The month William and I set up this blog, looking forward to telling you all of our stories in our own styles, he became ill. A month after the onset of symptoms he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. 8 weeks later he passed away, holding my hand, a look of surprise on his sweet face.
His life and energy are still here, on the farm, as is his unfinished, and rather lengthy, To-Do List. We had so many things we planned to accomplish around here like concrete work, laying pavers, adding a drip irrigation system, tiling the bedroom, adding plants, building furniture, painting, and various household repairs but we were attacking them slowly. Even on just a three acre farm, there are a lot of daily and weekly tasks and chores that leave little time for the improvements we simply want to do. Turns out, there was much less time than we thought.
As I sorted through a lifetime of disorganized paper work, grieved, made his final arrangements at the funeral home, filled out never ending forms, planned his memorial, cried, cleaned and boxed up his models, paced the house in stunned silence picking things up and laying them down in a different spot, and trying to remember to eat, the one thing that kept appearing on the top of the heap was his To-Do List with all of his plans for a future on the farm. I knew that after eighteen years of doing for him, all I could do for him now was to tackle his list of things he wanted done.
After the memorial gave his family and friends some closure (more on that event in a later post), I picked up Billiam’s List. Between the never ending paperwork, necessary phone calls and runs to town to fax important documents, rather than doing so much pointless pacing I started keeping my brain and hands busy on the things that were his true final requests.
Writing was what we did. We wrote together, we wrote separately. Writing, and reading writing, was what made us fall in love and kept us close. It was our most personal love both together and separately. Thus, writing has been the most difficult thing for me to get back to. The things we love most and do most often are what define our normal and normal isn’t easy to find, and is often too painful to approach, after we lose the person with whom we shared that normal.
I read an article last month about using personal rituals to help us through grief. I realized that this is what I had been doing by taking over the To-Do List, these projects had become my personal daily rituals of honoring my husband, healing and finding that new normal. So, as life would have it, this blog has changed from being our life on the farm, to a blog that is essentially my path through grief. Because my path through grief involves projects I’ve either never done alone or never done at all, there will be ample examples of How-To do the things on the To-Do List as well as how not to do them.