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It seems like the first year is the most difficult.  There have so many firsts without Mike.  Halloween.  Thanksgiving.  His Birthday – that  day felt really empty. Christmas.  New Year’s.  Valentine’s Day.  I thought about him a lot.  He made a big deal of Valentine’s Day.  He surprised me each year with a special gift and card. I’d never had a man be so thoughtful and loving with this holiday.  Easter.  Our wedding anniversary – I wrote April 6th for two days in a row until I realized why.  I had forgotten our anniversary a couple times before.  I was always happy he remembered it.  Much harder was April 21st –  six months since Mike departed this life experience.  Every time I thought of this, tears sprung to my eyes. It seemed like it had been so recently and yet, so long ago.  I couldn’t really write about it till now. 

This timeframe feels like a milestone in accepting the reality that Mike’s not here.  I keep reflecting on Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking.  It took a year for her to really accept – or begin to accept – that her husband was gone.  More holidays and remembrances to come.  Memorial Day.  Fourth of July – last year we were at Dillon Beach, as usual.  My girlfriend and I and our daughters have been going every year for ten years.  It was so wonderful to have Mike there, too.  We all had so much fun.  I know I will miss him being there this year.

At first, it felt uncomfortable driving Mike’s Mini Cooper.  It smells like Mike, my daughter said.  It did.  I felt like I was surrounded by him.  He loved his Mini.  Years ago, I read that items that are well loved, hold that love energy  and you can feel that attraction, that love.  I have experienced this with rings  – my mother’s, my grandmothers’, and Mike’s mother’s – and  with the Mini.  I’m driving it more now.  The scent is beginning to fade, or perhaps, I’m getting more used to it.

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This last week has been transforming, cathartic, sad, grieving, digging up soil that hadn’t been turned yet . . . turning up items of Mike’s that I’d stuffed in drawers – till later.  I had shelves and rods installed in the master closet a week ago.  Which meant I had to empty the closet.  This also meant that I had to go through everything in the closet.  No more waiting.  As I put things away, I cried, wishing Mike were here.  I’m washing lots of clothes as I sort through it all – what to keep, what to pass on.  Cleaning.  Clearing.  Working in my closet.  Seems like inner work to me.  Feels like it, too.  Lots of greiving.  Changing the inside as I change the outside.  

After a week plus of closet work, I found myself drawn to clean out my email in and out boxes.  My inbox messages had been filed a couple months ago, but I had not cleared the outbox since before Mike passed on.  I found emails I had sent to him and a few from him – more dipping into the depths of what was. . . that is no longer.  I cried and pushed the delete button on the emails.  There’s no deleting him from my heart.

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In the Goo

When I was first reeling from the news of Mike’s death, the image that came to mind was of turning into goo – just like a caterpillar does.  It deconstructs in the cocoon and melts into goo.  The imaginal cells then move into action to reform the goo into a butterfly.  I was pushed into the goo.  I feel like I am still in the goo now.  Sometimes I feel like I have an inkling of what’s next, that my imagination, my imaginal cells are creating something new.  It’s not yet clear, it’s still mostly goo.

A few weeks later, a second image came to mind . . . I was flattened like Bozo the Clown.  When I was a child, we had a blow-up punching bag of Bozo the Clown.  You could punch it to the ground, and it would right itself because of the weighted bottom.  I feel like I was punched to the ground.  There are times when it seems I am righting myself, and other times when I am flattened again.  Bozo always came back to standing up and I know I will, too.

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I had a few very clear instances of Mike’s presence – of reaching through the veil to me.  Within the first few days after his death, there was a message on my cell phone – a whispered, “I love you”.  It had to be Mike.  I’ve read about these occurrences. 

The top of the dresser in our master bedroom is filled with family photos and other special objects. Next to Mike’s photo, I placed the small flat metal heart I had given him right after we were married  – and that he carried every day in his pocket with his change.  On one side is engraved, Love Flows Through Me, and on the other side, Love Surrounds Me. When I looked the next day, I discovered the heart had moved.  Guess who?

A few weeks after Mike’s death, I went upstairs to the bedroom and found the room filled with the strong smell of coffee.  There was no coffee being made downstairs in the kitchen.  I knew it was Mike.  He had coffee every morning. 

I recommend reading the book, Hello from Heaven, by Bill & Judy Guggenheim.  It helped validate for me the after-death communications I had from Mike were not unusual.

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It is a bummer that Mike took off his earth suit so soon. In some ways, I thought we were just getting started on our life together.  We’d been married for just 4 and a half years.  I could see how we were both sanding off the bumps and corners of each other as we evolved our life together.  I do know that in pushing the eject button on his earth suit, Mike realized a more expansive sense of who he is – that Love Life essence that never changes. 

Over the past few months prior to Mike’s transition, I had been noticing and appreciating the ordinariness of our relationship – the everyday little things.  Just having Mike at home – whether he was napping or reading,  or cooking together, or watching a movie together with our daughter.  We loved dinner and a movie at home or going out.  We loved to cook and entertain our friends.  It was fun to plan what we were each going to make.  I do have to mention his amazing lobster bisque.  One sip and I wanted to marry him.  Thank goodness this is one recipe that IS written down.  I am grateful that I was noticing and appreciating the ordinary gems in our relationship.  I do miss both of us cooking in the kitchen together – it is what our remodeled kitchen was designed for.  I miss the we.

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Going Deeper

Reading about grief in Emotional Genius, by Karla McLaren affirms what my spiritual and intellectual quadrants know without a doubt – that Mike knows himself to be expansive Love and Light – and consciousness.  Who he is has not changed, except he has taken off his earth suit.

And . . .  I must dive deep into my body and emotional quadrants.  To cry the tears that release the stuckness of shock.   To dive into the depths of the sorrow – to the sacred connections with our ancestors, loved ones and all of Life.  To “connect to the healing energies inside grief ” – and immerse myself in the waters of my emotions.  The body knows about grief and what to do.  I am listening.

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Flowers

I’ve always wondered why flowers are sent to the family of the deceased. Now I have a different understanding of why this is a tradition and a way to express condolences.

Flowers are alive, fresh.  A reminder of life.  Flowers also have powerful emotional and spiritual healing properties.  The floral arrangements I received were a reminder of the love and support of those that sent them to me – every time I looked at them and appreciated their beauty.

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