Introspection  

CB_2 51F
8302 posts
8/27/2006 9:44 am

Last Read:
6/14/2008 3:09 pm

Introspection


Over the last week, I've been doing a lot of thinking. And I'd like to share, if that's OK.

Many of you will already know, from posts that I have made previously, that I am a widow. My husband Brian died last June from stomach cancer.

He had officially been ill for only 8 days, although they reckon he had had it for about 6 months. And certainly he had had a really worrying cough for about six months which he had refused to see the doctor about. Even my friends on the phone were threatening to drag him there if he would not go on his own.

Personally, I think he knew what it meant, which is why he refused to see the doctor.

He did have a medical condition which meant we always knew that he was likely to die of cancer at an earlier age than normal. We just lived with it, although we did not share this news with others (his mother would not have slept for the last 10 years if she had known, and every phone call home would have been a health bulletin).

We had been together for 16 years, 15 of them married. Our marriage was exceptionally strong and happy (if not sexually very exciting, I subsequently discovered), and I would have classed us as soulmates. As everyone around us did.

And yet, I do not miss him.

I often do not think about him for days, or even weeks. Which I find both strange and sad, especially when other friends of his still clearly do - his work colleagues contacted me a few weeks ago saying they now want to buy a bench in his name for the graveyard where he is buried.

I felt both touched at their thoughts, and also ashamed that I do not feel even as strongly as the friends he worked with.

He was the bravest man I know: when given the diagnosis, he immediately opted to come home and die quickly. They could have given him an extra few weeks or even months, but he gave them up so we would remember him as he was, not as the burden he would become. His mother was angry at how he "gave up" so quickly, but I knew why he took the decision he took. His love for his family exceeded his will to live.

His kindness was extraordinary. When the husband of his parents' neighbour suddenly dropped dead (also at 44), he immediately gave his widow the key to our house in France and told her to take the children and go for as long as she felt she needed, until she was ready to face the world again. Which they did. Being a widow myself now, I can tell you that people's kindness is almost too much to bear in the early days, and would have been glad for a similar escape route.

Even as he lay in his hospital bed, me crying in fear of being left to raise the children (I am by no means maternal, and we often joked that he had the "mum" genes, not me), he just gently said "Darling, the children are what they are because of you, not because of me. You are the one they see most of the time. And you've done a fine job so far. You'll be fine." Thinking of me at such a time, rather than fearing his own death.

How is it, then, that I do not miss him?

I have even questioned whether or not I loved him, because I don't think it is denial. But I can't believe this to be true. Ironically, I have thought and talked about him more since joining AdultFriendFinder than ever before.

There are many and varied reasons, I think. Partly, it is because we had no unfinished business. There were no things left unsaid, no arguments left simmering, there was time to say goodbye. We had what the Americans would call closure.

Also, I know that I am an essentially selfish being (and he loved me nonetheless) and am easily able to shut off things which pain me.

Within weeks of getting together, we discovered I was pregnant. I chose to have a termination (which I previously could never have imagined choosing), because I/we felt it was not good for us to have this pressure right from the beginning of our relationship. We would never be sure that we were not together for that reason only.

And yet, a few years ago, when my best friend admitted she had had a termination, I told her I could not imagine how she could have made such a difficult decision. Brian coughed quietly and reminded me my memory must be pretty poor. And it was: I had absolutely no recollection of my own termination 10 years before. Because I am able to shut out things which make me unhappy and genuinely cannot recall them.

So maybe this is what I have done with Brian. I do not know.

I do know that my life is pretty rudderless at the moment, and it is a good thing my children are here to stop me from going too far off beam. One of my friends laughingly suggested she might turn up one day and find me dribbling in the corner of the room, blinded by the light as she opened the curtains, vibrator in hand! She's probably not as far wrong as she thinks!

I don't turn around, expecting Brian to come in the door any second. I don't listen out for his voice, or look through past photographs in tears. I don't find it hard to talk about him. I don't even wish him back, because in so many ways I like my new life, answerable to no- one.

But I do miss his quiet support. The way he never blinked an eye when I told him I was giving up a £30,000 a year job for a venture which no- one knew would even survive a year (so far it has lasted 7, and going from strength to strength). The way I absolutely knew I could rely on his support in any decision I took. The way he always, but always, treated me with respect and consideration. Often far more than I deserved.

But what is the right way to show that?

Blogito ergo sum.


lustcurious42 56F

8/27/2006 9:53 am

I'm glad you shared. I think we learn from others sharing and it helps each of us. And hopefully it helps you as well. I don't know where to begin on commenting on this post, but we each show our love, our fears, our sorrow in different ways. Some of us are strong and some of us are weak. Don't doubt how you feel now, be thankful for the love you shared and keep him in your memories as you can. He sounds as if he were a very special man. As for not missing him, perhaps your life is full. Staying busy is a way to not concentrate on the sadness. Or like you mention, some things we block away because they may be to painful to think about on a daily basis.
The right way to show that? Whatever you feel in your heart is right.....


CB_2 replies on 8/27/2006 10:06 am:
He was a very special man, Lustcurious, which is why it is so strange that I think about him so little.

I am a natural optimist, and I don't do guilt or regrets very easily (for which I'm grateful - it makes life easier!), but it has been helpful to me to post on this subject.

My life is not full at all (quite the opposite, though I could easiy fill it up - I am an expert procrastinator), so I think it is more a case of my heart compartmentalising this and putting it to one side.

Although it does not look much like it from the outside, or even feel like it on the inside, I do recognise the signs of reactive depression (like sleeping too much, doing nothing much, forgetting to feed the children etc). And, equally, I know it will blow over. My doctor feels I am on the right track (his notes on my file say "currently enjoying a shagfest"!), and so I'll just leave things to settle in whatever way they do.

I do very much appreciate the friends that I have made on AdultFriendFinder, some of them turning out to be much greater friends than I had previously appreciated, even while others turned out not to be much more than acquaintances I shared a few moments with. It is nice to know that other people care. Thank you.

rm_climberbloke 60M
6 posts
8/27/2006 5:33 pm

Wow, I've only been a member of this site for a few days, and really didn't expect to find anything like this posted (not sure what I expected, really!).

Thanks for sharing this. I lost my father to cancer when I was 15 and he was 55. He opted to come home and die there, rather than prolong things as far as possible. I was restoring a guitar at the time, and wasn't really aware that he was terminal. It dawned on me when he asked me to finish restoring the guitar in his bedroom, so he could watch the progress and talk. He hung on until I'd finished the work, then seemed to let himself go. I don't know why it was so important for him to see my final effort, but I reckon that he hung on for a week longer than he would have otherwise.

We hadn't been that close, and were right in the middle of teenage father/ son rows when he was diagnosed. And I didn't really miss him, either, something I've felt guilty about for years. It's only in the last couple of years, when I've started to get closer to the age he was when he died, that I've actually started to "miss" him retrospectively, which is weird. I suppose doing things like going out for a beer with my son or daughter has brought home to me that I never had the chance to have a beer with my dad, which is logical. but it doesn't explain that "ache" I've started to feel about him lately.

Thanks for posting your feelings: it's given me some food for thought re my own feelings about my dad.


CB_2 replies on 8/27/2006 7:28 pm:
That's really interesting, climber, that the feelings can rise to the surface so many years afterwards.

And welcome to my blog. If you look at the summery of fiction on my blog, you'll realise that this isn't the usual sort of post for me either!!!

earthShiva 59M

8/27/2006 10:34 pm

I think you hit the main point when you said you had no unfinished buiness. It does not serve us to live in the past.

It sounds like you had a truly special relationship. So rather than wonder how little you think about him, why not take the time to ponder how you would be now if you had never had your 16 years together? Odds are, you will find that your dance together helped each of you grow in beautiful ways, and that the way you feel and respond to the world around you is different for loving him and knowing him. If so, then you truly embody his life and the love you shared. Thinking about him is rather a small and redundant thing, once you've done that.


CB_2 replies on 8/28/2006 4:03 am:
I have missed your wise insights while you were away EarthShiva. You are so right, and I can imagine Brian sitting there clapping and saying "listen to the bloke in the hat".

I do believe that my life has been changed so much for the better through having known Brian.

dandy6912000 60M/59F
3383 posts
8/28/2006 5:08 am

We think your a very strong person, with more conpassion you have come to realize. You are wondering why you havn't felt like you been told or heard from others. Each of us handle death in our own ways and in a given time. There is one right way or wrong way to feel, it just that.
We never never lost anyone totally , they are forever etched into our hearts and minds, Given thier smile , thier thoughts, and so fourth. they may not be here as a person, but never the less they continue to influence us in some way .
I think part of the saying it give us closure. Must of been based off our media here. For in some reason, when I hear that. To me it is the understanding of why the person left us, not saying we just forget and move on. For our minds is far to conplex to ever let that happen to us.
Maybe, just in some small way, a few words about how you are dealing with this, and you have lately talked about your feeling of Brain, has been good for you. alway a friend Dandy & Snatch


CB_2 replies on 8/28/2006 10:15 am:
I would not anyone to misunderstand: no- one in my family or friends criticizes me, quite the opposite in fact. I just know that many of them look at me in puzzlement. I suppose I sense their implicit crticism, which may not even be that all.

I think you are quite right, Dandy and Snatch, that just writing this post and and our private e-mails on this subject has helped me enormously.

A number of you have proved to me privately that blog friends really can be good personal friends, just like friends in the real world. And I thank you for that.

warmandsexy52 64M
13164 posts
8/28/2006 10:00 am

This is such a powerful, open and honest post that speaks volumes about a strong and admirable woman and her own personal journey. It tells so much and truly inspires.

warm xx


CB_2 replies on 8/28/2006 10:10 am:
I'm so tempted just to reply: nah, this is a spoof blog, like TheCliticals, dontcha know?

But of course it is not true. Thank you for your comments, Warm, which are no doubt more generous than they should be.

I am a very selfish woman in many ways, and I have no doubt that I am hell to live with, but I do believe very strongly in honesty and integrity, and in being prepared to show your real self, warts and all.

I have trusted easily and been disappointed, and no doubt will continue to trust easily and to be disappointed (and probably to disappoint), because it is the only way I know how to live. And earthShiva is right: I am probably like this partly because of my husband nurturing that side of my character. And partly because of my mother. I would not choose to be any other way.

TabithaElectra 37F

8/29/2006 2:04 am

I think this is an incredible post. I would not think too much about the 'right' way to do things. There really is no general right way, just what is right for you. It appears that you are fairly comfortable and calm with the way things are in your life right now, and so that should tell you something, something good.


CB_2 replies on 8/29/2006 5:08 am:
Thanks Tabs. Yes, I don't really unhappy about anything to do with this, just uncomfortable with how my reaction has been so unexpected.

But your various thoughts, especially earthShiva's, have really helped me realise it's not because I'm a heartless bitch.

rm_TCisback10 52M

8/29/2006 7:50 am

My story is very similar to climberbloke. I was 25 when my father died of bone cancer, he had just turned 60, his retirement years, labouring all his life to get this as his going away gift. He was given 12 months from time of diagnosis to death, but lasted 2 years, spending his last months at home with family.

I've never cried for him.

I miss him.

He lives on in my heart always.

I know when my times up, I would wish all who were close to me, to get on with life, don't wait for me to come back, because I cant.

Grieving is very personal, follow the path your heart tells you to.


CB_2 replies on 8/29/2006 11:51 am:
Thank you for sharing, TC. I know Brian would be happy to see us getting on with life - I kind of imagine his wry amusement that I've finally found a way to handle my overactive sex drive, of which I am sure he was always quietly aware!

It is indeed very important to live your life, so get to 60 and live with regrets, especially finding out there is too little time to do anything about it.

My motto in life is: if you are unhappy with something, change what you can and forget it if you can't. I can't be doing with sitting and grumbling about stuff (that's my sister's way, and she does my head in!)

rm_kelli4u2dew 41F
5220 posts
8/29/2006 5:57 pm

But what is the right way to show that?

By remembering him fondly, speaking well of him, and making sure your kids grow up respecting his memory.

Hugs.


CB_2 replies on 8/30/2006 3:32 am:
Thanks Kelli - I aim to do all of those things, and we talk of him often, especially so that the youngest (5) does not forget him.

CB_2 replies on 8/30/2006 3:33 am:
And when the children reach a milestone (like Tom learning to swim), I try to make sure to tell them that Daddy would be so proud.

Passion247000 46F
3195 posts
9/2/2006 8:08 pm

People deal with grief differently... Please don't feel bad for not missing him as much as some of his friends.... You know...he is a part of you and always will be...perhaps, that's why you don't miss him...because he's part of you...

I am also glad that you have the *closure* ~ it is an important part of healing....


CB_2 replies on 9/3/2006 3:05 pm:
Thank you, Passion. You are quite right.

rm_skyeone2 64M/45F
7186 posts
1/12/2007 3:38 am

Thank you CB2, you were right, the comments here are helpful!

Isn't it lovely to know that there is no unfinished business when a loved one has passed? I don't think Gramps and I had any either. One of my cousins decided 10 years ago that he wasn't going to have anything to do with this part of the family anymore. He came to Gramps funeral, and confided in me that he wished now that he had more time to get to know Gramps. All I could do was give him a hug, and let him know that Gramps loved him as much as any of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. We all meant a lot to him.

Your post is so passionately written with love, it's wonderful to see. I've known for a long time that I just shut out things that are hurtful to me mentally, so I guess my "grieving" for Gramps is the same as yours for your Brian.

Huge hugs sweety, thank you again for directing me here! I definitely needed to read what you've written here as well as what others have written to you!

Thanks again,
Skye
Love is the greatest gift of all!


Blessed Be


CB_2 replies on 1/12/2007 4:54 am:
I'm glad you found it helpful, Skye. I know I found just posting on the subject and then reading everyone's comments on here was so helpful to me.

As it happens, I was at the solicitor's this morning, sorting out my new will and guardianship/power of attorney arrangements, so it seems fitting to come back to this post today of all days!

rm_diogenes1960 56M
446 posts
6/13/2008 4:56 pm

Family relationships are hard to deal with. I remember that my father was dying from heart disease for about 15 years and he made it hard to like him. Whenever we met, he just wanted to pick an argument. My reaction was to keep my distance. I did not realise that this was his way of remaining alive - the intellectual dance of argumentation. He was obviously suffering and in pain but did not know how to express it.

When he died, in late 1997, I was surprisingly moved although for the last 5 years he had done nothing but pick arguments with me. I felt empty for at least a year. The anniversary of his death was a really low moment for me. I was living in Amsterdam, among strangers. But I have come tom terms with it. But whenever I hear Allerseelen, or read a poem about Toussaint, I get a frisson. In his position, I would have gone for a swift death - forgone the nitro-glycerin capsules. As you can see, I still have not completely come to terms with my father's demise and yet I am as rational as they come.

What do you recommend?


CB_2 replies on 6/13/2008 5:06 pm:
I'm afraid I have no recommendation, diogenes, other than time.

Being ill for a long time before you die (and arguing with everyone as a way to stave it off), is a horrible thing to put either yourself or your family through. But - as you say - it was his coping mechanism.

Forgiving the dead is a difficult thing and everyone has to deal with that their own way or die unhappy. My MIL will never be able to forgive Brian for deliberately coming home to die quickly of multi- organ failure, because she cannot see that he did it out of love for his family, and to reduce our suffering.

You have already said that you are moving on, and that the pain lessens each year. And that's good. Maybe that's the only therapy you need?

rm_diogenes1960 56M
446 posts
6/13/2008 5:33 pm

My father died eventually of heart disease aged 67. His "healthy" brother, 5 years younger, died playing tennis 6 months later. The way things stack up, I am going to die a painful death in about 15 years time. How would you react to such a situation? I try to live life in the here-and-now but preserve a very good something for my daughter to live on. Something has made me very melancholic tonight./


CB_2 replies on 6/14/2008 3:09 pm:
Yes, I think family death is a horrible reminder that we are all mortal. So many people try to pretend to themselves that death does not exist (even little things by making sure our meat from the supermarket looks as little like as animal as possible), but you can't hide from it when it happens to someone close to you.

My mother died of heart failure at 72. She wasn't ill, but it also wasn't a shock, because all her family died young. She determined (I think) at an early age to live a full and happy life, in the same way that you mention. Far too many people simply count down the days until old age.

But - the bonus of not expecting to have an old age means that you are more likely to grasp what life has to offer you in the now. Brian and I never spent time away from our children as a couple except for one single weekend less than a month before he died. I was resentful of this, but I now realise he did this because he did not expect to see his children grow up, and so was making the most of the time he could have with them.

Oh, and one advantage of being adopted for me is that I don't have to live with knowing that I have inherited a weak heart from my mother (though of course with no medical history of my own, I don't know what other time bombs may lie in wait. I choose not to find out). On the other hand, I have to live with the knowledge that my children have a 50:50 chance of having inherited Brian's condition.

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