May peace be with you both.
I am standing on the sea shore,
A ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades on the horizon.
Someone at my side says: "She is gone."
Gone! Where! Gone from my sight - that is all.
She is as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone says, "She is gone,"
Others are watching her coming and gladly shout: "There she comes."
That is dying - an horizon and the limit of our sight.
- Bishop Charles Henry Brent
It’s probably fitting that I should be writing about life continuing on this September 11 – a day when so many widows and widowers were created by the tragedy that we, as Americans, will never, ever forget. Suddenly, I have a more acute understanding of the pain and anguish inflicted on so many innocent spouses and families that fateful day at the hands of terrorists – a world "cancer" that victimizes the innocent and unsuspecting.
As a new widow, I’m finding that all “firsts” are very difficult. The first camping trip on the Saturday and Sunday following Warren’s death, August 22-23, was difficult, but thanks to my daughter’s revelation regarding her final talk with her Dad, when Warren told her he would be there with us on all our adventures, the overnight camping trip turned out to be a positive experience.
Our youngest granddaughter’s 5th birthday celebration on August 27th was also bittersweet; we missed Grandpa but we all felt that he was there with us to celebrate just as he had been with us on the camping trip.
The first Sunday I walked into church without Warren either with me or waiting at home (August 30) brought tears to my eyes. My friend, Judy, who was widowed three years ago, knew it would be hard for me so she sat next to me during the service. I was very glad Judy was there to comfort me, especially when we sang one of our favorite hymns, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” – a hymn that reduced me to tears and a total inability to sing a single note by the end of the song.
The Memorial Birthday Party Service on September 1 was, of course, wonderful! The people of Nardin Park - Pastor Miller, our friends in the Back 40 and the woman from three circles, Evening Star, Anchor and Torchship, and many others - did a wonderful and absolutely flawless job of carrying out my plans and my every wish for a perfect celebration. They wouldn't let me lift a finger to help and I felt like "Queen for a Day". The music, featuring Mel at the organ and piano and the three soloists from FCC - Tony, Claude and Christine, was also perfect and very memorable. After that beautiful celebration of Warren's life, I figured my busy times with the family and close friends as well as the anticipation of and preparations for Jay and Kate’s wedding would surely carry me through for a while.
Last Friday, September 4th, I drove to Lansing to stay with the girls while Caryn and Tim went out to dinner to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. After dinner Tim and Caryn came home and we had a nice bonfire in the back yard with the girls and a friend of Caryn’s. We enjoyed the fire and made s’mores. Then on Saturday, all of us went canoeing on the Grand River in Lansing (Birchfield Park Canoe Rentals). That was another first – the first canoe trip without Warren. We all agreed though, that he had been with us in the canoes also enjoying every turtle, duck and dragonfly that the girls delighted over as we glided along the river on that perfect afternoon.
Sunday, September 6, was the first Sunday in September. At our church that means it is time for communion. It was another “first”. I had taken communion alone before but when I did Warren was always at home perhaps feeling under the weather or overwhelmed with work – especially during tax season. After I took the bread and the “wine” this time it hit me; I was taking communion alone and I would never enjoy the experience with Warren again. By the time I returned to my seat, I was sobbing. Yes, firsts are very hard!
Last week was rough in general, too. I went through some strange feelings for a few days after the memorial service and had a hard time sleeping. I was having many flashbacks to the vision of Warren slumped beside the bed, his legs bent under him, and his left arm on the mattress with his head resting on it. I can't figure out why that vision of Warren’s death kept haunting me when I knew, and still know, that he is with God in Heaven. Heaven is the only place I should be (and want to be) visualizing Warren now. I fought to get the death scene out of my mind because it greatly saddened me. Fortunately, I have been much better for the last couple days. It helped that I looked forward to our oldest Granddaughter, Becky’s, 12th birthday party in Lansing this week. Being with the Golisch family is always a fun time! We are still sharing Grandpa stories and remembrances, too.
Next up is Jay and Kate’s wedding on October 16 and the reception here at our home on October 17. I have a LOT to do before that happens and Jay and Kate will be around quite a lot to get things ready with me. There is no doubt that I will be very busy between now and the wedding.
I know we will all miss Warren’s physical presence during the marriage celebrations but he will definitely be with us in spirit. Warren was, as I am, very proud of Justin’s accomplishments in life and in art, and delighted with Kate as his choice for a mate.
Thanksgiving may be the hardest “first” of all for me and our family. Warren made no secret of the fact that Thanksgiving was his favorite Holiday, bar none. To Warren, Thanksgiving stood for family, faith and love and was less tainted by the commercialism that tends to be associated with Christmas. Most of all Thanksgiving stood for good food and food was always one of Warren’s greatest pleasures in life. He often remarked during his illness how badly he wanted to eat food but fear of the inevitable pain that would result kept him from doing it. I’m hoping that he is enjoying a great Heavenly banquet now!
Yesterday the Cremation locket I ordered in early August came and I filled it with a small amount of Warren's ashes that were held in reserve for it. In life, Warren was very pleased when I showed him the picture of the piece I had ordered. He was also glad when I told him that I would be wearing it for the rest of my life so that I would have him with me at all times. I also bought a charm pin to hang the pendant from if I want to wear a different necklace. Either way the cremation locket will always be with me.
It is a comfort to me to have the locket on. Its beauty and quality greatly exceed my expectations and that is also a joy. The attached picture of it doesn't do the actual piece justice. In actuality, the pendant is brilliant 14kt white gold and the sky around the sailboat is studded with very sparkly crystals that glitter like the stars in Heaven. The sailboat in the pendant signifies our marriage as it does in my tattoo. Having some of Warren’s ashes in an image of the sailboat I wear will forever remind me that God’s guidance is our mutual Lighthouse between Heaven and Earth. His guiding light will shine for both Warren and me until the day when he and I again sail together on the same Horizon - in Heaven with a 10 knot following wind.
Copy write by Arnetta M. Whitehouse