In need of getting some fresh air to clear my mind, I went down the block to Nyack Beach. This weekend has been a difficult one for me as I feel Derek’s physical absence more than I have within the last 2 months. Someone once described the loss of a husband/partner with the loss of a limb. You can’t see it — but you feel the limb as well as the incompleteness of it being missing. It’s a terrible mental and emotional pain that doesn’t go away.
The “beach” which is really more of a hiking/bike trail with picnic benches lies next to Hook Mountain and is adjacent to the Hudson River. It’s always been a favorite Sunday ritual for Derek and myself to walk along the paths snapping pictures and enjoying each other’s company.
I picked a quiet picnic table to sit and read my new book — The Afterlife Connection, which examines a psychotherapists’ experience with afterlife communication and how our bond with loved ones is not just psychological. I was on a chapter that discussed how our loved ones are always around to provide signs so as long as we are open to the connection and can recognize their signs when sent. As I began reading a case study on a young woman reaching out to her father in spirit about a career decision, a bee landed on the book and started moving side to side as if it were reading the page with me. Not looking to get stung, I gently tilted the book down for the bee to move away. Instead of flying off it moved up and started walking up my arm — my instant reaction was to stand up which prompted the bee to fly away. If Derek were with me he would have instructed me to have my Off fan with me; with the reminder of him not being there to tell me this I began cry instantly. “I can’t do this anymore…I’m hanging by a thread, Derek. I need you.”
As I start wiping the tears away I noticed a few autumn leaves falling to the ground. I looked up and saw what appeared as a branch hanging in mid-air below a tree. Upon, closer inspection, the branch was hanging on some type of string. Maybe it was a fishing line that somehow became tangled with the branch and the tree or maybe someone put it there (although I don’t see what the purpose of doing that would have achieved). Whatever the reason, this branch remained as part of the whole tree and moved ever so slowly and gracefully even as the leaves were blowing against the strong morning wind. “Hanging by a thread”, the branch wasn’t in danger of falling. And I wouldn’t be in danger of falling as long as I held onto Derek’s hand. I smiled and whispered, “Thank you for keeping me from falling.”
The first time I heard this song, it was while I was waiting for the NY Waterway ferry, I cried. From Wiki and other online sources, Goyte created this song for a family friend to help their child cope with the death of their dog. I think this song helps us all learn how to cope…thank you. To watch this beautifully-crafted music video, click on the image to the left.
Bronte Lyrics by Goyte
Now your bowl is empty
And your feet are cold
And your body cannot stop rocking
I know it hurts to let go
Since the day we found you
You have been a friend
And your voice still echoes
In the hallways of this house
But now it’s the end
We will be with you
When you’re leaving
We will be with you
When you go
We will be with you
And hold you till you’re quiet
It hurts to let you go
We will be with you
We will be with you
We will be with you
You will stay with us
“I dropped a tear in the ocean, and whenever they find it I’ll stop loving you, only then.” | Anonymous
Why are we drawn to the Ocean? Is it the salt air or the sound of waves crashing against the shore? Or is it the wonder of its vastness and sight of a boundless world filled with life and mystery? For Derek the ocean was his home as it provided a source of freedom.
Atlantic City was Derek’s favorite place. He loved watching the life of the boardwalk — there were people dancing, eating with friends, going on rides at the carnival, taking pictures, running or quietly sitting on a bench patiently waiting for their next adventure.
We traveled to Atlantic City often — sometimes for a few hours or for a couple of days. Where there was water, Derek wanted to be near it. It was therapeutic for him and I just loved sharing those moments with him. During one of our trips to A.C., an elderly woman approached us asking us about a building that lay at the other side of the beach. As Derek started to explain, he stopped to look at the woman and asked to take a picture of her. She hesitated for a moment but then kindly obliged. He took several pictures and as he put the camera away he just started smiling at her. He asked the woman if she would stay and talk for a bit and over the next hour we stood listening to her story of how she came to America from Austria, moved to Seattle, Washington as she was in an interracial marriage and at the time it was one of the few places that made them feel welcome. She would later divorce this gentleman and raise her two children to New Jersey as a single mother and would work in one of the government buildings at the former World Trade Center. On the day of the 9/11 attacks, a voice told her to take a day off and go to Atlantic City. Now retired, she makes trips to A.C. to mediate. When she finished her story, Derek thanked her and gave her a hug. When he asked for her name, she said that she would give it the next time they met again. Almost knowingly Derek said that it was a date and they would continue the conversation the next time he returned. With one last smile, she blessed us and remarked how beautiful it was to see us finally together and how our love would last through eternity. As she left and moved onto the boardwalk we almost couldn’t believe how quickly she was walking — it looked like she was becoming younger with each step as her body straightened up. When we could no longer see her, Derek took my hand tightly and said “We just met my guardian angel.”
I asked a girlfriend to accompany me to Atlantic City on Sunday as I knew that he would want to be near the ocean again. It would be the first time traveling back there since Derek’s passing however as soon as I arrived it felt like home. All of the memories with Derek poured over me like love.
The morning before I left, my girlfriend and I walked out to the Tropicana, his favorite hotel, and walked out towards the beach. The day was overcast and a little windy. The cold water welcomed me as I walked into it silently releasing my wishes for Derek and a small container with his ashes in it. As if returning a “Thank you” the sun came out and shone brightly over us.
“Maybe Derek will swim to Europe.” my girlfriend said smiling. I jokingly replied that the currents would bring him to Bali — one of the last places he was wanted to travel to because it was so warm. As I looked out toward the horizon, I knew wherever he was going, he was with his guardian angel.
Quick but insightful read on medium, Patrick Mathews, as he shares his stories of past readings and how they teach lessons of our loved ones assisting us in navigating grief and understanding what the meaning of our physical presence on Earth is about.
I just finished reading this wonderful book called This I Know: Notes on Unraveling The Heart by Susannah Conway. It’s a very thoughtful and beautifully-written book about a woman’s healing journey after her partner passes away suddenly. After each chapter, Susannah invites her readers to reflect upon different facets of their life or feelings through creative writing or photography. It pushes you through your comfort zone and helps us to re-discover ourselves and what makes us special. It also allowed me to mentally draw a picture of myself pre-Derek and post-Derek and how much I’ve learned from him and thank him for inspiring me to be a more special me :).
So I am sharing my “Ten Things” with you.
Ten Things You May Not Know About Me:
1. Before meeting Derek, I wasn’t an outdoor enthusiast. Now I go hiking and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Derek taught me how to push the limits within myself. I thank him greatly for that.
2. I almost always place other’s needs in front of myself. I am working on learning a balance so that I do not neglect myself.
3. I would pick to watch a Horror movie over a Comedy or Romantic flick any day.
4. I can play the piano by ear.
5. I love getting “lost” through long Sunday drives.
6. I used to be a D.J. and Sound Tech and as such own a large collection of music across all genres and time periods.
7. Am thinking about getting my first tattoo on my foot that says “Love Never Fails”
8. I am an avid video gamer. My favorite games are Final Fantasy and Skyrim.
9. Majored in International Relations with a language proficiency in Japanese. Check out a future post on a story of how I transitioned from this major into a Marketing career.
10. I love making new connections with people and learning something new everyday. So let’s start here what are “ten things” that you would like your friends and others to know about you?
Jennifer Gardner became a widow at the age of 35 when her husband, Doug was one of beautiful souls killed during the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Having experienced true love in its strongest forms, Jennifer was ready to strengthen her foundation to raise her children as a single parent. A chance meeting with a stranger shows that love always finds a way back into our hearts.
I initially found it hard reading this book because of the immediate connection of the pet names Doug called Jennifer just as Derek called me “Bunny.” Also, Jennifer’s stranger’s name was Derek. It was a beautiful and moving memoir which just strengthened my belief in the power of love.
A soulful collection of true stories of people receiving messages of love and hope from loved ones beyond the veil.
A comforting book which offers personal and scientific testimonies of people who have connected with their loved ones who have passed away. While the experience of a loved ones death is personal for all of us — we all share the common need to try to make sense of our experiences and loss — this book is a good resource.
“Love Never Fails…”
That was the inscription etched onto the tiny wooden cross carefully wrapped within an eBay purchase which I was not supposed to receive for another four weeks and delivered by a gentleman whom I never saw before. I had thought the inscription was a “cosmic response” to stressful events taking place within my life. Little did I know as I left the office to go home, it would be a message of faith and love from my new guardian angel.
My best friend and soul mate, passed away unexpectedly that day. And life has felt like a chaotic storm in the short month he has been gone. Every moment, conversation and image associated with my life, our relationship plays like a film reel as it wraps itself tightly around my mind as if afraid to be lost forever. I replay the events of that day every morning and live through the pain of his absence every evening. I feel all of it.
He had always wanted me to share the Story of My Life with others. In my short life, I have already lost my parents, grandparents and host of other family members. He was amazed how someone who lost so much and experienced tragedy so often could still smile and look to inspire others. However this event is different and is preparing me for a new journey which promises to test my faith and spirit. I never imagined he would be a part of this story…
However I know that cross did not come to me randomly; so here I sit starting the first of many posts which I hope will help me through the healing process and spiritual journey with my guardian angel guiding me along the path.
This is one of the first books I purchased after Derek passed. And while I believe this book is suitable for anyone experiencing loss, this is a particularly helpful book for the tribe of women who have lost their husband, spouse or partner.
Susannah Conway’s book is soulful and heartwarming, as she shares her story of transitioning into her new life after the lost of her partner, through creative writing and photography. In sharing her story, Susannah invites us to delve into our own relationships with our loved ones and with ourselves through journal writing and photography. You will see some of my exercises posted in the Reflections section of this blog.
Addititionally, Conway teaches an online photojournalism course which offers a great opportunity to meet other women and make friends. http://www.susannahconway.com/