Today is the anniversary of the death of my husband, Shinko Mondori. If you’ve read some of my earlier writings, you know he died from pancreatic cancer, which is one of those cancers that is a death sentence. He surprised his oncologist by surviving two-and-a-half years after his diagnosis. He was a fighter.
I was torn about writing about this, today. After four years, it’s hard to consciously dive into the place of grief. Well, I did. What I found was, it’s not quite so unbearable as it was, but it still fills me to overflowing with tears.
On March 4, 2014, I published my first blog post about Shinko, “‘Bones’, Cancer and Real Life,” where I paralleled Shinko’s illness with a character on the TV show, “Bones.” The young intern, Wendell Bray, learns he had Ewings sarcoma, another seriously nasty bit of cancer. I was still very much in grief when I saw this episode, and it really struck home for me. Appropriately, this post hit it’s 15,000th view just now.
A few days later, I published “Remembering,” which was from a letter I wrote to my friends and family about Shinko, and read at his life celebration seven weeks after he died. This one is more raw. It was from that grey time after a loved one dies. Emotions shut down. You just move, like an automaton, from one task to another, from one day to the next.
I had forgotten that post was from a letter until just now, when I read it again. Letter writing is powerful. Unlike conversations, you have time to think carefully about each word. They allow you to express emotions and thoughts that you would never do in a conversation.
On my book blog, I recently wrote about letter writing, “Lessons from the Fledgling Author: Sharing a Character’s Feelings,” after a class lesson had us students write one from the perspective of one of our characters. In it, I describe how surprised I was by the result. I was able to have my character speak from his heart. He’s a vampire, so is pretty stoic, in general. It turns out, I’m a lot like him in that way.
This morning, I wrote a letter to Shinko, to tell him I miss him, what my life is like without him, and to tell him I’m OK. I’ll share it with you.
Well, it’s been four years since you’ve been gone. It’s a cliché, but not a day has passed when I haven’t thought of you. It’s hard not to—I still live in the same house, our home.
I miss you. Your gentle touch. The way you could make me smile.
There are a lot of things I don’t do anymore. They were things we did together.
I almost never cook—really cook. The pleasure in creating and eating a fine meal was in sharing it with you. I remember eating such good food. Sunday morning French toast or pancakes with fresh blueberries, maple syrup and lots of butter. Dinner. Dinners were amazing. Never just a steak. No. The barbecue always had mesquite to give the meat that wonderful, smoky flavor. The vegetables were chosen with care, both for quality and color. Presentation was a big part of preparing the plate. Fresh green beans, steamed to perfection, next to bright orange mashed sweet potatoes. And always, a sprig of parsley from the garden outside our front door.
The garden is another place where I don’t spend much time. A lot of that has to do with how extremely busy I am, but there’s another part that’s really just avoidance of something I took pleasure in sharing with you. I finally hired someone to clean up the two years of neglect. It’s looking pretty good again, and I’m finding enjoyment in spending time there, pruning and pulling weeds.
I still play the piano—and I can tell you, I’m getting better. Sometimes, when I finish a piece (ta-da!), I look across the room for you, where you used to sit in that overstuffed chair by the front window and watch me play. You’re not there to clap for me.
One thing I very rarely do anymore is sing. Or play the guitar. That was something that became very tied to you. I sang simply to make you happy. I remember the emotional release it gave me. There’s something about filling your lungs and making noise that is very restorative. I miss that. I might get out that old guitar.
The other major thing missing from my life is travel. I’ve done very little, aside from family things—going to Japan to inter some of your remains with your parents, and going to Hawaii for Alissa and Corey’s wedding. I’m glad your family still includes me. I love them.
I might go on more trips if I my business actually made some money. Big sigh. I’m looking for gainful employment now. I’m tired of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and baked potatoes so often. I’ve become very frugal. Hopefully, I’ll find something soon. I worry that my age will be a factor against me, although, being a woman might be an asset.
Overall, I’m pretty happy. Aside from a few aches and pains, I’m healthy. I’d like to lose some more weight, but I’ve plateaued—this year has been frustrating.
And, I discovered a passion. Or an addiction. I started writing. It began with blogs to support my business, but that led me to write about a variety of topics. Once I got started, it took over all my free time.
About two-and-a-half years ago, maybe getting closer to three, I tried to write down that story that I carried with me all those years in my head—you know the one, about wizards and magic—just to get it on “paper” so I wouldn’t lose it again. As soon as I did that, the story grew. And grew. I now have major parts of several books written. I have one almost ready to publish. I’m hoping by the end of the year. After getting feedback from my editor on my first draft, I’m deep into the first major revision.
Writing the stories, especially about my main protagonist, Coltan, allows me to express my grief. His story is tragic. I grieve with him. He grieves when I grieve. And we get through it together. He’s strong. And so am I.
The dedication for Tishta the Crystal Orb, my first novel, is:
“For my husband, Shinko Mondori, who always encouraged me to try new things and to never be afraid.”
I love you, with all my heart.
Sharing can therapeutic. It can also help others through similar situations. That’s why I’m sharing now. I feel better all ready.
Copyright ©2014-16 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.