Tribal Blessings


I haven’t written a post to my blog for a few weeks now.  I had hip replacement surgery just over two weeks ago and today is the first time I’m ready to write again.

Rick had both of his knees replaced around the turn of the century.  Remember the fears around Y2K?  The Internet would falter, transportation would grind to a halt, and there’d be general panic throughout the world.  Time progressed from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000 and . . . nothing happened.  It was just another New Year’s Day.  I find my apprehension and anxiety about upcoming events are usually overblown.  The event occurs, and it is often easier or more enjoyable than I imagined.

So it was with my procedure.  My surgeon is well-regarded, so after waiting two months to see him at the beginning of this year, I had to wait four more months to undergo the procedure.  During that time I imagined helplessness, incapacities, dependence on others, and failure to rehab back to my former level of fitness.

Fortunately I was wrong on most accounts.  Compared to others, I was discharged faster from rehab, transitioned from walker to cane quicker, and gained permission to drive earlier.  I perform all activities of daily living, and have even just returned to the gym for strength training.

I did depend on others, however, to get me through this.  Neighbors, stepdaughters, bicycling friends and dragon boat club members all came through with their time.  My neighbor who sat with me at the hospital after Rick’s passing almost a year ago once again sat with me in a hospital – her generosity of spirit is amazing.  One stepdaughter came down to Florida to help me with the transition from rehab to home (the other had to cancel her own plans to join us).  Others called, visited, sent cards and flowers, and ferried me to appointments.

One of the latest social constructs is about finding one’s tribe — a group of people who love and care about one another, no matter the circumstances.  I have a tribe and feel blessed.  I have been so self-absorbed these past months and have drained others with my neediness.  It is more than time to balance the scales through service to my tribal community, to:



Be Present.


Two into One


Rick and I only lived in this home for one year.  In that year we settled in and found our niches; Rick had an office and I used a guestroom for mine.  I could see a fountain from my window and enjoyed watching the comings and goings in my neighborhood from this front room.  Rick’s office looks out into the open space of the home and his window offers no special scenery.

Two offices are no longer needed.  Two sinks in the master bath are not necessary.  Two of each type of bicycle in the garage is two too many.  Two bar stools at the kitchen counter are not used at the same time.  Two of anything is no longer necessary.  I am just one here.

For a while I moved between the two offices.  My computer, printer and modem were in the front room, along with my files.  Financial documents were in Rick’s office.  Consolidation was obviously needed, but I did not have the emotional or physical energy for so long.  First my computer and printer moved to his office; months later the cable company added outlets and the modem followed.  I bought pretty colored folders and files and reorganized Rick’s desk and credenza to my liking.  I kept his desk accessories, decorated with alligators — appropriate for his beloved alma mater the University of Florida.  Some of his books remain in the bookshelves; I added a few of my favorites and of course photos of him.  His diplomas came off the walls, replaced by mine.

So the office is done.  I don’t like the room.  Rick should be sitting at this desk, smiling at me as I pass by.

My former office has been redone for its original purpose.  The desk is gone.  The daybed has been replaced with twin beds.  Just today thrift store volunteers hauled away the end table I used for my printer as there is now a proper nightstand between the beds.  Photos from my recent trip to Cuba are mounted on the walls.

So the guestroom is done.  It feels barren.  I should be sitting there, peering through the plantation shades at the world.

My house is not a shrine to Rick, but my memories of him and our life together fill every room.



Grief is often described as coming in waves, of drowning, of being submerged.  All of those illustrations fit for me; however, the scenario of body-surfing seems the most useful to me right now.

When I am riding high with confidence and even some joy, I know what awaits – an emotional dip.  It always comes, even if it is smaller than the recent high.  Soon there will be another upswing with the inevitable downswing.  Let me explain.

My parents loved beaches and we spent many vacations on Cape Cod.  As they lay in the sun I often was in the sea.  I would look at the incoming waves, judging how to handle them.  If a wave was quite large, then I might choose to dive through the middle, avoiding its full impact; other times I jumped up to meet the crest.  If the wave was small, then I might simply bounce on the sand to keep my head above water as it went past.  And if the wave was just right, I’d turn towards shore, hold my arms out and catch it at the right time to be carried in.  At the end of the ride, I would be tumbling in the sand, pounded by the water – only to lift my head and realize just a few inches of water surged around me.

So it is with my grief for the loss of my husband Rick, and my efforts to regain normalcy in widowhood.

When my sorrow was fresh and raw, I avoided certain situations because I did not have confidence I could conduct myself appropriately.  While my friends were accepting of my tears, I knew they were not socially acceptable and sometimes I just stayed home, ducking down to let circumstances flow over me.

Now I have the emotional fortitude to do almost anything.  For example, there was a dragon boat festival this past weekend.  I went a day early so that I could hear a favorite band with friends.  At the races, I felt confident in contributing to our club’s wins and cheered as we received gold medals for our division.  I was flying high, reaching over the surge.

As the weekend ended, I hit the shore, struggling a bit to steady myself with the inevitable let down.  I came back to a silent home, unable to share my victories with Rick.  It is easier than months ago.  I no longer feel beaten into the sand; I can raise my head back up and take on the next challenge.

Water gives life.