Deep Breaths

Not sure why but last evening I mustered the courage and desire to sort out more Regina things. I had been putting this off since last September. It has all been piled on a bed for that long. The remaining clothes and a few items that I had held back from the first and second purges. A few jackets. Her slippers. The dresses she wore to the weddings of Zak and Nick. A bunch of her frilly and patterned shirts. Rockhill t-shirts. A few Christmas sweaters.

The clothes and items she wore her last night going to WHC – blue jeans, red shirt, undies, sandals, wristwatch, glasses, earrings, wedding ring, the little gold cross diamond necklace I had given her many years ago. Her tiny hospital purse that we always took with us – identification, insurance information, a few dollars for hospital food and beverages, pictures of the kids, health information and orders. Her hospital go-bag – Band-Aids, hair brush, extra undies, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, little Bible, tiny flashlight, her prescribed medications and dosage information, hair bungees, a bag of lemon drops, reading glasses, some gum, her cellphone and a charger, pink slippers, and a few cracker snacks for the both of us.

There were several bags of school paperwork. And I needed to sort a large bag of things from her school room desk.

First week photos of her kindergarten class – her last kindergarten class – from Fall 2011. A gift or two that were addressed to Mrs. Zumwalt that hadn’t yet been opened. A sewing kit. Some Shout stain remover. Floss. Calculator. Lens cleaner. Vaseline. A box of Band-Aids. Scissors. Nasal mist. A Phillips-head and flat-head screwdriver. A luggage tag. Three razor blade glass scrapers. A box of Q-tips. Long-nose pliers. Her school badge on a Rockhill Excels! neck lanyard. A stopwatch. Some wire cutters. And the picture above.

Oh, it seems so long ago but it seems like just yesterday, too. I feel I burden you with my memories but they are never too far away. One little thing can kick-start the hurt that is still very much in me. I picked up one of her shirts and smelled it and all the emotion and sadness came back and overwhelmed me like a tidal wave.

I simply don’t understand why this had to happened.

You know, I try to reason with God and I try really hard to appreciate the eternal view of things. I want to be an example and I need for others to feel like they can get through the hard times like maybe I will get through. But this is dreadfully difficult. I can read a thousand books, pray a thousand prayers, and believe in tomorrow – but the suffering doesn’t stop. It might numb a bit. It might be forgotten for a few minutes. Somehow it might get replaced by something for awhile. But it is always there. This is by far the worst disease that I have ever experienced.

Seemingly, only time can heal. And along with time, faith and hope can somehow nudge me along. I just don’t know.

I was talking with a representative from Hospice a few weeks back. I want to work with them – I feel I can bring some experience and passion to the excellent work that they already are doing. I had told one individual that I was interested in assisting them and she, of course, welcomed me to make contact and begin working through the formalities of working with them. She told me we would talk after our general meeting.

Well, after the meeting and her listening to me talk and participate, she advised that I not jump in just yet. She sensed, she said, that I was still pretty raw. I asked her how long it took her to get back on her feet. She said, of course, that it varies with everyone but in her situation – she had lost her husband about four years ago – it took her easily a year before she could even get through the day without not breaking down. She didn’t touch her husband’s closet for a year – she said she dared not look in or even think about his things for that long. She wasn’t ready.

But, she said, one day she woke up and she literally was tired of being sad. She wanted to get out of bed and go do something and help someone and take care of things. It wasn’t too many weeks later that she took care of her husband’s things and, also, volunteered with Hospice.

I think – of all that I have heard and seen in the past eight months – that my greatest hope is to hang on long enough to experience “that day” like the nice lady had experienced. Honestly, I get glimpses of “that day” even now. Sometimes – and I’ve told a few of you – I get tired of being sad and burdened. I think it will come. But there are some things I need to take care of before “that day” will happen – and I think getting through Regina’s things is one of them.

Even as I write, I am feeling better. We had a lot of good years and good times. Sure, there was the hard and downright difficult, but I don’t think about those too much anymore. I just think about the good times and what we were able to do together. I think once I get a few more of these memory markers taken care of – I am bigger than them, aren’t I? – then I might be able to experience “that day” for myself. I look forward to the moment.

Thanks for being with me. And thanks for your care. And thanks for listening to me ramble.

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