Gloria Gilmartin, USA

1941 - 2010

Homemaker and avid journal-writer, Gloria said that the mosaic of her life had been enriched by the experience of grieving.

(Submitted by the author and originally published in 'The Art of Living')

On the first anniversary of my husband’s death, I found myself dreading the approach of 10.26 pm. How will I feel? What am I supposed to feel? What if I don’t feel anything? Over and over, all day long, these questions went through my head. I thought of how quickly a year had passed. What had seemed like a dream and a nightmare twelve months earlier was actually beginning to resemble reality.

Grieving is a phenomenon. The hardest and most painful times pop up unexpectedly. Minutes without a painful twinge or thought of him occasionally have extended into hours. I am learning to accept these times as good, as normal, and to be grateful when these healing lapses of conscious grieving occur.

There still are times when I forget myself and think of how much Joe will enjoy hearing about something silly I did or find myself hoping he’ll tell me that he’s seen my misplaced keys. Jarred into remembering that he is no longer here to consult about this, that, or any other thing, I shake my head and question my sanity.

I have learned a lot about myself in this past year. I now accept that I am not as strong as I thought about certain things and that I am much more capable than ever regarding others.

What stands out most prominently is the gift of closeness that emerged between us in the last weeks of his life. Never in the time that I knew him was this man so honest and open or grateful. Every barrier came down as his spirit prepared to depart this life. No longer were there any pretenses or walls between us. He looked into my eyes with an honest, open vulnerability that he had never before been able to reveal. As weak and feeble as his body was, I saw a strength in his eyes that allowed me to see past any misgivings, annoyances and angers of yesterday. They just did not matter; to either of us.

What became significant was that this soul, this child of the Almighty, was soon to depart on a journey to another place, a place of Love and total acceptance. He needed my support through this stage of his journey and I needed to allow him to leave this world in peace and serenity.

I am grateful that the passing of time is allowing our happy memories to seize the spotlight and take center stage. A deeper understanding of love is replacing the pain of loss. When a person leaves this life, time does not stand still and love does not die. Love continues and grows. All that dies and fades is that which really did not matter.

What remains is the memory of joy; of the good times. What remains is the honor it was to hold his hand at 10.26 pm.

A reflection written in memory of Joseph F. Gilmartin.

(Second photo: 'The girls': Gloria and her daughters Christine and Cathy.)



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