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memories and love


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As I come closer to the aniversary of those last days of Johnny's life the memories always seem to catch up with me.

That Friday of Novemeber 29th was one of the most horific days of my life and the most frightening. I had no idea at the time that it was the begining of the last weekend of Johnny's life. I won't write about the things that happened. Some of you already know as for the rest of you let it suffice to say that those things should never have happened. They wouldn't have if the day before Thanksgiving Day hadn't started out like it had.

The memories of that day always hurt me as much as the memory of that last morning that ended so soon and with such heartbreak that it left me not just broken but shattered. As I said once before when you are shattered and somehow put back together there is always a weakness always a flaw. Sometimes I feel that flaw even now. I do know that there are cracks still and often other pains seem to enter but none to compare with the loss of those days 7 years ago.

On the first aniversary of his death and those last horific days I was all alone again. I had moved from Washington that April and was living in Escondido in Southern California. My niece who talked me into moving there had already moved up here to the little town of French Gulch that would soon become my home for a few years.

I faced those aniversary days alone. I asked to work on Thanksgiving Day and my request was granted. It was so lonly and I felt so alone even with so many people around me. Then came the aniversary of that terrible day of November 29, 2002. I had joined this board not long before. I made a post that night it was about love. I hope you don't mind that I repost it here. As I read the posts of Michelle and talk to her and some others who find themselves in the same place that I am, I think what I wrote will be something that you can relate to.

November 29th 2003

I am trying to find something to think about so the date does not continue to torment me. I don't want to remember that this date last year was the beginning of the end of my beautiful life with my Johnny. I don't want to see the things that happened to him and to us. I don't want to see his tears of shame for something that he could not help and above all I don't want to see the fear in his eyes and know the fear that was in both of our hearts..

I have been thinking about love and how I would describe it. Love is sharing someone’s thoughts and feelings and respecting those things and knowing it is returned. Love is taking a person as they are and not wanting to change them or make them over. Love is acceptance of flaws and not only accepting but having pride in the person because you know the flaws are a part of them. Love is wanting to lift someone up when they are low and love is wanting to lift someone higher when they are high.

Love is a touch or a look that needs no words and love is the joy of just being. Being loved is the most wonderful thing but being able to love totally and unconditionally is the most precious of gifts. Love is just knowing without words and love is words that mean one thing to others but have special meaning between two people who love. Love is silly little pet names and love is tears and hope and pain. Love is what life is all about. Love is the most powerful force in the universe and beyond. Love is life, hope and dreams. Love is the eternal force and I believe that God is love. Is it any wonder that our pain is so deep when we know and have experienced all of these things and now don't know where to focus that love that joy that hope?

Hold on to the ones you love with all of your might and all of your love. Remember to be patient and remember too that sometimes it is alright to be impatient just so you know it is the disease that you are impatient with or angry at not the one whom you love. I have been truly blessed to have known a love so deep and have it returned so totally but I know that all things have a price. The price I have paid has been dear but the love I have known has been priceless. Because of that I know that I have to grieve and I know that the pain will never really go away. I know too that though I will go on to live a life different than I had hoped for I will live with the knowledge of that love and hope that in time it will give me the strength and courage I need to become a part of the world again. I want to be someone that my Johnny would be proud of and I want to live because I know that he loved me enough to want that for me.

I know that I am rambling but I am trying to explain and encourage myself as well as anyone else who feels like I do. I am trying to ignore the date and I am trying to get the courage to go to work and face the problems of the other forgotten ones. The ones who know like Johnny did what indifference and selfishness can do. I thank you for your replies. Sometime I need a hug even if it is long distance! To all of you I wish you hope and peace but above all I wish you love. Lillian

Again tonight almost 6 years later I wish you all so many things but above all I wish you love, love of life. love of family and love of friends and last but most of all to feel all of the love around you that your loved one left behind. Good Night.

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That was the most beautiful thing I have ever read in my life. Thank you for sharing this with us and please take care of yourself. I wish we lived closer so I could give you a big hug my friend.

I too as the holidays are just coming don't know what I'm going to do with myself. I told my son that I thought we should make a Thanksgiving dinner together and have a "celebration of life" in Don's memory. I just don't know if I can do it.......we'll see.

Hugs and prayers to you Lily!

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I guess the one thing that I forgot to mention is the lesson I learned early in life. Love hurts. That is the simple truth, when you love someone you are putting yourself out there to be hurt. If you are lucky the person you love will love you back as Johnny did me. Other times though we are not so lucky and either way it seems it ends the same. One way or another the pain will always come. Love hurts but how do we live without it :!:

I guess I am just sad tonight and feeling so very alone.

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I hope Ya find some happiness and love and joy in the good memories you have Lily!! More so than the bad ones. I tend to forget the bad and focus on remembering the good. Some days even that is hard to remember though....

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I am in tears as I type. Absolutely beautiful! And so true the message.

We are having trouble (again) with my youngest son (I won't go into details) and what you wrote is helping me deal with that. What you wrote also brought back to me the very sudden and very unexpected death of my husband 7 years ago. It brought back to me how much what you wrote expressed my very feelings of of our relationship and how things should be and were and also how I have been trying to deal with everyone (including strangers) since that time. My new motto is "be a softer kinder person" because of the very things you have written about.

So beautifully said.

Michelle, you can do it. Love, laugh, cry, hold and hug each other and you and your son can get through the day. Just as Lily said, love hurts especially when the one you love is no longer there, but as I have learned, when sharing the memories of that love with another the hurt is not as near as crushing when you share it with another who loved your special person as much as you. And you are building wonderful new memories even through the pain and the tears.


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The holidays are still very hard for me. I always made such a big deal of them especially Christmas. While I was living in Louisiana and had my children and grandchildren close by I cooked for weeks making cookies and candies and then Christmas Dinner. I enjoyed every minute of that time. My marriage had probably always been in trouble but somehow those special times helped me through the rest of the year. I think to somewhere deep inside of me, even though we had not spoken in so many years, the knowledge of Johnny's love was always there giving me strength to get through the tough times.

After my divorce I was with Johnny in a few short weeks, and it was quite unexpected that we would be together so soon even though we had been talking for a while. My life was changing and even miles apart he helped me through those hard times. He never tried to influence me but only let me know that he was there, that he cared.

I had such plans for our first Christmas together. His relationship with his sons had been rocky for years but after a while that started to change. One night I told him that he needed to stop stalling and tell his boys how he felt about them. That very night he told his son Tom that he loved him and was shocked when his love was returned and not rejected. Later it would happen with his oldest son and they were close again. I decided that for Christmas I would make a special family dinner. It didn't matter if it wasn't on Christmas Day, just so it was near Christmas during the holidays.

While Johnny was in the nursing home he had planned on returning home that Friday. The one I wrote about above. The Wednesday before I left him long enough to go shopping. I bought a lot of things that we had run out of and I bought Christmas decorations. I planned on going to one of the many Christmas tree farms and cutting a special tree for us. I was so excited about being with him for Christmas and giving him the kind of Christmas that he never had. I knew that we would be going to Seattle soon the the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Clinic. We had found hope and I knew what we needed to celebrate.

Instead when Christmas came I found myself not only alone but totaly shattered. I wasn't sleeping or eating. I would leave my home to try and find company then rush back because I couldn't stay away from the home I had shared with Johnny. I felt closer to him there. He was everywhere but he wasn't there and it was tearing me apart minute by minute.

I decided to get a tree after all. Not for myself but because I knew that my family would be expecting me to. They had no idea what Johnny's death had done to me. I guess they just couldn't imagine me loving anyone like that and it not be their dad.

I didn't find one to cut. I just found one and bought it. Each time I looked at that tree I felt as if it were mocking me, Making fun of the hopes I had had for such a short time. I tried going to church with some neighbors but each time I went I just sat there and cried. I felt that my Faith had betrayed me when Johnny died. As Christmas approached it got only worse instead of better.

Johnny's daughter in law was expecting her baby and we new she would have a C section. The lease on their house was also expiring on Christmas Eve. When she went into the hospital to have the baby I stayed with the other two children and worked on getting the house they had moved into in some kind of shape. When she got home I went to the store and got the things that she needed while Johnny Ray was at work. I even took her to her doctors appointment.

Going to that doctors office was so hard. I had no idea until we got there that I would be sitting in the car and looking up at the window to the room where I spent Johnny's last 2 days with him. My heart just broke over and over again.

That is when I learned that Johnny Ray and his family would have no Christmas. Valerie was unable and Johnny Ray had to work long hours on top of finishing the moving and cleaning the house they had moved from. I helped him clean that house and a plan started in my head.

I bought presents and then I went to the grocery store. I bought every thing that I needed to make that large Christmas Dinner that I had planned. Then after I cooked it I took it all to their house and we had Christmas together. That was my gift to them and to Johnny because I knew that is what he would have wanted me to do.

I won't tell you that was a good day. It wasn't. I never knew that you could feel so dead and still feel such pain. How do you explain to anyone who hasn't been there what it is like to face a time like that? There are just no words. Still I did something that needed to be done. I did it for them and for Johnny but I know now that dispite the pain it helped me as well. It was my first step toward the new compassion that I have found. The compassion that helps me see and understand others pain. It gives me these words that you all seem to relate to.

Life can be so cruel but if not for the pain how would we ever appreciate the joy when it comes?

Michelle make tha special Dinner for Thanksgiving. Celebrate Donald's life with your son. Forget about the ones who have hurt you and remember the love. I can't promise you that you will be happy but I can promise you that it will be painful. Grief is painful. There is no way around it. If you put it off it gets worse not easier. So have your dinner and shed those tears and let them wash away a little of the pain.

When Johnny would take his nebulizer treatments he would never take it all at once. He would use it a couple of minutes then turn it off then use it again for a couple of minutes. He would tell me each time " A little at a time Honey, That's all I can take, A little at a time that is I all I can stand". Grief is like that too. You can take only a little at a time and if you try to put it off it will all hit you at once and when it does nothing can ease the pain :(

So here I went again. Spilling so much of myself here. It is still not easy facing both the holidays and the aniversary of his last days and then his death aniversary, but somehow I get through. I think I owe a lot of thanks to all of you, because alone I don't know how to cope. When the pain get to me I know that I can come here and find someone who understands. So as the holidays approach take time to celebrate your loved ones life but take time to grieve as well. Tears are the greatest cleanser for the heart and soul that you can find.

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I have delved some into Buddhist teachings once again.

What you are doing is called Aspirations - sending out to the world the wish that we all have love. For ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, those we have casual contact with, those we may have trouble liking, and the greater world.

It resonates so well, no matter your religion or lack thereof.

Thank you.

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