Hello everyone - I'm Chuck, a new member who wishes to thank the Legacy Connect Team for accepting me into your community. I'm not sure where or how to start, so I'll just say I lost my husband of 32 years, Larry, on April 22nd to cancer. He was diagnosed early last fall, and after Christmas things started to get bad for him due to reactions to treatment and agressive progress of the cancer. I was trying to be strong and positive for him but was neglecting my own health issues which camne to a head in early April. Larry had to admit me to the ICU and I was still in the hospital waiting for a friend to bring Larry to see me on the 22nd when I learned he had been admitted to the ICU that morning. At 7:00 that night he was gone - I never got to say goodbye or see him - something that hauntss me daily. I was supposed to be taking care of him, and couldn't be there for him at the end. Larry's birthday is this coming Friday, and I suppose I'm hoping someone may be able to offer comments about how I can face this and the approaching holidays without him when he was my rock - the strong one who was always there in my times of despair. I have loving friends and family who are trying so hard to help, but a dear old friend finally said he thought I needed to find people who would better understand where I am now in ways that none of them could. That's why I'm here. I posted a photo of us - I'm standing behind Larry - but the photo posted sideways and I'm not sure how to turn it upright, so again any help is appreciated. Thank you for listening.

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Dear Marsha, you are a true sweetheart!  I totally remember you telling me that about Abby:) she is my joy and that she has a connection in her heart with her grandpa Jack is wonderful and she knows when I am feeling down and comes swooping in to raise my spirits!  I love her to the moon and back!

Oh I agree with your sentiments Marsha.  At this point in my life I think next year I may plan a trip away for the holidays!  Try as I may it is stressful all these combinations of family who aren't really family sure make it hard, I mean in the way that people show up and while one tries to be open there is really no relationship there to begin with and would rather be alone!  Yes I will be having Christmas with my other daughter and then will hopefully go over to my sister's all of us for a few days after the fact.  This used to happen to my dad too, man I have those memories now and that doesn't help.  Family dynamics huh? Kids, who aren't really kids any more at 36 now are they! I'm glad I'm not alone and Christmas really is for the little ones so it will be special for Abby.  Both my sister and my kids have barriers up when it comes to our losses.  My sister never talks about our parents, drives me crazy truthfully and then one time earlier this year we were talking about a friend of hers whose mom was ill with cancer and I started to cry over Jack and she said  "oh you still miss him, I'm sorry".  Excuse me?

One daughter is very distant and the other, younger one, she will from time to time talk about her dad but in different contexts.  I just go ahead and bring him up when I want because I need to.

Good for you for continuing those traditions Marsha! My dad was very much like that and felt it really important but nowdays everything is chat/online/not much face to face and even when in the company of others it is happening.   The efforts involved in putting together a nice Christmas including the meal are extraordinary and you know what - it is just an assumption that it will happen, like "poof" as my sweetheart used to say, "just like that"!

I will drop you an email and big HUGS and thanks for yours - I feel better already! xoxoxoxo

People are coming... you remember what that's like - was like - don't you? Him, sitting in the kitchen pouring over coupons, making out the shopping list, planning the menu while wondering how many sides we need. You, dashing around cleaning windows, vacuuming, wondering which tablecloth to use. Slightly annoyed,he says "Why are you worrying about the windows - nobody cares if they aren't sparkling clean!" You reply "I care!" Then he smiles and says "Yes, I know you do." And when you're done he comes up behind you, hugs you and says "They're beautiful - nobody does windows better than you." And you love him for that.
Him, standing at the stove, stirring with one hand, the other holding his place in the cookbook muttering to himself "You'd think I would remember how much ginger after all these years..." You, putting out napkins for the hors d' oeuvre reminding yourself to empty the ice trays when he says "You better go change - they'll be here soon." Exasperated, you say "Why bother - they'll all be in jeans and sneakers anyway - nobody cares what we look like!" He gives you that look and says "I care." You smile and say "Yes, I know you do." And when you come down and ask if this is alright, he comes over and hugs you and says "Thank you - you look great - isn't that the sweater I gave you? I always love you in that sweater." And you love him for that.
And when everyone's been and gone, you both collapse and say "Why do we do it?" But you know you do it because it's who you are - it's what you do when people are coming.
So now they come, and they smile and fumble for safe topics of conversation and wonder if they should say his name or comment how they will miss his cooking. You smile and refill glasses, and try not to keep glancing at his picture.You quietly excuse yourself when you feel the tears coming, and busy yourself with tasks to keep from sitting down and looking anyone too closely in the eye. They don't notice the windows, or that you're wearing the sweater that you gave him last year - it's not a perfect fit, but it feels warm on you. And you don't resent their awkwardness - it's not their fault. It's not anyone's fault - it just is, and nothing will change that. They're thinking about shopping, and football, and keep glancing at their watches. So you thank them for coming, and yes, you'll call next week, and no you haven't thought about Christmas yet, but thank you for the invitation and you'll let them know. Then they're gone, and you collapse and look at his picture and ask "Why did I do this?" And you know why - because it's who you are and what you do when people are coming.

Dear Charles ...  Once again you brought tears to my eyes with such a beautifully written post and giving words of wisdom.  You captures the spouse's left behind feelings to a tee.  Thank you for that!

My beloved Ernie passed away in April 2011 and we always loved Christmas (use to have a private, romantic Christmas just the two of us one minute after midnight) and without thought I put up the Christmas tree.  Ernie would always redo the Christmas lights if I did them so I finally let him to do that and I miss him so.  I now have an artificial tree (never thought I'd stoop to that  LOL) and decorate it, look around and say, 'hon, what do you think of the decorating.'  You can almost feel the approval sweeping over you.  I have been doing the tree ever since and refuse to give up our beautiful tradition.  One minute after midnight on early Christmas morn I will have a drink to him and talk with him, give him his mushy Christmas card and throw him a kiss.  I feel his presence.

You are so right about guests coming and your to 'why do we do it' it's because that's who we are.  Everyone snuggles into my home as it' quaint with an old traditional Christmas ambiance.  The fireplace is roaring away (not a gas fireplace) and the lights shimmer with candles everywhere.  Why do I do it? I do it for Ernie's memory and also mine.  People seem to have a good time and I'm at the point now that tears don't come so readily and I'm sure Ernie is right there watching us all.  It's a lot of work as Ernie would often help me with housework or cutting up fruit, etc.  He was in charge of the alcohol and I with the food.  Now I have to do it all so as we all sit filling our faces and those that drink have a few I am exhausted, but it feels good.  It's human nature to need family and friends around you during this time of the year.  Do I get invitations back, a few, but not many.  I notice many people don't put a whole lot of trouble into the way they dress, but Ernie and I did and that made us feel good.  I don't judge people as to how they dress, but just enjoy their company.  I know for some grieving the thought of a Christmas tree is difficult to deal with and in time they'll become more motivated.  I guess you and I just know it's the thing we need to do for our sweethearts. 

Charles, I really wish you would think of writing a book about what you have written here as you are a fantastic writer and I read everyone of your posts.  While expressing yourself you also give a reason as to why all these things in life happen and you're writing is so up-lifting.  Thank you!

Big hug (thanks for the memories and wise observation of who we are now.)

Marsha 

Jane P., I just read your reply to Grtechen, and I was so moved by your words that I actually went to another discussion you had with Elvira in March of 2014. I hope I don't seem creepy or pushy, but in following the conversation I learned so many things about you that I feel a desire to share more about myself than I have to date. I am getting very shaky with Christmas being everywhere I look - on TV, newspapers, stores - and I will probably be clinging to this site for dear life as I don't (or can't) talk about my feelings anywhere else without getting people upset or frustrated with my "clinging to negative thoughts" as someone so severely put it.

Your three losses in three years leaves me stunned - I'm so sorry for the terrible things thrown at you so repeatedly - yet you are so kind and giving in sharing your thoughts and concern for others. Your use of the phrase "the grief tango" really hit a nerve, as it really is a dance, and to a tune that comes at you out of nowhere! I just made an appointment to get a haircut, and when I got off the phone I started to cry. Really, Chuck?! Over a haircut???!!! But you see Larry always tactfully started suggesting that I do this every December as he hated it when I let myself get shaggy looking. I'm self-employed as a artist, and mostly have little contact with the "real world", so often didn't worry too much about being perfectly groomed, which drove Larry nuts.

Christmas was always for spending with his family, Thanksgiving with mine. Over the years my family all passed, all to cancer, and we were left with a few friends coming for dinner and to watch a movie. In Larry's family it is the opposite - with marrriages, divorces and second marriages, children, grandchildren, and eventually even great-grandchildren, Christmas just kept expanding. But where I fit in was always a bit dicey.

You see, five years before we met he divorced his ex-wife, and has five children - all adults now, but still quite young when I appeared in their lives. I wasn't Larry's first boyfriend, but they saw that I was not just a fling, and their varying degrees of disdain and aloofness made me very uncomfortable. I completely understand that this was not something they could easily comprehend or accept - nor could his ex or his sister. I won't spend time trying to describe what Larry went through in his youth - that's for another time and place. But over the years when it became clear I wasn't going anywhere, there became a sort of truce in which everyone was civil and sometimes even friendly - at least some of them.

Now that they've lost their father, brother, and "husband" as Betty likes to call him, I've become the frightfully inconvenient person who they all assure is still part of the family. How magnanimous of them, no? To further complicate matters, I am the executor of Larry's estate and sole heir to our home and belongings - a fact that (I've heard through the grapevine) some resent quite adamantly. The phone calls, starting with "Oh, Chuck - how are you?" quickly transform into "You know, Dad always told me he wanted me to have...(fill in the blanks)" or "Didn't he have several insurance policies for the grandkids?"

Capping all this, I am still recovering from liver and organ damage that landed me in the hospital (with two weeks on a ventilator) just a few weeks before Larry passed, which is why I couldn't attend his memorial at which (I have been told by the few of my relatives and our gay friends who attended) my name was never mentioned. Thirty two years deftly wiped clean of any embarrassment, allowing them to grieve quite openly and boisterously without having to acknowledge the pain and anguish they caused Larry while he lived.

I was interested to read you live in Delaware - my oldest friend Karen lives in Wilmington and she and her husband and daughter have travelled here at least six times since I got home from the hospital to visit and help however they could - all one day trips, as they had to work the next day! I am so blessed to have friends like that to keep me from going over the edge. Stan worked for DuPont for many years, so it is a small world after all (cue music).

This is far too long, but I'll close with one more anecdote. I now have to learn to do everything Larry alwaws did, including the grocery shopping - he always said I am an impulse buyer, and our trips together took twice as long and cost twice as much. Recently I was at Walmart early to avoid a crowd and running children, as I use a cane and if I'm bumped or knocked down, I can't get back up without assistance - ah, life...so many new joys to explore. I tried to reach for something on the upper shelf and succeeded in pulling a whole pile of multi-pak toilet tissue packages down on myself! As I stood amid the rubble thinking there really IS no fool like an old fool, a tiny senior lady called out "Sir, are you alright? Don't move, I'm coming!" She moved more slowly than I do, but she reached me and asked again if I was hurt, to which I replied "Only my pride, mam." She said I should call for help if I need something out of reach, and that there were push-buttons at the ends of most aisles to summon a sales associate. I said "Really? I didn't know that - Im' new to all this. I wasn't the one to do the shopping, but now...." I trailed off, feeling the tears just behind my eyes. She gently patted my hand, looked into my eyes with such concern, and said "It's alright dear, I know all about it. Tell me, if you don't mind my asking, when did your wife die?" I hesitated, thinking I would not deny Larry or our love, and said "My husband, Larry, passed on April 22nd." Then I saw it - THE LOOK. Anyone who is gay knows what I mean. She snatched her hand back as if she'd been burned, her eyes narrowed and became cold as ice, and she abruptly turned and made her way up the aisle without another word. I don't know how long I stood there - then slowly reached down and put a pack of tissue in my cart and resumed shopping, all the time saying to myself "Some things never change - time passes, laws are passed, but when you least expect it - there it is again."

That's why I can't even consideer looking for a live support group. Besides my limited mobility and endurance, I just can't face entering a room and saying that I've lost my husband and seeing the look. I would surely be my undoing.

Thank you , Jane, for listening and being so generous, not just to me, but to all of us here. I doubt you realize what an impact your words are having on us here, but believe me Someone greater than us is working through you, and I pray the pain of your losses is diminished with each kind word you give to others.

a very big HUG, Chuck

Hi Chuck,

Today is my 54th birthday, it is my 5th without my Rose, it is difficult to be happy and smile even when recalling some of the best memories of birthdays and special dates past. I do not know that it ever gets easier, people have a tendency to shun you when after you loose your significant other, they do not like to be reminded of the pain and anguish they may face from a similar loss. It is so hard to live a normal life or be happy when such a huge part of it is lost.

I know it hurts! I know there are days when you wish the everything would stop and let you have a little peace! I know there are days when it is a struggle to get out of bed, but we do, life continues, we cope and do our best because our loved ones no longer with us would want it that way. Life is full of enough sorrow, regret, remorse, and grief when you have someone to help you through it. It is so much more difficult when we go through it all alone.

Hi Pete,

Happy Birthday, and I hope you feel Rose close to you today - thank you for sharing in my feelings of pain and a sometimes overpowering desire to just give in. Your words help so much to know that you, and others here, do indeed know how hard it is...

Wishing you a peaceful day and night -

Chuck

Dear Pete ...  Happy Birthday. I know it feels like a mixed bag of emotions.  When my beloved Ernie passed away in 2011 he missed my 70th birthday and also our wedding anniversary and,  of course it just wasn't the same without him.  I have also experienced so-called long time friends shunning me since Ernie passed and along with the grief we're experiencing that just adds onto the fragile state we are in.  Some did stay loyal to me, but few and now I'm making new friends here and there. 

It is so true what you said that each of us seems to get up and get moving hoping the pain will subside.  For myself after almost 5 years without my beloved I still feel lost without him, but the pain isn't so intense.  My friends help me celebrate my birthday and for that I feel blessed.

It is so difficult as you say to go through this difficult part of our life alone.  Unfortunately, Ernie and I couldn't have children and we put our energies into nephews, a niece and two Goddaughters.  Now, all are grown and lives of their own and now Ernie is gone.  I have to admit there are times I feel very lonely, but thankfully for this forum and some good friends I've met on here and posts such as yours it makes things a little less painful knowing one is not alone in their grief. 

I wish you the very best my friend and know that Rose is there with you and we are here as well.

Birthday Hugs

Marcy  

Hi Pete,

Reading your post brought back familiar feelings of sorrow, grief, and loss. So it has been five years now for you? When does it get easier? 

Facing one's own birthday without the love of our life by our side is one of the many very tough things we (the bereaved on this site) have to face every so often.  I know what you mean by it's difficult recalling the happy times when you miss your Rose so badly. Even the good, happy memories bring tears. I hope that over time for you and for all the rest of us remembering the happy days with our beloved spouse/partner doesn't call forth as much pain, that over time our pain of loss will be tempered and we will able to relive the happy times with a little smile.

Hope your day was bearable and that you felt your beloved's presence by your side.

Take care, Trina

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