Cookie, my wife of 53 years, passed away quietly on Christmas Eve and I was granted one last favor and that was that I was seated by her side as she passed.
I felt rage, peace, anger and sorrow all at the same time. I could not separate my feelings because I really couldn’t understand them. It seemed my entire world had crashed down all around me. So much was going on inside of me that I could neither deal with nor fully understand.
Many people will wonder how I am able to talk of the passing of my wife. Well, the answer is simple and complicated at the same time.
I went through the anguish of prayer and even screaming at God to take me with her, but his voice was very silent. As she declined, each day she could communicate less and less until there were just sounds that my poor hearing could not make out. When the children were here they would tell me what she said if they could understand it.
In the moments after her passing, I looked down and I saw the shell of the person I was so devoted to for all of those years and I could plainly see that she was there no more. My insides wanted to explode apart and in part they did. You cannot believe how badly I wanted to go with her but our strong religious beliefs wouldn’t allow that to happen. I became dissociated and very confused as to this new reality. A reality without her.
I had fallen in love with her at 19 and remained faithful to her all our married life of 53 years, but our actual time together felt much longer because for 40 years we worked together day and night building a home business which also included our children. We both felt that time was very well spent and made our family unit even stronger. All of us were united in so many different ways and the bonds never really diminished. As with all families we had a few fractures along the way but nothing that a few spots of super glue couldn’t fix.
So why am I writing this now? I am writing these feelings out for the people who can’t write them out, who feel these emotions deeply but can’t seem to be able to express them. My motivation is very close to the reason I wrote about expressing feelings and emotions through art. I talked about what many people wanted to express but somehow just couldn’t. I feel like I became their voice as I tried to put into words what they were not able to.
And yes, I get something out of it. It helps to free my own anguish and is also very much part of my own healing process. If the truth be known, many or even most of the time I don’t know where my writing is going or how it may get there. All I know is that somehow different things need to be written about to help fill someone’s void or traumatic life event even though we may not even begin to understand its complexities.
I myself cannot explain them. I just ask that you join me as we take these very hard trips together.
I will continue to write articles for The Madison Press, but the articles will be more sporadic as I settle family affairs.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at [email protected]