This Life



As you can imagine, the last four months have consumed my entire being with thoughts on life and death.  What matters?  What is important?  What can we let go?  What should we grasp more tightly?  It’s all a crapshoot.  There’s no rhyme nor reason to it and none of it comes with a guarantee.  Here today, gone tomorrow.  Blink of an eye.  Just like that.  And a thousand other bullshit trite sayings that I’m so sick of hearing.  Sad thing is, as unoriginal as they are, they are all true.  We just never know.

We gotta live this life.

Buddhists say that Life is Dukkha.  Essentially meaning life is shit.  It just is.  It’s our attachment to it NOT being shit that causes us heartache and suffering.  I hear that, I truly do, but I expected to live this life with Brian and that was cut short.  Dukkha, indeed.  It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the end, be buried by the grief and suffering of it all.  It’s so easy to swim in the pain and let it crash over my head until I breathe the salty waters of grief deep into my lungs and I mummify myself into a shriveled soul.  Wouldn’t hurt me a bit, but it would destroy my sons.

They gotta live this life.

My parents married in 1967 and I was born 9 years later, the youngest of 3 children.  While life wasn’t always great, it was fairly good for a long time.  Until it wasn’t.  My siblings had left the nest and I was the last child remaining, born a full 5 years after my next closest sibling, when the shit hit not only the fan, but the motor, the housing, the wiring, and the whole thing went up in a blaze of the farthest thing from glory that you can imagine and left us all charred and gasping for breath.  Spring of 1993, the year of our own small version of Hiroshima.   Regardless of how old you are, being a first hand witness to that kind of destruction changes who you are.

Brian’s parents married in 1972.  While I’m sure that there were a few good years, the majority of their 39 year marriage was a mirror of the relationship my parents had, although much more subtle, underground, and prolonged.  My husband spent many years watching their slow demise and experiencing his own torture.  They divorced about 2 years ago. One enormous bomb or the prolonged exposure to radiation results in the same destruction and pain.  His long term exposure changed who he was, just like my different exposure changed who I am.

We had to live this life.

A little less than 20 years ago, when the debris had almost stopped falling from the sky, I asked my mother to give me her wedding rings.  She looked at me as though I were crazy.  I explained to her that I wanted them, not for the gold or the diamond, but because I needed some tangible proof that I came from a place of love.  It was so very ugly at the end.  She looked at me and said, “Someday.”  Let me say this here and now: neither of my parents intended for it to be that way, but they, like me, are human and sometimes things don’t go the way they plan.  They never meant to hurt me or anyone else, but … what can you do?

You live this life.

About a year or so ago, Brian’s mother, my MIL, came to him and told him that she was going to be breaking down the jewelry that my FIL had given to her during their years together.  She would be dividing the stones up equally between Brian and his brother.  She said, “You need to know that these things came from a place of love.  There was great love here. You came from great love. These things should be a part of another great love – the loves you have with your wives.”

I identified Brian’s body by his wedding band.  Somehow, even though his zippers had melted into grotesques, his wedding ring survived.  I’ve had it on the index finger of my right hand since November 27th, 2012.

Last month, my mother-in-law and I met with Brian’s personal jeweler and had one of her diamonds turned into an “engagement ring” for me.  It had been Brian’s plan all along.  I now wear my wedding band and the engagement ring that symbolizes the love he had for me, as well as the love he came from, on my left hand.

Last night, my mother looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “You are the keeper now,” and gave me her wedding rings.  I wear them on my right hand.

Evidence of love in this life.

We all came from a place of love.  We all came from love.  We all came because of love.  We all are love.  And, while I might not choose to teach my kids how to square dance or how to say the Lord’s Prayer, I will teach them, like Brian taught them, that they come from love, that they are made of love, that they are love, and that our love for each other never dies.

We live this love.

We live this life.

Yes, my hands look like 90 year old gardener hands.  I've been too busy watching Sons of Anarchy to moisturize.  Don't judge me!

Yes, my hands look like 90 year old gardener hands. I’ve been too busy watching Sons of Anarchy to moisturize. Don’t judge me!



18 responses »

    • Brian was always fond of my gardening feet. I never wore shoes, but chose to let the earth sink into every pore. Thanks for your support, Karen. I love you.

    • Susan, I think of you all the time. I’m so pleased to hear of your family’s progress and growth. You have known me so long. Thank you for staying with me through this part of my life, too.

  1. So beautiful. You have such a magical way with words, even in your darkest hour your writing is beautiful. Makes me cry but it’s beautiful.

  2. Did you hold your phone in your mouth and push the button with your tongue or a pencil or something or did you wedge it between your breasts to get this shot? I’m just so darn curious! I love you, my friend!

  3. Sarah, You don’t really know me. We have met once or twice. I am an aunt of Brians. We were at the celebration of his life, but felt you did and should not have been bothered by us. I unfortunately was not extremely close to Brian. We saw them when they were young and came to St Louis to visit. And we visited down in Jeff city. I certainly have come to know Brian the Man, Husband, and Father through your blog. How shamefull I feel that it took his death to know his life. When this horror becomes a little more distant, I would love to get to know Brian through you and your children. And truly get to know each of you. Know that you and yours are in our thoughts and hearts!

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