Happy Anniversary Keith

Dear Keith:

I guess I really need to start by telling you that it was standing room only at the Synagogue. The Rabbi truly embraced what it was about you that lead me to hold the service there. Brandon, myself, and Billy “Lou” Palmer all spoke. The Easton High Alumni sent you off with one last “Get Some Air Under It”. Afterwards, our house was packed! It was such a glorious tribute to you – everything I wanted for you and more. So many people there to celebrate your life that I could hardly talk with them all.

To celebrate our anniversary, I dressed up in what I worn when we got married. It’s a little looser on me than on our wedding day. I don’t have you around to feed me and I already miss breakfast in bed. HEY – speaking of – you left before paying up on a Chicken Alfredo dinner for Jay, Katie, and Ginny. I think I can come close to it though and will make dinner plans with them in honor of you.

Mom and Dad came over this afternoon just in time for your ashes to arrive, via restricted USPS delivery. Our mail lady didn’t even know you were sick. Then again, everything happened so fast there were so many people that had no idea. She told me it was an honor and a privilege to carry you in the back of her truck back to your home. The post office stamped cancellation stamps all over the box and now I can’t bear to unwrap the package.

Your in-laws and our sons went to Mason’s to celebrate our anniversary with me. Three of us ordered steak frites and I shared with them our time honored tradition of you insisting that I order green beans while you order fries, so you could share my beans and I could share your fries. I always said that I wanted all my green beans and none of your fries, and you would always press a fork full of fries towards me saying “try these”. I always buckled and shared my beans. Not only was Mason’s the restaurant we always ate at on our anniversary, it was also where we went for lunch the very first time we met. You picked me up from work in your Cobra, which totally impressed my co-worker. Meanwhile, I had no clue at all that it was such a special breed of Mustang. I definitely learned quickly about how magical that car was. I know what a sacrifice it was for you to trade it in on my little Mazda.

Last night I caught The Damnwells at a little cafe called the IOTA out in Arlington, VA. My new Rick Springfield friend, Marcia, joined me as well as Agent Jay. Our waitress was a beautiful blonde Ukrainian woman so Agent Jay was in flirt mode. It was fun to watch. You would have loved the food. I had a chance to approach Alex Dezen after the show to tell him that I lost my husband and that The Damnwells’ music has kept me going through all of it. I know, I know – this is like that Jack Wagner autograph that left you asking me why I bothered since you didn’t know the artist. They may not be Led Zeppelin, but they both wished us well. Every wish counts.

I am about to head out for a New Years Eve with Kitson’s family and with Danny and Lauree – my first one without you. The only thing that will make midnight a little easier is knowing that were you still with me, you would have fallen asleep long before then. So strange that I find myself counting “firsts”. Just a few weeks ago, I was counting our lasts – the last time you were home in bed next to me, the last time we had a dinner date, the last time you spoke to me, the last time we told each other “I love you”, the last time I heard you breath, felt the warmth of your skin, saw your face. Now we pass through our first Christmas without you, our first anniversary, our first New Year. These are the big ones. Its the small ones that get me. Like the first time I left the house to go to a Christmas party – which started with my usual 10 minute cry as I drove up route 50. Even when you were alive, I always felt that tug on me whenever I traveled from home. The tears would start and this need to turn the car around and go back home to you would overwhelm me – to be with you, near you, hold you, touch you, talk with you, to never let you out of my sight. I know neither of us were ready for you to go. I love you and I must send you off – and the Damnwells say it better than I ever could –

“just follow the stars and speeding red cars into the great unknown”



Merry Christmas Darling, Happy New Year too.

Hi Honey:

I have so much to tell you since you left us just 10 days ago.  We all have our good moments and bad.  In some ways, I was probably the most prepared for you leaving.  I know both of us were in it to fight but also prepared for the worst.  Brandon and I decorated your box on Tuesday before your cremation.  Tigger went with you, as well as the Raven’s jersey you gave your son, and that crazy tee shirt I bought you on my return trip from Florida.  Jimi Hendrix and Led Zepplin went with you as well.  I covered you in the blanket from our bed and you got to smoke your Cuban cigar.  The funeral directors never saw anyone cover a cremation box quite like we did.  As we drove behind the hearse we played Led Zepplin for your and argued over Brandon’s driving so he could remember what a bad passenger you were.

Your little niece Elise took your leaving hard.  She wouldn’t leave my side during the cremation, wrapping and unwrapping my scarf, buttoning and unbuttoning my jacket.  She also had to inspect Pop Pop to make sure he really wasn’t yellow any more.  She wanted to understand why we were burning you up and I tried to explain that it was so you could travel with me to all the places we wanted to go.  She also wanted to know when I was going to get married again.  Ah, to be young and see the world in such simple light.  Love, lose, love again – so simple.

Alex helped me empty the living room.  Everything that belonged to your mother has found a home here in the house, except for a few clothes, bed sheets, and odd kitchen gadgets which we donated to Good Will.  I know that is what you would have wanted.  We even managed to do it without filling up the attic.  Oma came Wednesday and Thursday.  She got rolling on cleaning and went with me to pick up your death certificates.  I had a chance to meet John, your old friend at the funeral home, and he helped me figure out what to put your ashes in – an ammo can.  Everyone I have spoken to thinks it is perfect and Brandon found one of yours in the shed. On Thursday, I took Oma and Agent Jay to Salisbury. She had an eye appointment and he wanted to go to an authorized Verizon dealership to upgrade his 4G chip.  We found a kettle corn vendor across the street from the eye doctor so Jay bought a few bags.  It was the first time he had ever tried it and I was telling him that it was one of your favorites.

Katie came over to help me finish your get-well album and made the guest book pages for your memorial album.  She’s starting to show and she’s so beautiful right now.  I know how happy you were for her and Jay (this is Katie’s Jay, not to be confused with Agent Jay from the paragraph above).  While she was working on the albums, one of my photography ad agencies called me to talk me into extending my banner ad.  I told Josh you had died and I wasn’t in the mood to focus on the photography business at the moment.  You must still be looking out for me, because I got an email from them informing me that they have extended my banner ad at no additional cost to April 15.  Go Keith!

Ginny treated me to dinner and I hung out with the Frase Kilmon gang as they wrapped up their stocking shopping at Target.  We grabbed a Starbucks on the way out and the barrista left Jay’s caramel drizzle off his drink.  I channeled my best spirit of Keith, and got her to provide the appropriate drizzle.  Once we were in the car, I couldn’t resist saying “you know, my husband just died and I’m in a better mood than she is”.

Yesterday, I returned to my first Klinglesmith Christmas in 5 years.  Conversations about Hannah’s trebuchet circulated on facebook that morning. It made me think of the potato cannon you built all those years ago that I loaded into my little purple car with Zach and Brandon and went out to Ed and Chrissie’s house to shoot it off.  Remember all those past Christmas Eves where you could not wait till Zach would show up from his Klinglesmith party so we could open everything the minute he walked through the door?  You were always the biggest kid in our bunch.  As Zach and I were driving back, the image of finding you waiting up for us, half asleep on the couch came into my head.  It was a long drive home.

We all miss you.  You should see the Facebook comments on your memorial event.  All the soccer girls quoting “GET SOME AIR UNDER IT” make me smile.  There will be so many people there.  Your family, my family, your friends, my friends, and our friends.  You would be amazed at how many people you’ve touched.  We continue to take baby steps through our grief.  This is our first Christmas without you.  Next, I will work through our first anniversary without you.  We will get there.  Don’t you worry about us.




Sweet Surrender

9 years ago, this was the song I listened to over and over again. I was falling in love with a man whom I didn’t think would ever love me back and the lyrics echoed my feelings. Last night, this came on my IPod. I am amazed at how the same lyrics mean something completely different and yet still echo my feelings for that man. I love you Keith.

Sweet Surrender by Sarah McLachlan

A Widow Reflects

Wow – a widow in my 40’s.  Somehow, my new title isn’t sinking in.  It feels even stranger when I wandered around tonight shopping for a black dress.  I wanted to find one that would have made him nod his head at me and give his stock “nice” comment.  As I walked around the store, I’m hearing Christmas music playing through their speakers.  I saw Keith’s infectious disease specialist comparing dishes with a couple of people.  I’m sure they were contemplating them as a present.  As I checked out, the clerk commented on what a nice dress it was.  Right on the tip of my tongue were the words “I’m wearing it to my husband’s service” but I fought it off.  The holidays are rolling along all around me and I know its happening but am disconnected from it all.

Friends and family are visiting with cookies and condolences.  Dear brother Lance – I do like cookies.  Last night I cleaned the sick out of our house.  I needed to shake off its presence.  I want our home to be like it was before he fell ill so I wouldn’t have to look around and remember his struggle these last few months.  I want to remember my healthy Keith, my Tigger.  Grief is actually a strange sort of insanity.  I have washed his cloths and put them away.  I found a scrap of paper he scribbled on and I can’t part with it.  His glasses came back from the hospital so I put them on his headboard where he always keeps them.  I still reach over to his half of the headboard to get the TV remote.

One thing I do know – I love him enough to accept this suffering, to fight through this to the other side so I can carry part of his spirit with me into my future.  A future lived to the fullest because his voice will be in my head saying “Go, Cherish. Do it!  I know it will make you happy. You deserve it.  And if anyone gives you grief, they’ll have me to deal with.”

OK, enough for one night.



The Next Steps

Keith’s memorial service will be on Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 3:00.  I will provide the name and address of the location as soon as I get it from Rabbi Hyman.

I am meeting with the funeral home tomorrow to prepare to have him cremated.

In leu of flowers, donations to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (or LLS) are greatly appreciated.  Please mail checks to:

Earthtec Solutions
c/o Barbara Carrita
2079-B East Wheat Road
Vineland, NJ 08361-2594

Or for credit card donations, please use this link:  http://pages.teamintraining.org/nj/sleephol12/gobarbgo  Barbara personally raises funds for the organization through Team in Training and was a very import resource for me.  She ran the Nike 1/2 Marathon in San Francisco this last October in honor of Keith.   I intend to do the same come this next October – well walk, maybe run a little.  So don’t be surprised if I ask for your support next fall.

Thank you all for the messages.  Although I am not emotionally able to focus on them too closely, my phone does sing with Facebook chimes and text alerts.  It makes me smile even if the poor battery on the phone is almost done.  Keith would have been amazed at the love and support.  I know I am.  The nights have already been the hardest to get through and last night was painful.  I’m trying to calm myself for tonight.  I know I can do it.  I also know it won’t be easy.

Hold your spouses, your children, your family, your friends close to you, always let them know you love them – for Keith.