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Topics - johnkmurray

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Spouse, Partner Loss / Steps
« on: January 19, 2013, 10:39:40 PM »
I wish this journey came with an tourist guide ... or a damned map!

I didn't take Widower 101 in college. They don't seem to offer it. Damn. I have a house filled with reminders of Kit. If I'm ever to let someone else into my heart I suppose I should think about making room in my house, but taking down and packing away Kit's stuff just feels wrong. I've managed to pack up all her clothing and numerous boxes of books for charity. Timed that just before CHristmas, so I'm sure it was appreciated. I even managed to take down some of the many photos I have of her around the house - how many of us did that, filled the house with photos of our lost loves? Ive given away or sold several musical instruments of hers, ones I don't play. Still, those things aside, the house is still almost exactly as she left it, like I'm afraid to change anything, like doing so just diminishes her memory. Almost three years she's been gone - you'd think I'd have my shit together by now, would have a clue.

John

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Spouse, Partner Loss / Can't a Guy Catch Break?? ;-)
« on: December 22, 2012, 09:43:39 AM »
The winky smile in the subject line means I'm posting this somewhat tongue-in-cheek. While the subject is serious, I'm laughing at myself for my naivete.  :laughing6:

When I started dating a few months ago I grew optimistic that maybe, just maybe, this holiday season would not be as lonely as the last two have been; since losing Kit. Even as recently as a week ago things were looking bright. Flash forward to the last few days: Is John going to make a new start this Christmas? :icon_santa: Will I be able to see the joy shining in that special someone's eyes when she opens her presents?  :love10:

Um ... nope  :dontknow: ... it failed to occur to me that when Christmas drew near these nice gals I've been wining and dining would switch their focus to their families. D'oh ... Christmas after all IS all about family and I'm still the outsider. So, how will John spend his third Christmas as an involuntary single guy? Um, the same way I spent the first two. I'll have Christmas dinner with good friends but pretty much on my own for the rest of the holiday week.

John
(Sonya - Where'd you go in the UK? I'll grab my passport!  :love4:)

3
Spouse, Partner Loss / A Rose
« on: December 02, 2012, 09:05:33 AM »
I was just outside with the dog and noticed something rather unusual. In the backyard next to the house is a single rose bush. This is a bush I bought at the first Relay for Life at which I piped after Kit died. Tday I noticed a single rose blooming ... in December? I wonder if Kit is sending a message?

John

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Spouse, Partner Loss / Well, I did it ...
« on: October 12, 2012, 08:14:47 PM »
I signed on to an online dating service. It has been over two years since I lost Kit and recently, thanks to some good friends, I realized that I had to do something to end these days locked within the walls of my home. I half-heartedly tried dating a year ago and that fizzled. I telecommute so don't meet woman through work. My circle of friends is limited, even the band is a small circle and with these as my only social outlets no wonder it is just me and the pets, night after night.

Friday night I went on my first date in a year - and the second since Kit died. Tomorrow night I'm meeting another gal for drinks and hopefully some live music. I'm in the mood to dance.

I hope that Kit approves.

John

5
Spouse, Partner Loss / A Letter to Kit
« on: June 30, 2012, 11:13:40 AM »
My Dearest Love,

It has taken me far too long to write this letter, to put into words what is tearing at my heart.  It has been over two years now since the cancer stole you from me. I’ve tried to get on with life as I promised you I would, I really have, but I just can’t do it. The empty days, the loneliness, the deep ache in my heart and soul, getting up every day and wondering why I bother – all of that. All that is left are my memories, your photos, and a house full of reminders of you yet empty at the same time.

Regrets. Those trips we wanted to take, places we wanted to see, but we put off because of job situations or income concerns or whatever stupid crap came up to postphone those dreams? Your mom always said I spoiled you. If I could do it all again I’d do even more. How foolish I feel now, and how much I regret that I didn’t grab at every opportunity to bring out the love and happiness in your eyes. We thought we had all the time in the world to do those things. We were wrong. I was wrong.

When the medical bills piled up we sold the bikes and your corvette. They were just things. We needed the money.  Had we known your time was so short I’d have said screw it and just maxxed out the credit cards. Anything to spare you the disappointment at losing the car you loved so much, or the guilt you felt because we gave up the bikes. That wasn’t your fault, it was cancer’s. Still, you blamed yourself.

That last trip we took together, I should have said to hell with work and taken the time off immediately instead of waiting the extra week; a week in which the cancer stole the use of your leg and confined you to that damned wheelchair. Had we gone a week earlier you would have enjoyed it more. That trip remains precious to me. I can still see the joy in your eyes watching Cirque de Soleil, or when room service brought you that big carafe of cocoa for your breakfast. The love shining in them every time you looked at me … and the pain as cancer slowly stole you away. The pride you felt at showing me Grand Canyon. The warm feeling of being together those days, driving all those miles, just spending time together with the woman I love, yet knowing that time was drawing to a close and there wasn’t a damned thing we could do about it. Little did we know how little time remained.  Had we taken the trip sooner you would have been able to do more, enjoy it more. We returned home from that trip and you were gone a few days later.

So many more regrets. For all of those times when I fell short of being a good husband, for the times I failed you, you have my deepest apologies. You followed me through two countries and even more cities, and never complained as my career path had is migrating like gypsies. How cruel that cancer struck just as you were pursuing your own dreams.  Now you’re gone and I’m left here to lead an empty shell of an existence. Yes, I’m feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I need a kick in the ass. How I wish you could be here to give it to me. I’ve tried to pick up the pieces, to get back into living as I know you want me to. I can’t. Not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Sent with all my love forever,

John

6
Spouse, Partner Loss / Soaring SPirits Loss Foundation
« on: January 31, 2012, 05:08:16 PM »
I googled the organisation Jason mentioned in another topic, the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation
http://sslf.org/

Here's the info on Camp Widow
http://www.campwidow.org/

I've only had a brief glance so far but thought I post so you all can take a look.

John

7
Spouse, Partner Loss / Movie Recommendation: "Up"
« on: January 09, 2012, 09:25:02 AM »
I watched Disney's "Up" this past weekend. It had been recommended to me by a friend. After watching it I'd like to pass that recommendation along, especially for the widowers in this group. The movie hits close to home. It deals with the loss of a soulmate, with unfinished hopes and dreams, and with finding new purpose just when you think life has lost all meaning.

For dog lovers - the movie also captures the essence of 'dog' quite well too. Think of it as a bonus. ;-)

John

8
Spouse, Partner Loss / Merry CHristmas All!
« on: December 25, 2011, 09:26:57 AM »
I received the following quote from a friend this morning via email and thought I'd share.

I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.
     - Taylor Caldwell, 1900 - 1985

9
Main / Quote to Share
« on: October 21, 2011, 07:57:58 AM »
I came across this quote today and thought I'd share ...

“We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
― Dr. Seuss

10
Spouse, Partner Loss / Wedding Ring
« on: October 14, 2011, 06:44:36 AM »
This topic is sparked by something that happened the other day. I was on my way to a date, my first since losing Kit last year, and as I was driving to the restaurant I realised that I was still wearing my wedding ring. I took it off and put it in my pocket. No problem ... after all it has been 18 months, high time I got back into circulation, right? The date went well and if no fireworks exploded in the sky at least I got to spend an enjoyable time with a pretty lady and in the process got to know a new friend better. All in all - good first time out in my book.

It was what happened afterwards that is causing me to post this. I walked my date to her car, saw her on her way, got in my car and started back home. I stopped for gas and while at the filling station remembered I had taken off my ring. Suddenly I found myself feeling very uncomfortable without it and immediately put it back on. I should be ready to take it off. I thought I was. Now it is back on my finger like a security blanket. I know that some widows/widowers continue to wear their rings. My own mother wore hers after my father died until her own passing over ten years later. I think my mother-in-law still wears hers. Still, I thought I was ready to stop wearing mine and the urgency with which I put it back on surprised me. In our 17 years of marriage I never once strayed, never cheated on my wife, but at that moment with my wedding ring in my pocket and having just been out with 'another woman' I felt like a cheating husband caught in the act. What gives??

For those of you who have gone through this, how long did it take to feel comfortable without the wedding ring, if ever? If you DID stop wearing it, what did you do with yours?

Thanks,
John

11
Main / Thought I'd Share This
« on: May 12, 2011, 09:53:12 AM »
I was browsing music on YouTube and came across the following. The singer, Eva Cassidy, closed her last public performance with this song in September, 1996, two months after learning that her cancer had  spread and she only had a short time left among us. Eva's performance of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" is truly inspirational
Eva Cassidy - What a Wonderful World Small | Large

12
Spouse, Partner Loss / Bad Night Tonight
« on: March 28, 2011, 10:54:45 PM »
I'm sitting here at the computer at 1:30am, unable to sleep. I was laying in bed earlier tonight trying to sleep when it really hit me, really started to sink in that next Thursday, April 7th, will mark one year to the day that I lost my sweet Kit. Oh, I've been aware of the approaching date for quite some time, but it wasn't real, didn't really sink in that next week it will have been a year since cancer stole the best part of me. I've spent the last hour or two tossing and turning in bed, memories flashing through my mind, tears soaking my pillow. How ironic - Kit very rarely saw me cry. I wonder if she sees the tears flowing since she's been gone. I finally gave up on sleep and am sitting here, a glass of scotch at my side. There's more in the bottle. If sleep won't come I'll  settle for the blessed numbness.

What do I do on the day? Take the day off work? Avoid people? Thursdays are band practice and a chance to be among friends, but I won't be good company, that's a given. I can't think how useful I'll be at work. If I feel this messed up tonight I will likely be a basket case that day. If I'm with friends how can I ignore the significance of the day, yet how can I burden them by bringing it to their attention. "Hi all. Sorry to be a wet blanket on the evening, but guess what day it is!" Drink a toast to her memory at the pub after practice? I'll play the pipes for her that night. I played at her funeral, and at her memorial later last year, so I can do no less on the anniversary of her death.

Why is it that on nights like this only the bad memories come to mind; the missed opportunities, the things left unsaid, the guilt? I don't want to cope. I just want her back, our lives back. I want things to be the way they were supposed to be, not the way they turned out.

Sorry ... like I said, bad night.

John

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Main / Valentine's Day
« on: February 14, 2011, 09:52:54 AM »
God, but this day sucks. What's the Valentine's Day version of "Bah, humbug"?

14
Spouse, Partner Loss / Update, or "re-Hello!"
« on: November 21, 2010, 11:35:20 AM »
Hi all,

I was referred to this board a couple of months ago and found it was of great comfort to me in dealing with the loss of Kit, my wife, to cancer earlier this year. About the same time I found Webhealing I also was laid off from my job, which left me with more time to stare at the walls closing in on me in this big, empty house that used to be our home. Your comments and company helped ease that feeling for me. Soon after that I was offered a short term consulting gig that meant lots of travel, lots of hours, and before I knew it several weeks had passed since I checked the boards. I just wrapped up that project and once again find myself sitting here alone. Even more fun, the holiday season is upon us. Getting through this ought to be a real treat, given the way I'm feeling already and it not even Thanksgiving yet!

Kit loved the holidays. It was a special time for us as a couple. I've accepted friends' invitation to spend Thanksgiving with their family, so I expect to get through that day relatively intact. After that, well I debated whether I'd even bother decorating the house for Christmas but I probably will. Call it my attempt to add as much 'normalcy' to this holiday as I can. Besides, I think Kit would want me to. If I don't I'll just sit here brooding and feeling guilty. If I decorate at least I will have the memories as I unpack each decoration we acquired over the 17 years we were together. As I string lights outside I'll remember that we bought these together at the post-holiday sales last year to replace the old strings we’ve used for many years. Even though Kit was very sick at the time she was planning for this Christmas.

Wanna hear something really ironic? Ever get music stuck in your head? I do, and to make it worse I tend to hum or sing the tune without realizing it. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket! Well, every Christmas for years I get “Blue Christmas” stuck in my head. Even worse, I tend to sing it with an exaggerated Elvis voice. Drives Kit nuts! Earns me dire threats of retribution! The irony is that the stupid song is yet again stuck in my head, and now seems to be my theme song for this holiday season.

Change of subject, and my other update: In late October Kit’s mom flew down from Wisconsin. We then drove to Charleston, SC, for the placing of Kit’s memorial in a memorial reef a few miles off the coast. Kit always loved the ocean. Last summer, after she was diagnosed with cancer, Kit asked me to do this for her. Her ashes were incorporated into a reef ball and lowered into the ocean to serve as part of an artificial habitat for marine life. I brought my pipes with me, the pipes that Kit bought for me but didn’t live to hear played, as they were special order and took months to complete. I played for her at the end of the ceremony. I played three tunes: “Lochaber No More” (an old Scottish lament) for all of the loved ones whose memorials were dedicated that day, “Dark Island” for Kit (one of her favourite pipe tunes), and “Amazing Grace” for all of the families there on the boat with us.

Regards,
John

15
Main / How Do I Go On?
« on: August 28, 2010, 02:02:05 PM »
The other night I was watching my wife's favourite cat live up to his nickname (i.e. The Spotted Freak!). I turned to share a laugh with her over what he was doing and yet again it was driven home forcefully ... and brutally ... just how big a hole losing her carved out of my life. I caught myself wondering yet again how to go on, and whether or not I really wanted to.

Kit and I were married for close to 17 yrs. We were together through lean times and good, career changes, relocations, etc. She was my best friend, my soulmate, the foundation upon which my life was based. We didn't have any children in spite of many years of trying. Perhaps to compensate, we somehow wound up with 5 cats, a toy poodle and a macaw in lieu of human children. The youngest cat, Orion, is a Bengal, and for those not familiar with the breed they retain many kittenish qualities through adulthood - kittens that never grow up, they just get bigger ... and get into everything. As such, he was a never-ending source of amusement for both Kit and I.

Kit became ill in early 2009 and was diagnosed with non-cancerous fibroid tumors in her abdomen that they first thought they'd treat with medications and later, as the pain grew worse, through surgery. As the date for her surgery drew nearer the pain got progressively worse and her doctor prescribed stronger meds, until one day I had to take her to the ER for pain relief. While we were there they took a CT scan of her abdomen and just happened to catch part of her lungs in the picture. They noticed some spots on the lungs that gave them some concern and admitted her for further tests. Within a week or so it was confirmed that she had cancer (unknown primary). Not only that, but it had already spread to other areas. The Oncologist estimated she had 1-2 years to live if she underwent chemo, less if she didn’t seek treatment. Our lives came crashing down around us that week.

Kit went for chemo and at first it seemed to slow the spread of her cancer but by the New Year the cancer was back with a vengeance. Late January we were told Kit had maybe a few months to live. We halted treatment so she could best enjoy what time she had left. In early March they said she had weeks … and if we had any plans (trips, activities, etc.) we should not waste time on excess planning. The last week of March I took her to Las Vegas, a place she had often talked about us going to see together. After getting back we were also planning a long weekend in Savannah. When we left home she could still walk with minimal assistance (and a cane) but I arranged for a wheelchair to be at the hotel. Two days later the cancer played perhaps its cruelest trick - It took away the use of her right arm and leg. We had made a side trip to see the Grand Canyon, and that night in our hotel in Flagstaff Kit tried to get out of her chair and her right side collapsed, sending her crashing to the floor. For the rest of the trip she was confined to her wheelchair. She couldn’t get in or out of it without assistance. She couldn’t dress, shower, etc, without assistance. Kit was an artist, both in traditional media and as a graphic artist. She was also very talented musically and played many instruments. For Kit this seemed to be the final blow, the ultimate indignity heaped on her by the disease. We finished the rest of the trip, but she grew visibly weaker and weaker as the week went on. It was our last trip together, to a place I’d promised to take her to for a few years, and we enjoyed the trip, but when I look back on ths photos I took of her that week alone I can see the changes that happened in those few days.

At the Las Vegas airport, waiting for our flight, Kit slept soundly in her wheelchair, so soundly that two burly security guys came over to see that she was ok. She had to be carried to her seat (I’m SO glad I shelled out the extra for First Class!). She slept so soundly on the flight home to Atlanta that I checked her breathing and pulse a few times. She woke up near the end of the flight and apologised to the Flight Attendant for sleeping so long … imagine that. Her mom, who was staying with us throughout Kit’s illness, met us at the airport. When we got home we set up the sofa bed in the living room until Hospice could get a bed delivered. This was Friday night. On Saturday a bed was delivered and set up downstairs. Kit slept more and more as the weekend progressed, and on Monday morning the Hospice nurse told us she was slipping away, that it would be a few days at most. On Wednesday morning, April 7th, 10:30am, I held her hand while she died. We were watching an episode of “Scarecrow and Mrs. King”, a show that she’d waited for years to come out on DVD and the first season had arrived while we were in Vegas. That morning I put the show on so she could at least hear it, even if she didn’t wake up to see it. On Saturday I played “Dark Island” on the bagpipes at her funeral service.

I’ve been like a zombie since then. Weekdays I would get up, go to work, then come home to the pets and sit alone in the house. A couple of times each week I’d go to band practice to get out of the house. Weekends it was me, the pets, and lots of memories. August 14th was our wedding anniversary. It would have been our 17th. I knew it would be rough. It was worse, but at the same time it was wonderful. I watched our wedding video, then a few of our favourite movies. I ran out of champagne early on and switched to Crown Royal. It felt right to spend the day with her, with our memories. We usually spent this day together in previous years and I couldn’t deny her this one.

I’ve never told all of this to anyone. I don’t know why I’m doing so now, but I feel like I’ll implode if I don’t get it out. Tears are streaming from my eyes as I type, and my chest aches. Still, I need to get this out, to grieve. Sadly I can’t grieve openly around other people … call it a “guy thing.” Stupid, but we’re programmed this way.

Anyway, if you’ve made it thus far, thanks for letting me get this out. I know she’s gone. I see the empty side of the bed next to me at night, the shoes and coats by the door that she’ll never again wear, the toothbrush on the sink that will never be used, and I know, intellectually, that my sweet Kit is gone. In my heart I can’t make myself believe that this is so.

Thanks,
John

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