Perseverance: “Steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.”
I accepted what happened to Mark early on because you can’t change the obvious. However, that should not be misinterpreted as me being ‘over’ anything. You don’t really get over someone you love dying in front of you, but you do get thru it…for the rest of your life. My first peaceful moment came from knowing that he was free from the physical assault of fucking relentless terminal cancer. I loved him; how could I not be grateful for him being freed from unremitting pain?
Peaceful moment…widowed…an oxymoron if there ever was one. And the next peaceful moment was a long way off.
As one of the speakers at Mark’s life celebration planned for six months later, I tortured myself during that long winter with thoughts of the proper ‘tribute.’ Homage to someone as multi-faceted as him was a formidable challenge. My head kept writing it out for me like a broken record, so I threw it all down on paper to give my mind a break. I didn’t look at what I’d written again until just before the event. I tweaked it a little and was pleased with the outcome, but ultimately wasn’t sure I’d be up to saying the words in front of other people. This was some way personal stuff, and I wasn’t sure if I could spill my guts without collapsing into a pent-up heap of emotion.
The day came, the room filled with smiles and tears as people talked of Mark’s influence on their lives. No Irish Wake could rival the spectacle of aging rock & rollers recalling The Shack, or the sports kids who came out because they remembered his enthusiastic sidelines commentary. To say it was an appropriate Mark Lawrence life-affirming moment is an understatement. But then came the dreaded moment of getting up before everyone and delivering my tribute. I know my voice shook; I know I stumbled on some emotional points. But when it was over, my over-riding feelings were relief and strength.
Peaceful moment number two.
In the first days following Mark’s passing, I joined a web community of widowed spouses to share my thoughts in a comforting place. Initially, recovery was far from my thought process: I was trying to survive. I needed a forum to vent and cry, a peaceful haven so I didn’t think I was too crazy. Yet at some point in the convoluted widowhood journey the road forked a little, as I started writing from the viewpoint of looking back at where I once was and how far I’d come. It evolved in a slow way, somewhat like running when I realized “I can do this.” Whereas I once looked to my web community for hope that this would not always be so hard, people new to the site began looking to my writings to gain strength for their early part of this stinking thing.
Peaceful moments three-thru-10.
A life partner who dies never goes away from you, and who would want that? Memories sting with tears sometimes, but mostly they warm the heart. It will always be Mark’s birthday on this very date, April 27th. I will always remember how delighted he was with the Lounge-a-palooza CD I once gifted him with, which is now owned by a good friend who shared his love of punk music. Her ‘honor’ at being the keeper of this cool and personal thing is something we still laugh about. Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme singing ‘Black Hole Sun’…it doesn’t get much better than that.
I prefer ‘connectedness’ to time with Mark over ‘closure.’ I find peace in how much he enriched my life, and continues to impact upon it. The ‘afterlife’ for Mark comes from the way he lives on as a symbol of truth, justice and a slightly off-kilter American way.
“Feelin’ thankful for the small things today…” Happy Birthday to him.
Peace out, I’m out.