I wanted to share my poetry, photos, stories. and artwork with you. It has been a long time since I’ve written anything new. In the last month, I found my voice again and began to put word on paper. It’s been a difficult couple of years.
In 2014, I lost the love of my life, Terry Stowell, to Esophageal Cancer. He is my best friend, boy friend, lover, confessor, co-conspirator, and husband. Terry is also my muse. Still.
I prayed silently for months to God that He would give me the cancer instead. I wanted to die in his place. There was so much I had experienced and seen in the world. He hadn’t had the chance. I wanted him to live, and enjoy, and travel. I wanted him to miraculously be cured. We did everything we could to enable that, but it wasn’t enough.
When he passed, I couldn’t think, couldn’t sleep, work, write or do anything but mindlessly watch t.v. and cry. I did it for months. One morning for no reason I could think of, I began to walk. I found myself on the River Bottoms Trail. Soon, I began to walk around Spanish Fork and took my camera. I started to lose myself in time with the lens, but I was still numb.
Gradually my trips began to venture out to Thistle, Hobble Creek Canyon, various locations around Provo, including Provo Canyon, and as far as Eureka. I finally worked up the nerve to drive to St. George alone and meet up with my kids where we walked the Narrows in Zion National Park. I was beginning to let out a breath that I had been holding for months.
When the Autumn of 2014 brought it’s beautiful colors, I made one last venture out with my youngest son, Jon, up Hobble Creek Canyon to a place Terry had once lived at during the summer of 1975, after we had been split up by my grandma (long story). I went to Cherry Campground. There I wandered around the trees, watched fish in the creek by the bridge and felt my husband walking with me. Jon and I took photos there and then packed up and drove further up the canyon. When we drove past the campground on our way home that afternoon, the Rangers had come and padlocked it up for the winter. We had made it just in time.
And just like that, I was locking down again, too.
I tried to keep myself so busy that I didn’t think about holidays, our anniversary, the day he passed. It didn’t work. Thanksgiving Day our store was closed. I was curled up in my bed, heavily sedated. The holidays were the absolute worst. Terry and I had found each other again after 32 years apart in November of 2009. I couldn’t believe that we had miraculously found each other after all those years just to be split apart again…and in such a cruel and painful way. The dates would play reruns in my head of places, phone calls, letters, emails. My chest felt (and still does) like a cannonball had blown through it and tore my heart and guts out. I wanted to talk to him one last time and hold him.
On my down time, I was in my own little world in the fifth wheel that my husband and I had shared. PBS, BBC, and ACORN t.v. were my escape from reality. I watched Inspector Lewis, Vera, reruns of Inspector Morse,and Lovejoy nightly until I could finally fall asleep, curled up on my life sized Teddy Bear. Yep! 58 years old and I was back to sleeping with a bear!
With the winter of 2014, I was becoming a recluse and suicidal. Missing Terry had become a moment by moment anguish. I couldn’t breathe sometimes. My chest hurt, my left arm ached, and I was nauseous. The next thing I knew, I was in Payson Hospital being treated for a heart attack. Luckily, all tests were negative and the episode was diagnosed as a panic attack. I had no idea that a panic attack could manifest like that. I thought they were all crying and hysterics. Nope! My doctor placed my on antidepressants for awhile, but that didn’t help. I knew that I had to face my feelings and grief and work it out myself. Terry told me that he did not want me sad. He wanted me to live and experience and enjoy life for him; to make memories I could share with him even though we are temporarily parted, again. It’s hard as hell. But then,accomplishing anything worthwhile is.
That winter I worked for a craft supply company and started taking an interest in art supplies. Stampington Magazine would inspire me to try out techniques. Gradually, I began sketching, playing with watercolors in my journal and illustrating what I was feeling. I dove into a book of the Complete Works of Kahlil Gibran and started illustrating pages in my journal with quotes from his book. I included them in letters that I left on Terry’s grave. Little by little, I began to create again…read again…think straight.
So, I am sharing with you my grief, my new found joys and the life I am trying to piece back together one breath at a time. Ok… I made it through that breath…breathe again. I can do this.
Here are the photos, scribbles, and attempts at art that are helping me heal. I don’t know any other way to do this. These entries are my laughter, tears, screams of hopelessness, my fingernails digging into the steering wheel while I prayed to God that I didn’t let go of the wheel and crash, my healing, my hope, my repurposed life.
After all this, I can still say most days, that life is good.