Tag Archives: wish

Into the Light

Our 1,000 cranes

I realize that I have a tendency to reflect a lot here, but the point of the blog, when I started it, was to give voice to things I just didn’t have the ability or the company to say out loud.  I didn’t go to therapy, I know everything I’m going through, or seem to know.  I know what I feel guilty about.  I know what I loved about my wife.  I know how hard the last year and a half have been, I didn’t really need anyone to tell me how it wasn’t going to be easy.  I knew my kids might need it, and some did.  I knew they needed me to be less the gruff, hardened Dad and soften more than I normally might have been.

But there is light.  The reason this whole blog didn’t start until October . . . when Andrea passed in March . . . was because I wasn’t sure I was seeing any of the light.  I had four kids and I loved them more than anything.  I needed to get to the point where I was in a routine and able to take care of them.  I started when the routine started to settle and I realized that I still hadn’t come fully through the veil of grief that had enveloped me.

The other reason is that we had fallen so far that I didn’t think it was possible to get back up.  The dark was black as ink and I was nearly swallowed by the deep pull of it.  It’s easy to fall into that place, it really is.  Just losing your wife can be the worst thing in the world.  I lost her, our home, was facing a pay cut, was facing moving out of California in order to survive.  I couldn’t keep Abbi in her school because tuition was too much.  Basic survival, those were the things that were swirling around me.  When I thought it couldn’t get much worse it did.  I wasn’t sure at all that we’d come through the other side.

Until we wished on those damn cranes.  I know I wrote about this before.  There’s a point here.

There’s a Japanese tradition that if you wish on 1,000 paper cranes your wish may come true.  When we had fallen my Hannah’s class folded 1,000 of them and gave them to us.  They folded more and made a piece of art for us.  While I know that I’d been looking as hard as I could for work that would help me stay, that I applied for Social Security for the kids, that I was looking for a home . . . none of it seemed to be working.  But a short time after I was offered a job.  We got a home and then we got the kids’ social security.  Our wish?  Help us stay here . . . the kids’ home.  I never really thought of it as mine, but it’s really the longest we’d stayed anywhere.  They needed one stable thing – one piece of land to dig their toes into that wouldn’t change.

I’ve been in the darkness.  I would say it’s not a good place – and it isn’t – but it is easy to let it envelop you.  I don’t think a lot of people understand how much you want to feel this.  The hurt is so bad and there are waves, almost like a riptide, that folds around you and pulls you under.  In the beginning it’s hard to fight.  You hate this but you accept it, too.

But at some point you see the light.  It’s not a “walk into the light” thing, at least it wasn’t for me.  It’s more like driving through a fog and it starts to burn away.  You don’t really notice you’re not there anymore until it’s grey . . . then it’s spots of grey . . . and then you see the sky.  This isn’t just grief, it’s all of it.

I know this, and two people I care about are now going through this.  One lost her job, her husband taking a massive pay cut.  They have kids.  They care for others.  What do you do when that much comes onto your shoulders at the same time?

You give the cranes away.  We made it through to the point where the grey is fading.  It’s not all light, no, but there’s more light than dark.  For them the inky darkness was looming.  They needed a glow of some sort.  I kept the picture, the extra cranes, but I spoke with the kids and we gave away the cranes.  It wasn’t that we knew it helped us or that it was a sure thing.

It’s that we got the thoughts, support, and love from people around us.

So I gave away 1,000 cranes.  I can only hope they still have some magic left.

Things I wish she knew . . .

I've posted before, but my favorite pic of Andrea when we started dating

Give Me Strength by Eric Clapton from 461 Ocean Boulevard

Throughout my marriage my wife, Andrea, had a hard time coming to terms with my family.  She didn’t hate them, nor did she have a massive love-fest, I suppose.  But there are a few things that I wish she’d realized before she left because she’d be so happy, in fact I can see her crying there now just thinking about it.

Andrea knew I was close with my family and sometimes that led to difficulties when I would talk with them.  My Dad is someone I trust and someone with whom I rely very heavily.  In fact, I haven’t told many people, but when I was lonely and depressed in college, working at my first TV job, my Dad saw Andrea on a tape of my work and asked why I hadn’t asked her out.  I came up with some excuse, but at the time I was certain I wasn’t even on her radar.  I was . . . well, me, and she was . . . Andrea.

But I did.  My Dad’s voice nagging in my head.  He may have regretted it years later, having dealt with me and my wife through the years, but he was the reason we were together.  She had no idea.  The people she thought didn’t accept her were responsible for us being together.

I wish she’d known my Dad put us together.

I wish she’d been conscious, aware of what was going on the day she started to go downhill.  I told her but she wasn’t hearing, I don’t think.  I told her that my Dad and Mom had stayed up at 4am and gotten in the van, in the middle of their trip to see my brother and started racing in their car straight West, heading for us instead.  They asked no questions, and when I said I didn’t know what I was going to do he said he’d help me figure it out.

I wish she had seen how they walked in the door and we all took a cleansing breath, realizing someone who knew what the hell they were doing were there.

I wish she’d seen how torn up they were by the entire thing, that she’d heard my Dad’s voice crack when I told him, broken and crushed as I was, that she hadn’t made it and that I was at the hospital and lost.

I wish she’d seen how personally my Mom and Dad took her death and how he was just as angry as I about it.

I wish she had seen how the funeral and the mortuary were taken care of because Dad helped, and how he helped me to get out of the cemetery when all I wanted to do was collapse on the ground.

I wish she’d been able to see them take over for her, for months, living with her children and helping them to adjust to a whole new life – a life without her.

I wish she’d seen her best friend from college arrive and help us all to get through even though we never asked her.

I wish she’d seen the boys’ school projects of an apple tree and a UFO as a book report.

I wish she’d seen her daughter’s face when she got the prom dress she’d dreamed about from Santa.

I wish she’d known how much my family loved her and how empty it’s been without her.

I wish I could tell her how happy I am to be at my new job and writing in the evening, and how she’d inspired me to write this, about her kids, about me, and about her . . . every night.

I wish she’d heard me tell her I loved her about a million more times.

I wish she had realized just how important she was to us, even though she tried to say she wasn’t.

More than anything else, though, and beyond all other things . . . and this is the most important:

I wish she’d seen her children become four of the most amazing people I have ever met.