This week marks the one-year anniversary of the my first blog. During the intervening year--as I promised myself--I've written at least one blog per week. It's an accomplishment that fills my writer's heart with more than a little pride. When I began blogging in December, 2010 I told myself it was mainly to gain some exposure on the blogosphere and to begin building a public voice as a writer. But early on I knew I was fooling myself. Ken's illness and subsequent death has been a difficult journey. Were it not for my need to journal, to document, to express and share our journey together--and now mine alone--I would have been left far more damaged.
I admit without pride or glee I knew from the beginning of the bleak diagnoses there was something within me--maybe strength; maybe selfishness; maybe some measure of both--that wouldn't allow losing Ken to leave me used up and ground down. Of course Ken's eternal optimism and courage played a key role to that end. And my need alone to write this blog and to document my feelings on this journey was only part of the formula that kept me buoyant in such heavy water over the past couple of years. There have been so many people in our life together who showed unwavering kindness, grace and selfless beauty, and who played weighty roles in helping us deal with Ken's illness, and helping me cope with his death.
I couldn't think of a more appropriate anniversary gift than showing my gratitude. This is for you...
You celebrated with me during times of ground-swelling triumph, and you mourned with me during times of earth-swallowing sorrow. And you "let me be" during times of both--and all in between--because you know that's how I sometimes need to both celebrate and cope. My "apartness" is no stranger to you, yet you understand it--or at least accept it.
You wept with me during times of overwhelming despair during the last year, and you also found a way--when I was ready--to make me laugh until I cried with lung-wheezing abandon, sometimes at your own expense. You left me voicemails and understood I wasn't in the mood to talk. But you kept calling. Kept checking on me. Continued to send me love without reserve. You thought of me, and sent me strength. In spite of the hopelessness of the situation, you never stopped digging deep and finding hope and love to give to me.
You knew you couldn't experience what I was experiencing--though you begged to the heavens for the contrary to be true. You wished you could soar across space and time to get to me; to change events; to take away the pain. You selflessly turned down the volume of your own feelings in order to better hear mine. You comforted me with food; with words; with love and tenderness--sometimes without ever knowing me very well--or at all. But it never mitigated the love and compassion you drenched me with.
You picked up the slack at work--in addition to an already full workload--to assist during my FMLA absences, and to allowed me to focus on caring for my beloved, and sent me encouraging words and gifts, and instant messages of kindness and strength.
You helped me deal with a loss the likes of which I could never prepare for. You wept with me. You helped me. You loved me. You reminded me that death doesn't mean "the end" of everything. You supported me in blissful moments when I understood that, and in hopelessly lost ones when I didn't.
You texted, you Facebooked, you emailed. You sent cards, notes and care packages. You never failed to let me know that I had your support; that I wasn't alone; that I could reach out to you at any time of the day or night; that you would be there for me. And you were.
Though you tried with all that is you to understand the emptiness I feel and the hole left in my heart, you know that each grief is unique and unmatched. You never had to pretend to understand the complexity of my mourning. Because yours is just as complex.
You loved me in way that was both unique and universal in all the ways that is possible. You ignored your busy life in order to make multiple trips to spend time with Ken and to support me. You shook the martinis and manned the kitchen. You understood and valued the true meaning of fellowship and living in the moment.
Whether I have been able to tell you or not, you helped me on the journey I'm on to better understand what I've lost, but--more importantly--what I haven't, and there are good things yet to come. It isn't lost on me that Ken lovingly taught my destination-oriented psyche to embrace the journey. Like all journeys, this one comes with the bitter as well as the sweet. But it's being on the journey that counts. As I move forward into 2012, I know some important and exciting things await me. You are part of that goodness.
No one could have been so lucky as Ken and I were to have been surrounded by such loving and caring people. "Thank you" doesn't seem meaningful enough to let you know how grateful I am to you, but it's the only way I know how to do this; to thank such an elite and loving group for helping in ways that were kind, loving, and everlasting.
Thank you for your courage, love and support. I'll never forget it.
Tonight PadLo and I will have a toast to Ken's unyielding spirit, to the unmatched support and love of our friends and family, and to the first anniversary of TXD.
Cheers, my friends. To honoring the past and to all the good things yet to come.