three years   26 comments

Posted at 2:44 pm in being alone,Don,future,loss,memory,sabrina

And so another year comes to a close as the next begins. This evening, it will be three years since Don died. I’ve just spent the past few hours, choosing some photos for this post. A few are older, taken in the years before Don became ill. Some, such as the above image, were taken in the months between his diagnosis and death. I have not looked at the later photos too much since taking them as it has just been too painful. However, to avoid them is to avoid acknowledging that difficult part of our lives.

The above photo is how I like to remember Don – healthy and strong – busy taking GPS readings and recording field notes. It’s a scene that was repeated many times during our hikes year-round every weekend. Don and I hiked and canoed just about every trail we knew of in eastern Ontario. I took photos while he recorded our sightings.

Above is Don with a young Sabrina. She is about two or so years old in this photo – not really too much different in age from Sage. Now, Sabrina is in the twilight of her life. I hope to take her to Arizona with me in October, but am sure this will be her final trip – a fact that makes me quite sad as it seems like she is one of the last tangible connections to Don.

This photo was taken on the trail along the Illinois River in the Siskiyou region of southeast Oregon. In 2006, Don flew out to join me part way through my photography travels of the Pacific Northwest. I am so glad that he decided to come west so that I could take him to so many of my favourite places in Oregon and northern California. He loved it there and talked of returning to explore more of the coast – but of course, that did not come to pass.

A couple of years ago, I posted a different view of this little scene. I decided to put this one up as it has such a familiar feel to it. Evenings were often spent sitting reading in the living room. This was our family time – Don, Sabrina and me.

This photo was taken at the farm shorty after Don’s diagnosis. At this point, we were spending most of our time at the farm as Don was dealing with the effects of chemo and radiation treatments. Regardless of his illness, he made a point of getting out for walks each day in order to stay strong and to keep our lives as normal as possible throughout that time.

The above photo was taken moments after the top photo in this post. I debated whether to include it, but decided that it was good to share. That day, we had returned from a meeting with the doctors, picked up Sabrina, and went for a walk at Baxter Conservation area. We talked a bit, but mostly tried to relax and adjust to latest bombshells. Don was always pretty at ease with the whole thing. In fact, so was I. It was difficult for both of us, but we both felt that the best way to deal with things was to get out and spend time in those places we most loved. In the months to come, we would find our greatest peace resting in the sunlight in those places we knew so well.

This is among the last photos that I have of the two of us together. It makes me both happy and sad. I have not looked at it more than a couple of times in the past three years. Don was not well, but as always, he was smiling.

This last photo was taken in autumn 2006, on a beach near the town of Trinidad in northern California. It is how I beslt like to remember Don. Although my life has changed considerably over these past three years, these photos bring me close to certain moments. To me, it is as though they happened yesterday. I still feel the same toward Don now as I did then.

To Don. I miss you -I love you – and that will never change.

Written by bev wigney on September 6th, 2011

26 Responses to 'three years'

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  1. It’s really hard to type any words through the tears. So sad to realize that three years have passed. This is such a beautiful and loving tribute to Don, Bev. We will raise our glasses tonight and say Don’s name out loud, and have toast in his memory.

    Robin Andrea

    6 Sep 11 at 3:21 pm

  2. Bev, thank you so much for posting these photos of Don. I don’t think I have seen pictures of him before, but now, seeing them, he appears just the way he should. I don’t know how to describe or explain any better than that. Just that it’s so wonderful to see our loves in their ‘natural habitats’ holding tools or binoculars or oars. Even the pictures that show the telltale shadow of cancer are beautifully intense, yet peaceful and full of love. Thank you.


    6 Sep 11 at 4:15 pm

  3. Today is the day I was born and the day Don died. I remember thinking about that when I read the post about his death after I found your blog. I cannot imagine the sadness and profound pain of such a loss, Bev. It makes me so very sad to know your life carries that kind of absence, but also very happy to know you also carry that kind of love. Love received and given and constant. Since love is alive and well, Don is always with you. That makes me smile. This is a beautiful tribute to Don; these are beautiful images – all filtered through tender love. 🙂


    6 Sep 11 at 4:44 pm

  4. As Sky said, a beautiful tribute, Bev! So very touching.

    Larry Ayers

    6 Sep 11 at 7:27 pm

  5. I hope the remembering is easier, Bev.


    6 Sep 11 at 9:57 pm

  6. I loved reading your thoughts and memories, and the photos enhanced your sharing of Don.

    I have some standard photos of Michael that I turn to when wanting to see images of him. I too have so much more that I leave untouched, as I don’t know if it will help, or hinder, my progress with grief. I know that when the time feels right I will also begin going through them.

    Much love to you Bev.



    6 Sep 11 at 10:04 pm

  7. Thank you for sharing these photos of Don and Sabrina and you with us today. Love not only does not die. It continues to grow. Especially like the photo of you and Don together, and Don in that amazing clear light on the north coast of California near Trinidad, and the photo of Don with a very young Sabrina on the couch. All of the photos are quite moving in the way they show Don in connection with you and Sabrina.


    7 Sep 11 at 12:22 am

  8. robin – It seems so strange to think that it has been three years. On the one hand, it seems like it was only yesterday that we were dealing with Don’s illness, but on the other hand, it seems more like a decade thatbI have been carrying on alone. Time s just a weird thing.

    carolyn – Thanks. I have posted photos of Don on each anniversary, but not generally in between. This was the first time I have posted photos taken during his illness. It seems time for me to be able to look back on that period of our lives and try to get over the profound sadness. While it was a difficult time, it was also happy at times too – something that I need to remember.

    Sky -Yes, you are right. It is hard to experience Don’s absence as I carry on, but I do have many good memories. A belated happy birthday to you!

    Larry -Thanks!

    laura – It gets somewhat easier as time passes. Some people say you get over losing someone, but the truth is more that you get used to it and learn how to carry on.

    Dan – I think we have to tread carefully when revisiting the more painful periods of the past. There are times when I can deal with the hurt, but other times when I cannot. Much love to you too in what is probably a difficult week.

    am – Love does continue to grow – and to change. I’m glad that you enjoyed seeing the photos. It was sad but nice to go through them yesyerday.

    bev wigney

    7 Sep 11 at 6:28 am

  9. Hi Bev

    Thanks for the photos and your words, all the best.

    Warmest regards



    7 Sep 11 at 9:00 am

  10. Death, or rather our response to death, is such a strange thing. The only death of a close loved one I have had to deal with is my father, who died a little over 10 years ago. I have pictures of him among the cycling backgrounds on my laptop. When I see his picture, it’s like looking into a different world. It seems as if I’m the one who must have left, because I just can’t get my head around the fact that he’s gone.


    7 Sep 11 at 4:21 pm

  11. Guy – Thank you.

    Mark – There are so many odd things connected to our response to death. This summer, when I am doing the kind of tasks that Don and I usually did together – cutting brush, cutting up logs with the chainsaw, etc… I have found that when I turn the motor of loud equipment off. I look up and expect to see Don standing nearby. It happened continuously while I worked on clearing trails through the property this season. Also, I kept having little flashbacks to last summer – he and I clearing a particular terraced spot where there is an old apple tree – only (of course) that never actually happened. After my Dad’s death, I experienced a different odd sensation. My dad and I were very close and I was his caregiver through his illness. I also kept his small manufacturing business going while he had surgery and treatments, and then for a couple of years after his death. After he died, when I worked in his shop using various hand and power tools, I would always feel like I was watching his hands working, rather than my own. Very strange sensation, but it did not bother me. I think most people who lose someone very close might experience a range of responses. With Don, we did almost everything together, so in effect, I really do feel as though it is me that has been left alone in some strange place. I was just thinking that I doubt that is something that will change greatly with time as the sensation grows more stronger rather than less as time passes.

    bev wigney

    7 Sep 11 at 5:10 pm

  12. *


    7 Sep 11 at 5:28 pm

  13. and, my first thought when I got to the photo of you and Don “ah, pretty lady.”


    7 Sep 11 at 5:29 pm

  14. megan – Thanks. Lately, i feel more like a pretty old lady.

    bev wigney

    7 Sep 11 at 6:21 pm

  15. sorry, that wasn’t my first thought. I can only report them as they come.


    7 Sep 11 at 6:51 pm

  16. Hey, no problem. Thoughts can be reported in any order around here. (-:

    bev wigney

    7 Sep 11 at 7:25 pm

  17. A lovely lovely man, and the world is poorer without him, Bev. Hard to think too, that Sabrina is now in her twilight years – she has been such a wonderful companion to you both.


    11 Sep 11 at 7:06 pm

  18. Cate – Yes, he was a wonderful person. Hard to lose him and now see Sabrina showing her age. Take care.

    bev wigney

    11 Sep 11 at 10:51 pm

  19. I came back and looked at the pictures again. That’s when I noticed that Sabrina is in almost all of them. I feel for her, too.


    16 Sep 11 at 7:39 am

  20. Yes, she has always stayed as close to us as she can. Don’s illness and death had a very great impact on her as well. The last months of Don’s illness, because of the bone metastasis in his spine, he had to sleep on a recliner chair cushioned with sheets of memory foam. Sabrina started sleeping in the space uderneath the raised leg rest part, sort of as though she was in a cave. She got so that she would not come out as she didn’t want to leave Don for even a few minutes to eat, so I had to put her food and water bowls next to the chair where she could reach them. She stopped eating during the final days when Don was in ICU. By the time that he died, she had wasted to the point that she couldn’t get up on her own. I didn’t know if she would survive, but she did. When I look at photos from our first winter in Bisbee, I can see just how gaunt she was. I think she was down to around 45 pounds and she normally used to weigh 75 to 80. She did recover a lot and is actually okay now – walks okay, but not too far. She weighs a bit over 70 pounds. I have to feed her extra treats to keep her weight on. I think she will be okay for the next few months, but she is getting old. She is very devoted to me. and always has been. As I write this, she is lying on the floor just beneath my foot that is dangling over the edge of the bed. At nighit, she sleeps sort of half under the bed right beneath where I am lying. Wherever I go, she will come and lie down next to me. Sage is just the same. She likes to sit or lie on my feet whenever I take a break. Anyhow, yes, the whole thing was very hard for both of us. I don’t think people understand what an impact this kind of thing has on everyone – pets included.

    bev wigney

    16 Sep 11 at 7:59 am

  21. Dear Bev . . . .
    My response as I scrolled through this post comes from a very deep place that I don’t frequent.
    This is the month that my dad died 20 years ago. My husband and I just sat here trying to calculate the interval and even as I’m typing Keith is still exclaiming that it’s been “20 years! 20 years!” He thought it had been only 10.

    That, my friend, is how fresh . . . . how enduring . . . . are the memories of those we loved and always will.

    Those pictures say so much. What a good, kind and gentle man.

    What a beautiful friendship.

    And even in the tilt of that lovely chin – I see the strength that has helped you endure the unendurable.


    16 Sep 11 at 9:50 pm

  22. Cathy – You are so right about memories being enduring. They do not keave us, and in fact, in some ways, become stronger over time. At least that has been my experience. My dad died 12 years ago and it does not seem nearly so long. Yes – to endure the unendurable. It does take a lot of strength and much fortitude, it seems. I sometimes wonder if there is a limit on the supply.

    bev wigney

    17 Sep 11 at 4:10 pm

  23. “I sometimes wonder if there is a limit on the supply.”

    I know. I know. But our choices . . . so limited.

    And the world is a beautiful place . . .

    Hang in there, my friend. You help make it a beautiful place.


    17 Sep 11 at 4:31 pm

  24. You help make it a beautiful place.

    And so do you. (-:

    bev wigney

    17 Sep 11 at 4:48 pm

  25. Thank you so much, Bev, for the new (to us) pictures of Don. Each of them is so special. My first thought was that you are very brave to open up the images and memories of Don’s last year to share with us now. Constant companionship can be a constant comfort, but when death flips that coin, on the other side is constant consciousness of loss…. it takes me a long time to write a note like this, because I keep erasing what I’ve written. Suffice it to say that my thoughts are with you at the end of this third year of Don-lessness. PS: I too like the one of both of you – you are still a lovely lady… especially when you smile! (There I go erasing what I write again) Love, Aleta


    19 Sep 11 at 11:03 am

  26. aleta – I pondered over posting these photos as they are dpstill difficult for me to look at. However, they are bound to Don and I through such a powerful time in our lives. It seems fitting that they – and that part our lives – be acknowledged in some way. I thunk this is the time.
    You are so right about constant companionship and the comfort that it provides, and the flip side being what pretty much nothing – a sad vacuum. I don’t really think that there is any way for those who have not experienced this kind of loss to realize just how difficult and dispiriting it is to carry on alone. I think that, for most of us, time has a linear quality where we move forward experiencing events, planning for the future, etc. For me, there is very little of that sense now. It is more like existing in a place outside of the world that others are experiencing. I work on this house, but it is more like working in the tidal zone. I come and go without much thought. i think you will understand. Love, bev

    bev wigney

    19 Sep 11 at 4:01 pm

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