Thursday, October 23, 2003

The four of us

OK, now that I have given the good news to everybody, I want to share a special photo. This is Andy, me, Arthur and Sue at our 20th High School reunion.

Bittersweet memories. Only the two friends in the center remain...

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Arthur and I are Officially Engaged

I had a wonderful time over Fall Break. Arthur flew in from Detroit on October 15th. He had already proposed to me by telephone, but as soon as we arrived at my house he made it official. He hit his knees and presented me with a beautiful diamond solitaire. I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I couldn't stand up, and ended up on my own knees shaking like a leaf. I then gave him star saphire men's ring. He was completely surprised... and very pleased.

That evening I showed him around town, and took him to the OKC National Memorial. It is so beautiful there after dark. While we were out he called his mother and said, "Hi Mom, I'm home!!!" I guess Arthur already likes it here.

Thursday night he and I took my entire family out to dinner in honor of our engagement. It sure makes it nice that everybody already knows each other well.

Friday we put a downpayment on the wedding chapel. We will be getting married at the Y-Chapel of Song on the University of Central Oklahoma campus. Our wedding is officially set for June 26, 2004.

The time went by too fast. He had to fly back Sunday in order to to return to work on Monday. His official retirement date is not until November 21. I hated to see him get back on that plane.

I sent Arthur an email stating that I was already missing him, and that I should have tied him up and kept him here! I shouldn't have let him go back to Detroit after his visit. His reply made me laugh:

" Angel Heart of mine;

If I had stayed after fall break, I'd be fired or suspended for not coming back. (I couldn't retire.) I would most likely lose everything. I would have no car, no furniture, no money, no place to stay. Very few shirts, jeans, underwear, socks, one pair of shoes. My pension might reach me sometime in January, IF I still get it.

But on the other hand I'd have you! And the ring is paid for.

I love you,
Arthur "

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Grief and Hope

These are posts by Arthur and I from the Young Widow Bulletin Board. I have been a member since July, '02, and then I introduced Arthur to the BB when I was in Detroit on vacation. The following stories tell about our personal journeys of grief, finding hope, then discovering a treasure in our decades long friendship.

Sept. 16, 2003

A while ago I heard of the website As I went through various topics it dawned on me "I am not alone". There are other people besides me who have endured a loss and somehow continued on. This is my story.

Sue (Suzanne, AKA Sunshine) and I were introduced at square dancing. A friend of
ours had fixed us up. Well needless to say, we became friends, fell in love and married. During 16 happy years of marriage we had 4 boys, including a set of twins. (I am a twin too!)

One Friday night, Sue and I were at home with only one of our sons. He came downstairs where Sue had been sewing, and I was keeping her company. He suggested that we go out somewhere. We thought it was a good idea so we went out for some ice cream. We talked about everything including my plans to bake a black forest torte for Mother's day. She went to sleep in my arms that night.

Saturday morning Sue woke me up for a kiss goodbye. She left to help take of our choir director's elderly mother. Twice a call awakened me to ask, "Where's Sue?" Both times I told her, "She's on her way." After a third phone call, I got dressed and went to see what could be wrong. About 2 minutes later I got off the freeway because it was jammed up. As I drove on the service drive I spotted our bright green car on the freeway's shoulder. Parking the van, I hopped the fence and went up to the car.

There was a man sweeping glass up who didn't even look at me. When I reached the newly red side of the green car, I realized why. All I could say was "Now what do I do with 4 boys?" As I was walking past the State Troopers, one of them called to me asking me to come back to talk with him. My first question was What happened? After checking my ID he replied "Your wife passed away in a single car rollover accident."

I was too numb to think. I went to leave but he stopped me and asked me "Can I drive you somewhere?" He brought me to our friend's house. She answered the door. I said "Sue's gone" Stunned she asked the trooper what happened. He just nodded. When I went in, her husband asked the same question. All I could say was She's gone. In a daze he drove me to my house where I broke the news to our sons about what had happened.

The day Sue died a good friend wrote a poem about her and another set it to music. The poem was called, "You Lived your Life for Me." At the memorial service we heard these words:

Its time to come and be with me
She heard the voice reply
No more pain and suffering
So bid this world goodbye

The only sound you heard was the sound of tears.

I only wish this forum had been here years ago. I have needed to tell this story for so long. Thanks for listening.

October 1, 2003

And now for the rest of my story.
After Sue died I kept in touch with Stella. (Stephanie) I have known her for 32 years. We had dated for 18 months before she introduced me to my wife. During
that time we went many places, and had lots of good, innocent fun. We were the best of friends. Many times after Sue died I called and cried on her shoulder. As time went by we kept in touch with Christmas cards and sporadic phone calls. Then in June of this year she called and told me that she and her children were coming to Detroit.
Her daughter was competing in the AAU Junior Olympics and could I guide them around the Detroit area while she was here. She had also lost her Sunshine a while ago.

When we met, it was as if we were talking to someone we had seen just yesterday not 9 years ago at her brother's wedding.

At the motel's pool we watched the kids and talked. Then she said to me "Arthur, if you lived near me I could see us having a relationship." No reply from me. She asked, "what's wrong?" I said "I can't see." She said "what?" I repeated, "I can't see." Her words had gone to the depths of my soul. She had invited me into her heart. I had never thought I would hear those words again. Yes I was crying but those were tears of joy.

That Saturday I came over to take her out to dinner. As we walked out the door she quipped "I'm going on a date." To which her daughter replied, "What do you mean a date?" She replied "You know, dinner and adult conversation." As we walked to my van she reached for my arm. My reply was to take her hand in mine. After dinner we talked as good friends do and then I kissed her goodnight.

The next day we all went on a trip to Port Huron. On the way home we took a wrong turn. But it really wasn't a wrong turn, because miles later we were driving back in the rain when the sun came out. There in front of us was the biggest rainbow I had ever seen. A few minutes later it hit me, If a rainbow comes after the rain, could love come again after tears of sorrow?

So "Stella," I thank you, I love you.



It was the end of February 2002 that Andy left me. One day his spirit was here, the next day
he was gone.
During those last days and the first days after, there was such a noise in my head, a continuous hum. I thought it was, perhaps, all the people surrounding me. I was never alone. I was grateful for the companionship. I did not want to be alone. At the same time, I also wished everybody would just shut up, and leave. Such is the way with grief.

Finally, the day came when everybody had to return to their routines. Quietly, gently, they bid their goodbyes, and left us here. There soon was nobody left except for the kids and me. Now came the time to face things. It was time to fully experience the pain.

It was the beginning of spring here in Oklahoma. We had already had some days in the 70's, and then we were walloped by a massive cold front that plunged into the teens the day Andy died. The days following the funeral were moderate, with a mixture of gray and sunshine, as common in the spring. I remember standing in my yard, listening while the wind blew its way through my wind chimes. The world was strangely silent, other than the sound of those chimes, and the hum that still echoed through my head ... lessening, but still there.

I had only two states of mind ... numb, and then prostrate with grief. Any little stimulant to any sense could trigger the prostration. A bird call, the smell of the freshly thawing earth, a scant ray of sunshine warming my skin. All the things that had brought me joy in a past life. All those little things continued nagging at me that my life with Andy was over, never to return. It was as though they had been sent to laugh at me me in my weakest moment.

I would desperately look for reminders that he really once existed. Photos, notes, any little shred of him. Then, when I would find them, I would find myself clutching my heart, and weeping because there was nothing left of him except two-dimensional items. "All that is left of you is PAPER! My God, Honey, where are you? Where are you?? Can you hear me? Do you love me? Where did you go?" I was pleading with the world in general to please help me find him! I knew he was gone, but bring him back anyway!

As days went by, the hum gradually disappeared. I found myself almost missing it, for it had began when Andy was still here. Any connection was better than none! I began to notice new sounds. Our neighbors had bought some tacky, but cute, plastic flamingos with wings that would whir in the wind. I would notice their sound, and realize that if I was hearing it, that meant I was still alive. I started hearing the voices of the neighborhood kids at play. How long had it been since I had allowed myself to even observe the pleasure of others?

I found myself laughing at something the kids said. Guilt would follow, but soon I would catch myself laughing again! Lightening didn't strike me for that, either. For the first time in ages I noticed the blue sky. I noticed the summer heat, the scent of rain. No, I was not what one could describe as happy, yet I knew I wanted to live again.

Another year passed. The pain was still there, but it had become simply another part of me. Instead of attempting to chase the sadness away, I now hold it close. My grief will remain forever to remind me that love is forever. Life became a gift to me again.

On a lark, I bought some tacky, but cute, plastic flamingos with whirring wings ... to remind me of the days of returning hope.

Then one day, I saw a rainbow. And, my life began again.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Guess what came in the mail today?

Arthur sent me his 30 year pin! He sent it along with the notice that his request for retirement was reviewed and accepted!!! He has decided, to my delight, that he is NOT going to wait until May!!! His official date of retirement is December 1, but he has some vacation time left, so his last day of work will be November 20th.