The Intersection of Grace and Grief

During a business meeting today in regards to my husband’s recent death, I was stunned by the comment that a stranger directed at me.  Through eyes glistening with tears, she said, “My heart aches for you and I’m so moved by your grace during this difficult time.  It’s obvious that you are sad and grieving, but your composure is amazing.”  Hmmm.  I’ve heard a variation of this a few times over the last 26 days from family and friends, but hearing it from a stranger gave me pause.  I can hear my husband’s voice in my ear, as if he were still lying beside me in our bed.  “Girl, you’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.  You don’t see it, but everybody else does.”  Ironically, one of MrTDJ’s favorite Whitney Houston songs was, “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”.  That’s one of the songs that has been on repeat over the last couple of weeks.

I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster that seems surreal and dizzying most days, but I suppose my internal struggles aren’t visible to the world.  I feel as if my heart has been shattered into a trillion pieces and there’s no such repair kit available.  I’ve always heard the term that everyone grieves differently, and now I actually understand what that means.  As the minutes, hours, days and weeks begin to pass, the loss of my life partner has actually gotten harder.  Since I’m an event planner by trade, my brain outvoted my heart and I put on my business hat to make it through the moments and days right after his death.  I’ve not really allowed my deepest emotions to show because it’s been easier to focus on the “to do” actions.

Our love was strong, flaws and all.  There are moments when I simply crave the perfect imperfections of my life prior to June 9.  Allow me a few minutes to talk about my dear MrTDJ.  Often in death, the deceased is unintentionally canonized into a model of perfection.  Um, no.  Not gonna happen here.  No one walking this earth lives as such and I don’t seek any such illusions for my husband.   My statement isn’t meant to color him in a negative light, rather to say that he was as imperfect a creature as any of us.

When he and I met, we were both young and new to love however we knew from the beginning that we’d found something special in one another.  Folks around us weren’t quite as certain because we appeared to be polar opposites, but we naively and innocently dug our heels in pushed forward.  From 1992 to the morning that my husband passed away, humor united our hearts.  Laughter stayed at the core of our relationship, through all the highs and lows that a twenty year relationship can traverse.  Thinking back, I can’t help but smile at the memory of teaching MrTDJ to tie a necktie, and in return, he taught me to shoot dice.  LOL!  See what I mean?  We were so different, yet alike in the areas that mattered.

I am so happy to have shared the milestones of my youth and adulthood with my husband.   I am blessed with a son who looks just like his father.  Looking into my son’s face, I am transported back to the hallways of T.C. Williams High School and the first time that I laid eyes on my husband.  There are moments when the similarities between the two are a little too much for my fragile heart, but I am hoping that one day those things will bring me nothing but joy.   As a testament to the strength that he believed I possessed and with the support of my family, friends, neighbors, listserve and facebook friends, and this amazing blog community, I am holding it together minute by minute.  I’m wearing clean clothes, keeping my pedicure fresh and not crying in line at Sam’s club.  Being told that I look composed, graceful and calm is a good thing, I suppose.  But please don’t let the glowing skin that’s due to consuming more water than food in the last month fool you into thinking that I’m ok.  My wounds are deep and raw.

Monday, July 2 was my 36th birthday and I was without MrTDJ for the first time since 1992.  He and I celebrated my 16th birthday with Good Humor bars from his neighborhood ice cream truck, and he gave me a shiny new “Virginia is for Lovers” key chain as a gift.  I wanted to write a little something for a few days, but Monday took me to a low place and I wasn’t yet ready.  Today I felt compelled to write.  I debated if I wanted to write in my journal, or share things on the blog.  Words have always brought me peace and comfort, so I decided that a blog entry might be a baby step toward my healing.  MrTDJ was my biggest fan and always encouraged me to write something every day, whether I shared it with no one, him or the world.  He even mailed me an actual “fan” letter once.  That dude.  ***deep sigh***

My husband was known for his loving heart, his quick wit and certainly his smile.  Do a little something for me, would ya?  Please share a laugh and a smile with someone today.  Tell someone you haven’t talked to in forever how much you miss and love them.  And, if you wouldn’t mind, please continue sending all the positive energy and prayers.

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43 thoughts on “The Intersection of Grace and Grief

  1. You are one of the greatest writers I’ve ever known. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve cried about a man I’ve never even met. Love you Taya.

  2. I was just sharing with my 18 year old son today your story,( as If I really know you but through your writing I feel like I do) wondering how you were doing, I can not imagine losing your soulmate. I say a prayer for you and little TDJ often, take one momemt @ a time, I pray that peace eventually finds you and the smile is back. No words can express what Im thinking, I apologize for babbling.
    Happy Belated Birthday.

    If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.

  3. This post makes my heart exhale…..Thank you SO much for your Eloquence and Grace…..Though we’ve never met my heart, prayers & positive thoughts are with you and I pray you will feel their presence when your heart needs them most~

  4. I am so proud of the woman that you have become MrsTDJ. I am so happy that I have witnessed your growth from the tiny little girl who stood at the top of the escalator in Macy’s and asked your Aunt ” what do you want from my mind, I am only 2 yrs. old” I always knew you were a special girl and I love you very much. I feel bery proud to have been a part of your family all these years. I have taken notice to your strength this week and I wondered how you have been able to contain your sadness. Now I know and I commend you. This really brings tears to my eyes and I only wish the best for you and baby boy. If you need me for anything please feel free to call me, anytime.

  5. Sis, your words speak so clear. I can not imagine the loss of a “life partner,” but how amazing it was for MrTDJ to have had you by his side for the most important life experiences. Continue to take it one day at a time, and be so ever greatful for the {gift} your husband left you – which is your son, who looks just like him! God never fails…
    Love you, your little sis ~ Kitty

  6. I think about you and your son often. I was very happy to see your blog show up on my Google Reader today. I’ll continue to keep you in my prayers.

  7. I was so happy to see this post in my reader. My heart aches as it did when I lost my mother knowing the journey that you must walk to healing. I love you and I’ve never “met” you but my prayers for you are intense and so real. God will. Keep us posted

  8. I’ve been watching my blog feed, looking for a post from you to let us know how you and little tdj were doing. ((BIG HUG)) my friend. I’ll keep praying for you and your son.

  9. You are one of the strongest people I know, always have been. When others would run or get dissuaded, you have always stayed and got it done. I want you to know, it is ok to let it go and let us take care of you. I am always here for you.

  10. Although I don’t know you personally, I am so proud of you. I can see your strength in your words. I know this is hard but I also know that you’ll get through it although it will never be the same. When I was 16, my mother died after a long battle with cancer. I wanted to jump in the casket with her but I remained very composed and the days kept going by and before I knew it the years had gone by. Although the pain will never ever go away, every day that I wake up is a small victory. I’m happy that you will always have a piece of him with you because of your handsome son. May God continue to bless and keep you.

  11. Your are an excellent writer. Your words in this post are so eloquent and they paint the perfectly imperfect picture of the life you shared with your husband. I pray that God blesses you with peace, comfort, and strength during this difficult time. *hugs*

  12. This is so raw…thank you MrsTdj for sharing this. Your husband was definitely an awesome man…happy belated!

  13. When my brother died, I learned that life goes on. We grieve in many ways and they’re all fine. Writing down your thoughts is healing. Since reading the initial post I have thought about you every day. I don’t know how to pray for you right now, but I lift you up and God knows what you need. A Happy Birthday at this time seems odd, but I wish you happiness on this birthday and many more.
    xoxox

  14. ❤ U really are an amazing person Taya. I've been thinking of u and sending u healinglovejoojoo. As I said, I'm here if u need anything. I do mean that.

    Much love.

    Dréa

  15. I love this post. You’re in my thoughts daily. You already know if you need someone just to listen you have plenty of ears right here!

    *hugs*

  16. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I can tell the stories of adventures together you guys had a great time, your love for him was immense and you two are very special people that God put together to bless the world.

    I am praying for you and am sending you my love and e-hugs.

  17. How moving mrs. Tdj ……..beautifully written. Prayers for you and your son. Prayers for your husband looking down on you! Xo

  18. Taya long time client and friend im laying here in bed at 3am cant sleep looked in ny phone u was heavy on my mind so i looked u up like u said …and i thought about all the conversations we had over the years and i was just so moved by some of your writings and blogs and if no one else understands your grief i kno all to well those feelings …i didnt lose my husband to death but i lost my mom and 7 months later lost mu husband if 15 years to i guess to some mid life madness… but the sudden lost of my mom and then losing my hubby at the one if the mist lowest times if my life was truly the hardest thing i had to deal with in my life .so i understand !!!!i been journal for 17years and its so relaxing !!!, keep up the good work and i will continue to check u out ….Gwen Pratt Miller

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