Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Widow's Weeds

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: This is the first blog post I've written in a long time... since March 29, to be precise. My dear husband Ross had been getting sicker and sicker, requiring more care, since fall of 2016 (if he hadn't started to display symptoms in October, I would have said it was the election that did him in) and in May he was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. My wonderful Jungle Red sisters said, "Go. Be with Ross. We'll take care of everything." And they did, right down to sending and ENORMOUS box of fancy frozen dinner fixings for nights when I couldn't deal with cooking.

Those of you who are regulars here know that Ross died this past September. After thirty years of marriage (and two years of living together dating before that) I have found myself suddenly, shockingly uncoupled.

I'm a widow. Not rich and sexy like The Merry Widow or dangerous like The Black Widow or folksy like The Oldest Living Confederate Widow. I'm the dumpy, grumpy widow. Widowhood is an enormous club that no one wants to join. It's like waking up one day to discover you're taking part in an Amway conference with a thousand other people who didn't think they'd be selling overpriced protein powder and vitamins, either.

The only bright spot of the conference is that you get lunch. Death triggers an automatic response in many women - the overwhelming need to bake a casserole right now. The casseroles are then gifted to the widow, who has lost her appetite. Fortunately, there are swarms of family and friends around in the first couple of weeks, so nothing will go to waste. In my case, I discovered great grief does nothing to blunt the hunger of 25-, 24- and 17-year-old orphans. (To be honest, the evening of Ross's funeral, when I swore I'd never want to eat again, my oldest friend's husband came in with stacks of pizzas and suddenly I discovered the will to live, thanks to mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce.) Eight weeks on, I still don't feel like cooking, but I've got two daughters living with me, and if I didn't make dinner regularly the only thing any of us would eat would be spaghetti and canned sauce. (Note to self: teach girls to make a few dishes before they fly the nest for good.)

Having the girls around is good in another way. In the same way that having toddlers meant you had to get up in the morning and function despite illness/hangover/laziness, my grown children force me to haul out of bed and face each new day. Literally, since I'll be driving Youngest to her high school until she gets a license, or graduates, whichever comes first (graduation.) I can't lie about, moaning all day; not so much because I don't want to alarm them, but because the Smithie has a car and health insurance, and would drag me off to a doctor's in my pjs, if necessary.

So I get up and put on one of my spiffy black outfits, earrings and lipstick. (No matter how deranged you feel, lipstick makes you look pulled together. And it can't run, like eye makeup.) Yes, I'm wearing mourning, which seems shocking and intriguing to many folks. I thought maybe I would look a bit like our own Hank, dashing and urbane. Instead I've discovered I lose many more silver hairs in a day than I thought. Also, my bosom is a magnet for mysterious bits of fluff and crumbs. It's like having a cat shed on my clothing, except I've skipped the middleman. Or middle cat.

I can't say I recommend widowhood, or would encourage it as a lifestyle choice. You'll notice there are no glossy magazines devoted to the recently bereaved (and what would they be called? Town and Country and Death? Grief Illustrated? Maybe Better Graves and Gardens.) Social interactions become ritualistic: People will give you the tiny head tilt of concern and ask, "How are you?" even when you'd much rather discuss Beyonce getting cast in the new LION KING movie. So instead of dishing, your conversations wind up with you reassuring your friends that you are Fine, so they can go back and tell other friends that you're Being Very Brave, or perhaps, Carrying On For The Children.

So, dear readers,  I beat on, boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly... sorry, wrong ending. No,  I just keep putting one step in front of the other, hoping not to trip, a dues-paying member of the worst club in the world. Anyone want to buy a protein shake?

73 comments:

  1. Sometimes [oftentimes] I don’t know the right words . . . perhaps there are none . . . but I hope it helps in some small way to know that you have friends who care about you and love you . . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ((((hugs))) Thanks, Joan. It does.

      Delete
  2. We have missed you greatly, Julia. Ross was deeply loved by many, as evidenced by the crowd and attestations at his funeral. I'm so glad you have your girls with you. And even more glad that, despite your grief, your writing is as creative and delightful as ever. I do hope you'll find your way back to your manuscript - losing yourself in writing fiction might be a comfort after a while, too. Sending love and hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What you have written here, Julia, is absolutely, totally spot on. I'm a member of that club, too, and I've walked where you walk. There are lots of horrible things about it, not the least of which is that there are no good "how to" books. This is what I learned:

    You will lose a lot of weight. It's not the diet plan you want to be on, but you need to find a positive in it somewhere, so buy cute clothes.

    It will be a long time before you stop crying when you're alone in the car. Waterproof mascara is your friend. Crying is also your friend, and you have to give yourself permission to do it whenever you need to, because it is possible to "hold yourself together" so tightly you give yourself back problems.

    It's time to take care of yourself. You spent ages taking care of Ross. Now it's okay to be kind to yourself. Set the bar low. There were some weeks when I just couldn't cope, but I told myself, as long as I got the trash out on time, I was still functional. I always got the trash out on time.

    You will have to make a lot of choices about who you want to be now, as a single person. "Widow" is a tidy label society sticks on women so they can put us on a shelf and forget us, as if we're frozen in this place forever. We don't have to be frozen in place. You are a mother, a best-selling author, and a very cool person, even without Ross. Take the time to get to know yourself now, and don't let being a widow hold you back. Ross is the only one who died. You've still got living to do.

    Finally, find ways to have fun. There's got to be some fun, or widowhood isn't worth sticking around for. Spend some time, make a list, whatever it takes to remind yourself what you do for fun, and then do it. Yesterday's bad movies are a great example. I have epic stories I could share, and none of them involve self-destructive behavior. Take all the time you need, move forward at your own pace, but move forward, toward the fun. Your women friends will save you. We all love you and want to help if we can.

    We already know that you're brave. Have courage. You'll get to an interesting new place eventually.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gigi, such brilliant advice. I imagine it must help to see that others have suffered but dragged through the darkness to the other side xox

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Roberta. I hope it helps. I was the "first kid on the block" in my circle of friends, and a lot of older women didn't want to talk about it, but sooner or later it catches up to most of us. I tell all my friends now to save themselves the pain and die before their spouses do, but that's not really helpful either.

      Delete
    3. Gigi, I am in awe of you. For those who know the joy of a life partner, this is the gold standard for grief. I suspect your words today have done more good than you can imagine. Kudos.

      Delete
    4. Gigi, wonderful words of advice, and I will take them to heart. I'm also the first in my group of friends, or rather, Ross was the first of our wide circle to die. It's been... illuminating, for some of the people closest to us. I have a dear friend who just booked a dream trip for her and her husband. She'd been waiting for "the right time," and Ross's death made her realize the right time might pass by unknowing.

      Delete
  4. Julia,

    While I haven't lost a spouse, what you wrote resonates with me having lost both my parents. I understand that tilted head and "Are you OK?" from pretty much everyone you run into. I also had relatives calling months later to ask the same thing like they thought I was going to jump off a roof or something. And not feeling like eating definitely described me as well as I lost 17 pounds after my mom's passing.

    I also chuckled a bit when you made note to teach the daughters to cook a few dishes before they leave the nest. That is exactly what my mother did after we lost my father.

    It is a terrible club to join and the feeling just flat out sucks. Yes, you have to soldier on but that doesn't change the fact you feel adrift at times. Sadly, the cliché of taking things one day at a time is appropriate if annoying.

    My condolences on your loss and thank you for this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Jay, "like they thought I was going to jump off a roof or something" is SO spot on! I sometimes want to say, "I'm bereaved, not living in a Greek tragedy."

      Delete
  5. Julia, as everyone else has said--if it's any comfort to you, we all here wish you a heartfelt 'best' and if there's anything you need from us, please ask.

    We humans think we know quite a bit about stuff--like Death. We grow up, we grow older, our parents die. Horribly, we may lose a child. Or a spouse may go before us. We think we understand. No, no we don't--not until it actually happens to us. So, no, there are no how-to books. It's brutal, but you have to find your own way forward and some days, 'forward' will be just getting out of bed. But there are people who love you and will be there for you and sometimes, it will be the person you least expect who has the most to offer. God bless you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sending (((((())))))'s and Love, because I have no words.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have not one clue as to what to say, not one. But I am holding you in my heart and sending lots and lots of love. I'll be thinking of you more than you know.
    xxoo
    Kaye

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think it's a grand idea to get the girls cooking--I didn't know a thing about cooking when I left home and it was hard. You've got those wonderful crockpot recipes!

    We will not forget Ross either, will carry his spirit forward in the Reds. Julia, we love you so much and absolutely promise to be with you every step of the way!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Julia, you are an amazingly strong woman to write about this. I've never lost a spouse but I lost both my parents to cancer. I know it's not the same as being widowed but all grief is similar in some regards. I hate that you get the most support when you're still numb and on autopilot. I hate that when it gets really hard a few months later is when everyone seems to assume you should be "over it" or "back to normal," as if life will ever be the same again. Grieve as long as you need to, how you need to. Don't let anyone tell you when you should be "over it" or when "it's time to move on." See a therapist who specializes in grief if you think it will help. It will -- and so will the understanding of others who grieve. I just wish I could give you a big hug and make all the pain all go away.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Okay, so one part of me is in tears. Melting into a puddle all over my keyboard. My heart breaks for you. For the girls (I have two daughters) and your son. Meanwhile, the writer in me is screaming SHE'S SUCH AN AMAZING WRITER! Julia, this is exquisite. We're so glad to have you back, if only there had been a different ending. xxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Am thinking the same thing, Hallie. Julia wrote a brilliant essay on loss and grief that would be wonderful for a wider audience than here.

      Delete
    2. I'll submit it to Better Graves and Gardens magazine. ;-)

      Delete
    3. Oh, Julia. We do so love you. Xxxp

      Delete
    4. Ok Julia, you made me snort oatmeal on my keyboard.

      Delete
    5. Exactly: SUCH A TERRIFIC WRITER. Wow! I feel lucky to be a reader of Julia Spencer-Fleming's writing. Truly.

      Delete
    6. Julia, let's be serious for a second. I think you should send this to your agent and see where she can sell it!

      Delete
    7. Truly. I hope you understand your gift of talent... and know what a difference it can make for so many people.

      Delete
  11. All we can do is send our love.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Julia, this was an act of courage and generosity on your part. I hope that it feels good to have taken this step. It's wonderful to see that you included some bits of humor. I'm holding you and hoping for good (non-casserole) things for you.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I was 51 when my husband died. I am now 71. When someone loves deeply the loving does not stop. The conversations with the partner,albeit one way, do not stop. In time, the laughter in remembering comes back. Making a formal statement, as you have, by wearing mourning helps. Sharing grief, as you have today helps. Detaching from grief adverse persons -- those who say 'get over it, move on' helps.

    Buddhism teaches embracing reality: One of the principle statements is "when you deny life, you appreciate it less". By not denying the reality and sadness of your present life,it is my hope that you will be able to move through this dark period.

    I echo Mary/Liz, hugs and much love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Coralee, thank you. It's been so very helpful to hear the stories and advice of women who've walked this way before me.

      Delete
  14. Julia, in my experience, a very effective way to deal with grief is to talk/write about it, all of it, good parts and bad. I read your essay today and have thought and thought what could be added. Nothing. You've said it all, or at least all you have to say at present. So far. Until next time. It isn't over in, say, a year, nor is it a linear process.

    There will be more to say, and I hope you share it here. Trust me. I am a hospice nurse.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've never lost a spouse so I can't imagine what you are going through, Julia. But I can see it some from your children's point of view as I lost my father suddenly when I was 13. And what I remember most about that time is how my mother kept going and held us together. It seemed to me then that she was super-human. I know better now but I'm still in awe of her, as I imagine your children are of you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "Yes, I'm wearing mourning, which seems shocking and intriguing to many folks."

    In this you make a statement to the world, to your family, and to yourself. For our culture, this custom is all but lost. As with most all lost customs, it had purpose.

    Good for you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Julia, your essays are always a high point of JRW but this one is superb. I suggest you write a book of essays for the newly grieving. It would be an enormous hit and therapeutic for you too.
    Please know that when the casseroles stop coming your Jungle Red sisters will be here for you. Sending hugs today

    ReplyDelete
  18. Dear Julia, Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Your pain hurts my heart, so know that you are loved. I pray that your writing will lead you to fame and wealth, or at least to peace. At the end of the audio version of "Glass House" there is an interview with Louise Penny which would definitely speak to you. I wish you and your (not really grown up) children comfort.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dear Julia,
    Grief is a sneaky beast that comes in waves, a tsunami of sorrow at the beginning that does recede as time goes on (and on and on) but returns with force at will, sometimes when you least expect it.
    Writing it out can help. As your friends and admirers and readers, we are here for you, even as we know that ultimately we each must do battle with the beast alone.
    For what it’s worth, yoga helped me. Tears on the mat. But it helped.
    Find whatever helps you: writing, yoga, walks in the woods, babies, dogs, Paris, pizza, whatever.
    Meanwhile, we’re here, ready to diss about Beyoncé and The Lion King.
    All best,
    Paula

    ReplyDelete
  20. Julia, my heart aches for you and the children. Your indomitable spirit and great sense of humor will help pull you through this time of grief and darkness, I'm sure. Not that you will ever "get over" the loss of the love of your life, but to find a way to sit with it in peace.

    My mother has been widowed three times, God love her; twice caring for very ill husbands before they passed. Believe it or not, she'd have married again if she could. On the other hand, my grandmother never looked at another man after my grandfather died, and she lived another 25 years.

    When I met my husband he'd been widowed for two years. He was 28. And he still had not properly grieved for the woman he'd dated for almost eight years before they got married. He was not only the first in his circle of friends to lose a spouse, he was the only one for a long, long time. Steve has unfortunately had the opportunity to help other friends, though, over the years, and helping them to cope has helped him, as well.

    It's now been over 40 years since he lost his first wife, but we just found a box of her things the other day. Even now, all these years later, and having shared a life with me now for most of that time, I could see that he needed some space for the memories that boiled up. It's a normal part of life, though. People we love will always be with us.

    And so will your friends and those of us lucky enough to know you just a little. But it's just too bad about the black clothing.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Julia: It is lovely to see you here on the blog again; thank you for this luminous post -- and your writing generally. I am re-reading One Was a Soldier and simply reveling in the quality of the writing, the characters and the story.
    I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved husband, and I send you love from Canada.
    Hugs to you and your children.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Julia, your wonderful sense of humor is a source of strength, both for you and those who love you and loved Ross. But you don't have to be brave and funny all the time. Give yourself permission for some wallowing. We won't mind.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Dear Julia,
    Thank you for the Amway analogy, that's it, exactly. My husband died in June. I have moved and am trying to search for a job while learning this bereavement dance. It is new, if not comfortable.
    Best wishes to you,
    Holly

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are very sorry for your loss Holly. You have undertaken a lot of changes this year!

      Delete
    2. And to you, Holly. "The bereavement dance" is a good term for it.

      Delete
  24. Julia--I am thinking of you and remembering Ross. Your loss is shattering, but I am glad to hear you are getting up and putting on lipstick and driving the kiddo to school. You are a beautiful writer and human being.

    How about that Lion King cast? Amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I get Disney remaking their animated classics with live action casts. While in most cases I prefer the animated film, I've still enjoyed seeing the remakes and the tweaks they make to the familiar stories.

    But here's my thing with this Lion King remake. It's still a voice cast! It's going to be computer animated as opposed to hand drawn animation, but it's still animated. Completely animated. So what's the point?

    Of course, the same can be said for this year's Beauty and the Beast, and I loved that movie, so I'm keeping an open mind. But no matter how amazing the cast is, it still really bothers me.

    (And I'm continuing to pray for you, Julia.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right?!? Mark, you get it. (And thank you.)

      Delete
  26. Julia, I'm not a member of the widow's club, but I've seen it up close. My dad died when I was 21, and my mom became a widow at the age of 53. She didn't have any kids at home when he died, but she had her work, which provided a reason to get out of bed. As you and your kids start encountering all the "firsts" without Ross, you might find it most comforting to continue with the same traditions or you might want to do something completely different. The first Christmas after my dad died, we went out for Christmas brunch; we just couldn't face being at home without his French toast. That said, I have friends who have clung to certain traditions like a life raft. Whatever works for you and your kids is the right coping strategy. Sending good thoughts your way!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Julia, we have missed you so much. You and darling Ross and the kids have been ever present in our hearts. No one can be sure what the next stage of life holds for you, but I think I can safely say that it will be unexpected, adventurous, and sometimes luminous. You have such wit and grace and such tremendous talent. Thank you for sharing with us today, and know that we are always here to listen. (And send casseroles if needed:-)) xx

    ReplyDelete
  28. Julia, one step in front of the other is pretty darn impressive to me. Well, that, and the lipstick. You, my dear, are amazing. Grief sucks and widowhood blows, but I am really happy to see you here again. XO

    ReplyDelete
  29. I don't know what to tell you, Julia. We've lost friends in the same age range as you and Ross. The wives left behind have had strong friendships and families to help cope. Get help in the areas Ross took care of. If he took care of the finances get someone to help point you in the right direction to learn how to do those things. If he repaired the house, hire someone. I worked as a CPA for years. A lot of my clients were the proverbial little old ladies now widows. Darned few of them knew how to pay bills or anything related to money. Their husbands had taken care of all of that and suddenly they had to learn how. Not that I think that would be your problem. My husband and I split duties. I do all the bill paying (and nagging). I've threatened to kick the bucket first just so I won't have to deal with all the mess that ensues. We've both had to deal with deaths in the family, estates, and all that so he recognizes a real threat when he hears one. My very convoluted point is to get help with the things you need help with and don't feel bad about it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm going to a funeral today in just a few minutes. 77 Year old husband passed away unexpectedly. I never know what to say to the grieving, but I know just being there helps a lot to know that people care. I'm glad you are staying busy and have your girls there to keep you lively. The memories of all the good times are the most important I think.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Julia, what you have written could be the beginning of a book that is needed. How to Survive. I haven't faced this (though my son has) but I appreciate what you have written. I want to learn more about Ross and your family and how you "met" Clare & Russ. I've read three of your novels and spacing them a bit so I don't run through them and feel bereft. If you feel like visiting in the southern part of NY - an hour by train from NYC - you would be welcome here. Stay in our little guest room or at a nearby hotel and I'll provide food and transportation. Honest. You mean that much.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Julia, I think about you and your family often. I have no words to say to lessen the pain, but I have not forgotten Ross, even though I never knew him.

    Many hugs to you all.

    DebRo

    ReplyDelete
  33. Julia, Thanks for sharing your life with us...your joys and your pain. You are a very special woman ...obviously loved by many...and that includes those of us who you only know as readers. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Sweet, smart, talented Julia, I'm so sorry you've joined that awful club. Drafted, more like, as it's never a willing enlistment. Please know that a time will come when the memories bring more joy than tears. *I speak from experience*

    ReplyDelete
  35. The truth, Julia, is that no one knows what to say in the face of grief, even those of us who have faced it ourselves. If women show up with casseroles, the men show up with surreptitiously slipped bottles of bourbon or scotch or ostentatiously displayed six-packs, with arm punches, backslaps and the occasional awkward hug. All of those are better ways of offering comfort and love than those awkward attempts to speak; Americans tend to talk too much.
    "borne back ceaselessly". Not a "wrong ending", and likely no ending at all; once that relentless tide shoves you ashore, you will undoubtedly stand there and ask, "Where the Hell am I?", and then you'll forge a new path forward.
    Please accept my condolences and best wishes for what you'll discover along this new path.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jim. I have found that in my case, men show up with lawn mowers, weed whackers and tool boxes. Most welcome!

      Delete
  36. Oh, Julia, you are so fabulous, and articulate, and generous. I think of you all so often. As for our dear and hilarious Ross: There's a saying--from where?--"Speak my name, and I will live forever."

    ReplyDelete
  37. Today would have been my husband's 77th birthday. I am a seven year member of the club nobody wants to join. Your words bring it back, Julia, and I feel your pain. No help, but there it is.

    Yes, it is a relief and a mixed blessing to have family or even pets to care for. You're not alone in your sorrow, even when you want to be. Yes, you have to get up and move. And that's a good thing because a vegatative state crooks it's finger, so invitingly.

    For me, nighttime was the worst. And although I wasn't exactly afraid when the house creaked or the dog suddenly looked alert, I felt vulnerable. That has passed but I still take my car keys to bed so I can set off my car alarm to annoy my neighbors awake in case of some emergency. I can't nudge the cat to go check out that noise.

    I miss having my man to cook the best breakfast potatoes, to have my back; drag to the movies; fix a faucet; go camping with, and to check out that noise in the night....the cat sleeps through it. I still make comments to his picture, and ask his help finding lost keys. Friends often quote
    Big D- isms, and one year at a camping barbecue where he would have been the main chef, the four cooks wore canvas aprons with different pictures of Dennis and some of his infamous words imprinted on them. We keep him best in our hearts with funny memories.

    All I can offer is that it does get better with time. Yeah, it's a pat phrase, but true, for me anyway. I recently met a mature widow of just two months who happily related that she has had two boyfriends since her husband died. She got better rather quickly. I can't even find someone to go to the movies with.

    Wow, this is wordier than I intended. Sorry about that.

    Thank God for your wonderful, supportive friends and a great family. Life is still good, just different.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks to everyone, all of you, for your love and good wishes. Some of my friends here in Maine have been worried about me - working all alone all day in this big old house. "Alone?" I said. "Hardly!"

    ReplyDelete
  39. I'll drink a protein shake (or a glass of wine) with you anytime, Chickie. Will call soon to make a plan. xo B.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm passing this essay along to my dear friend Sarah whose 60-year-old husband died suddenly and unexpectedly (while he played in one of his beloved basketball games) last month. She's also a writer, and an artist, and I know this will help her. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm passing Julia's essay along to two friends whose husbands died in the past six months. I know the words will help them...

      Delete
  41. Oh Julia, I hate that I'm not getting on my computer until late this afternoon to tell you how beautiful a piece you have written here and how much I wish I could sit with you and let you tell me all about your wonderful husband Ross. My encounter with him was brief, at Albany Bouchercon in 2013, during the Reds' panel, but I was taken with him immediately. He filled the room with a joy that was irresistible. I can't imagine anyone being in that room that day and not smiling and laughing with abandon. So, with Ross being such a positive, powerful presence that I'm sure missing him is powerful, too. I am touched by your honesty and encouraged by your intact sense of humor that will be so important.

    And, I am in tears, too, because the good do die too damn young. My sister-in-law was just a month into her rare liver cancer diagnosis this time last year, and we lost this dear, gentle soul the end of June. She was my brother's second wife, and they had 21 years together and three amazing children, twin daughters aged 18 and a son aged 20. Angie was the kindest person I have ever known and so loved by family and friends. She was just 43. My brother is 66, so a few years difference, but a deep love. They are struggling to try to find a life that doesn't include their mother and wife. My brother says he has to keep going for the kids, and he is. He has three children from his first marriage and his ex-wife and he and all the kids and grandkids are close, so that helps, too. But, I know that every day my brother has to get up and brace himself to carry on. Since Angie's death, I have a new perspective on problems. The pipes have to be replaced in our house, I have a few health problems to take care of, and my neighbor ran into my car with his mower. But, I'm not worried or singing the blues. They are all fixable, and so, that's the new gauge. Fixable doesn't get my worry time anymore.

    Love to you and your daughters and son, Julia. You and Ross created an amazing family, and it continues to be so.

    ReplyDelete
  42. You are a strong woman. You husband will live on in your heart, the smiles of your children and your memories. Remember this world is not our home and one day you will be together again. To smile laugh and love and no death will part you!!!��������

    ReplyDelete
  43. Julia, I am sitting at my desk weeping as I finish your article. I know you as a wonderful writer from reading your terrific books, but this is so much more. I weep for your sadness and loneliness and I weep for myself. My husband is in the mid-stages of dementia and I know that day will come for me way sooner than I ever expected. I thought we would grow old together and go on road trips and play wonderful music and play with our grandchildren together. And those things are not going to happen. Thankfully, we have one granddaughter and she is the light of his life. Hopefully he will be around long enough that she will remember him.

    Sorry, I don't mean to sound sorry for myself. But I do want you to know that you touched my heart today. I will be praying for you and your children, not that you will forget, but that the pain will become less and that the wonderful memories, instead of the painful ones, will be at the forefront of your minds and hearts.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Raising my latest protein shake to you! I have no words other than to say how very sorry I am for the loss of Ross. Your writing is still brilliant and I hope it's cathartic for you. Now that we have power back. (Hug) -Marianne in Maine

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thank you for sharing, Julia. My heart aches for you and your children. I met Ross only once but he was a great light in the world, as are you. I hope in time you can find a way to work through the grief and find the joy that he would have wanted for you and your family. In the meantime, eat the pizza, talk about Beyonce, and remember that Ross would have wanted it that way.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Julia, you and your family have my condolences. Thank you for sharing. My heart aches for you and your children. I am still in shock that he is gone. I was crying as I read your words about becoming a widow. I am glad that the Jungle Reds are there for you.

    Hugs, Diana

    ReplyDelete
  47. Julia, I've been thinking about you ever since I heard the news. Ross was such a fabulously good-humored and gentlemanly guy. I am grateful to have known him and to have been the recipient of some of his amazing mailing labels. And it's good to see that you're approaching this new part of your life with good humor and surrounded by friends and family. xxoo

    ReplyDelete