Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Journal

I have been keeping journals since I was 18 years old and before that it was diaries and the like.  I have a journal that I faithfully kept (and wrote in nearly everyday) for the first six months of my widowhood.

Writing in it was one of the only things that kept my sanity - as much sanity as one can have at that point.  I tuck that journal away and bring it out once a year - this is that time of year.  I have only read it four times now,  this year is the fifth time.  There is so much pain on those pages that it sometimes has almost scorched the skin off my face and yet, it is a chronicle of faith and pain and love and life after death. 
Tonight (or to be more exact, this morning - since I cannot sleep - it is now November 11th) I began to read it again.  Here is an entry from that journal - the photo above was taken on the day this was written.  A frigid day at Fort Snelling - I can still hear the sound of my heart pounding as I walked against the wind - uphill to that place for the first time - hand in hand with my dearest sister and friend.....

December 11, 2004 - 4:20 pm

Hello My Darling, 

Today I went to see your grave for the first time - Lisa took me and the beautiful grave blanket that I had made - it is covering your memorial spot right now -------> and now I know for sure, for real:  you are no longer in your body.  
Your headstone says, "Our Strength and Our Guide" - You were just that you know.  The past few years have been ------------>

Oh, I am so fortunate to have had you with me these past few years - they were years of challenge, of love, of laughter, of sorrow, of (stroke-induced) deficits, of joy, of courage, of our marriage.

I know how tired you were sweetheart.  You of the beautiful smile.  

I cooked Latkes last night - it was the fourth night of Hanukkah - Susan and Bonnie came to eat with me. When I opened the cupboard to get the food processor I realized that "my tall guy" just isn't here anymore - I guess I need a kitchen with shorter cupboards.

Today when I stood at your headstone - oh my god - wanted to lie down on that grave blanket and never get up = out there on that cold and lonely field - I wanted to lie there like I could hug you forever - lay down with you for eternity.  
The last few nights I have laid in bed and I memorize your body - your sturdy calves, your tiny butt, your strong chest to lie my head upon, your sensitive fingers, your long, elegant feet.  Those feet that I kissed after you passed.

Remember how frustrated you were that it was difficult to cut your toenails in the aftermath of the stroke and how I would cut them for you?  How I would say - "when we are both old, you will cut mine too - we will cut each others' nails."  And you would smile.

I remember the mole on your forearm that made me nervous.  Your craggy face that showed your character, your life, your compassion, your intellect,  your wit, your love.  Your easy smile - you who were so quick to smile - a genuine smile.  Your 36 inch waist that you were proud of - a 6 foot 3-1/2 inch tall guy who would never have a "gut" - you were adamant on that point.  

You had such a built-in sense of responsibility. You held yourself accountable to those values and those things that were important to you.  We had shared values - we saved and we loved.  You loved me to the bottom of your heart and that is about the only thing that can keep me grounded at all right now.  

Remembering your physical being - your strong thighs - your ears (I cut the little hairs that grew there) - your smile, your great booming laugh, how you laughed.  Oh how I loved having a tall husband.  Remember when I would watch my weight and lose a few pounds - when we would hug you would pick me up, swing me around, hug me tight and say, "wow, I really feel it!"  
Right now, I am sitting on the kitchen stool and right behind me is our "big hug place."  It will forever be a place in this house that I cherish.  It is also our dancing in the kitchen spot - filled with so many memories.  Standing on my tip toes to be engulfed in your arms and say, "it's so nice to have a tall husband" and you would smile that big loving smile. 

I feel your arms around me and surround me - oh if it could only be so.  I miss you so dreadfully, my heart is broken in tiny pieces, my life seems pointless, I love you forever and a day.  Suzann

 Here I am nearly six years later - in a new life that I have hand-forged from sorrow and the desolate wasteland of widowhood.  I am happy.  I have a satisfying life - good work, wonderful friends, family of blood and choice, and dreams for the future.  And yet, tonight I say, I will love you for forever and a day and never as long I am breathing on this planet will November ever come without remembering this man that gave me so much, who taught me so much and who loved me unconditionally until his own last breath.  I am a fortunate woman and I celebrate the life of Tom Murray - Namaste.


  1. oh Suzann, we had a "big hug Spot" in our kitchen too ... I often stand there and talk to him :-)

    Holding you in my heart today <3

    I loved what you wrote ... so so tender xxx

  2. beautiful words for a beautiful life, both yours and Tom's. i wish you peace and light.

  3. Not everyone has such joy and beauty to look back on and remember. Not everyone knows such a pure love as you had with Tom. Not everyone walks on to create a peaceful path after losing the love of their lives...but you do...and you are. You truly are a blessed soul Suzann; and this was a wonderful post. You are on my mind and in my heart at this time of remembering... ~Joy xo

  4. Suzann, I cried a bit
    - your loss and in luck for your new life.
    Z U in some short months time