I still look for Ben. Yes I do. Not so much in person (although I do confess to scanning the cafeteria at work in hopes of catching a glimpse. And also, I can’t get a coffee from the office Tim Hortons without picturing a particular moment where Ben and I were once standing nearby having a rare chat while working), but rather, I tend to look for him online. The internet.
I have read everything that exists about Ben on the internet. In fact, I wrote most of it. But still I look, as though I’m hoping he might post a new picture or write something in a new guitar forum. I continue to read and re-read all the online comments on his obituary, and I continue to regret not having had a written guest book at his service. I like to read about him and about how others felt about him. I like to hear his name.
When I run out of things to look at online about Ben, I do a little further research about Collecting Duct Carcinoma just to see if there are any new breakthroughs. Don’t ask me why. I can’t imagine if I would be elated or royally pissed off if there was a breakthrough. (Elated for others, pissed off that it didn’t happen in time for Ben.) Recently I did find this online … the conclusion of a 2016 study:
Conclusions: Our analysis identifies several coding and non-coding transcripts differentially expressed in CDC vs CCC and normal kidney, resulting in alteration of a number of cellular pathways associated with cancer pathogenesis, progression and prognosis. These results pave the way to a deeper understanding of a rare tumor as CDC, driving the development of new, targeted therapies for this aggressive disease.
Well. At least its nice to know scientists are still looking into it. From the rest of the article I gleaned that there may be a gene problem in people with CDC. But then again I have a difficult time deciphering the science-speak so I could be wrong.
In any case, I have now lived 10 1/2 months without My Love. It is officially December, Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I still look for him. I wonder how long that will go on for? The instructor for the workshop I’m currently taking would love that I just said that. She wants us to get curious about our thoughts and feelings instead of being judge-y about them. So there it is. I am curious as to how long I will continue to search online for signs of my dead husband. Maybe it’ll take forever. I won’t judge myself.
When I can’t find anything new online about Ben or about Collecting Duct Carcinoma, I then spend time searching for people who can understand me. In other words … widows. I am not fond of that word. Widow. Widow. Widow. Blech. But still, the only people who can understand me happen to be those people, and I long to be surrounded by them. Surrounded by people who “get” me. Yes, yes, I know other people love me and have even experienced other forms of loss themselves. I am not suggesting that one loss is better or worse than another … they are all terrible, but they are different. If you haven’t lost your life partner then you don’t know how I feel, and that can make a person feel very alone. At least, it certainly makes me feel alone. So I’m all over the internet throwing in as many different search terms as I can think of in an effort to find people who understand me … “widow” “death of spouse” “husband died” “I’m too young for this shit” “why the fuck did my husband die” … stuff like that. (I should probably spend time googling how to cure a foul mouth. But I digress …)
During one of my many online searches I found something called Camp Widow. There is one in Toronto, one in Florida and one in San Diego. Each one is held once a year, with the one in Florida coming up next March. I think I will go, even though it scares the shit out of me. What could it hurt? If nothing else, I’ll spend a few days in Florida. Or perhaps I’ll wait until August and go to San Diego, which would be less expensive but oh so far in the future. I don’t know if I can wait that long to be around people like me. I currently feel like I’m from another planet and I need my own peeps, even if I haven’t met them yet. Take me home …. (I feel like I should put a picture of John Denver in here. Or maybe one of a country road)
This week my Grey’s Group (Grey’s Anatomy, not Grey Cup. Gray Cup? Whatever.) came over to help me with dragging Christmas out from under the stairs. By the end of the night the family room looked something like this:
I put the tree in the opposite corner from where we had it last year. I didn’t want to block Ben from having a proper view of Christmas.
Right below the star on the tree you will see the first Christmas ornament we ever bought together. Christmas 1993. Terribly tacky but oh how I love it.
Right below that you will see the space I have left for the 2016 ornament that is currently en route in the mail. The last Saint-Onge Five ornament. I will show you when it arrives.
By the end of the weekend the rest of the house looked something like this:
Note the live boughs going up the railing. Pretty crafty, if I do say so myself.
You may recall a few months back how I was unable to bring myself to dispose of Ben’s toothbrush, until one day my cleaning lady asked me if I had a spare one that she could use. In that instant I was suddenly able to part with Ben’s toothbrush without blinking an eye, because it was the practical thing to do. She needed a toothbrush and I had one just sitting there. Well, recently I’ve had the dilemma of what to do about Ben’s Christmas stocking. To hang or not to hang. After stewing about it and crying over it, the problem was again solved in an instant when Jaime asked, “Mom … can I have a new stocking this Christmas?” And then, when she saw the look on my face that can only mean “I-am-sick-of-wasting-money-on-things-you-already-have” she casually said, “Well maybe I could just have Dad’s.”
So there you have it. Problem solved. Ben’s stocking now belongs to Jaime. And the spot where Ben’s once hung will remain empty. A reminder that no one can fill his socks 🙂
So, it was a somewhat rough week but in the end it turned out ok with a few overall improvements that happened today. The first was that an old friend and colleague of Ben’s moved back to BC and started work in my section. That was nice. I love to be around people who knew Ben at different times in his life. It means I get to hear Ben’s name and I get to hear stories I may not have heard before. It means I get to be reminded that others loved Ben too.
I also had the opportunity to have a solid laugh today with Zak … at Ben’s expense. Zak had received a parking ticket for which the fine is $35 now or $50 later. I told Zak he should go to court instead of paying, admit the offence but ask for a reduction in fine to zero dollars. I told him that when he gets to court he should tell the Justice of the Peace that he has to save all his money for school because his Dad went and died on him and therefore will no longer be paying for Zak’s college education. The look on Zak’s face was priceless until he realized I was joking and started laughing. And then Zak pointed out that he should probably save the “My-Dad-Died” excuse for a point in time where he was facing at least a $500 fine as opposed to a $35 fine. He felt Ben might be insulted at only being able to save Zak $35 bucks. And we laughed at that. And we laughed again because Ben would have laughed too.
The final improvement to my week was this. Fruit salad for dessert.
Give your family some love tonight. xo