Archives for posts with tag: loss

Rope

So much has happened since my last post. I have not given up.

I have taken another healing cruise…this time to the Eastern Caribbean — a place I never imagined going and which I both enjoyed and despaired in some ways. I am a wuss when I come face to face with poverty and, sadly, it is abundant in places like Haiti and Jamaica. It is exacerbated by the contrast with the wealthy tourists who wander about looking for some “local flavour” amid the lack of anything like it.

But I went in order to collect my thoughts for my Leading by Design Fellows Program at California College of the Arts. I was accepted into the Masters Program and went to San Francisco to meet my cohort in March. There, I was talked out of the Masters Program by the Vice Chair, and into her program which is basically the concentrated juice from the Masters program. I am very happy with my choice.

I have had my first residency in San Francisco just a couple of weeks ago. It was stimulating and scary at the same time. Since then, I have been virtually vibrating every day. I have an awesome challenge set for myself and I’m working 18 hour days, most happily.

I am aware, though, how Ray is at my mental fingertips each moment. It is a comfort but is also disturbing. I’m aware of how much I’ve packed into my life in order to avoid feeling the gaping hole in my gut. It’s a really, really big hole. I’m keeping things together by hanging on tight. I’m afraid that if I let the line go the slightest bit slack, I may just fall apart.

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Seventeen weeks, two days

I see that I have been whistling in the dark.

Having spent this weekend by myself at home for much of the time, I’m realizing how much I miss my best friend — not my husband, the father of my kids, my business partner — but the person with whom I shared excitement about so many things. I’m playing Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert CD, something we bought as an LP back in the 70s. We played it while we’d clean the house, drink coffee or get right wrapped up in an animated conversation. I don’t have that with anyone any more. That realization is devastating. I’ve been so conscious of having lost “my husband”, I completely lost sight of the fact that we were each others’ very best friends. Now that the initial shock of grieving is easing, I’m starting to feel the staggering depth of the loss. There has never been anyone in my life that could have filled Ray’s shoes.

That whole “soul mate” thing comes up again. We weren’t just in tandem harness as a couple. We needed to be with each other. Add up Ray and Casey and you got five. Without that friendship — at times like this when I’m without distractions — I feel massively diminished. It feels so crushing, I’m not sure I can actually stand it. What do I do? Do I run away and hide in the company of others? I don’t believe I need to be with others all the time to be okay, but I realized today that I really do need to continue to have Ray in my life.

I think I’ll need to find ways to fold his consciousness into my day-to-day life in a tangible enough way to make it seem like he’s really here. It won’t be easy, but we have (had) so much in common, that I have lots to draw upon. I think I need to avoid feeling nostalgia for how it was and celebrate how it is…how Ray lives on inside of me. Yesterday, I finished designing something on my own; something I haven’t done in a long time. I felt Ray’s measure in the task. I felt his guidance, telling me to slow down and see the tiny details; take them one at a time and then move on. I feel immensely proud of what I accomplished, and it really felt like I had his help.

So, maybe I am whistling in the dark…but the footsteps I hear behind mine are Ray’s.

Twelve weeks, to the minute

I am constantly turning to Ray to ask his opinion. I still expect that he’ll be right there — to finish my sentence, give me the name of that celebrity that I can never remember, remind me of what my opinion was when I last expressed it on the subject at hand.

Ray was my greatest fan. He loved me unconditionally, He worshipped me, in fact. I know I didn’t deserve it, but I was grateful for it every minute of my life with him. He saw no fault with me. He always told me I was beautiful. He cheered me on in every shaky moment.

I am about as imperfect as a human being can be. I am a sieve with memory. I can’t remember names (numbers, no problem). I know the music I like, but unless it’s classical, I can’t remember the song, the artist or even the decade. Ray had an encyclopedic memory for music. I would walk into a room with him and silently elbow him and tip my head. He would give me the names of the people in the room from left to right. I would say go right. He would say go left. He was always right on directions.

It is startling how difficult it is to get by without that “other half”. Ray and I were whole, perfect beings, but we completed each other. We were the gilding on our respective lilies. Ray wasn’t perfect. I have no illusions in that regard. He was stubborn, temperamental and an uncompromising perfectionist. He expected the best from himself and everyone around him. It was hard to live up to, but that perfectionism made him support me with complete focus and passion. No woman could ever hope for such unbridled attention.

Now, I have to push myself, by myself. I have to ask, “is this the best I can do? Is this up to Ray’s standards?”. How many widows or widowers can say that that is the first thing they think about in loss? How many knew that they were exponentially better people because of their mates?

5 weeks to the day

My emptiness is like a belly full of drying leaves, all crunchy and dry. It’s not just a hole, it’s a smouldering, angry space.

I went to physiotherapy today and while I lay on the heat packs, I listened to Snatam Kaur on my iPhone. I began to weep. It just happened. I can be fine one minute and not the next. The lack of Ray is hard to describe. It is always there to some degree, sometimes right in my face, sometimes just a nagging feeling in the back of my head. It keeps me in the moment. I can’t really look further than about 20 feet or 20 minutes ahead.

I am attempting to fill the emptiness with busyness. There is lots of work work for me right now. My office is busier than it’s been in a couple of years. When you’re self-employed you work when you have the work. You never know what you’ll have next month. I also have the job of keeping myself healthy right now. I need to concentrate on eating and exercising to keep endorphins flowing and my body working. I just plug things in my schedule and move from task to task hoping it will make a difference.

But I am missing a big chunk of me that was sewn tightly to my soulmate for 35 years. It’s not that I’m not a whole person. But like a companion tree planted right beside me, Ray shared the ground we both grew in and we became a matched pair. With him no longer there, my balance is off. The light seems different. The lack of him feels raw and foreign. I guess that is what healing is about —letting things close up and knit back together. I know it will happen.

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