8765 Times 3 Plus The Circle of Life

Risa on her wedding day with her sister and mother

Risa on her wedding day with her sister and mother

There are 8765 hours in a year.  In the three years I’ve been widowed, 26,297 hours have ticked off.  Recent events though have made me realize, my life isn’t so bad.  Yes, its challenging at times but as the girls and I mark our third year without Risa and the passing of her mother (their grandma) at 8765 times three plus the circle of life we’re doing OK.

Maybe it’s the time of year that all of this occurs in – the holiday season filled with symbols that make the images of 2010 so vivid.  There was Thanksgiving at our home, a very quiet day with the girls.  We hosted Thanksgiving dinner again.  It’s become an impotent part of our time together.  We know where we are.

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Back then I got the call that Risa was starting to decline.  This year the call was different but the message was not.  A member of the family was approaching the end.  This time it was Risa’s mom Grandma Eddy.  As events unfolded I wrestled with how and when to tell the girls, the message similar to the one delivered years ago.

There we were at our temple’s Chanukah fair, where we were the day after Risa passed away.  This year, instead of talking to the rabbi about Risa, the discussion was Risa’s mom.

The irony of the moment was not lost on me.  Somehow, it seemed to make sense to keep things as normal as I could of the girls.  Let them go through their day, be with their friends and celebrate the holidays.  The moments that we remember.

There are 8765 hours in the year.  8765 times 3 plus the circle of life this year.  It’s a moment we’ll share (again), but it’s also a reminder that all in all our lives are not so bad.

Risa and Grandma Eddy are gone, but not forgotten.  We carry their memories each day.  They are part of us 8765 hours a year – hopefully for many years to come.

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Life’s Circles

As The Lion King taught us, and we see all the time there is a circle of life.  Within that circle though I am beginning to think there are other circles that compose our lives.

OK, a little flowery but descriptive.

This weekend my girls spent time with my sister-in-law.  Its become a bit of an annual event.  We meet up in NYC with Risa’s sister and her daughter.  They head to NJ and I head off to a rare free weekend.  It works.  In NJ they take part in the Hoboken scavenger hunt, do some shopping, visit with their cousin and see their grandmother….

Which is where one of those circles inside of life’s circle comes into play.

Risa’s mom is not doing well.  In fact 12.5 told me she is bracing for the worst, in her words within three years.

I have to give both 10.0 and 12.5 a lot of credit, they went to visit their grandmother in a home not unlike the place I took them to visit their mother.  An assisted living facility.  There grandma is not doing well.  She is mostly non-communicative, can’t eat on her own and is looking frail.  The same description I could have used for their mother just about two years ago.  Still they went.

I’m not sure I could have done it.

So many of those images and moments are buried too deep into my mind’s eye.  Eventually I will have to step up, and walk back into that circle, I know it.  But for now I can give props to my kids who are able to do the right thing once again.

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The Reluctant Expert

As we move through life we all gather experiences that help us from who we are, and in many cases can give us a level of expertise in diverse areas.  While we may not be recognized world leaders in a subject, when you get into your social circles, if you think about it some, no doubt you will have an expert on cooking, an expert on baking, an expert on banking and very likely an expert on cancer.

I admit, expert may be a little strong-perhaps its expertise (at least experience).

But what is not over-stated is when you need help, advice or insight into something you will reach into your social fabric and find the person whose opinion you respect and who you think will give you guidance to get you through an event, point in life or a moment in time.

While I like to talk about technology, social media and mobile; the area of expertise I am more often asked about is being there to support a partner with cancer and how to pick up the pieces when cancer strikes.

In fact, if it were not for the last two items on my list above you would not be reading this blog.  Still, it’s not quite expertise I feel blessed to have.  I do feel blessed in some way to be able to positively share my experiences and who knows perhaps even help someone who is facing the decisions I was forced to face.

The reality though is that every situation is just slightly different.  And every situation has different factors that weigh against it-making even real-time experience in my mind somewhat suspect.  Still, I know it has a calming effect to know someone has walked the walk ahead of you.

Over the last month or so, I’ve offered some thoughts and insights to four different people who are setting out on the post cancer diagnosis path.  One is a single woman, two are young families and one is a single guy.  Half of the people are friends of friends the others are friends of mine.  It does not make the advice any different, it perhaps changes slightly the way it’s delivered though.

But I still have this nagging feeling that maybe I should not be in that business because the factors are different, and there is no doubt the outcomes will be different in some way, shape or form.  Still there are the contestants: the treatment’s effects on patient and supporters; a feeling of helplessness when you ask a doctor what you think is a black and white question and get shades of gray as an answer; the stark reality that no matter what the outcome is things will be changed.

While I’d love to be known as an expert in the areas I have a passion, perhaps my calling is to be the reluctant expert in living day-to-day and just making today better than yesterday-because tomorrow is too far away to worry about.

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