One year ago today at around 4:30 pm, I arrived at Hospice of Cincinnati in Blue Ash. Experience. Compassionate. Caring is their motto. And I can tell you from all the years and many deaths I have been through they are good at what they do.
As I parked my Jeep and walked into the building, I can remember the anxiousness building inside of me. It was not the first grief counseling group experience I had. I pretty much knew what to expect and how everyone’s emotions would be heavy. I mean come on now. We were not there because we just won the lotto. We were all there because we had lost a spouse.
A ride up the elevator, and a stroll into the conference room. There you sat. I think we were some of the first people to arrive. If I remember it correctly, there were about seventeen of us. You sat catty-corner across from me. You were dressed up in your usual school teacher attire. I think we both said hello, but I don’t remember smiling too much.
I sat down, and the heaviness poured over me. I was holding back the tears the best I could because I knew what was about to happen. The counselor was going to introduce herself, tell us about the next six weeks, and then she was going to ask us to share our stories.
Sharing of the stories – the part that makes my heart sink into oblivion.
One by one, old and young (yes there were some very young people in our group), we went around the table, in no specific order and we shared our stories. With each story told, more and more tears were shed by me. I could feel myself trying to take a deep breathe to cover up the crying. I remember I kept my head down in an attempt to cover up my face with my long hair. I purposely went close to last as I knew I would never be able to get the words out.
When you spoke about your wife, children and the community of friends you had I immediately thought to myself how blessed this man is. How lucky was he is to have been surrounded by such love. I noticed the nametag on your shirt when I first walked in. John. When you talked about your wife and her name was Julie, I couldn’t help but think how crazy is this. A John and a Julie in the room who lost a John and a Julie. In some ways, I think that my husband John was letting me know it was ok to grieve and this was going to be a safe place to do so.
We all cried a lot that day. The sadness in the room was so heavy it felt like even God couldn’t pick it up. The counseling session was over, and now we all had to return to our grief fog-filled lives and try to figure out how to continue on with tomorrow. Before we left I had mentioned to the group about “God Winks”. The things God or our spouse send us to let us know they are there.
I had an overwhelming feeling, as I often get when I am listening to God or my intuition, to go over and hug two people. One lady and the other was you. I, of course, asked permission first. We embarrassed. It was our first hug. Some of the others had managed to leave, some talked with the counselor, while the rest of us piled onto the elevator and then proceeded out the door.
I got into my jeep, you into your suburban. Both of us looking toward each other, and with that goofy smile and hand wave you drove off. The next time we saw each other you would tell me you seen a rainbow on your ride home that night. Your God Wink! Julie was smiling down on you.
And so “plan b” began a year ago today at 4:30 pm. A plan for our lives we never in a million years seen coming. A plan we have yet to know where it will go. It has not been an easy year, but it has been a fuller year. A year full of emotions, new experiences, and challenges.
Regardless of what the next year brings us both, I would never take back the blessing you have been in my life and us meeting ……………………………….A year ago today!