I am going to pause from my Dear Bob letters today and share a letter my daughter wrote to me on April 18, 2014. I realized as I came across it in my Widow’s Walk file, yesterday, what she wrote strengthened the foundation that girds the Dear Bob letters and others along the way. Her words capture the love and the raw of the days before Bob’s transition and since. It is a letter of love and support for a journey that reveals itself moment to moment.
As these writings reveal, you have been on a journey of a lifetime. When I was in all of those literature classes I took to earn my English degree, there were common themes in many of the stories. One of the most common is the story of entering the wilderness, to undertake the Heroes Journey… which is just another way of saying that your life experiences, if you are brave enough to let them, bring you home to the truth of who you are… to the beauty of your life and your soul. What are we here for if not for that? The truth and beauty of your soul has been revealed as the life has carved through to the masterpiece beneath. All is as God would have it be.
What I know is that our Bob was precious. And we got mad at him for not trying harder sometimes… and we ached when his breathing became labored, or when he was in the hospital. We were scared for you, knowing how deeply your lives were enmeshed. We listened to the stories of how you were and how he was, and wondered how you didn’t break under all of it. I know mom, that you were the sun in the last years of his life. And Kim and Kecia, Shauna and Tahnee were there with you in that sun. He loved you all so. Sometimes when you would be off gathering his meds or getting groceries, we would talk on the phone. He told me of his love for all of you, and added Jason and Craig and me into that little circle sometimes. I know that I loved having him answer the phone when I called and he would boom out: “Tammy Lou, that lovely creature from Waullegan is on the phone.” I miss that.
And since his passing the tempest of loss has been your companion. You have wandered the wilderness through those storms, needing to find the calm center of the tornado like winds. Not wanting to hide yourself from the grief, nor surrender to it completely, but just wanting to know it through and through so you could know it as your companion, but not your master. These writings take us all to that place. Not everyone who has faced such a loss will be able to read them. It is hard to be there, and it is beautiful too. Your writing takes people to the place where soul touches soul. Where the whispering call can be drowned out by white noise, or can be answered with an open heart.
You have always been tender hearted… always been a caretaker. I am proud of you for the way you loved Bob through to the end of this life’s journey. When we left the last time, the September before he died, he and I had a moment in the room where he turned to tell me another off color joke and we laughed, but then he took my hand and said how much he loved you, and that he knew that caring for him had been so hard for you, and that he hadn’t made it any easier. I told him that I thought that you would say yes to that, but that you would also say that it was one of the honors of your life to be with him through it. It reminds me of the Ram Dass statement again that seems to be my mantra lately: “We are all here just walking each other home.”
So it’s Easter weekend… Good Friday… the day when the light went out of the world, only to return in a brilliance we hadn’t imagined before. I don’t know how that relates here, but it does. I love you mom. I love you in your tantrums, and your fear. I love that you feel your way through life… that makes you a deeply grace-filled person. Thank you for being one of the ones who is walking me home.
Thank you Dawn. Sharing one of my favorite pictures of you and Bob and it is with gratitude I share your letter, along with my journey, on this blog.