they can to help soothe my heart. Nothing has quite worked yet and so I realize this is going to be a very long and winding road and a difficult process.

Gawd, I hate going through this but strangely (or maybe not so strange) I feel as if I have an arm around my shoulders gently guiding me down this road.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reflecting on the Ribbon

The Shloshim period ended a few days ago.  In Judaism, Shloshim is the period of thirty days of deep mourning following a death.  As I unpinned the black ribbon from my chest for the last time, I looked at it, ran my fingers over it, held it against my heart and reflected on its visual meaning to me. It gave me a sense of honoring my beloved's memory, a tangible marker of who my family has lost. For a fleeting few moments, I wanted to continue to wear the ribbon indefinitely.  Instead, I held it to my lips, memories flooding into my mind's eye and unbearable sadness racing through my heart. Then I quietly put it into a drawer for safekeeping.

Mentally, I will wear that ribbon forever.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sometimes the silence is deafening

I sit at the table, eating breakfast and reading the newspaper. And when I'm done, I just sit, stare out the window and know that the silence is deafening. Sometimes I talk to him, my beloved,  and sometimes I can hear his replies in my mind. And yes, the tears begin to flow and I let them dribble down my face, onto my shirt and lap.

I hear the silence throughout the day. It is a constant reminder of the immense anguish I still feel. I don't imagine this will go away any time soon.

I fill the days with tasks that have to get done but very often I'll stop what I'm doing, look at the photo and feel his presence. The photo was recently sent to me by a cousin (bless her!) It's a closeup of the two of us and when I look at it, he's looking directly into my eyes. As I stare back, it gives me a small sense of comfort and a bit of peace. And, yes, I talk to him as I gaze directly back at him.

The anguish is raw, the silence is deafening, the heartache and pain are real.That's just the way it is right now. I don't wonder how long it will take for all that to lessen. I don't care. I think those feelings will always be part of my life and  I'm okay with that. I'm learning to live with what is even though it's a very difficult lesson to learn.

Time will heal? Perhaps...... Perhaps........

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Question

"How are you doing?"  It seems to be the standard question, the first question I'm asked. People are kind and concerned about me right now, those who reach out.  I answer with the usual, almost expected response. "I'm okay."  Okay means I'm managing adequately, I guess.  But that's only partly true.  There are times when I'm barely okay.  To all outward appearances I function normally. I pick up my newspaper in the driveway each morning to read with breakfast.  I go through the day doing things that now HAVE to get done quickly. I pick up a few grocery items.

The life I was living before has changed and so I've changed.  I go through days perfunctorily.  Reality slides in and out. There are times when I just can't wrap my head around what's happened. But those times when I fully understand the blow dealt to my sons and me, I am NOT okay.  I am assuming those times will begin to recede.  In the meantime, the struggle with reality continues, to be replaced by an acceptance not easily welcomed.

The one thing I'm very sure of is the strength I get from the incredible love of my sons, my family and close friends. That is what keeps me from falling into a place I don't want to go and where my Love knows I needn't be.

So, am I okay?  Like a weather forecast,  it will be a bit cloudy for the next several weeks with a good chance of sunshine breaking through after that.

Copyright © 2017, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved