The Day My Heart Stopped but the Clock Kept Ticking, Part 2

Our lives are constantly evolving – at least we hope they will for many years to come.

If you have already read the first part of this story here on The Bloom, I will fast forward to 26 years later. If not, please take a moment to read, in order for my words to bring you clarity.

Our hero, comedian, support system, companion, confidant was gone. We all accepted the loss, yet we all handled our loss in such different ways.

I lived with my mother the first month after dad’s passing, making certain she remained hydrated and ate regularly as the most common habits needed to be relearned. We installed security lights and hired a professional security company to install an alarm system now that she would be living alone. Yes, my mother was a wife of the 50s and my dad insisted he take care of certain tasks, but what happens when they’re gone. She was lost.

My mother continued to move through her life, similar to that of a robot. She was not living; merely existing. She was not as fortunate to pick herself up as 26 years have passed and her pain is just as deep as the day he died. She continues to battle her demons, reminding myself her unwanted grief had grown to the size of a monster.

The road continued to be filled with good intentions through counseling, Widows Anonymous – anything to help ease the malignant growth that possessed her for all these years. She walked out on every session, demonstrating the definition of suffering in silence.

I reminisce on those numbing days for me, which turned into numbing years for my mother, and realize that no matter how much she loved me or my brother, we couldn’t fix her. Even though she was such a young widow, 54, she never remarried nor had a desire to be with any other man than my father.

She attempted to travel without him and I was proud of her brave efforts, but she soon discovered most of the travelers, whether it be a cruise or a trip to Mexico, were mostly that of couples. She spent most of her first solo trip alone in her room, crying at the loud reminder that their golden years had taken a drastic U-turn. But I was still proud of her attempts to reset her new life.  

There would be no more humming. No more laughter. 

My brother handled his loss in a significantly different way, choosing to close himself off, refusing to look at any pictures, videos – basically anything that reminded him of our father. I didn’t immediately understand his stance, but I grew to respect his method of surviving the pain.  It certainly wasn’t my method but I learned to accept his decision and also the coping ways of others.

His unfortunate behavior to ignore his pain became a wound that will last him a lifetime. The sudden shock of our father’s death, awoke bi-polar inside my precious and brilliant brother.  The stark and sudden shock to his system awoke this ugly and unwelcome predator, forever prevalent within.

We all deal with grief differently. There is no right or wrong way as long we are not creating self-harm and remain on our pity pot. Our loved wants want us to be happy and move on through this life.

Our beautiful stories may live in our thoughts as we write the marvelous chapters along the way. In reality we can define our path as we move through the journey of life, but our final manuscript is not decided by us.

Today, I am now the same age my mother was when she was widowed.

I cannot explain why but the first three years brought the highest hurdles. It seemed that the holiday traditions of the same locations and same dinner table that once brought simpler times of joy and laughter, screamed for drastic change. We tried to muster through that first Thanksgiving without my father, and immediately realized we failed. The pain was taller than Mt. Everest. Time would eventually weather the storm and bring us more clarity. But at that time, a united decision was made to spend the next Thanksgiving in Las Vegas, meeting up with family and giving the magical traditions a break.

We are here for a visit. Some visits last many years while others are cut short. Live your best life now, while you can. No one will do it for you.

It truly is a monumental loss when you lose a parent that always saw the glass half full, but those warm memories can become more cherished in our minds than any lack of pity for our pain.

I refuse to allow the inevitable tragedies of life to keep me down, resembling the inflatable clown that sustains punches but never completely stays down.  It’s okay to feel sad, feel hurt or even angry; emotions are necessary in order to heal. Life is going to knock you down just never stay down to the point that your precious life passes you by.

A few days after my dad’s passing I was alone at the cemetery, visiting his crypt, which was outside amongst a fragrant, colorful garden. I heard the sounds of laughter and cheerful voices up the road as the annual summer fair was in town for the week. I thought to myself, how can they be so happy when my life is filled with so much sorrow?

It was in that moment, the younger version of me distinctly realized…the clock isn’t going to stop ticking due my pain. Life goes on. From that day onward, harsh realities clicked within and I tasted the unfairness life can bring, but I also devoured the joyful memories.

To this day, when I close my eyes at night and my head rests on my pillow, I reminisce on the good times, bringing back to life past camping trips, holidays around the table, kick the can with my cousins as the video rewinds and often pauses. I have control of this old movie and no one will ever take that away.

Lori Armstrong

Lori began her career in the legal field, leaving that position to pursue full-time writing endeavors. Being a criminal court reporter for the Record-Bee, she balances the chaos in her brain by writing children's books and reflective pieces. When time allows, she publishes books for Amazon.

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