When My Ex Died…

I just read an interesting blog entry; a woman’s ex-husband died.  They were not amicable towards each other after their divorce, even though they shared custody of 2 children.  She didn’t know where she stood or how to grieve.  I guess I am lucky.

I have a son who is now 25 years old.  His dad, Don, and I separated in 2005, and our divorce was final in 2007.  I will be 50 years old next month.  Don and I have known each other for over half of my life…literally.  In late October of 2016, our son, Tim, called me, telling me that his dad had had a heart attack and was now in the hospital in Texas.  He had gone done there to visit his mother.  Both fear and worry gripped my heart as I waited for my son’s updates as he had immediately decided to go down there.  The day after he arrived, my son called me at work; after surgery to put stents in, he was put into a drug-induced coma as his kidneys were starting to shut down.  A few hours later, he called again; there was no brain activity and his organs were shutting down.  My son and his grandma made the decision together to let him go.

I started crying.  Even though we divorced due to arguments and infidelity (on his end), we still remained friends.  We talked on the phone all the time, we texted and tagged each other on silly posts on Facebook.  We saw each other when we could.  I would still call him every holiday.  He vented to me about things going on in his life.  I vented to him.  We talked about stuff having to do with our son.  And now…he was gone.  There was a gaping hole in my heart.  Why was I so upset?  We were divorced.  I wasn’t his wife anymore.  But, we had a son together and shared a lot of good times.  The good times outnumbered the bad.  Despite everything, he was still a part of my life.  And losing anyone you cared about hurts.

I never remarried and neither did Don; although he had a girlfriend with whom he had another baby with.  He loved his youngest…  Hell.  He loved all of his kids.  So even though I was no longer “family,” they all still considered me part of the family.

I talked to Don’s mom in Texas, and she had nothing but praise for Tim, who unexpectedly showed up at the hospital with his friend Ashley after driving 10 straight hours to get there.  She told me that the first thing Don did when he arrived was whip out his wallet and show him the latest picture of Tim that he had.  He was fiercely proud of him!  We talked about Don’s personal items and other things.  I talked to Don’s step-mom, offering help in any way that I could.  I wrote a short bio about Don that was to be used at a memorial service (he was cremated in Texas then laid to rest in Missouri).  It was more about Don and what he liked than a bio.  I cried as I wrote it, but it was something that came easily to me.

Don’s brother put together a memorial gathering in the town they lived in.  As I drove into the once familiar town, I saw things I hadn’t seen in many years, and memories flooded my mind.  I tried not to cry, but I couldn’t help it.  It was very nice to see people I hadn’t seen in years…as well as meeting those that I had only known by name.  I started crying during the reciting of the 23rd Psalm.

The day before the service, I picked up a bunch of carnations from the florist and kept them in water overnight.  The next morning, I left for the church cemetery.  I loved seeing his family members again…and I was part of the group.  Even my parents showed up.  After a prayer and all the flowers had been laid down by everyone, I stepped forward and pulled a Blue Angel die-cast metal replica from my tote bag and set it by Don’s urn.  It was his favorite jet and loved watching them perform at air shows.  For me, that was a fitting tribute…from me to him.

After the graveside service, we went to a senior center where Don’s dad was a resident because of Parkinson’s.  We had lunch.  We talked.  I was happy to see more people show up.  Tim’s friends came to support him.  Tim’s first babysitter and her mom came.  Probably Tim’s oldest friend came, too…a girl that was born 9 months earlier than him and a friend he grew up with.  I cried during the service again.  I wasn’t in the obituary…but neither was his girlfriend.  His children were listed as well as his parents, brother and sister.  It was done correctly as I didn’t have a place in it as we were divorced, and that was perfectly fine with me.

I live the closest to the cemetery.  Everyone should have a turkey for Thanksgiving, and I made sure Don had one.  For Christmas, I laid down a Christmas light necklace, a clip-on poinsettia, and a real Christmas tree in a little pot.  For New Years, I put down a marti gras-type bead necklace that said Happy New Year, a goofy pair of 2017 glasses, and a picture of a bottle of Jack Daniels in a plastic cup as his favorite drink was always Jack and Diet Coke.  In a few days, I’ll visit again and pick them up.

We talk.  We agreed that I will take care of Tim from here on Planet Earth, and he would watch after him from up in Heaven.

I guess I am lucky.  Don and I still remained friends after the separation and divorce, and it wasn’t just for Tim’s sake.  It was a friendship that started back in 1990.  That meant something to me then and still does today.  Some members of his family told me they always thought that he was holding me back (as I have since gotten my Associates in Mass Media Communications, my Bachelors in Media Communications and am working on my Masters degree now).  His mom wrote to me that I was Don’s one and only true love.  I don’t know if that is true…or maybe Don was mine as well.  I don’t know.  I’m not interested in having a relationship now…or ever, really.  I’m enjoying the empty nest time of my life.

I didn’t have to grieve in private or have to stand at the back the room.  I was able to grieve with my son, my parents, Don’s family and friends.  Three months later, I still grieve, but now it’s a personal thing and sometimes, I can’t help it.  And I grieve with Don because although he is without pain now and free from dialysis due to juvenile onset diabetes, I know he misses us…even though he is always in our hearts.

Rest In Peace, Don…  I do love you.

Does anyone else have an experience in losing an ex-spouse?


Posted on January 4, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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