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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Glutton for punishment...

Last night I cleaned off the dresser in our bedroom. All of the sympathy cards that were in a pile, all of the newspaper articles about his death, the flags draped over his casket, the little mementos gathered over the past several months. I boxed up all the cards and newspapers and things I wanted to save. The flags are still folded and on the dresser. But everything else was put away. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I had been dreading this task and defiantly refusing to do it for so long- as usual, the anticipation of the event was worse than the reality. Mom was there to lend moral support, which helped a great deal.

Mom told me that she was listening to a CD in her car the other day and one of the songs from me and Andie’s wedding came on and she had to stop listening to the CD because it made her so sad. I’m the exact opposite- I like to listen to songs that remind me of Andie.

In fact, I have created a “soundtrack” to my life with Andie. There are over 30 songs on it and I continually add more. The songs all hold special meaning and remind me of different times in our life from the start of our friendship, through dating, marriage, kids, his death, my grieving, etc. Some of the songs are really happy. Like the ones that remind me of when we were dating and hanging out at bars on the square of San Marcos during our college days. And of course our wedding songs. Songs that remind me of the drives we’d take through the hill country on sunny days early in our marriage dreaming about where we’d love to buy land and settle down. There is one that reminds me of the last time we spontaneously (rarely happens with twins) “re-consummated” our marriage…I had been cooking one of his favorite meals for dinner and was listening to my ipod in the kitchen. He came into the kitchen and danced with me for a few seconds- a rarity in itself. Then we both started acting goofy, laughed at ourselves, kissed, then…well, you know the rest of the story. These cherished memories- sacred glimpses into how we were when no one was looking and we just had the comfort of each other. One of the songs reminds me of the triumphs over the difficult times in our marriage; how we continued to persevere and made it through and our commitment was stronger for it. The songs that we played at his funeral are on there, and some other songs about losing someone you love. Some of his favorite songs that he would turn up and sing to every time they came on the radio are on there. This playlist is basically the story of my life...of our life together. The good, the bad, the easy times, the hard times, the fun we had and didn't have, the daily grind of life...all of it.

Anyway, I listen to this playlist most days in the car on my way to work and on my way home. Sometimes it brings me comfort and makes me smile. Most times it is heart-wrenching and makes me cry. I tell Mom about this last night after she shares her experience of the song making her sad, and she says she can’t understand how I can possibly put myself through that. I wonder the same thing and come to the conclusion that it’s cathartic. It makes me face the grief full on. It floods my mind with memories of him and though painful, it is also strangely comforting.

I guess I force myself to do these painful things like look at sympathy cards and listen to sad songs because the alternative is to feel numb. Hurting is better than not feeling anything at all- though I never understood that view point until I was put in this position. Most days I’m still so detached and in denial that I’m walking around in a fog. Can you actually still be in denial if you acknowledge that you’re in denial? Probably not, so I guess what I am is: bewildered, dumbfounded, in utter disbelief that my husband is never going to walk through that door again and give me that “I’m so glad to be home” smile. He is still so real to me. My mind can't make sense of all of this.

So why do I push myself to confront the painful stuff when I could just as easily avoid it and stay in the comfort of my fog?
Well, because as the saying goes
It just hurts so good…


  1. very true- i really like the idea of the soundtrack- something your daughters will enjoy later too.

    something my counselor has said and i find to be true- the grieving and pain is the only thing connecting us to them now. it's hard to let that go.

  2. I can relate to the music thoughts. I listen to music from our wedding, music Chris loved, music from his service, etc. all the time. My dad walked in to hear one of the songs from his service playing and left in tears. It was just too hard. Hugs to you.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic today. Losing my sister last May to cancer has been the hardest thing I've ever had to live through. My remaining siblings, mother and I got a Christmas present from Sheila that she made her husband promise to give us after she was gone. He made disks and disks of every picture and video that was ever taken of/by her and our family events. Mike had these beautiful jewelry boxes made with crystal tops that had a picture of Sheila etched into the crystal. That's how he "wrapped" the videos. I will cherish the pictures forever and one day my son will get them and the box as an heirloom in memory and honor of his aunt, my sister, Sheila...
    On the days when I just don't think I can stand the pain, I tell myself the same thing: feeling pain is better than feeling nothing at all...
    Thank you, Brooke, for making yourself so vulnerable as to bare your heart like this. While it is good for you, you are helping others cope with their own losses.
    Blessings to you and yours,