YARBROUGH COLUMN: Remembering the past while focusing on the future – LaGrange Daily News
Hbelieve it has been six months since I lost my soul, my anchor, my best friend. In some ways, it feels like it was yesterday. At other times, it seems like forever. Time can play tricks on your mind.
For a year and a half, I watched his immeasurable decline physically and mentally. There are trips to the emergency room, the hospital stay, assisted living, memory care. It’s all in the midst of the pandemic curse, meaning I’m not there with him like I should be and the few times I have been, there’s an artificial barrier between us. It was like a cruel joke. The only thing that separated us in 62 years of togetherness was a piece of plexiglass!
Living with the loss of a loved one is a constant adjustment. You are sad. You regret things you said or did unnecessarily and unsolicited. But you can’t take them back and you beat yourself up for making unnecessary mountains from mole hills. Thank God, he always forgave me even though it was still hard to forgive myself.
Then you remember the good times. He will be the first to tell you that he has a good run. A change in midlife from mom and homemaker to a college graduate with a nursing degree and an rewarding career at Delta Air Lines. Trips to his beloved vacation home in St. Louis. Simons Island. Piano instruction. Haggling at the price of a bushel of beans at the Farmers Market. (She always won.) Conference presidents and first ladies. Her fake rage is referred to in this space as “The Woman Who Shares My Name.” (Secretly, he loves it.) His 5 pm “Wine Time,” a sacred daily ritual. Her pride in being a grandmother and great grandmother.
It’s all spinning in your head. Whole day. Everyday. Sadness a minute. A good memory later on. Height and chin.
And then there’s all the “first.” The first Christmas. The first birthday. The first anniversary. The first time back to church on our old pew. The first trip to St. Simons without him. (Probably the hardest of all.)
If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself wrapped up in self-pity and making things uncomfortable for those around you who want to help but don’t know what to say or do. That’s where the perspective comes in.
At lunch shortly after his homecoming service, my grandson reminded me that while many people passed through my path, many did not have the strong support system that I do. Out of the mouths of grandchildren. Although this grandson is a teacher / coach with a Ph.D. This is a gamechanger.
I was supported by care and concern from my family and friends. I think about having to navigate the difficult journey without them. I’m not sure I can. There were phone calls, cards, emails, offers to run errands, to the grocery shop, to take me wherever I needed to go, to treat me to lunch. I don’t know what I did to deserve such kindness. I think it’s because I married a man who affects so many lives with his own innate kindness. I am the only beneficiary.
In our refrigerator is a magnet that says, “Opportunity is God’s way of staying anonymous.” This is one of his favorite sayings. We will laugh at how God does things in our lives that we would say are coincidental but we both know better. We call them “moments of God.”
While in St. Simons trying to wrestle with memories, I agreed to accompany my son -in -law to a small silver shop in the village while he was shopping for a bracelet.
Looking at the display case, I noticed a small sign that read, “To Life! I live. I am blessed.” Next to it is a bracelet with a Hebrew symbol representing “Chaia,” a word meaning “life.” One chance? I don’t think so and neither does he. It’s his way – and God’s – to tell me that he has blessed my life and now embraces every precious moment I have left in this world.
The sign sits on my laptop and the bracelet is on my wrist. It’s a daily reminder that life goes on and I need it too. That’s what he wants. I owe him that and more.