Thursday, October 25, 2018

There is me and there is me

There are two of me, the inside and the outside. The outside me looks normal. I smile and actually laugh on occasion, I have normal conversations, I participate in some activities, I go to the occasional lunch with friends, I watch and cheer mightily for my Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. I interact with my doggies a lot. I go to the gym and have even lost some weight. These are all good things.

Then there's the inside me. Up until recently, the inside me was totally out of control. The anguish, the incredible pain, the heartache was just more than I could bear. The sadness would wash over me like an enormous wave and I felt as if I would drown in it. I couldn't come up for air. But little by little, his voice would come through, at first allowing me to go through the pain for however long it might take and then, in soft whispers, I could hear him in my head telling me it was okay to begin to let go of the anger. In my head thoughts of all the times he embraced me, encircling me with his arms and hugging me close started to become almost real. I remembered what that felt like since he did it every day of our life together.

I have to think what an unprecedented gift it was to be hugged and embraced with extraordinary love through such a long love story.  No matter what anyone else thinks, I have to be luckiest person on the face of the earth to have been so loved by such an exceptional human being. And though I will always mourn for my Beloved, I can now bask in his love as those memories wash over me time and time again. And there is an added bonus: our sons. They are two most extraordinary young men who personify everything good about their dad, from his twinkling eyes, to his sense of humor, his intelligence, his kindness! What proud parents we always were.

On July 3, 1966 we clasped our hands and guided each other through life with unending love, kindness, laughter, compassion, intelligence and happiness. What a way to steer through an over five decades-long love affair. That love affair keeps on going in my heart, in my head, in my memories as they sustain me and help me to become almost whole once again.

Copyright © 2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A short homage to my brother, Ed.

This is long overdue but I have to say "Thanks, Eddie." Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  It was bashert (fated or predestined in Yiddish) that Warren and I would enjoy 55 years of love. And you, my dear brother, put all that in motion. It was a wonderful coincidence that you and Warren were fraternity brothers at UMass. You "fixed us up" for Pledge Weekend. I was still in high school and not very savvy around college kids. It was a nice and interesting weekend even though it was a little awkward on my part.

It would be two years later that Warren and I ran into each other back at the TEP house (Tau Epsilon Phi). I had changed considerably and I was now a college student. And, obviously, sparks flew. He asked me out and, after that first actual date, I immediately knew I loved him. Funny how love happens. It was that quick for both of us.

So, it was bashert that you went to UMass, that you became a TEP brother, that Warren followed that same path and my Beloved and I spent the next 55 years so completely in love.

My brother has been gone since 1988 and I know I thanked him for bringing us together but I wanted to publicly acknowledge the role he played in our happiness. Warren and I often reminisced about how we met. Ed, you did a good thing and I will forever love you for being the catalyst of our 55 year love affair.

Copyright © 2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

From tears to laughter

I don't get tired of crying. Whether it's tears just rolling down my face or the tears are copious enough to make me gasp, the end result is the same. It seems as natural to me as blinking. The tears are an ending of a small portion of my day when my thoughts have gone to that place. And, willingly or not,  I go to that place every day. The events that bring up that place are always there, buried most of the time deep inside but not always.

I've been looking through a lot of old photos, a few every couple of days just to bring those wonderful and funny memories to the forefront, even though they're in my head all the time. Sometimes the photos and their accompanying memories elicit sobs but many times the reaction is total laughter.

The thing about laughter was that when I laughed, it made Warren giggle. When something struck me funny, my laughter would bubble up and burst not only from my mouth but from the very bottom of my feet, or as my dad used to say, "from the bottom of my pedeshvas." I don't know if that was a Yiddish word or something my dad made up but he used it to describe my laughter.

Anyway, when I laughed, I couldn't stop. Most of the time I laughed so damn long that Warren had to try to calm me down. Sometimes my laughter would continue for 15-20minutes, with me gasping for breath. When I finally did stop, it wasn't for long. It would bubble up again and again. My laughter was one of the things that Warren loved about me. No need to tickle, just crack a joke or a pun and off I'd go!

So, when I'm reduced to tears and sobs, I search for the memories that will bring up the laughter. And it's the laughter that helps me keep my sanity.

Copyright © 2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I lost it

My synagogue is almost 42 miles north of where I live. I make the trip because I love the Rabbi, the services and the many friends I have there.

I was able to sit through Yom Kippur morning services. And even though I had invitations from some friends to spend the 'break' between the morning and afternoon service at their homes, I declined and opted to drive back home. I didn't think I could handle the Yiskor service. Yiskor, in Hebrew, means "Remember" and is the first word in the Yiskor prayer. I had a pretty good idea of how I would react throughout that part of the service.

When I came home I remembered that services were being streamed from the Central Synagogue in New York City, not only on Facebook and their own website, but they were being televised on the JBS TV channel. I tuned in at the middle of the Yiskor service and listened through to the end of Neilah.

Thousands of people were streaming the service and making comments in real time on the Facebook page. During the Kaddish, I felt as if I was joining a world-wide minyon and recited the Kaddish in my own home, the tears streaming down my face. As I watched, Central Synagogue invited those watching to type in the names of those we were saying Kaddish for and so I did, through my tears.

But sometime during the Neilah service I totally lost it. The tears became rivers, the crying became  loud, guttural screams, the words flying out of my mouth were not pretty. And I scared the dogs.

Herc, Abbott's big lab, came running over, put his paws on my knees and began to kiss me everywhere he could find a spot to lick. He buried his head in my chest and kept looking into my eyes as if to say, "It's going to be okay." My own two pups, Snuggles and Sterling did the same thing, each trying to comfort me in the only way they knew how, jumping onto the sofa and then on to my lap.

It took a while for me to calm down and reflect on what had just happened. Since my beloved Warren passed away, there hasn't been a single day when I haven't shed tears, sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much. I think the solemnity of the day brought back memories of the last Yom Kippur service we attended together. I remember how much I prayed then that he would be written in the Book of Life. It was not to be. I think the memory of that prayer that would not be granted, triggered those horrific tears and gut-wrenching pain.

In retrospect, the episode feels like a cleansing. It was something that needed to happen. Today, I feel a bit stronger so maybe that was the point.......... me getting stronger.

Copyright © 2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.






Sunday, September 2, 2018

The First Visit

Yup, it's still there, the anguish. I've been able to push it way down to the bottom of my heart but every once in a while it bubbles up and then it explodes like a volcano, raining tears and guttural crying like a wounded animal.

It happened today. I went to the cemetery for my first visit since the unveiling. I brought special stones to place on the gravestone and right after I did that, I lost it. In doing so I placed my head on the stone and just let the grief flow, like a rushing, overflowing river. It took a few minutes for me to regain my breath and some semblance of composure. I knew this visit was going to be very difficult and it was. While holding onto the stone, I talked to Warren - about the boys, my daily life, the emptiness I still feel, and some funny memories. The conversation seemed natural and I could hear his responses in my head. I imagine subsequent visits may get easier.

Before I left I placed stones on a few graves of friends who have gone before. Then I came back to my Beloved, whispered "I love you" and then sat in the car for a few minutes just staring at the stone. The line carved at the bottom, "We Shared a Lifetime of Love and Laughter," jumped out at me as if that's what he wanted me to remember from this visit. And so I will.

Copyright © 2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 17, 2018

We had the best.

I can go about my day, doing ordinary things either in the house or driving to do errands when suddenly I am attacked for a few fleeting seconds by trepidation, fear, anxiety, foreboding, unease, dread ........ all words that could describe a feeling I get in the pit of my stomach and in my chest. It happens suddenly, with no warning. It's like that feeling you get when walking into an unknown situation. In those moments I hear the words "he's not here" like a thunderous scream in my ear. Then it's gone. And, yes, it happens when my thoughts are on my Beloved and his handsome face flashes before my eyes and that handsome face, complete with the most beautiful hazel eyes and a totally captivating smile had me mesmerized and totally in love with him on our first date.

If you look at a life, there are so many different stages that we live through. I've described a stage (above) I seem to be living through right now but I've been a daughter, sister, college student, teacher, fiancée, bride, wife, mom, radio news broadcaster and talk show host, law office manager and retiree. Wife and mom were my most cherished roles and they continue to be. My role as wife and lover to Warren has been the joy of my life. The four years leading up to our wedding day and the almost fifty-one years we were married were so unbelievably happy.

And my role as mom to Ethan and Abbott has always been one of complete happiness. Warren and I raised two of the finest young men who ever graced the face of the earth. And I, unabashedly, say they take after their dad.

I've  had so many roles and worn so many hats over the years but my current one is not one I want to wear. I can't even write the word nor can I say it. So I don't really acknowledge it. I go through each day alone physically but not mentally or emotionally. I hear his voice in my head, talking to me about things I'm doing. I 'consult' him when there are decisions I have to make. My mind goes back to conversations we used to have and his wise counsel often comes through loud and clear.

We talked, we listened, we discussed. We laughed. It was a loving, exciting, gentle, joyful, intellectual relationship filled with so much laughter. I feel joy when I think of the extraordinary life we had together. We had the best.

Copyright © 2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved



Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Unveiling

We held the unveiling today. Friends and family arrived to support Ethan, Abbott and me. I had put together a small booklet with readings, thoughts and prayers. At the appropriate time, our sons unveiled the stone. Among the lettering were the words, Brilliant, Kindhearted and Punster. Each word was carefully chosen because they had special meaning for us. At the bottom was this line: We Shared A Lifetime Of Love and Laughter.

I had all I could do to retain my composure while I led the readings and the recital of Kaddish and I wasn't very successful at it. But with our sons by my side I got through it. I then asked the group to indulge me while I read the following:

*"As I continue to grieve the loss of my beloved Warren, I keep him with me, hidden deep inside, cognizant of his presence every day and these days it doesn't weigh on me quite as much with sadness. The pain, though, is still there. That has never disappeared. These days his memory is deep in my heart and is as normal to me as breathing or the sound of my own voice. There is no real healing of that pain, but I'm learning how to carry it. I must be a slow learner, though.

*I love it when you talk about him because you aren't just reminding me of him. He's always in my every thought. When you talk about him, mentioning the puns and jokes he came out with so often, talking about his kindness and intellect, you're reminding me that I'm not the only one remembering him, that he was here among us all, that he was so much a part of me and still is, and that he continues to be my other half in everything I do. By mentioning him, you honor his memory and you let me know that he continues to be a part of you, too."
* (Inspired by Lexi Behrndt)

The entire time I felt that Warren was right beside me, his arm around my waist, as he so often did to steady and support me. He was proud of us today.

Copyright © 2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 8, 2018

He was part Vulcan!

I finally figured it out!  Warren was part Vulcan and he did a mind meld with me before he left. It's the only logical explanation! He often cradled my head gently between his hands, his forehead to my forehead, whispering "I love you" among other things.  "My thoughts to your thoughts." That's what's been happening all these months. 

As you all know, I've been talking to my Beloved ever since..........  And when I do, it's obvious that my mind's eye works overtime.  Everything I say to him has an answer, in his voice. And I can 'see' him as he responds to my comments.


We obviously have a telepathic link between us which lets us exchange thoughts. We become one mind, sharing consciousness, just as we did before. I always knew he had incredible abilities but this........... this....... he was saving for when it was needed.


I knew our connection would never be severed so I'm expecting this mind meld to last forever. 


Copyright © 2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved


Thursday, July 5, 2018

The aftermath

I'm swimming in the aftermath of those awakened memories. Reading those wonderful letters my Beloved wrote to me so long ago gave me so much happiness. I had several hours of joy in thinking back to those sweet years when our love was just beginning.

But then the inevitable happened. I had a complete and total meltdown filled with sorrow so intense I was screaming and crying out with a despair so deep I almost passed out. The feeling of emptiness is so palpable and the sadness is overwhelming.

I called a very dear friend in New York a few hours later. Our conversation was intense, comforting and gave me a way to open the valve and let it all out.

This isn't the first time I've had such outbursts. This one was just the worst. I'm okay now, today. But I know these episodes will probably happen again. But, as my friend told me, the anguish has to come out and if this is the process, just let it happen, just let it wash over me.  Good advice.

Copyright © 2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways

July 3, 2018 would have been our fifty-second anniversary. I was dreading the day, fully expecting it to be a very difficult one for me. But it turned out to be a rather extraordinary day for me.

I was looking for something and knew it was probably in my hall closet. I'm short so I took a step stool, placed it in front of the open closet and stepped on it so I could reach the top shelf. I started to move stuff around including a cloth bag that was laying there. I thought I knew what was in the cloth bag and pulled it down, placing it on the dining table nearby. I went back to the closet and found what I originally was looking for and took it down.

I sat at the dining table and opened the cloth bag. I pulled out all the letters my beloved Warren had written to me from the time we met (the second time.) I had kept them all. There were dozens and dozens written between February of 1962 through May of 1963, all during his junior and senior years at the University of Massachusetts. But what was also in the bag were all the cards we received for our wedding and all the cards we received for our first anniversary! And among the treasures was the card that accompanied the bouquet of flowers I received from Warren's Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity brothers congratulating me on getting "pinned."

I spent the afternoon rereading the letters, starting with the oldest one. As I read each one, my mind went flying back to that time and the memories were so vivid that I felt as if I was transported back in time. I haven't read all of them yet because each one made me pause as I relived that time, thinking of where I was, what I was doing and what I was feeling. It's as if I was watching, once again, our love unfold.

I looked over the wedding and anniversary cards and couldn't keep the smiles from enveloping my face.

Ethan called today, the 3rd, to check up on me knowing what this day meant to me. I told him about the letters and told him he and Abbott just have to read each letter because it will give them real insight into their Dad's wacky sense of humor, intelligence and storytelling abilities. Abbott and I went out to dinner tonight and I told him about the letters, tickling his curiosity. I'm hoping the boys and I will have a reading-fest during the weekend of Warren's unveiling.

I have several more letters to read but the first one holds the key to our love story. We barely knew each other but his first letter, asking me out, was signed LOVE, WARREN. That, I noticed, was an unusual way to end a first letter but it was an indication of things to come.

So, July 3, 2018 turned out to be a nostalgic day filled with the most exquisite of loving memories. I honestly believe Warren's heart and hand guided me to that bag. He knew what I needed and made sure to provide it. Thank you, my darling.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 28, 2018

In praise of the supporting players

My posts starting in April of 2017 all revolved around the battle we fought to keep my beloved Warren alive and to get him well. From the day we got the diagnosis in May of 2016, this was a battle waged by our entire family.

Our sons became extreme activists. Every night, Abbott would comb the Internet looking for any and all information on different treatments. He came up with so much information it was mind-boggling. And every bit of information was copied to us as we all followed up on every piece. Much of the information was beneficial and we made good use of what we learned.

In the meantime, Ethan was doing some of the same and calling constantly, feeding us information with a very liberal amount of encouragement. Between the two guys, we were able to take advantage of every lead, protocol, or treatment available here in the U.S and elsewhere. The decisions we made were based upon all the information we, as a family, gathered from not only the Internet but from picking the brains of everyone we knew who might have leads for us to follow. And there were many.

I am convinced that the incredible love, support and encouragement we got from our sons lengthened the days our Warren was able to spend with us. And those days were quality days because of the alternative protocols he followed.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how important our doggies were in all this. Somehow they knew Warren was not well and they stayed by his side or on his lap constantly, heaping tons of affection on him. Warren got a lot of pleasure from their attention.

The love and support of our sons was key in this journey of hope and our lives were enriched beyond measure because of them. Warren and I spoke often about how blessed we were to have such incredibly wonderful sons and we joked often that we really did something right! They continue to be a source of love and pride and comfort for me.

Ethan and Abbott, you have my heart!

Copyright©2018 Reisa Sterling Miller All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Perhaps we will sit on that cloud forever.

We're sitting on a cloud, side by side, about forty to fifty feet above our back yard and just enjoying the view and the peacefulness. The conversation is soft and pensive. We speak wistfully about the landmarks that dotted our lives, starting with our wedding day. When we talk about what we considered to be the best day of our lives, we laugh and agree that there was more than just one "best day of our lives." Our wedding day and the days each one of our sons was born comes to mind. And there were so many more!

The reminiscing continues as we remember so many wonderful things that encompassed our lives: the experience of being in the Air Force for five years and our travels during that time - the incredible friends we made and places we saw; our subsequent civilian moves, settling in a few states and making more wonderful friends along the way.

After all of this comes flashing through my mind at lightning speed, other thoughts start to crowd in.

I tell him I never expected him to die. I felt that way all throughout the ordeal we lived through. I always thought we, together, would beat this scourge.

Even during his last few days, I tell him, "I never once thought things wouldn't turn around."

He smiles at me, gives me a hug and says my optimism was contagious and that he, too, had the hope of a recovery.

"I never saw you doubt what you were doing to get well," I whispered.

"I never did." he says.

And so, he tells me that the only regret he has is that we didn't have more time together. We were hoping for maybe seventy years together......or just maybe forever.

But oh, look at the life we made..... so full of life and love and happiness.

And as we sit on that cloud, arms around each other, whispering softly, sighing and smiling, I know that he remains with me, always.... in my heart, in my mind, when I pick up a beautiful bird feather, when I see a single bright star, when I hear a joke or pun, or music we both loved. I remember and love him with every breath I take, every single minute of every single day and always will.....even after I take my last breath.

Copyright©2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved








Friday, June 8, 2018

Sometimes music is my enemy

I was cleaning out an area of the living room where all our music CDs are stored. So I pulled out a bunch and placed them near my computer. I have a stereo system that stores and plays 51 CDs. I hadn't used the CD player for several years and the CDs were still in there. So, I figured out how to start the thing and began listening to the music. After the third one, I shut it off and went out to do an errand, glad to get out of the house for a bit.

So, now it's after lunch, I'm back at my computer and looking at a zippered CD holder full of the discs. Most of these discs are compilations that either I made or friends made many years ago (when I knew how to do that.) I start to play them, one at a time, and I'm swept back in time to happier memories and the tears start pouring down my face. It's as if a dam opened up and, unlike the little Dutch boy, I can't stop the flow.

I let the meltdown happen and I know more will follow because this is June and Warren's first Yahrzeit is coming up. Our home was always filled with music and listening to the music from these old CDs makes my mind play the memories like a long movie....... a love story. Only now, I feel pain and sadness mingled with them.

As a meme that came through to me today says: Time doesn't heal anything, it just teaches us how to live with the pain. Maybe I'm just a slow learner.

Copyright©2018. Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 28, 2018

Moving slowly along

I was looking through the Mesa Arts Center season brochure for 2018-2019 that came in recently. As I thumbed through the pages, several performances caught my attention, performances in normal times, Warren and I would have liked to attend. We had attended several wonderful performances at this beautiful venue and enjoyed them immensely. But these aren't normal times for me anymore.

As I read each short description, I knew I wouldn't be going to any of them. The idea of attending any of these performances doesn't appeal to me. I can't envision me initiating a trip to one of these evenings. It just doesn't feel right. At least not yet.

Places we used to go together seem off the radar to me right now. I've been to two of those places recently and while they were pleasant experiences, I viewed them through different eyes, eyes that had tears hiding behind them.

I know these types of memories will continue to pop up, reminding me of the wonderfully happy times we spent together, doing things we loved.

I wonder, too, as I continue to write about how I feel, about how I'm trying to cope with my new reality, whether friends and acquaintances are beginning to think I'm not making progress, not crawling out of my hole of despair, not trying hard enough to shake off the sadness, that I might be swimming in self-pity. No one has indicated that kind of thinking.... yet..... but the invisible antenna in my brain causes me to speculate about what they really think.

I personally feel some differences, albeit small ones. My meltdowns are mostly less intense even though they still occur. More of my 'conversations' with him revolve around happy memories. The intense anger I have felt for so long is slowly abating. I don't know what a timetable of grief looks like but I do know my own is crawling slowly along. And crawling is the key word. There is some movement. And, no matter how slowly it goes, that's progress.

Copyright © 2018, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

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