Saturday, May 7, 2016

One Year Without Rudy - Happy Memories Are Best

Rudy died one year ago - May 7th at 9:15 am.  I have tried to write this post over and over.  I write, delete, and repeat the next day.  Nothing I write seems good enough.  The 11 month post was hard.  I thought maybe if I worked on the one year post over the course of the month, it wouldn't be so bad.  It didn't help.  It's difficult because I keep thinking of this time last year and it was all pretty horrible.

I'm taking the pressure off myself and won't post a tribute to Rudy.  Instead, I will write about two miscellaneous things on my mind - one serious and one funny.

The serious point I want to make is for anyone who is grieving or anyone with sad memories.  The thing that has served me best (kept me from losing my mind) this whole year has been to push away bad memories.  I recently learned the newest grief research backs me on this.

My favorite widow book so far, Saturday Night Widows,  explained that grief is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It used to be that trauma victims were encouraged to talk about the events that had triggered their condition, to get it out of their systems." Recent studies have shown "talking about trauma, or even thinking about it too much, can reinforce disturbing memories."  

From the start, I didn't want to dwell on the awful things Rudy had to go through or how awful that made me feel or how wrong life is without Rudy.  Remembering horrific times is nothing but self-torture.  I wanted to focus on the good times.  The good memories are the ones I need to reinforce!  Maybe that's one of the reasons these "anniversary posts" are so hard.  They are reminders of bad times.

Stopping the negative thoughts that pop into my head is not easy.  Bad experiences have a way of searing into your brain, don't they?  During the last 6-1/2 months of Rudy's life, he suffered one awful thing after another.  As soon as I realize I'm thinking about those bad times, I remind myself those memories are not helpful and Rudy would not want them to define his life.  I make myself picture Rudy looking happy.  Rudy would want to be remembered for the happy times!!!

Now for the funny part...  John Prine was one of Rudy's favorite musicians.  On more than one occasion (long before Rudy got sick), he told me and his sister, Nancy, he'd like John Prine's song, Please Don't Bury Me,  played at his funeral.   We'd all laugh as we imagined what the reaction would be.   When it came time to choose the music for Rudy's "Celebration of Life Party", Nancy thought we should honor Rudy's request and play this song.  His sister, Linda, was not in favor, to say the least.  If I had thought for a minute that Rudy had been serious, I would have insisted on it being played, but I knew he had been joking.  Also, he had said on a number of occasions, the most important thing at a funeral was to do whatever might comfort those who were grieving.  Playing this song would not have comforted Linda and might have shocked a few others as well!  We found other songs to play that ended up being perfect.  I think this one year anniversary might be a good time to present the crazy John Prine song.  It's a bit irreverent and perfectly captures Rudy's warped sense of humor.  He'd like nothing better than to be remembered with a smile!  But darn it, I'm crying as I write that.  I sure do miss him and his sense of fun.   I can't imagine ever again having as much fun as I did with him.


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