Release

As I sit here missing Dan, I thought of this song. In many ways, he was a gambler. He took his risks and he placed his bets on those things in which he believed. Many payed him back well; others left him feeling the loss. He may have made different choices, but he would have gambled on living life his way.

As I listen to the lyrics of this song, I relate to the words about the song in the heart of a woman and how her song could only be released by the truest of loves.

I was that woman. Dan’s love set the hidden melody that was inside of my lonely heart free. I was free to love him totally without reserve or fear. That in and of itself is a miracle.

 Without Dan in my life, I would have been bamkrupt of the joy or contentment. I, forever, will know difference betweeen true love and what is produced by expectations or media influence. So, many live a lifetime and never know what true love feels like. I am one of the lucky ones. His love gave me so many wonderful gifts.

Dan loved beautiful things. His eye could always find the fine lines in a classic car. (Sorry to say that he didn’t like the looks of today’s cars very much).

He admired the touch and skill of a sculptor and their finished creation. He was mesmerized by the muse that struck the artist’s hands.

He loved the essence of color in all living things. He never overlooked the colors in a mountain scene or the display of color in a sunset.

Because of his artistry, he loved women and his eyes rested on me and I became the literal definition of the word “Wife”;  the desire of the eyes.

He found beauty in all women. He gave compliments easily and he meant them. He never “flattered”. He stated the obvious. Many believed that he was just saying empty words or that he had an agenda; they misunderstood him. His  security in his manhood allowed him to be sincere. He meant what he said.

Lately, I have pondered all of the gifts he gave me. They are not of the material nature. His love was a key that unlocked so many things that were out of sight, especially my sight. The best gift was my discovery of all that was held within my heart.

He made me understand what it was like to be cherished. I did not know what it was like to be valued like a precious gem. It was in the safety of his love that allowed me to dance in the palm of his hand and I saw him delight in me. I was amazed.  His eyes became my “looking glass”.

Without Dan in my life, I would never have known such joy. I grew up with a father that didn’t value women. He never gave compliments and he insisted that women were  not “made” to do the things that he respected. Sadly, I learned at an early age that women were of less value than men. I learned to discount my worth because I was a female.

Dan taught me  that all of me was of value and he celebrated  my womanhood, my femininity because he had a deep respect for strong woman. I believe his understanding of women was because of his grandmother. His love for her formed his respect for  women, and because of her, he was not threatened by their strength. He admired their strength as well as their beauty.

In his eyes, I had  that strength. He didn’t try to dominate it nor did he try to control it. Instead, he nurtured it and it grew within my heart. He saw my strengths and was not intimidated.

He  delighted in most everything that I did. It didn’t matter if I was singing in church or in a Karaoke bar, Dan was my greatest fan.  He never failed to encourage me after a song and he told me when I needed to use more air to keep the pitch. He had an acute ear for music.

He would tell me how he loved watching my hair blowing in the wind as we rode  the Harley. He said that he loved the shades of brown and red  highlights my hair.

Sometimes, he would sit and stare at me. When this began to unnerve me,  I would ask him what he was looking at so intently. I always expected a critism, but he never gave one. He commented on the petitness of my hands and how he loved to watch me play piano.

But, the comments that I will store lovingly in my heart of hearts will be the ones he gave me for just being who and what I was. I will never forget the evening that we went to the symphony. I finished getting ready and came out of the bedroom. In a hushed voice, he said,  ” You look stunning.”. I had never heard that phrase before in my life. I was speechless. I always felt beautiful with him.

He always told me that how much  he loved my shape and the feel of my skin. He helped me become comfortable with living in my body. Somewhere inside of me, I reasoned that if a man like Dan loved my body, why should I not trust that there was value in it. Without his love, I could not  have  discovered the joy of being a woman.

Everyday, I take the time to make myself look the best that I can.  I want to make him look good. I am proud to be his widow, as much as I was proud to be his wife, the desire of his eyes.

After thinking about the song that Dan’s love  released inside of me, I realized that his love set my heart free to be me. And then a new discovery came forth. For the first time in my life, I am free .

I was no longer in the role of wife or parent.  At first, I felt the emptiness that this kind of  loss brings. For these past few months, I felt the sting of not being someone’s wife and I struggled to understand just who and what I was to do now. As I grieved  over these losses, as well as his death, I felt abandoned and useless.

Then, it came to me. I have no parents to  disappoint nor do I have a husband to please. My children are grown and the responsibilities for their upbringing has past me. I am no longer required.

But, as I processed this feeling of detachment, I came to a new realization. I am free to be just be whomever I am and I am free to go wherever it takes me. I was surprised by my own reaction to this understanding.

I am acutely aware that my time on this earth is running low and I have discoveries to make about myself and the person who has lived and survived so many tragedies.

His gift of love freed me to a new horizon that I did not know existed. I began to feel a new kind of relief. A relief that I do not totally understand.

In someways, it feels like when I was in middle school and I was just learning about the wonders of a world outside of my parents and church.

I suppose it feels like a new birth of sorts. That is the best way I know how  to describe it.

I do know that I have a different appreciation for life than my peers. I know that I want the final 25 years of my life to be more and not less. Because I am widowed and without the responsibilites of parenting, I am not confined by these roles which allows me to be redefined by the present and not the past.

I don’t want to sound as if I begrudged those roles of daughter, wife, mother, step mother and grandmother. That is far from the truth. Rather, it feels like the spark of a new fire that is being kindled inside of me. It borders on excitement…I seem to have forgottem what that felt like.

Yes, Dan’s love set me free and, now,  I am trying to learn how to “soar”. To rely on my own set of wings. I am so very grateful to him and the love he gave to me.

As I watched this video, I was taken by all of the beautifl landscapes and sunsets. I thought of how Dan saw the Rockies for the first time as he drove his Semi truck through the high passes. As I watched further into the video, I saw his life and the many miles that he lived providing for his loved ones.

The lyrics speak of  a light in the depth of the darkness and a calm in the eye of every storm. Maybe, I am beginning to see both the light and calm….

His love was for a very important season of my life. I will always have it and I have one more obligation to him. I believe it would be his desire for me to learn to really live. He would want the effects of his life to shine on past his days here. And the best place to see the beauty of his life’s sunset is in the lives of those he loved.

How is the best way to thank him for everything he was to me? I believe the best thanks to him is for me to live, live well.  And I shall  live a life of  thanksgiving for the man who set my heart free….

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Shadows of Uncertainty

Somehow, in the midst of these winter days, we have settled into a “normalcy” in the face of this uncertainty. We have a “no structure” kind of structure that is determined by the pain level when my husband awakes.

Mornings are hard…they are difficult for me anyway. I feel the years of neglect and abuse that I put this poor body through. My knees ache because of the years where I loved to run like the wind and because, at 10, I decided to jump from the top of the church steps. (About 8-10 feet) I didn’t make it and I came down with my feet in between the steps…I was on crutches for a few weeks and I was told I would be reminded of this foolishness as I aged. They were right….The knees and feet suffer in the morning light….

My husband was always a morning person. He always like to get the work done so that he could come home early and we had most of the day together. That was his work pattern. Now, he wakes and moving is always assessed by the number of the pain. When the morning pain is around a 3-4, I know that it is only going to rise as he moves about and that is my first morning duty. I retrieve his pain medication and urge him to give it time to begin relieving the morning aches…

My next duty is to get the coffee going and begin consumption as if prescribed as medication. After 3-4 cups, I can begin to face the day and I have to go to the things that I wrote down the night before. When I sleep, all manner of important things are gone when the sun rises and I must remind myself what was paramount at the end of the day and start from there.

Most of our days are regulated by my husband’s treatment. Is there an appointment, a treatment, a blood drawl? If not, then we take the day as it comes…Medicines, meals, laundry, whatever needs doing…

It took a while before I didn’t feel useless for not needing to venture out. Now, I relish not being compelled to go and do…my total attention is to meet my husbands needs. He is the one who has trouble with having no where to be or nothing important to do. His was a life of meeting delivery times and schedules. He has trouble being housebound by the cold or weather. He still suffers from the side effect from one of the chemo drugs…It killed the nerves in his hands and it will never be reparied. What maddness there is in chemo and the idealogy that says we kill the person and make it a race to see which dies first the cancer or its host….shades of Dr Mengela.

Until the winter set in, his days would be spent outside “puttering”. He would find something that needed doing and, by the first hour, I would be outside “puttering” as well. I always was one to let the house wait. I never enjoyed the chores when there were wonderful and exciting things outside to capture my imagination.

The best part has been the walks to the woods. They are paths of memories for me. These are the lands where I would come for solace and reflection as a child. My childhood was a solitary one. I learned to love the company of all things in nature. I still find the best of days are those with a warm wind and a long walk to observe the wonder of it all….

In the afternoon’s my husband rests. He will relax in the recliner and he will recharge the needed energy that has been spent doing something or nothing. The cancer has a way of commandeering all systems and exploiting them for its purposes…

I will do quiet things so as not disturb his rest. It is as vital as air for his energy to regenerate. I sometimes will watch TV or crochet the latest baby blanket. I usually write or read. Anything to keep noise from waking him.

Through out the day, we may have a neighbor to stop in or the pastor comes to call. These are always welcome distractions and they seem to perk his spirits up…

The best days are when my son brings the grandson to visit. At three years old, there are monster trucks, Godzilla, dinosaurs  and of course, Jurassic Park video to play. It’s amazing how children energize the atmosphere and leave you in wonder if you ever had that much energy in your life. Smiles, giggles, and the fantasies of the little worlds bring such joy and of course, we can escape to “The Land Before Time” as a distraction for the quiet routine of everyday.

Even in the shadows of uncertainty, there is an unfamiliar “normal” that we have settled into. I can barely remember the days that were full of Corporate decisions and time constraints or deadlines. How all of that changed overnight!

But, now is good. I could live like this for the rest of my life and find contentment. I know that it isn’t possible, but today, I will be content. Even in the shadows of uncertainty, I will be content with the quiet, lack of structure, and I will be content with the snow, ice and cold…….