Tag Archives: mourning

A compliment? Yes, by all means!

EUGENE, Ore. — An extraordinary statement of affirmation came my way today from a reader of this blog. I want to share it with you.

Readers of High Plains Blogger know about the trek I have taken out west to get away from my house in North Texas in the wake of my bride’s passing away from cancer in early February. My intention has been to clear my head and to mend my shattered heart.

Frankly, I wasn’t expecting to receive the statement I got today from a gentleman I do not know well; indeed, he and I are only acquainted via social media. He wrote me to say that a friend of his just lost his wife of 45 years to cancer and he will recommend, in due course, that he take the same action I did … which is to get out of the house.

I am going to accept that statement as a compliment for the work I have produced on the road. I didn’t intend for it to be the kind of “therapy” that others might recommend.

However, I am growing ever so slowly away from the intense pain that still flares. It comes unexpectedly. It surprises me, even as I drive my truck while stroking Toby the Puppy as he sits on the passenger seat next to me.

Those fits are becoming a bit more manageable as I wend my way through the Great American West. Thus, my social media friend has recognized it and has indicated a desire to have his good friend follow the course I have blazed on my own journey out of the darkness.

I wish my friend’s friend well as he begins his own recovery.


Journaling? Hmm … gotta ponder it

One of the bits of advice I have received from friends who have endured the loss of a loved one involves something I have resisted doing for as long as I have been writing professionally and publicly.

It deals with writing a journal. I have tried my hand at “journaling” and determined that — to put it simply — it just ain’t my thing.

My bride passed away suddenly of cancer in early February. I have been writing about my feelings concerning that shattering loss regularly through this blog. I hope I am not boring you with this, but it is serving as a balm for the pain that continues to tear at me. Many of you have gone through this already, so you know to what I am referring.

I keep thinking that blogging about it is tantamount to writing a journal. Maybe it is … in my mind and heart.

A dear friend suggested I write a journal and submit the entries in my own handwriting. There’s a “visceral quality” to expressing oneself in that fashion, he said, and it serves as more of a cleansing agent than typing entries onto a Word document.

I am going to ponder that for a little while. I’m on the road at the moment and will be winding my way back to North Texas soon. I have declared my intention for this journey to be to clear my head and start mending my heart.

My noggin is clearing a little each day. My heart still needs plenty of work.

I hope to decide soon whether I want to commence “journaling” as a way to start to mending my shattered heart. I will wait until the end of this journey. If I proceed, I won’t say a word here. I just thought you ought to know about this latest minor emotional tussle I am seeking to overcome.


‘Brothers in grief’

LOS GATOS, Calif. — He was my best man when I got married more than 51 years ago and he is my best man at this very moment.

We met for lunch to talk about the old days and to share the pain we both feel at losing our brides … to cancer. Tim’s wife passed away about three years ago, four months after receiving her cancer diagnosis. My bride, Kathy Anne, passed away this past February, about six weeks after learning she had a tumor in her brain.

We talked to each other about our shared experiences and Tim, being the wise and erudite individual he is, shared with me some wisdom about I will carry with me farther along as I continue to cope with my own recovery.

It was this, boiled down to an essential message: Do not ever forget the life we had over the decades, but do not be fearful of finding a new life moving forward. He told me it will take a long before I cease crying at the thought of losing the love of my life; he says it still grips him hard. Tim and his wife were together for 42 years before they received the chilling news of her illness.

I get it. I intend to take it with me as I move on down the proverbial road of life. I am still sorting through where I want my life to lead me at this juncture. I told my friend that I feel “like the loneliest man on Earth.” He nodded in agreement and understanding. I also reminded him that I am buoyed by the knowledge that others, such as my best man, have gone through it, too.

They came out of it and, by God, so will I.

I needed to talk to my best man because you only have one of these individuals in your life and my “brother in grief” stepped up and delivered the wisdom I needed to hear.


Therapy is taking hold

Every journey is an adventure of discovery, or at least one can hope the discovery occurs,

So it is with the trek I have taken with Toby the Puppy. We have ventured to California. We’re heading farther west to the Pacific Ocean in just a little while. I declared my intention for this trip to “clear my head and mend my heart.”

My noggin is clearing a little bit each day. The heart? It remains shattered by the loss of my bride, Kathy Anne. However, I am detecting a bit of mending is starting to close — just a tiny bit — some of the wounds that were inflicted on my ticker.

I spoke with one of my closest friends on Earth today; indeed, I intend to see him very soon. He lost his bride to cancer not many years ago, so he knows the nature of my suffering.

He said that “it’s good always to keep looking forward as you move on, but you’ll always glance at the rearview mirror as you keep moving.” Yes. I am doing a good bit of rearward glancing these days.

But I also am finding out that writing about this journey, as I am doing at this moment, does provide some relief from the pain — in the moment. Once I stop typing, well, then it comes back.

But it’s not hurting as much as it did in the immediate aftermath of the worst day of my life.

I only can conclude that the therapeutic nature of his trek is producing the desired effect. I will count that as a success.


How about this discovery?

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — One of the more remarkable discoveries I have made on this journey I decided to take out west has kinda caught me by surprise.

It is that I do not miss keeping up with those political matters that seem to drive many Americans damn near to the nut house.

Ohhh, no. Most of my conscious thoughts these days involve my bride, who I lost to cancer this past month. Indeed, I think of her practically every waking minute of every day. But … I also seek to fill my days on this westward trek with sights I am seeing, those I have seen and those I will see.

Those of you who read this blog know that I have not forsaken all political commentary of late. I like to weigh in when events merit commentary on this venue. So, I do.

However, I do not look for topics on which to bloviate. If they present themselves, fine. I’ll weigh in.

My time instead is spent looking for joyous sights to see and looking forward to seeing more family and friends along the way.

I’ve only logged about 1,500 or so miles on the truck on this trip. I figure this journey could exceed 6,000 miles by the time I roll into my driveway in Collin County. Almost all of those miles and all that time will be spent enjoying the here and now.

Yes, Kathy Anne never is far from my thoughts and my heart. I am beginning to appreciate better the notion that (a) she would want me to enjoy myself and (b) she’s with me every step of the way.

You know what? I am beginning to draw comfort from it.


Manic planning sets in

My bride most certainly would agree with this description of myself: I tend to make all-too-detailed travel plans, rather than just sorta going with the flow.

I am planning an extended road trip out west, needing to get away for a while to process the loss I have suffered with Kathy Anne’s passing a month ago from cancer.

I now have every stop on my way out set up. I know the dates I plan to be at each location. I have made lodging arrangements along the way; I will be staying at RV park cabins, cheap motels and, of course, with family members who have offered to give Toby the Puppy and me a place to sleep.

Furthermore, I even have mapped out tentative plans for my return to North Texas, which at this moment appears to be one month after my departure for the Pacific Ocean.

I have put some friends on alert that I’ll be visiting them in West Texas. I have a family member who will put us up for a couple of nights in the Hill Country.

Then I will drive my pickup to my driveway in Princeton. I will unpack it. Sit down on the couch, take a deep breath … and then think about where and when I want to go next.

I am thinking about the Atlantic Ocean.


Take a gander at this

I will dispense with any more commentary about my bride’s passing, other than to refer you to this link from KETR.org.

It contains an essay just published at the public radio station affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce.

I would say “enjoy” reading it, except that it is about a somber subject.

Grieving has no playbook, but an informed approach can ease suffering (ketr.org)

Still, it means for me to have put these thoughts down and I thank my friends at KETR for allowing me to share them.


Adaptability: name of game

It looks as though I will get to show off my adaptability chops once I head west next on my journey to the Pacific Ocean.

I had planned to head north from the Grand Canyon, into Utah, and then across Nevada along what they call the “Loneliest Highway in America,” U.S. 50.

Plans change, you know?

Immense snowfall has closed many highways near Lake Tahoe and through the Sierra Nevada Range.  So …

I’m going to take a more southerly route on my way to the ocean.

This I can do.

Toby the Puppy and I are planning our trip to clear our heads and our hearts after the passing my beloved bride, Kathy Anne. It’s something I must do and Toby is all in. At least he’s indicated as much.

I’ll get to see plenty of family members and friends along my journey. My sisters and their husbands await, along with nieces, cousins and their spouses, and many of the friends I have made over the years. I might even reunite with some of my high school classmates.

Just so you know, my plans only extend as far as the trip in a westerly and northerly direction. I haven’t even thought about the return trip.

I am going to stay — shall I say it — adaptable.


Wrestling with outreach effort

I am in the midst of trying to determine whether I should accept a fellow’s attempt to reach out to me in my time of intense grief and mourning.

You might wonder: Why? He means well. Give him a chance to provide some help.

My wife passed away a little more than a month ago. I have received dozens of cards, notes, expressions of love and support from loved ones, friends, even some strangers. Kathy Anne would be pleased beyond measure with the compassion that has been extended. I know she is watching over all this.

This fellow who reached out to me today is a member of the church I have been attending and which I plan to join officially in due course. He heads a group of men who have lost their wives. For the record, I am going to refuse to use the word — which I detest — that identifies such men.

I told him I would call him back. I will keep that promise.

However, I am not interested in sitting around with a group of men reminiscing about our lives with the women who made us whole. Nor am I interested in sharing with them the misery I am enduring. I am reading a book titled “It’s OK To Be Not OK,” written by Megan Devine. It’s an excellent book … and an easy read. She says that others who share their like-minded tragedy mean well when they offer advice on how to deal with grief, but it seldom provides much comfort.

If they want to socialize, fine. If they want to get together to talk about, oh, college football or share life experiences associated with our careers, I’m in.

I am just not certain I am ready for some form of a 12-step program aimed at ridding me of the grief I am feeling. It’s all too damn fresh in my mind and in my still-broken heart.

I’ll get back to you later when I make a final decision. Meantime, I have determined that writing about my dark journey on this blog gives me sufficient comfort from my intense loss.


Here come the ‘firsts’

Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one knows about the subject with which I will deal in this post.

The “firsts” are on their way for my family members and me. Indeed, my granddaughter’s upcoming birthday will be her first birthday without Grandma … my beloved bride Kathy Anne.

More such firsts are going to follow and I am preparing to deal with them as they arrive. The first Easter, my bride’s first birthday, our first observance of our wedding anniversary (which will be No. 52), our first Thanksgiving, first Christmas … and on it goes.

You get my drift, correct?

As I have noted already on this blog, I am far from the first and far from the last person who undergo this level of grief. I am reading some books on how to deal with it. Part of my therapy is writing about it, as I am doing with this post.

Indeed, I am preparing a lengthy feature for KETR-FM radio’s website that will publish soon. It deals with grief and mourning and I look forward to completing that task. Heck, I even look forward just to performing the task, as it gives me a measure of relief as I continue along this dark journey.

That journey is going to contain is occasional gut checks along the way. Those are the firsts I have mentioned.

Most of you have been through it already. So have I, with the loss of my parents when I was a younger man. I remember sitting on my living room floor in late 1980 and tearing up when I realized it was the first Christmas without Dad, who had succumbed a couple of months earlier.

This one, however, is dramatically different, to be sure.

I’ll need to be ready.