Two Months After She’s Gone, and Sure Enough I’m Still Thinking about Her

I feel like I am commemorating little anniversaries, like So Young and I did when we were college kids and first dating. “Wow, it’s been two weeks! Happy anniversary! I made you a card and wrote a poem…”

April 28 marks two months after So Young died. I have this strong feeling these days that I want to leave it behind me. By “it,” I’m not sure what I mean, but I think I mean this blog, ruminating about the fact that she has died, I’m alone, my kids have no mom, the whole mourning thing (good luck with that), etc., etc. The problem is that it’s like getting your right arm cut off and somebody telling you to stop thinking about your right arm.

I’ve met a few fellow young widow(er)s recently, and it has been refreshing. Before, I felt like nobody understood. Now I know that (besides God) there are people on earth who understand and are going through the same thing. We have similar frustrations, similar preoccupations.

Kenji reminded me in another one of those life-altering meetings  that occurs when I’m going in the wrong direction (we have too many of those) that I need to not primarily identify as a widower but as a disciple of Christ. He really pressed me on this over and over again while we sat there at Chipotle for an hour and I laughed uncomfortably, because I was clearly preoccupied with certain things (not just being a widower, but about certain things that are sort of ancillary to my condition) to the extent that he was wondering if I wasn’t idolizing those things. Anyway, long story short he’s right, and I’m struggling to reorient myself toward God rather than all these distractions and my grief. It ain’t easy. I talk to other widow(er)s, and they’re in the same boat. Still thinking about that dumb right arm.

I have a lot of new goals now, in addition to my primary life mission of being a disciple and follower of Christ. For one thing, I want to commemorate So Young properly, especially for the girls. She left a lot of journals from all stages of her life. I want to type those up for the girls, and maybe our letters, and maybe my (sanitized) journals, too. I want them to hear their mom’s voice as they grow up. New goals or not, I realize that the day-to-day running of my little family is time-consuming enough, such that as much as I want to achieve humanistic perfection in addition to becoming this really devout individual, I might have to settle for fumbling attempts at both.

I have one more eulogy to post on this blog. I reorganized the blog already to reflect the fact that she is dead. I’m not sure how many more posts I want to do. So Young is gone. I wake up in the morning and hesitate, as if I am about to put my wedding ring on. It’s a habit and I sort of pause there. I don’t put it on anymore. I’m not married to her.

Today I ran and thought about how I don’t really run for her, because she doesn’t see me. She isn’t here. I should run for Jesus. I said to myself there would be a sign at that moment if she was here. Sure enough, there was this strong breeze and a lot of petals from a cherry blossom or some such tree came blowing in front of me, across my path. It was like the snow at the funeral. It just came drifting down, right at the moment it should have, just like the snow. Winter has turned to spring. They said she wouldn’t make it to the spring.

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The coolest picture I have seen in a while: So Young’s friend Sara ran the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville yesterday in So Young’s honor and tweeted me this picture of the shoes she wore. It was a really tough run through a heavy downpour. So Young would have loved that on several levels.

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8 Responses

  1. Even though our grief is different, it helps me to read about your grieving. Thanks again for sharing with such honesty. Always praying for you and your girls.

    • Lauren,

      Thanks for always being such a great encourager to me.

      James

  2. Hi James. ..I just want you to know we are thinking of you and the girls often. . We thank God that time ease the pain.. Otherwise how can anyone survive?

  3. James, yes. Kenji is correct. You are first a disciple of Christ. But you are also a human being! Those feelings and urges are normal and God-given. Facing them boldly will allow you to conquer your loneliness, until such time as your heart is ready.

    Why not wear your wedding ring? While you are no longer married to So Young, it is a reminder of the covenant that you and she had — WITH God — and one another! How about wearing your ring to honor that primary relationship? And having that ring will be a sign to the world that you are “taken.” And the act of wearing the ring will protect your vulnerable heart and those tender urges, until God has truly readied you to move forward.

    Bless you and your girls.

    Pax,
    Amy

    • Amy,

      Your response is so interesting to me. Thanks for posting it.

      I don’t wear the ring because one day I decided that, by wearing it: 1) I was saying that we were still married, which isn’t true; and 2) I was in some way denying that she had died. I’ve discovered through all of this that I am a realist. If the truth is brutal, there is nothing I can do about it to make it easier. It is still the truth. All indications were that So Young was going to die, and then she did. Now that she is dead, our marriage is over because the Bible says that we are no longer married.

      I do greatly respect and revere what the ring symbolizes and the importance of that tremendous commitment. In many ways, we learned that the hard way while she was alive. Still, I have to accept that she is gone in whatever way is meaningful to me. I choose to give myself a reminder every morning when I sense that my finger is naked without the ring, and then I leave it off. I literally say to myself, “She is dead. We aren’t married anymore.” I’m not sure why I need that, but I feel like it is part of the process of acceptance for me.

      I don’t feel like I need it to protect me from bad choices I might make, although I understand your point. A big part of me feels like I should have the character to make sound decisions about love relationships without a ring on my finger. But I know what you are saying and know other people who do what you are saying because they are vulnerable.

      I totally respect any widow(er)’s desire to continue wearing his or her ring(s). Everybody has a different way of dealing with the amputation we’ve endured.

      I spoke to a widow the other day who wears her rings, and she pointed to another downside. She is occasionally asked questions about her husband as if he is living because people see the rings, so she has to do the rather brutal task of once again breaking the news to somebody. This may sound terrible, but eventually you do sort of get used to breaking the news directly to strangers, to the point that the awkwardness of doing so has faded away and you can laugh later about how uncomfortable the situation was.

      There are upsides, however, as you’ve said. To each his own. I love that ring. There’s an irony also in the fact that I later realized that I was wearing my ring when I wrote that post. It was the two-month anniversary of her death, after all! I had to wear it.

      Thanks for so faithfully reading and posting, Amy!

      James

  4. People deal with Grief in many different ways, Looking from the outside in James does a great job keeping a smile and a friendly hello, I know how hard lost can be with losing a loved one, my mother died April 28, 2010 at 12:31am I lost a piece of yourself on that day, but I had to move on for my family. Somedays you want to cry, yell, scream, fight, question why, but you have to look at who you are staying strong for. I talk to my own girls about Mema that was my oldest daughter name for her I tell them about how she was and the stories of my childhood growing up.

    • Thanks, Rickey. I really appreciate you opening up to me about your loss when So Young first died. I had forgotten that the anniversary of your mom’s death was so recent. Thanks for your honest, heartfelt post. — James

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