My husband died on November 22, 2016, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I wrote his eulogy the morning and afternoon of Thanksgiving before joining my daughter and her family at his youngest brother’s home for dinner.
Isaac’s funeral and burial were the next day. Not much to celebrate or be thankful for, except perhaps that our grief didn’t completely overwhelm. And we managed to muddle through with dignity as his two brothers, my son-in-law, my daughter, and myself shared with family, friends and acquaintances what made Isaac so special, his devotion as a father, his patience as a husband, his nurturing as a brother and his inspiration as a teacher. Isaac would have been pleased and perhaps would have humorously chided us for omitting one or two important details.
That night, as I meditated myself into a fitful sleep, I thought, well, the worst is over.
Most experts writing about grief now debunk the idea that normal grieving ends in about a year after going through a somewhat predictable cycle. Grief, at least my grief, seems to consist of so many emotions: anger, sadness, longing and the ever presenting conflicting desire to hang on and let go. It is almost six months and there are many times when I doubt the worst is over.
I expected the winter months to be especially difficult: the cold temperature chilling my bones, the early darkness bringing on a tinge of depression , and the anxiety as I waited for my neighbor or handy man to clear the snow from my driveway. I expected winter’s dreariness would do little to mollify my grief. Yet, strange as it may seem, there was a congruency between winter with its wind swept , bare trees and my feeling of loss and desolation. We were a match, we understood each other.
Spring had always been the feel good time of the year. It was nature’s gift; to spend less time walking in place on the treadmill and more time walking out and about. The slow but determined increase in light accompanied by a not so predictable improvement in temperature and the appearance of the first crocuses and sharp yellow forsythia have always filled me with joy, adding an eager bounce to my step, a gleam in my eye and a smile on my usual serious face.
This spring is not the same. The light still shines on the flowers and the flowers make me think of Isaac. I recall our decades of long strolls in the Bronx Botanical Garden, Central Park, and the Jone’s Beach boardwalk. And then I remember when he first became ill, and after a year or so could barely manage the three short blocks to our local park. Where we sat on a bench , holding hands , and watched several frolicking sparrows sprinkle themselves in a fountain. They were so full of life, Isaac was slowly dying, I was helpless.
The other day the repeated song of a robin made me look up, thinking,
‘if I’m lucky I will spot that chirping miracle searching for its mate.’
Again I thought of Isaac, and because it is Spring, I grieved even more. I wonder if next Spring or the one after, when I think of our walks, or holding hands on that bench, and the birds taking a morning bath, I will smile.