Tuesday, March 18, 2014


It’s odd what concerns people.  I’m finding decisions about big things seem less challenging than making decisions about more insignificant things.

The morning after Steve died, the first thing I remember doing was grabbing a trash can and going to his closet chest of drawers and broadly sweeping my hand across the surface of that chest.  Filled with prescription bottles that had been multiplying over the past months and years, I swiped clean the top of that dresser.  The pill bottles fell with large thuds as they filled the trash can.  That was a decision easily made, I no longer wanted to think of Steve sick.  I no longer wanted reminders of all of those pills that seemed to have been taken for nothing.

For some reason it wasn’t easy, but I felt an urgency to clean out Steve’s closet.  The kids had chosen the clothes they wanted and our brother-in-laws were able to take a few things.  I had hoped Steve’s entire closet would be taken by all the people Steve loved and cared about. That his clothes could be appreciated and worn by people in our life.  That wasn’t the case, in the end, Carolyn and Cindy ended up taking stacks of Steve’s clothes to a homeless shelter.  Steve loved giving his old clothes to CAM, so that was an easy decision for me.  Oh, I kept quite a few of my favorites of his things...a sweater, a few shirts that I loved him in.  I put them on from time to time when I’m hanging out at home, it simply feels good to me.  The closet cleaning was a painful, but necessary decision for me to make, and in my case, I am glad I did it quickly.  

The night Steve died, I took his wedding ring and placed it under mine.  I can’t tell you why or what made me do this, but at the time it seemed almost ceremonial for me.  I wore his ring under mine for eight months.  Once in a while I would ask a friend when would the right time come for me to take it off?  They would shrug and tell me, I would know.  

I guess they were right, because one day as I was slipping on my rings, I left Steve’s in the ring holder.  I felt a stab of pain, maybe even guilt for leaving it there, but somehow it was time.  Several days later, I placed his wedding ring in a box and it sits in the drawer of my night stand.  That was one of the most difficult decisions I felt I had to make.  So odd.

Garage items.  This was an overwhelming task for me as Steve could and did do everything.  I happily gave his large table saws and whatever those huge power cutting table machines were to his brother-in-law Tom and nephew, Bobby.  There were some special tools that I asked Joe and Dennis to look through, Steve would have loved that they are all now using the things he once handled with such skill.

I probably moved more garage equipment than I will ever use or need to the new house,  you never know.  The one thing that I know I will never give away are Steve’s old leather work gloves.  I found them the other day as I was digging through all my gardening boxes.  I had packed them carefully on top of the moving box and when I opened the box they stared up at me and a lump rose in my throat.  The years and dirt had caused them to be almost a mold of Steve’s hands.  I took them out, put them on.  Oh my how I will miss Steve this Spring as I begin to work the beds, fill them with flowers and plants.  We always loved spending our mornings in the yard together.  Never really talking, we didn’t need to, but I loved looking up and seeing him bent over some hole, uprooting some poor plant to replace  with a better one, pruning, smiling, happy.  

I will continue to wear Steve’s leather work gloves.  No, they don’t fit.  They turn my hands orange and nails brown with dirt because the soil gets into the gaps between my hands and what used to be his.  This is one decision that is easy to make.  Steve's gloves, my gloves will always be with me.

Moving, of course that was terribly emotional.  I think Steve and I discussing before hand where I would be living and him being so at peace with me living in this house made my move almost a gift.  A huge, but considerably easy decision.

Currently, I’m struggling with the decision to change my profile picture on Facebook.  What?  This is nuts, who even looks?  No one pays attention.  I do, and the thought of taking that family photo down is a decision I can’t seem to grasp.

The picture was taken last Mother’s Day.  Steve was to live only 8 more weeks.  Looking at his sweet smiling face in that photo is painful.  The Avastin was taking such a toll on his body and looking back I see now how his face was so swollen, so not like himself, and I wonder if he had any idea how near he was to the end of his life?

So, when do I exchange this photo for another?  What will it take for me to be able to do this?  Why is this one of the most ridiculously difficult decisions I’ve yet to make?  I guess I'll know when the time is right.

Finally, and this is a little different because it’s more out of habit than a conscious decision. When will the time come when I quit saying we and our and us and begin saying I and mine and my?

I find myself in conversations and catch myself mid-sentence saying something like, “When we…(I stumble awkwardly) I mean, I decided to remodel the kitchen...”  I can’t refer to the bedroom as mine, it still is ours, even though it’s a completely different room.  I wonder when the time will come that those singular terms will roll casually off my tongue?  I wonder if I will always embarrass myself by referring to us and ours and then have to backtrack, “I mean mine”?

Decisions, some good, some bad, I feel like I’ve made a million since the day we heard the words “Stage Four Glioblastoma Multiforma.”  Decisions making seemed so much easier with Steve.  What a gift, that I fell in love and married a man who together made resolving issues feel like a team effort.  Oh there were times we were at odds, but there was never anyone like Steve, one that I could sort things out with, mull over, discuss ad nauseam.   This purpose, this resolve, this single-mindedness, bound us together, wrapping a cord around us that enabled us to grow more dedicated, loyal and steadfast to one another with each experience we conquered.   

I never thought about the day I would have to make decisions alone.  I find it difficult now to do this without Steve, I know there will be decisions that will continue to have me stymied in the future.  Who do I go to when I have doubts or need wisdom concerning life's issues, now that Steve is gone?  I'm finding this one of the obstacles of being a widow.

Often life isn’t what we want it to be, nor expect it to be, but life goes on and decisions will always be a part of living.  I’m learning when I can’t make a decision, I need to sit and wait.  I believe God will show me the right path in his own time, in his own way, all I need realize is  that, even though Steve is no longer by my side, I'm never alone.

With all my love,

Psalm 139:1-3 “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit or stand.   When far away, you know my every thought.  You chart the path ahead of me, and tell me where to stop and rest."