Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Life Touched

I went out the other night to meet my friend Bridget for a glass of wine before she had dinner with her husband. We met up the road at Carmel Valley Ranch, a golf course and resort type setting where they were having their weekly members night. It is a beautiful place and most often there are familiar faces there. I was glad it would be an early night, just a brief time out as I had been busy and home sounded nice.

As I was putting my jacket on and saying my good-bye after our visit, an older couple walked in that I have known for awhile. I had met them when I worked in a restaurant in Carmel and have kept loosely in touch ever since. They took me out to dinner after Kenny passed away which was very sweet and thoughtful of them and very much appreciated. They are always at Carmel's hot spot every Friday night and tell me to come out anytime, join them for dinner or a drink.... they will be there. They seem to love everyone.....they are those kind of people.

So my jacket came back off and I joined them for what I thought would be a short visit. Their friend Jim came in, a hairdresser in Carmel which I had met before, and then Jim's son Desi and his girlfriend Jessica. And so we were six, standing, sitting, mingling amongst ourselves and talking about all kinds of things. When I was introducing myself to Jessica, the first thing she said was that I looked so familiar to her. "No....sorry...but you don't look familiar to me" I said back but wished I could have said she looked familiar too. So after a lot of chit chat and a hearty invitation to join them all in Mount Shasta for Thanksgiving, I found myself sitting next to Jessica, sharing a caprese salad and telling her about Kenny. And then it clicked for her. She now knew why my face looked so very familiar to her. She told me that she had been in a very bad relationship with a guy for over three years. He battled with depression and she was alway trying to "help". She walked on eggshells and always tried to be upbeat and happy in order to draw him from his funk. One day, she came across the magazine, "65 Degrees", which is a local magazine that had written an article about Kenny and all he was going through. My picture was in it too, so that is where she had seen me before. When she read the article about Kenny, about us, and the kind of love we shared, something in her clicked. She knew that what we had was what she wanted and she needed to move on from this mismatched relationship she had found herself in. "You don't know how many times I read that article" she told me. "I knew I wanted that kind of love too". And so it was the article, the story of Kenny, and the story of our love, that gave her the courage to move on.

We basically closed the place down and I left that evening feeling alive and full. Kenny and I, and the love we had for each other, had touched a life. We had made a difference in someone else....someone young and beautiful and someone who still had her whole life ahead of her. And hopefully sweet Jessica will choose well.... she will find that love she yearns for.....and she will enjoy it every day that it is given to her. I yearned for it.....I found it....and it is still mine.....and however I can, I still enjoy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


On Saturday Hospice held what they called a "Remembrance Ceremony" for all those who had lost a loved one recently. When I got the invite, I knew it was something I wanted to go to. "Bring a picture of your loved one" the invitation said. So I found one...a favorite...of Kenny and myself. Smiling.... happy....the way we always were.

The ceremony was held at our Hospice center which is tasteful and new and really quite beautiful. I had never been there before as all of Kenny's hospice care was at our home. As I was walking down the corridor to the main meeting room I could feel the lump growing in my throat and I knew that this was going to be a very tearful experience for me. I placed my framed photo amongst the others on the table in the front. I sat quietly among the 25 or so other grieving guests, eyes mildly cast down or looking straight ahead, knowing other hearts were breaking just like mine. Even before things got started I was fighting the tears and grabbing for kleenex. It was what all of this represented...the loss....the overwhelming loss and the need to remember.

It was a simple ceremony. Poems were read. Words of encouragement about cocoons becoming butterflies....scripture readings.....and a candle lighting. On the table next to the photos of loved ones were a couple of trays filled with birdseed and next to them lay a pile of thin tapered candles. One by one people got up to light a candle and place it upright in the tray, speaking the name of their loved one and who they were. I knew I had to....wanted to do it... but I wondered how I could even get the words out. His name.....who he was to me. "Ken husband....the love of my life". I did it...I said it....and it didn't matter that there were tears and such. It was ok to cry among these people because they too felt my pain as I did theirs.

I realize that I have my very private times of grieving and I mostly keep that to myself. I am by nature a people pleaser. I want people to feel "comfortable" around me. I want them to be happy. So I smile and laugh, I click my wine glass and say "cheers". I talk about all kinds of things and "yes...I am doing really well...." But I know better. I know that there are days when I am engulfed with the sadness of it all. When I am in the shower sobbing out loud knowing that no one hears. When time after time, through my tears I shout out "I miss you Kenny!" in a house that is so very empty. When I ask God "why......" WHY?

So being at the Remembrance Ceremony was good for me. It was good to be amongst others where grief was ok to display. Where we could cry.... be sad..... and talk about our loved ones and say how much we miss them. The hospice staff are all too familiar with grieving and they are not afraid to draw it out from you. It was refreshing in a strange sort of way. So I left that time, numb,...sad....but somehow....cleansed, or something close to it. I was glad I took the time to go. To spill the tears, to feel the pain, to light the candle.... but so much more than that remember.