Today marks one year of my 543-day writing journey for Roger. One year! Click HERE to read all about it.Continue reading “One Year of 543! Day 365.”
Love, we all know, is a complicated, and at times, subjective topic. Since it’s not tangible or even visible, there are gray areas lingering within the definition of it, and it’s on a very wide spectrum. One thing we all know very well, is that it does not die easily, and it’s a tough beast to slay.Continue reading “The Death of Love. Day 317.”
The headlights from our white Chevy Venture van lit up the front yard of Shamrock Drive, exposing the freshly-cut green grass and the real brick façade that protected the bottom front of our little home. The hunter green front door opened and Roger, hair still wet and sticking up from his shower, walked out. He had on his plaid pajama bottoms and a clean white t-shirt. He was holding the front of his PJ’s just above the knees so they wouldn’t touch the ground. His skin was sun-kissed and squeaky clean.Continue reading “Thirteen Years. Day 295.”
“I like the plain ones,” I said.
“Me, too.” It was our first together-purchase, wedding rings at Hannoush Jewelers in the Holyoke Mall. With stars in our eyes, we bought mine for $75 and his for a little over $100. We didn’t have enough left to stop for food and that was OK.Continue reading “My Wedding Ring. Day 154.”
They say time heals all wounds, but it’s not true. My Nana has been gone since 1993 and I still miss her terribly. All of my past personal losses still and always will suck. Time does, however, offer you devices and tricks to cope with the grief, and I’ve seen the results of one specific tool lately.Continue reading “Roger Annoyed Me. Day 138.”
Trigger warning. Boys, don’t read.
After Roger passed, I had many dark, chaotic thoughts swirling around in my head, some sensible, some not. They would hit me out of nowhere like in the cereal aisle at Food Lion or while sitting in the sun, watching the boys splash around in the pool. Most of them I didn’t want to share with the masses. Thankfully, I had people close to me who wouldn’t criticize me for declaring my anxieties about the plethora of decisions I had to make, like whether or not I should to see his body.Continue reading “Should I Look at the Body? Day 119.”
It was a winter Saturday and we had been at our new home, a single-wide trailer in Hubert, NC, for eighteen days. As a new family, we were starting to form a routine that worked for the three of us. Although we had only been married a few weeks, we were feeling comfortable with each other, and dancing on our very own white, puffy cloud-nine.Continue reading “January 13, 1996. Day 85.”
Heck no, I’m not dating. I don’t have a Match.com account or an ad in the local paper that reads “Must love dogs” or “SWF seeking ______.” At this point in my life, I can’t even imagine getting in a car with someone never mind sitting down in a restaurant sharing my life story with them. For the first time in a long while, Teresa is mine, and I’m not really wanting to share her.Continue reading “Dating. Day 83.”
I never took Roger’s Estwing hammer to his leg, but we did talk about it.Continue reading “Day Thirteen”
People used to refer to a widow in town by her marital status when they addressed her. For example, they would have called me The Widow Adams. I’m happy times have changed. The word widow may make one think of an elderly lady with white hair, a few whiskers, and a cat on her lap. The word is in books, real life, and on the big screen.Continue reading “Day Eight”
July 13th has become a favorite of mine when she enters the world dancing and celebrating. The date indicates the beginning of peace for me, and a termination of the seemingly eternal six-week period of time when memorable dates congest my breathing and weaken my body.
Also, during this long stretch of time, I feel the cloud around me, the one that places a haze over my individual self, violently stuffing me back into my blaring widow status. Any of my personal accomplishments, good moods, or peaceful days are to be set aside until the certain dates go by. The boys’ lives are paused as well. Another thing that makes these days heavier is being the “sad one” all the time. I am associated with bummer-like feelings, and July 13th brings me back.
As the years go by, people still celebrate him on all of the dates, and I pray it remains that way. If people forget him, I will lose a little of me, so I don’t want it to stop, but it takes work.
Memorial Day begins before the actual weekend with posts and photos, and I will always be grateful. We all dip into the tepid pool of memories and deliver them to each other in the form of Facebook posts, old, pixelated photos, and emails. This year was particularly peculiar with its lack of ceremony and personal connections, yet still it wedged its ghostly barbed form into our hearts.
After we memorialize our fallen, we celebrate Father’s Day which has become blurry with false cheers for the future which we don’t have with him. For some reason, the sun shows brightly each year attempting to heave up my pouty mood. Maybe she’s mocking my fake smiles and closeted crying with her cheerful rays.
After Father’s Day comes June 29th which marks the anniversary of Roger’s death. This year we acknowledged it for the eleventh time. As the years pass by in their modern vehicles, I become less confident in time’s ability to mute the sadness. I just willingly become tired because it’s easier.
The significant dates linger, too, by my own choice and fault, because I stay off social media on those days as much as I can. I respond the day after, which I suppose is counterproductive to condensing the feelings of all the special days.
Roger’s birthday is Sunday, July 12th.
He would have been forty-eight, with gray hair, maybe, otherwise the same. As always, I would have teased him because he is older than I am, and he would have crossed his eyes, scrunched up his nose, and made the most obnoxious face at me while he cackled.
There would have been pineapple upside-down cake as with any special Roger day, probably some type of cheeseburger, and so many fries, crinkle cut, with lots of Heinz ketchup and extra salt. I would not have given him grief about having too much Dr. Pepper, and Busch Light would have joined him to the end of his evening while we swam with the squeaking bats in our backyard pool.
The boys would give him gifts of heavy handfuls of dried clay shapes with gobs of primary colored paint placed carefully on their surface. They would look nervous when he opened their individual gift, making my heart stop for just long enough to reset me. I would have wrapped t-shirts with funny pictures on them, size large, a giant Zero bar, some router bits, and a book that he would love more than I thought he would.
I remember the first birthday of his after he died, the day we had his funeral, July 12, 2009, but a year after that leaves its spiny quill in me the most.
We made a pineapple upside-down cake, of course, and let the day pass. It was getting dark so the time came to light the candles. The kids were happy and giddy, I mean, it was a birthday. I stood on the back deck with my vodka drink and freshly lit Camel Crush after casually saying, “Go on without me.”
The lights in the kitchen turned off and I saw the cake through the back window, floating around on its own being held up by an orange halo of candles. He would have been thirty-eight.
I listened to them sing to him.
“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear dadddddddddyyyyyyyy. Happy birthday to you.”
After that year, we quit doing anything traditional on his birthday. I don’t make a cake and we don’t look at photos. We just exist in the thickness of the date, waiting for the day to pass, longing for the arrival of July 13th so we can, without explanation, live as regularly as we can.
I don’t think there’s a right thing to do. We celebrate him every day and he’s never away from our minds. Sometimes, though, it’s just too much.
Happy birthday, hon.
On June 29th it’ll be ten years since I lost my husband, Roger Adams, Jr. when he was killed in Iraq. During the last few months, I have been working on a memoir. It began as a project for a writing class but seems to be finding its way to more people each day.
“The way you write brings him back,” one said.
“I remember his crooked smile, too,” another commented.
“I love the way you describe his Dress Blues and how the cover compliments his full lips,” is another nice comment.
Writers observe details and share them. The reality is, my gift curses me with vivid pictures of his face, the feel of his coarse palms while we hold hands, and the smell of his uniform’s sleeve. I can close my eyes and softly rub my face on the chest pocket of his cammies and feel the soft thickness of the material. I smell the barracks room on his neck, Pine Sol and Camel cigarettes, and can hear him say, “hon” like it was this morning or last night.
I will write all day long, with breaks for lunch or a walk to the brook in the back of my property. I will then play corn hole or croquet with my sons, have some wine, then sleep. I try to aid my sleep with sitcoms such as “Friends” or “Golden Girls” to cloud my Roger-filled mind. I felt selfish when I began this ritual until I recently started having the dreams again and became tired of wiping my eyes.
The one I had the night before last was of Roger, me, and our four sons when they were little. He and the boys were swimming in our modest pool at our little house in Jacksonville, NC. We just cleaned up after dinner of something with gravy, and his favorite pineapple upside-down cake with extra red cherries. The sun was caressing my shoulders, and the grass was cool on my bare feet. I watched them play and listened to them laugh and splash around. Occasionally, the cool water would come my way and they would all giggle while I dodged it. Roger looked at me the way he always did, with a little smile and crinkled eyes, and I felt safe.
The great torture that comes with waking up from a dream like that can be debilitating. Mine lasted all day yesterday, and I awoke this morning with a cloudy vision of it. The clarity of his face, tanned worker hands, and the smell of his neck, is once again diminished, and I am thankful for that.
“How can you want his memory to diminish?” I have been asked.
“His memory will never be diminished,” I have said, not violently defensive, because once, I didn’t understand either. It will always be clear and rich, but in order for me to carry on with a full life without him, I must be allowed and able to put the images in a special room in my mind, so I made him one.
I made Roger’s room nice for him, and it’s filled with his favorite things; his dad who passed last year, and the many pets we have lost after him. I just know he and his pops are playing cards, and he is tossing the muddy tennis ball around to the dogs. The Boston Red Sox will be heard on his old shed radio and Big Papi is at bat once again. There will be cheeseburgers and chocolate chip cookies, still warm, and Dr. Pepper in a cold can. The walls, which are not inside or outside, are plastered with photos of people he loves, especially our four boys. And, this Patriots fan even gave him a small 49ers pennant to hang in a corner somewhere. It is a room, but has no boundaries, and it smells like the wool on clean dress blues and freshly cut grass. He can build furniture and splash in the pool while he waits for us, and he can visit whenever he likes.
Roger is always in my mind, and him having his own space helps me to be OK with not focusing on him, and the guilt of moving on with life while he’s not here. He still comes to the front of my mind in my dreams, but as long as he has his own place to go to allow me to breathe, the more I am able to cope without the challenging blues that come after a good dream. Being a left-behind mortal can be torture, but with silly little coping tools like Roger’s room, living can be more than tolerated, it can be quite nice.