Very little Christmas here. My roommate is trying to sneak in some decorations around the house…she thinks I don’t see it. No tree, no stockings, and no cards. I can’t stomach the idea of signing Peggy. Just Peggy. We have been bobbypeg for two decades. No more – not after May 29th, 2014. Can’t do it. I will limp through this holiday somewhat – I am going to several Christmas programs with a friend, so, I’m not closing it out of my life totally. But, I’m not doing much. My blood family is all in Ohio/Pennsylvania and I can’t get there for the holidays. So, Saturday, I went to this dinner club and the Christmas American Parlor Songbook presentation. Sunday, I, in the evening, I’m going to see a Fife and Drum performance. Monday, GriefShare; Tuesday Bible Study; Wednesday, another evening at that dinner club, weather permitting. So, I’m keeping it going. I think I’ll be making cookies with someone along the way if we get around to it.
Pushing through. I visualize myself as one of those donkeys that would be strapped to a horizontal post attached to a wheel and they would, along with other donkeys, walk that wheel in circles crushing grain, I believe. Pushing through. Round and round and round and, eventually, the grain is ground, the holidays will have been last week and I go into 2015. A new year. A year in which my husband did not die. I’m 58 now. I spent the last 20 years with said husband. Now, this man was a truly good man. He wasn’t always. He caused a lot of damage in a lot of lives in the early years before I met him. Then, he went to prison in Russell Kansas. THEN, he met Kenny, his first cell mate. Kenny turned this ruthless, heartless, cruel man on to God. God was ready for Bobby and Bobby was ready for God. This turned his life upside down. I wish you could hear him tell it. Turned Bobby into something he never thought he’d be. A loving person. He spent the next 24 years learning about God and life in Him and how to be a Godly man. He also healed the abused relationships he had with his ex-wife and his children. They were all back in his life by the time he died. And, I was fortunate enough to walk into that church in Long Beach, California in 1994 where I met Robert Charles Henkel. Most people don’t ever get to have the relationship with a partner that I had…the one that we look for all of our lives and rarely find. I had it. I had it in spades!!!!! I’m 58 and I’ve met, loved, married and lost “the relationship”. Already. Now what?
15 years ago, this very weekend, Bobby and I moved to this house in the mountains. We had a moving party and then, everyone stayed for a big BBQ bash and then fireworks. We had so much fun! This year was the first year without him. This year, we said goodbye on this same weekend. We wished him well and cried our tears, held hands and prayed. Although I had his family around me, it still broke my heart and I couldn’t even go out and watch the fireworks. I have a journey ahead of me that will include many days like this. I am not sure how I will do it. I want to be one of those couples where one dies and the other dies shortly after. The idea of any kind of future without that man is something I can’t even begin to wrap my head around. Slowly, I am giving gifts of his belongings to the children and grandchildren. They were so happy to receive something of his that my heart was stirred with a brief moment of joy. I want to feel happiness again. All the time. I haven’t felt it in so long I don’t know how it goes anymore. I just want him back. I need him so.
No longer us, no longer we, no longer our, just me.
I looked you up on the internet today. I just wanted to find you somewhere. Something that would make me feel a little of you again. You were there, but, there wasn’t anything that hinted of you. My days go by and I move through them like I’m moving through jello, fighting with every step to just get out of bed. A life I thought I’d have forever I have no more and that won’t change. I find myself leaning forward a bit just to look around a corner and see if maybe you’ll be there. I’m waiting for something to happen that will never happen. You’ll never share my bed while you hold my hand and talk of your dreams into the night ever again. Your dreams have come true as you live the life with Christ that you always waited for. What dreams do I have? None. Once your memorial is over and everyone has gone back to their lives that are full and intact, I will still be sitting here in OUR home, the home WE made for US. Only now it’s just me never to be a part of us again. The breaks and tears, wounds no surgeon can repair, are more than I can ever bear. The summer will move into fall when we would be so happy to build that first fireplace fire of the year as the rain would fall against the windows. We would smile at Halloween remembering that that was when you told me “we have to get married, you know” as we sat in the chilly winds on Cherry Beach. Then fall will turn to winter and the first snow will likely kill me because you will not be here to share it and smile and laugh as the flakes fall like all the years gone by. You won’t be here to tell me how much you love this place and watch the dogs roll each other in the snow and come in frosty and cold for your hot chocolate after shoveling the steps. Then will come Thanksgiving when you gave me a ring 20 years ago and then Christmas and I will be slowly melting into nothing with no one to share those special times with me. Like WE did.
I always thought that there would be a WE. I never thought I would be sitting here alone on the Thursday night two days before your funeral writing about my sorrow and pain. But, here I am. Here I will always be as no one will ever be you. No one.
There are so many things I just want to talk to you about. So many things that I know would make you laugh go unsaid. So many feelings that only you could appreciate remain locked up inside day after day after day. I instinctively turn to talk to you, but, you’re not there. I reach out at night for your hand as I have done thousands of times before, but, you’re not there.
But, I see you everywhere. In the trees and rocks and lakes and the mountains…the things that we love so much. All the things that we discovered together are always around me and I often can’t bear it. You’re in every room, on every shelf and mantle, in every closet and every drawer. Others have their sorrow at your loss, I know. But, getting up every day to see your things, the things you loved, the things we found together all over everywhere is beyond cruel. Should I start putting things away so I don’t spend all of my time crying because of them? I don’t know what to do without you. Tell me what to do!
I have to go into summer without you this year. It is so lonely and hard for me to take that we won’t be loading the dogs up in the truck and going for our wonderful off-roading adventures every week. If I had one more day with you, that’s what it would be. Maybe Big Bear and the horse farm or Cleghorn where we come upon that amazing vista. I wish I had one more day, but, then, I’d have to lose you again and start this nightmare over. I do get to see you in my dreams sometimes. I don’t like that because I have to wake up and lose you. Again.
I miss you so much. My loneliness is so deep, my wounds so raw. I need you, I want you, I love you. You said that as long as I could say those three things you’d never leave me. But, you did. You did.
Oh, God, how can I go on like this?
How long will I awake every day to such despair and pain?
I feel my heart break more and more every day.
The tears are relentless. No sleep, no comfort anywhere.
You were my best friend, my love, my heart, my wealth, my life.
With you gone, I just don’t know if I can do this life anymore.
Please come back to me. I need you so much.
His last words before they put a tube down his throat was “I love you, Peggy”
and “I’m sorry, Peggy”. Over and over he said those words. I love you, too, Bobby.
I’ll love you til I die. Forever.
They keep telling me that time will heal. Oh, God, I hope so.
God, please help me, please….
So, after two days and nights at Sequoia National Forest/Kings Canyon National Park, I am home. Sequoia is one of the places where Bobby and I loved to go. We went at least once a year, dogs in tow, hanging out in the wild. My sister and her husband kept me pretty busy and distracted, though bouts of tears were part of it. Her husband, John, is a lovely man. I told her to remember what I am going through and to cherish what she has with everything she is. She is very special and it was great to spend two days with her and to get to know John better. But, now I am back home. So, there were some healthy tears, but, there was a lot of distraction as well. Sequoia is beautiful, of course, but, then, we decided to go to King’s Canyon. Man, that place is amazing!
Coming home was both good and bad. My son and his family were so happy to see me that it just felt like heaven. They really missed me and I them. Also, getting back with my dogs was wonderful. They were also very happy to see me. However, alone on the ride home, as soon as I got on Hwy 58 and then on Hwy 395, all of the memories came crashing in just assaulting me brutally. Then, Hesperia for gas and then Hwy 173 through passed Silverwood and then up to Crestline…. If I had a dollar for every time Bobby and I passed that way, I could pay off my house. The memories brought so many tears. And, of course, this house is filled top to bottom with the life he and we built here. This is cruel. I am not dealing with this very well, as I am sure is normal. Home is so different without him. It feels very strange and empty and I feel so lonely. Since we bought and moved to this house together and filled it together, there is no escape from memories. I wish I would wake up and find that this was a nightmare. He would stick his head around the corner and ask “Are you going to sleep all day?”
Yes, I will sleep all day now.
Well, I ended up sleeping in the living room with the TV rocking me to sleep. Just couldn’t ditch that dang song! All day again. It’s doing it now. I have had the radio playing and have played songs on YouTube and my mind keeps taking me back there. I’ll be sleeping in the living room again tonight.
“Conversations to share when no one’s there, I’ll imagine what you’d say…”
He was cremated today. He wasn’t in there. He and I have always had little regard for the human body as, with the soul gone, it is merely a mass of dirt. He is with his Lord now with a new body that doesn’t hurt. I just wish he hadn’t gone without me. But, he did and he needed to. His body was so ravaged and poisoned and broken. My poor baby. He died an hour before his daughter made it into town. I’m kinda glad, really. He was an awful mess and no one should have to see him that way. I hated that his son and I had to see him that way. But, I was able to clean him up after they took the mess of medical tubes and needles off of him. By the time Joanna got there, I had brushed his hair and beard and cleaned his face with a hot cloth, cleaned out his mouth and eyes closing both and pulled the covers up over his torn body. He looked like he was just taking a little rest.
So, I get to go on with a huge hole in my body that hurts all day long. The tears are unstoppable, the grief immeasurable. What’s ahead? I don’t know. As I stand here alone, the world goes crashing on around me. How can people go on when I have lost what mattered most me?
For now, my little sister. Laura and her husband are coming to town. We’ll laugh and cry and then go to the Sunday jam and play some music. She’s an elementary music teacher, so her sing-alongs should be fun for all. Then, Monday, we head for Sequoia. That should be interesting as it was just about our favorite place to go together, Bobby, the dogs and me. I guess it’s best to go when I have such loving support.