time   11 comments

Posted at 2:58 pm in Uncategorized

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post. There’s no real reason for the lack of writing activity other than me being in a quiet mode. I break my silence today, on the fourth anniversary of Don’s death.

Each year, I ponder over what to write, how much to share, and what to keep to myself. Mostly, I wish for my friends to take a moment to remember Don as a wonderful person. I have met few kinder and more attentive people in my life. He always made time for everyone, even when he was busy and stressed. He rarely found fault with anything and was a joy to be around. I look back on our 34 years together as a great gift, even if it was to end far too soon.

So, what to say this year?

I don’t really have much wisdom to impart to anyone. However, I would like to write a little about those things I have learned about time. For the widowed among you, I doubt there will be any surprises.

First, in the months after Don’s death, people often told me that time heals all wounds. I did not really believe that and, in fact, it has proven to be one of those commonly stated falsehoods that is accepted as being true. Time doesn’t actually do too much except make you feel somewhat older. For me, it is as though time stopped on the evening of September 6, 2008. I am caught in some strange place in Limbo, where my body moves forward doing what needs done, but my mind is back in some other world, left behind while the rest of you went on with your lives. Now, all time is measured in relation to that date. The new year of my calendar begins at around 7 p.m. each September 6th. Although I know that 48 months have passed, to me, I can still remember the events of that evening four years ago as if they happened last week. In fact, as the hour draws nigh, it feels as though some door is opening back to that very moment and that it is actually just about to happen all over. I have experienced this sensation each year during the evening of this anniversary.

Of course, it is not just Don’s death that seems so close, but also his life. This week, I had to look up a few photos for someone and that required scanning through several months of autumn images. That activity turned up dozens of images of Don and Sabrina taken during our countless hikes in eastern Ontario. Don used to ask me why I took so many photos of him. I guess the photographer in me couldn’t resist turning my lens toward to person that I most enjoyed being with each day. Now, in hindsight, I am so glad that I took so many photos.

However, sometimes photos function in ways that few suspect. For those of us who have become mortally separated from our partners, these images begin to function like time machines that transport us to some time and place.

Take the above two photos as one such example. It was an unusually warm September day. We were hiking the Tallow Rock Bay Trail at Charleston Lake. We hiked it many times over the years, but on this day, I can tell you that it was one of our first hikes with Sabrina after she recovered from a truly nasty bout of mange. Our vet felt she might have caught it from being in some place frequented by foxes as there was a lot of mange being seen in the local fox population that summer. We stopped to rest on one of the platforms on the floating bridge that crosses the bay. We often paused there to have our lunch and give Sabrina a bowl of water. It’s very likely that we had chickpea and celery salad on pita bread that day as that was our favourite hiker’s meal.

In some cases, it is even possible for these time machine photos to take me back to a particular conversation. The above and below photos were taken in the midst of a conversation about how we could not think of a better way to celebrate our anniversary than to hike the Point Trail at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park. It had become our annual event and as we lay on the grass with Sabrina nearby, we discussed how we would endeavour to do this particular hike on our anniversary for as many years as we could manage to shuffle our way around the loop trail. I turned the camera first toward Don and then took a self portrait while listening, somewhat bemused, as he speculated on how many more decades it might be before we became too feeble to make it for the last time. We had a similar conversation the last time that we put our canoe in the Barron Canyon River in Algonquin Park, paddling to the falls and back. That was to be our other annual trip that would measure how we were holding up in the battle against the effects of Time. How strange to look at these photos, now knowing that we had so little time remaining and would only be able to do our anniversary hike one more time.

I have not really hiked any of the trails on our old stomping grounds since Don’s death. On a couple of occasions, I did go out to certain places to look around a bit, but I just could not deal with the sadness of walking those oh-so-familiar pathways alone. Over the decades, we hiked some of those trails so many times that we knew where we were most likely to encounter a Ribbon Snake, or a Slaty Skimmer dragonfly, a Barred Owl perched silently in a particular tree, or a Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle scanning for prey. For me, our old trails became nothing more than a painful reminder of the cruelty of fate that took Don away and left me alone in the world.

Oddly, so many of my time machine photos were of Don looking back as he waited for me to catch up. He and Sabrina used to wander ahead, searching for plants and creatures for me to photograph. I was always a little behind, messing with camera gear and snapping photos. And so it seems I am still a little behind, with Don and Sabrina off somewhere in the distance and me straggling along behind.

To Don: I miss you and love you. Always.

Written by bev wigney on September 6th, 2012

11 Responses to 'time'

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  1. *

    Man, those photos got me. You know which ones. <3


    6 Sep 12 at 3:12 pm

  2. You bring tears to my eyes, Bev. These photos are such a loving homage to Don and to Sabrina. I think you are right, time does not heal all wounds. The heart knows no time, it knows love.

    We will raise our glasses in Don’s honor tonight and say his name out loud.

    robin andrea

    6 Sep 12 at 3:20 pm

  3. Such a beautiful tribute to love and the man who embodied that for you. I am glad you have so many photographs of both the special and routine moments you two shared. Thank you for sharing your feelings and your memories here with us, Bev.


    6 Sep 12 at 6:37 pm

  4. Each time you write about the love you and Don shared, I am moved. Especially moving are the photos of you and of Don during your second to last anniversary hike. And then there is Sabrina’s devotion to Don and to you. Beautiful vision of Don and Sabrina somewhere ahead of you, still walking.
    Thank you for breaking out of quiet mode to write this tribute today.


    6 Sep 12 at 6:46 pm

  5. megan – Yes, I know which ones. <3
    robin - You're quite right - the heart knows no time, it knows love - and the love never leaves.
    Sky - I am so glad to be able to share the memories with everyone.
    am - It seems that these hiking photos capture so much of who we were - a trio of adventurers who enjoyed being together and always looking out for each other. That is really what our lives were all about. It is good to be able to write about that here.

    bev wigney

    7 Sep 12 at 6:01 am

  6. Dear Bev,

    I have read this blog and it has moved me deeply. I can’t find the right words to say how sorry I feel for the pain you are suffering. All I can say is that I’m thinking of you, and when you feel up to writing again I would love to hear from you.

    Take care you yourself.

    With very best wishes


    Marion Jackson

    9 Sep 12 at 7:02 am

  7. On the 6th of September Fred and I were scrambling to prepare for the next road trip, to Cochrane for fall frogs, so I’m lagging behind on your Journey to the Centre, Bev. Today we are tapping into the internet in Pembroke before moving on to check clams at the next bridge over the Ottawa River and tributaries thereof… it’s good to slow down a bit as I loiter with our rig in an urban parkinglot, waiting for Fred to return with his bag of shells…. and remember Don, think about the possibility of losing one’s perfect mate, and soak myself in your photos, memories, and thoughts. Something is changing. The pain and loss has not lessened as it may do for some, but not for you, Bev – but the thoughts are running deeper and I’m very glad that you share them. Those glances back from Don are haunting, Sabrina’s closeness to him is touching, and that photo he took of your face is enchanting! Wishing you the best year possible, Bev!

    aleta Karstad

    10 Sep 12 at 11:52 am

  8. …..and every year as you share these indelible memories, I can’t help but think how incredibly lucky Don was to be so well loved and remembered. (and knew it, Im sure)


    10 Sep 12 at 12:49 pm

  9. marion – Thank you. I will send an email someyime soon.

    aleta – Yes, it is true that very little has actually changed as far as how I feel about losing Don. I still love him as much as ever, but I have learned to coexist with that part of my life – learning to live around the loss.

    steve – thank you. I think we were both very lucky in spite of how things turned out.

    bev wigney

    10 Sep 12 at 8:17 pm

  10. You are very eloquent.
    This freezes me with a fear that I just can’t beat down. My husband Greg and I are each other’s best friends. We do things in an unconventional way, and have a few old houses that require a lot from or aging hands and backs. We used to feel fairly invincible, taking risks on slippery roofs and under sagging beams without a second thought. But I’m starting to fear the end game, and Greg just keeps on doing what he always did. The ”what if’s” are robbing me of sleep. I bought into ”happily ever after”. I don’t want to think of the possibilities of other scenarios.

    I hope you will find an easier place with your husband’s passing. And I pray I never have to do so myself. I read your words here and I find myself grieving your losses; of Don, of life as you knew it, of the experiences you shared. And the reaffirmation that reality and life do what they please despite our best laid plans terrifies me more and more as I approach fifty.

    Maybe we’ll meet some day when we are in NS. It’s been too long for us, and I miss it. (Unless I decide to stay here safely hiding in the laundry hamper.)

    Take care, Mal H.

    Mal hotte

    18 Sep 12 at 2:28 pm

  11. Mal – I’ve been on the road for the past three days so just catching up with messages. Thank you for expressing what I think many feel but find so difficult to put down in words. Yes, it is a fearsome thing to contemplate the future without our partners. All the while that Don was being treated for cancer I lived with that fear – knowing. would soon have to carry on alone. Unfortunately, I did have some prior experience as I was my dad’s caregiver as well, so I knew that devastating feeling at fnding myself standing after he died. It is not a good feeling. Frankly, I don’t really know how we go on. There is quite a blogging community of widowed men and women and it is hard for all of us.

    Yes, maybe we will meet in Nova Scotia. Be sure to let me know the next time you will be there in summer!


    21 Sep 12 at 6:25 pm

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