The River

Today is a day in which I find myself uncertain of how I want to feel. It was two years ago today that Crystle passed away. As I write those words, even now, it seems surreal. How can she be gone?

Yesterday, I went to her grave with Val, Kevin and Quinn. They brought red roses to remember their special mother and grandmother. We didn’t tarry—we all believe the grave is a simple memorial. Only Crystle’s ashes are there; she still lives within our hearts.

I have received texts from Crystle’s family and her friends. It warms my heart to know how much she is loved—and to think that she loved me. What a lucky man to have spent almost forty years of my life with Crystle!

I recently read the story of a monk who went to Heaven. He was met by an angel who welcomed him but told the monk that it was not yet his time and he would have to return to Earth. But before the he went back the angel showed him the splendor of Heaven. At one point they were crossing a long bridge the passed over a turbulent river. The angel told the monk that the river was swollen by the tears of lamentation shed by the living for those departed.

Before the monk returned to Earth, the angel said to the monk, “Tell the world upon your return that, when you are in the world, make no lamentation and weeping without cause, because it creates more difficulty and harm to the souls of your departed loved ones.”

I love this story. The angel doesn’t say that I cannot be sad; nor does he say I cannot shed a tear at those times when a memory of Crystle overwhelms me. I can assure you I will be shedding tears in the future—I just won’t allow myself to linger in those places.

I don’t think I will cry today, but the day is young. Whatever emotions may come my way, I will accept them with gratitude. For I know that whenever I am overcome by tears, it is because I lived a wonderful life with a beautiful woman.

Canada Book Awards Winner

I am pleased to announce that my book was selected as a winner in the 2020 Canada Book Awards. Thank you to my publisher, Tellwell, for helping me through the world of book publishing and marketing.

I Don’t Want to be a Pirate!

I have been fortunate to work with a wonderful publisher, Tellwell Talent. The book has been published now for almost six months. The marketing consultant at Tellwell is providing me sage advice. My book has been entered in award competitions for 2020. It has participated in a giveaway through Goodreads, Amazon’s book focused social media arm. I have set up an author page on Facebook.

It has been suggested that I join grief groups in social media and set up an Instagram presence. I believe this is good advice, I truly do. But something gnaws at me.

I realize that I don’t want to be a pirate! If you are a Seinfeld fan, you may understand the reference. Let me explain.

The sitcom series Seinfeld is, for me, the best series every produced for television. Seinfeld is an institution in our home. Everything that happens in normal life has a reference in one of the episodes. I own the DVD set for all eight seasons and Crystle and I have watched every episode more times than I am able to count.

In one episode, Jerry gets himself into a situation where he has agreed to wear a puffy shirt because he said yes to a ‘low talker’ when he could not hear what she was asking. Kramer tells Jerry that the shirt is setting a new fashion trend that makes him look like a pirate.

“Jerry, you’re going to be the first pirate,” pleads Kramer.

To which Jerry replies forlornly, “but I don’t want to be a pirate!”

No, I don’t have a puffy shirt in my closet. But where I relate to Jerry is that I don’t want to be an expert in grief. I feel bad when I respond to Tellwell’s marketing team saying that I don’t want to do Instagram for grieving.

When I decided to write my book, it became a therapy for me. I felt it could help others to read about my walk through grief in an open and honest manner. But I never wanted to be the expert CNN calls when they have a story about grief.

Let me clarify, I am happy to listen to others as they walk through grief. Anyone who walks through grief becomes an unwilling expert. For those of us who have trod this path, we learn that the best thing we can do is simply listen, and perhaps share a hug.

I feel that this blog has run its course. I am not sure what new information I can offer on grief, because at this point in my journey, I feel my place is to listen rather than speak.

This website will continue to be my author page. I would like to write another book at some point. I plan to start a new blog focusing on spirituality. The link will appear on this web page and I will be more active, I think, on social media.

I hope you understand this does not mean I am leaving Crystle in my past. I try to live every day in the present moment, so each day the first thing I do is greet Crystle. I wear her wedding ring on a chain around my neck so it rests near my heart. She is coming with me on my new journey. I could not imagine living a day without her.

The Holidays

I am sometimes asked if the holidays are a difficult time for me. I am able to make it through the holiday season without tears. I embrace the present moment and try to avoid getting lost in the past. That doesn’t mean I do not miss Crystle, for I surely do. But if I allowed my mind to focus on pasts memories, or pine away about what ‘could have been’ then I would miss creating new memories in the present moment with my family.

I see these ‘big’ days coming towards me months before they arrive. I do my reflecting privately and let any sadness come out. I feel content to let these emotions come out and cry when I am alone. I believe this is healthy, for even though grief does not hang over me, I will never stop mourning the loss of my beautiful wife. To say Crystle was my ‘wife’ seems somewhat sterile and pedestrian. She was so much more than I can ever put into words.

Today I went to lunch with my daughter and her hubby and of course, my grandson. She sent me a short video of Quinn, sitting in the backseat, legs crossed, swinging to the music. I love him dearly, but I could not help see him through Crystle’s eyes. 

I wept. For Quinn. 

He will always remember his grandmama, but he will not recall the intensity of her love. You could feel the love beaming from her eyes. He won’t see those eyes. And, speaking from personal experience, he won’t feel the unconditional love that caresses you when you have done something to disappoint. Not that my grandson could ever do any wrong.

I am fortunate. I have a loving family, including Crystle’s siblings who continue to love and support me still, and love me as if I were their own brother. I am blessed to have friends who fill my life with joy.

I am grateful for the gift of family and friends in my life. And gratitude feeds me.

H​appy holidays.

What’s Next?

“Will you marry again?”

Losing a spouse presents a unique situation in the grieving process. Family and friends are—I am not sure I can find the correct adjective. Curious? Anxious? I don’t know what words to use, but they want to know the answer to this question. 

They allow some time to pass after the death of our loved one before broaching the subject, but the question hangs in the air, so palpable you feel you can reach out and touch it. Especially in those moments where conversation lulls. You see the question forming in their mind, wondering if it is too soon. Then, pop! As if in a bubble, the question dissipates. Too soon, they must have decided.

For me, there was no ‘too soon’ for this question. It never bothered me, in fact, I felt it was a perfectly reasonable question. My sister was the first one brave enough to get the question out. Others followed as time passed.

My answer has always been the same: “Never say never, but I do not see myself getting married again.” My response could imply I was not happy in my marriage with Crystle. If you have read any of my previous writings you will know that Crystle is the best thing that ever happened to me. No, three reasons to come to mind. First, I am still deeply in love with Crystle. Second, if I married again, I am afraid I would be constantly comparing my new spouse to Crystle. That would not be good for either one of us. 

My last reason for shunning a second marriage is family politics. My grandfather never remarried after my grandmother passed. He would often say when asked about this topic, “What if Richard (his son) wants to come over for tea?” Worried that his ‘new’ wife might say she didn’t want him coming over, my grandfather would smile broadly and say, “I would have to tell her to go lie down upstairs because Richard was coming for tea.” I echo my grandfather’s sentiment.

Despite my own hesitation, I have to say that I have seen many people get remarried, at all ages, and have happy second marriages. I rejoice with them. I may even envy them a little. Never say never, but for now, I am still Crystle’s guy.