And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make.
So sang the Beatles in August 1969, the month before Julie and Ronnie would meet...
It is time...
All books must have a final chapter.
I've been on the verge a couple of times before...the most recent being this past Valentine's Day. In fact, in my posting of that date, I alluded to an alternative version...that might forever remain unread.
Well, you know how I break my resolutions!
What immediately follows will sound familiar since you read a portion then.
Here is the unabridged version...
Observant readers will note the date on the e-mail below...February 1st.
The events related in this post actually transpired almost two weeks ago. Recovering from "Winter Storm 2009" and the knowledge that Valentine's Day was approaching caused me to exercise discretion...to delay this post.
The latter...Valentine's Day...was actually the driving force.
As you are well aware, the only posts of late have been prompted by music...music that resurrects my feelings of loss. The following post is no exception to that trend, although I think it is less whiny than most. (Of course, that is subjective on my part and compared to previous posts...it wouldn't take much!)
Consider the alternative...
My mind wandered back to the box...the box that contains old "special occasion cards".
Did I really want to, need to, dig around in there...searching for messages from the past? Messages that I would then embellish for your reading?
As they say..."Been there, done that."
After all, this is the second Valentine's Day since Julie's passing. Needless to say, what I considered "the best" was done last year. Time to let it alone.
So, that is why I held this latest "musical interlude" for today...to save us all from myself!
I still haven't really figured out this "grief thing". I've already written that I didn't think the "five stages" were working for me...and expressed my version/definition of the final stage - acceptance.
In fact, that brings to mind a "reading interlude" that I did since my last post.
A friend sent me a book months ago. It was "Day By Day...Meditations for Broken Hearts" by Leslie H. Woodson. It is a book designed to be read by one who has suffered the loss of loved one...a book to be read daily, for the first 90 days.
Well, since I was well past the 90-day period, I used that as an excuse not to read it.
However, last month, I spotted the book lying there. I picked it up and opened it.
That would be me.
What was emblazoned at the top of every daily reading? A butterfly!
Okay, maybe I would venture forth...down Leslie H. Woodson's path to recovery.
I am not saved...
Oh, there were some "nice days". It is truly eerie...the commonality of grief. It clearly demonstrates why someone would come up with the "five stages". It makes one realize that "I am not alone"...others have blazed this trail and if one would glance over his/her shoulder (or glance at the latest obituraries)...others are following close behind. No...my pain is far from unique.
Now, I'll have to admit cheating here also.
Oh, I tried...tried to limit myself to the book's admonition. Read one entry a day...ponder that one thought for the day before venturing on to the next.
I held out for three whole days...
Actually, I quit reading the book completely for a week.
When I picked it up again, I began reading it as a novel.
That is when the "anger stage" of grief appeared. You know, the one that I said I had not experienced. It was probably due to the "over-dosing" of encouraging words...comforting platitudes that in rapid succession were simply too much to accept.
I thought "Oh, puuuulease!"
I will have to say that anger is a good antidote to depression...one tends to forget one's troubles.
It's why I find myself tuning my car radio to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. When I listen to them, it immediately causes me to forget whatever was occupying my attention previously. My thoughts turn to wanting to wrap my hands around the throat of whomever is speaking to me at the moment.
So, my "meditations for broken hearts" soon turned ugly...a struggle to keep from hurling the book against the wall!
However, I did find one reading to which I could cling...
He spoke to me...you don't try to "get over it"...you shouldn't even try. The goal, still mighty lofty but maybe doable, is to "get beyond it"..."get through it".
That brings me to my final whine. (Yeah, I know...said that before!)
However, I think it explains the paucity of "Julie Posts" during the past 6 months or so. In addition to having an "old brain" that just doesn't remember like it should...the benefits no longer outweigh the pain of remembrance.
This website was a blessing in the weeks and months following Julie's passing. I think it truly saved my sanity...very likely allowed me to "get beyond it". It hurt deeply to write of our life together. I had to stop often during every one of those posts...I couldn't see the computer screen through my tears...just like now. However, I felt a sense of accomplishment that kept me going...anxious to take the next trip "down memory lane".
During the past months, that has changed. The posts simply make me sad...exacerbating the grief that I feel. In short, these posts are no longer therapeutic.
Oh, never say never. I'm sure that "I'll be baaaaack!" In fact, I've got a "shortie" about George to share. (Who's George? All I can say is he's NOT a "Bush".)
BUT...I am not going to feel compelled to write further entries. I shall try valiantly to refrain from writing posts about the latest sad song I hear on the radio. (As I relate below...I've been told there's a LOT of sad songs out there!)
In short, if something comes to mind that makes me feel better...I will be happy to share.
A "preface" as long as a book! Oh, well...just one of my usual "digressions".
Okay, now for my delayed Valentine's Day post...
All right, back to the present...
The pressure of depression has been building the past couple of days and I was (at least consciously) unaware of "Why?" I've felt the urge to "go somewhere...anywhere", which is actually unusual for me. To Julie's ever-lasting chagrin, I've always been a stay-at-home sorta guy (which, on second thought, is pretty "normal", I suppose..."a guy thing".)
Started to "run" yesterday, but my mother had called upon me to take her to the dentist. After that uplifting experience - the deja vu of waiting in the doctor's office while a loved one seeks medical assistance - I decided to make the day complete by doing her income taxes.
If I had wanted to write about another "sign" today, I certainly could have. When I returned home momentarily to make copies of the completed tax forms, I checked my mail box. Lo and behold...a letter addressed to Julie Newell...from BlueCross BlueShield.
Talk about leeches!
Seems some outfit in St. Louis is dunning Julie through BCBS for $450...for services rendered in March 2005...four years ago!
Whatever happened to the statute of limitations???
But, I'm not here to write about "signs" today.
I'm here to finish "The Book".
This morning...EARLY...while posting new editions of CAT Tracks...the urge (to escape) hit me again. Thought...as soon as I finish this, I'm outta here...
It was approximately 8 a.m., I am ashamed to say - right in the middle of taking a shower - when it hit me...and it hit me HARD!
It's February 25th!
It was 34 years ago today...
...that Julie and Ronnie experienced the worst day of our lives...the stark reality that "happily ever after" is not without major exceptions.
For it was February 25, 1975 that our only child, Christie Ann, was stillborn.
I will never forget that day...the snowy, wee-hour run to the Fenton Clinic in Charleston, Missouri. The waiting...for hours...in the reception area. The call to come back to the delivery room...Julie's pleas...to do something. Her heartbreak...my heartache. Her sobbing..."She looked like you, Ronnie."
Since "Chapter One" of The Book, I have laid bare much of our lives together...the good and the bad. I started off with the "happy thoughts"...fond remembrances that helped fill the immediate void. Later, I turned to more serious thoughts, capped off by legions of laments.
Since this is the final chapter, I guess it's time to reveal the "ugly".
As I look back with 20-20 hindsight, one of the deepest regrets of my life is that I allowed our only child to lie in an unmarked grave for almost 30 years.
It wasn't done with evil intent...it wasn't done because I didn't care...it was just done.
Life goes on...
It wasn't until another tragedy occurred - the passing of Julie's oldest brother, David, by suicide - that my greatest shame was rectified. Christie Ann was exhumed and reburied in the newly acquired "family plot" at the same time that David's remains were interred.
Rachel commented, in her post "Memories in Bronze and Stone", on the little stone plaque that I had placed in front of Christie's headstone...a plaque with the inscription "Count Your Blessings". Rachel speculated on what was in my mind when I selected it...that maybe it was that in today's turbulent world, an "early departure" meant missing out on untold grief...that maybe it was a blessing, indeed, to NOT have to experience what the world often holds for its unsuspecting occupants.
Rachel is normally a very perceptive person. However, I think in this case she allowed her perceptions to be influenced by my normal (?) moroseness. Rachel probably thought she was channeling "Ronnie" when she wrote those words.
Because, in this one instance, Rachel was wrong.
When I saw the plaque for the first time, my thoughts were actually of a positive nature...that all who gaze upon the gravestone of one who never drew her first breath should stop and think. When life's "challenges" present themselves, remember life's pleasures and treasures...happiness that you have experienced in the past and that you will surely experience in the future. Stop and think of one who missed it all...
So, in the end, let me conclude "The Book" (aka Who Knew?) with a quote that many may view as trite, but which at this stage of my life rings with the wisdom and truth of the ages...
We lived, we laughed, we loved!
Hold Christie close in your loving arms until I return home...