Season of Sad

Been sad lately, and I am not sure why. I have a great life, wonderful children, wild friends, my health, and a loving partner that stands by me no matter what frame of mind I am in. Perhaps it was the wet and windy weekend. Such an abrupt change from Summer to Fall this year, and Fall is the season that Jim died. It is known in the widow world that anniversaries are hard. As the date of the death of the spouse looms, many folks find themselves grieving all over again, no matter how good things are in the present. Not to dwell on the past, but to learn from it and see where I am at right now and why, I returned to Jim’s Caring Bridge site. I read through the last 6 weeks of his life. I’ve decided to share those last posts again, and let you know how they continue to play out in this life I am living now. I’ll try to post on the day exactly 3 years ago, but may not be able to. After all, I am living now, and now truly is all we have.

Oatmeal

September 30, 2010:

Yesterday, Jim forgot how to make oatmeal. The ratio of water to grain (2:1) and what he usually puts in it (dried fruit, not gorp). I talked him though it, he still made us oatmeal, and it was pretty good. 

Shortly after I moved to Corvallis, one our first “dates” was climbing Middle Sister. We hiked up after work and camped at tree line. Jim was in charge of food packing in those days, and he brought oatmeal for our pre-summit meal. Lots of oatmeal. What turned into a 3 quart cook pot full of finished oatmeal. He did not want to pack it out. We were above tree line, so there was no place to bury it. He insisted that I would need the energy for the climb. Force feeding oatmeal, nick-named vicious gray slime forever more in our mutual vocabulary. So began a long tradition of Jim force feeding me on almost every outdoor adventure, and a long period of time where I could not even look at a pot of oatmeal. 

I have long since taken over the food packing for our outdoor adventures. I even now occasionally enjoy a bowl of oatmeal if there is enough dried fruit and a spoonful of peanut butter on the side. But, Jim always makes it. He’s never had to look at a box or recipe, never even measures. Just knows how it is supposed to look.

Memory is a strange beast. Jim has no trouble remembering the trip up Middle Sister. He has no trouble remembering the people that we knew and loved in Corvallis. But he can’t remember the name of the fruit on the tart in the fridge, nor the password to his computer, nor how to run a DVD without a cheat sheet. He remembers that he loves me. Forgetting how to make oatmeal is not a deal breaker….he still wants to make it for me, and that is enough.

Funny, but oatmeal is now my breakfast of choice. It was the only thing I could choke down in the morning for months after Jim died. When Emerald awoke the morning after his death, she made the oatmeal, and we ate together. I now eat breakfast alone most days. Greg starts work early, and I don’t eat until I get back from a run or swim about 7. Oatmeal is no longer vicious, it is comfort.

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2 Responses to Season of Sad

  1. Jean says:

    This post sure struck a note with me because in the last few weeks before my husband died he forgot how to play checkers, something he’d been able to beat me at for our entire relationship. I never really liked checkers but we played every night in his last months, I thought, to keep his mental processes going and he liked playing. Since he passed away I’ve played checkers on my Kindle just about every night. Like you and the oatmeal that has become a comfort food, checkers is now a nightly link to my husband.

    Thanks for sharing the oatmeal story.

  2. Flo says:

    I find, too, that as I get emotionally healthier, I’m able to unwrap the gifts, not only of my late husband’s life, but also of his death. I hope your journey ties together some broken pieces, or weaves their sweetness into your life now.

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