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The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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Reflections on a LIfe

Reflections on a Life

Today it has been six months since my beloved wife Betsy suddenly died.

And in the last six months, I have learned a lot.

There is pain in being alone. And I didn't know how alone felt anymore, having been with Betsy for more than 26 years.

There is comfort in having two cats who curl up with me at night, so I don't feel entirely alone.

There is pain in having to be both father and mother to Andrea who is just as poleax stunned as I am that Betsy is gone.

There is comfort in pain shared between a grieving father and a grieving daughter.

There is pain in having to do what seems to be an unending stream of paperwork to remove her name from legal documents, accounts, and property. It is a little like having her die all over again each time.

There is comfort in being able to touch her yet another time, even if only through her things and her papers.

There is pain in not being able to hear her voice.

There is comfort in dialing her voice mail, even if only for a few seconds.

There is pain in the process of adjusting to being alone, and the process of grief.

There is comfort in knowing that it is indeed a process, a journey, and there is another side, with stages along the way.

There is pain in the loss of my lover, my other half.

There is comfort in the expectation that life will go on, both for me and for Andrea.

Betsy was a young, somewhat sheltered woman, highly energetic and full of vigorous happiness when we married. I am proud to have known her in her journey from being that young woman to being the mature, powerful, self-assured, loving and happy mother and wife and teacher she became. She overcame great physical pain and adversity to become that woman.

The world, if only in some small portion, is a better place for her having been here for 51 years. It is a poorer place for her absence. She made a difference in the lives of every single person she touched. That was her intention, her goal, her profession and her pride.

I can only go forward knowing that I am who I am, and what I am (both personally and professionally) because she touched me, too.

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Wishing the best for you and Andrea -- and Toby.

You're weathering this emotional storm remarkably well, Walt. I know I certainly didn't process my father's death nearly this effectively 20 years ago.

It does get easier as time goes by and you're right, being able to recognize the journey through mourning makes it much easier to take each next step along the way.

The sorrow never really leaves you, though the emptiness does become easier to bear as years go by. Life does go on, and time may not heal these wounds, but enough distance after the fact helps take the sharp edge off the pain, making it easier to bear, much like the support of your friends and family.

My sympathies and condolences are always yours, that you and your daughter must go through this tragedy and my regrets that I never got to know your wife, who sounds like she was a most remarkable woman.

So long as you, and Andrea, and everyone who knew her holds to her memory, some part of her will stay on.

I'm not sure I'd be strong enough to get comfort in dialing my wife's voicemail if she were gone, at least not so soon. May you continue to recover well.

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