Until It Passes

I do not believe that grief is insurmountable.  I do believe it creeps up on you at times when you think you’ve already kicked its butt.  I don’t sit around in a stupor day in and day out.  I’m not a sad or bitter person.  I have afternoons, like today, that are painful.  I suspect that will be the case for the rest of my life. 

I don’t have that many vivid memories of the weeks after Lisa’s death.  Perhaps I was just numb to the world.  However, the week and a half prior to her death are fraught with memories – this week I struggle to escape them.  I don’t believe that it is the date February 24 that has me so down right now.  I think it is these memories, suppressed for months, that are all flooding back to consciousness. 

One year ago last Monday was the last time that Lisa saw the girls.  She was telling them goodbye as they packed for a trip to the beach with  their friends.  As DJ walked up the stairs in only a t-shirt, Lisa said, “Great, my last memory of DJ will be her butt hanging out under that shirt.”  I said, “They’ll be back Thursday.”  She replied, “I know.”

Not only did she know that they would be home Thursday, she also knew that this was likely the last time she would lay eyes on her daughters.  How was she able to walk back to our bedroom with intuition telling her this was it?  Lisa was always good at letting go.  She was matter of fact.  It was what it was.  She could not change it.

They return to the beach this Sunday.  It will be hard for me to say goodbye even knowing I’ll see them again in three days.

Wednesday would have been her last night in our house.  Her last shower at home.  I remember calling the girls at the beach that evening to tell them Lisa was going back to the hospital.  She was packing, showering and shaving her legs – something all women do before a visit to the doctor.  The phone conversations were difficult. 

One year ago yesterday, Lisa and I had four wonderful hours in the Duke waiting room.  We were annoyed at the time it took to check in, but what incredible conversation and laughs we shared. Food from the snack shop.  A conversation with another woman who was undergoing major surgery the following day.  She didn’t know if she would make it.  I wonder if she did? 

 That Saturday she told my parents goodbye.  

“You’ve been good to me and you raised a good boy.”  

We were put in ICU that night.  She walked in seemingly fine.  She had brushed her teeth and walked to the bathroom thirty minutes before in the cancer center.  When I returned after dinner, she couldn’t stand up – she had lost the function in her legs; the fear and disbelief we shared in those moments.

Right now each day has a memory; each day has a specific meaning.  Most are painful.

So you endure.  You plan things to look  forward to.  You talk to your best buddy in the office at work.  You hunker down and ponder the past and type through cloudy eyes.  You call your mom.  You eat dinner out.  And you allow yourself to live the grief – until it passes once again.

Leave a comment


  1. Marian

     /  February 19, 2011

    The great thing is—-is that it will pass!!!!! As I have said before, honor her these days—because she is worthy of them. You are normal–for all of us who have lost loved ones to cancer or long term illnesses—knows what it is like to relive those last days. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Linda Smith

     /  February 19, 2011

    Dear Bruce I have loved you ever since we met 40 years ago. I also loved Lisa. This will be a difficult week for you an your family. I hope you know how much your postings mean to me. Thanks for sharing. You are in my prayers daily. Love you always — Momma Linda

  3. SO true. Grief takes its time and crops up at the most surprising times. Triggers are what set it off and so one must ride the tide. Eventually the triggers become something one can work around, but with lots of time and grief work. How are your children dealing with the grief? Children seem so resilient but they also can hide it well, especially if they see their parent grieving. Our grieving is a quite different but takes on the same symptoms and stages as we go through. It is truly all a process that takes patience and the willingness to cry as you need to, pray as you feel, speak to those who get it, and write from your heart, which seems you are doing…you’re on the track, unfortunately, it is a bit bumpy as you know, and eventually smoothes out over time. Take care.

  4. Mary

     /  February 19, 2011

    A dear friend and counselor once told me grief is like an ocean. You can see the waves coming and brace yourself for them. It’s the undertow that kicks your a$$–because you can’t see it…you just have to keep swimming to get through it until you can stand up again.

  5. Bettie

     /  February 19, 2011

    My dear old friend…I am so sorry that you have had to experience such an enormous loss. Lisa sounds like a remarkable wife, mom, and woman…I’m sorry I never got to know her. You are amazing, Bruce…you are so wise and kind…please know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many. Love to you and your family…

  6. Faye Humphrey

     /  February 19, 2011

    You all are in my prayers. Keep the faith.

  7. Lucy West

     /  February 19, 2011

    You and yours are loved by us all.
    Our hearts and prayers continute for you daily.
    Thank you for sharing with your writing and know you have many like us who will continue to love and support you in this journey ahead.
    Lucy, Ed and boys

  8. Louise Godwin

     /  February 20, 2011

    Bruce, I pray daily for you and your family. Your blog has given new meaning to grief through sharing a broken and healing heart. Thank you so very much for sharing your memories. God Bless, and I will continue to pray.

  1. Notes From The Beach… « The Real Full House

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