Sunday, February 22, 2015

Two years on

Two years ago today, my wife lost her mom. It still feels surreal to see these black words on a white background, to refer to her in the past-tense, to imagine a trip back home and not have her there. But whatever loss ultimately feels like, we don't seem to have much choice in the matter. The universe is going to do what it's been doing pretty much forever, and we're just along for the ride.

I know there are days when she wishes she could simply pick up a phone and call her - if you haven't read Mitch Albom's The First Phone Call From Heaven, I highly recommend you do so - and the finality of it means that's just not going to happen. So we hold onto saved phone messages, letters, notes, emails and the like. And as comforting as they can be to keep close, to linger over, they're just not the same. Like virtual stand-ins for the real thing, they remind us of what we no longer have. That we can't simply go back in time and have that one call, one conversation, one hug.

I lost count of how many times people have told us that life goes on. Forgive my informality, but duh! Of course it does. We go back to work, go back to school, make breakfast, lunch and supper, go out with friends and return to some semblance of a day-to-day routine. We learn to live with the newfound sense of emptiness and figure out ways to make it through days like today when it's all around us and there's no way to avoid it. But there's no real recovery in the true sense of the word. Loss changes all of us, and that, too, is an inextricable part of the universe's plan.

Yet two years on, I hope you'll forgive my innate bias in sharing this: My wife has figured out how to move into that uncertain, frightening and admittedly colder next chapter. She's focused on us, making our home even more of a home. She's been there for me, not only saving my life outright, but helping me get back in the game and raise my play - as a husband, dad and journalist - to another level. She's been there for her dad - batch cooking for him from hundreds of kilometres away, calling him anytime to ward off the silence, making the trip back home to spend some quiet time together. Anyone else might have allowed unfathomable loss to break them. Instead, my wife got stronger in the process, and used her strength to make us all stronger, as well.

None of this gets us back to where we were. Much as I wish I could come up with the right words to put us back in the middle of a Friday night meal where we're all gathered around the same table, the simple fact is we can't reverse any of this.

But as I look around the smaller table on a Friday night, where the sights and smells inside still banish the coldness and harshness lurking just outside the window just as they did when my wife was a child, when we were dating, long before February 22, 2013, I'm reminded that we didn't lose everything on that terrible day two years ago. My mother-in-law not only taught my wife well. But my wife took those lessons and made them her own. She's taken the best of her mom and made them an integral part of our family's life - and we are closer and better because of her.

Legacies, apparently, outlive those who initiate them. And it's up to us to carry them forward. Thankfully, my wife has done just that.


Gail said...

We all handle death differently. It is never easy. We never forget. I've heard that is the price of living.

It took me a long time.

Unknown said...

Carmi: What a beautiful post, to not only honor your wife, but life itself.

Pritpal Randhawa said...

Death is just a part of life. you can either pout about it or stay strong and be the guy who that person wanted you to be.

Pritpal Randhawa said...

Life and death goes hand in hand and you can never prevent that. What we can do is get yourself up and show the person what you are capable of because that is what the would have wanted.

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

beautiful words...thoughts.

(i have lost both parents & my brother & sister. no matter how much time goes matter how many days of 'life going on' has passed...i still feel that emptiness deep inside. i don't even talk about it anymore to people because most think i should be over it...let it go. but how can i?)