Ann shared so much with her husband Sandy and that clearly included the gift of writing. Below is Sandy’s essay published today on Facebook.
A Pack of Light Junkies
During the week of Annie’s services eight weeks ago, my people and I stopped for music in two of the pedestrian tunnels in our town. I put our pack there for a reason. We paused for musicians playing Annie’s tunes there, we held hands and we cried in these dark tunnels together. We wrung out our emotional mops, dried ourselves off and emerged as a pack from the other end of the tunnel where the light was brighter, warmer, drier and sweeter. As we are still doing now, each day, little by little.
In near death experiences, we often hear about the “light at the end of the tunnel.” It turns out that’s not just for the dying. Those who survive, people in grief like me and my pack, we look for that light at the end of our own proverbial tunnels. Sometimes we think we see it but it goes out. Sometimes we actually see it and it’s really there, like the horizon 30 minutes before sunrise, we reach for it, desperately hoping to turn up an imaginary dimmer switch.
Sometimes we move ahead too soon. Like the Susan G Komen event I went to yesterday. Too soon for all that positivity and all those survivors. “99% survival rates” blasted over speakers by people like my Annie of 2011. I blew the horn for the 5K and blew to the car, skipping the rest of the races. So happy for all those survivors, so desperately wishing for faster deliverance from my despair. Needing a fresh hit of that sweet, forbidden light. Other times we run ahead in the tunnel, delighted to breath the fresh air, drinking it in and bathing in it, injecting ourselves with the future. It tastes so sweet that we don’t want to return to the tunnel where we still belong.
The challenge for me is about prioritizing, sorting and preserving the memories. How to filter them, keep some, let others go. Keep enough that I don’t lose her, but let enough go that I’m not carrying her like an elephant on my back. I can’t live in a museum or shrine to her — living amidst the pictures, videos and relationships dedicated to the preservation of her Wonderful Life. I hate the feel of her sand slipping between my fingers and trailing behind me as I trod on, as I inch towards the light at the end of my own tunnel. That feels disrespectful, yet I know otherwise. The light tells me so. My pack reinforces it.
Eight weeks out and I know the light is there. I have seen enough of it to be sure, it is a good pain killer. It now tugs at me, dangerously whispering that if I have some I’ll feel better. Despite my addiction, I know, in my intellectual heart, that I can’t start racing towards it. I have to trod forward, backtrack when necessary, occasionally leapfrog forward for some joy . . . but not hurry there. As our pack metabolizes our grief in our tunnels, the light becomes less about pain killing and more about hope. Our glasses are getting more half full.
So it will be for me and my pack of light junkies.
Mothers Day, 2014