Stories & Memories...Learning About Loss
Many years ago, I was married to a marathon runner in Michigan. JY and I met at Michigan State University (MSU), when he was a graduate student and I was finishing my undergraduate degree in advertising. We met, when one of his friends asked me out in the parking lot of the university athletic center (I think his friend's name was Ted.) During our date, we ended up getting together with JY and realized that I got along with J. better then I did with Ted. So, we began dating that spring. After a couple of weeks, J.'s father died unexpectedly from a heart attack. He had lost his mother to cancer years earlier, so this left him feeling so very alone and bereft, not understanding why these things happen. We continued dating and for the next couple of years I witnessed someone I cared about deeply somehow figure out how to handle the loss of their father.
JY would have the urge to pick up the phone to talk with his Dad about a baseball game, or a scene in a movie would trigger sadness and memories. We would talk about what his Dad was like when J. was a teenager. Sometimes he felt more free, not as locked into the expectations (or lack thereof) of his Dad. At the time, I would do my best to listen and hug him as he grieved.
Before his Dad's house was sold, J. and I drove to Binghamton, NY and stayed for about a week. I recall that we watched the summer Olympics on his Dad's old TV, slept on a mattress in the living room and made popcorn on the gas stove.
It was my first cross country road trip on my own and we were supposed to meet J's brother as well. So I was a bit anxious about the whole thing and yet, very much wanted to support J. as he slowly came to grips with his Dad's death.
J. ended up with his Dad's large American made car, what I would fondly call a "land yacht." He drove that car until it was rear ended (J. was fine) right after we divorced in Cincinnati.
Now I find myself in the same position...at times. Dad is still here and yet he's not. I keep a photo of him and I in my office, from when I married JY. In that photo, Dad was about 50 years old, standing next to me in my white wedding dress as I prepare to walk down the aisle at The People's Church in East Lansing, Michigan. Today he is 25 years older.