Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Musings on September…and Mortality

with 7 comments

Folks, it’s no secret that I do not like September.

Why? Well, the main reason is that my husband Michael died during this month. So when the weather turns to fall (or at least the calendar does; in Wisconsin, we’re still in summertime mode for whatever reason), I start having trouble with all sorts of things.

You see, it’s hard to create when you’re fighting against grief. Because grieving takes energy. A surprising amount of it, actually…and even though I try hard to set that all aside, sometimes I just can’t.

Mind, I know my husband Michael would not want it to be this way. He was all about laughter, and joyfulness, and creativity…this isn’t the legacy he’d want, for me to feel terrible during the month of September.

Even so, I feel what I feel. Trying to change that doesn’t do any good.

So what do I do when grief gets to be too much? Usually, I read something amusing or divert myself with sports documentaries. (I’m quite partial to ESPN’s “30 for 30” series.)

Sometimes, though, I just have to experience the mourning. I don’t like doing this, but by accepting these awful feelings, I can better put them aside. (I learned this trick from Michael, who was a Zen Buddhist. He felt it made no sense to deny how you truly feel about anything. But if you accept the feelings, whatever they are, and then tell yourself, “I’ve heard them” or “I’ve felt them,” then it’s a little easier to set it aside. I’m not sure why this works, exactly, but it does.)

What’s frustrating is when I run into someone who says, “Barb, it’s been eleven years. Why in the Hell can’t you get past this?”

I know it’s been nearly eleven years. Yet some days, it feels like yesterday; on others, it feels like forever.

Michael was by far the most important person in my life, and I miss him every day. He saw me for what I was, loved every part of me (even the parts of myself I have a hard time loving), helped me create the Elfyverse, cheered me on while I wrote an earlier draft (or two) of CHANGING FACES…he was my biggest cheerleader, my biggest partisan, and my best friend, along with being the only man I’ve ever met who truly understood me.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to “get over” his loss. Because it truly is an incalculable loss, and I am well aware that it is. And I refuse to deny this truth, because if I did, I’d be a much different — and far lesser — person.

Besides, I don’t think you ever “get past” someone you loved deeply. I think all you can do is go on; you don’t “move on,” exactly — you go on, with the memories you have and the experiences you’ve had, and you do your best to build on them.

I know Michael would want me to continue to fight it out with CHANGING FACES, and he’d probably say in the end, no one will be able to tell just where I’ve struggled, and why.

So even though September, in general, is a bad month, I’m going to continue to do my best.

Michael wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

September 16, 2015 at 7:18 am

7 Responses

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  1. ((hugs))

    Jasini

    September 16, 2015 at 4:29 pm

  2. Hang in there.

    kamas716

    September 16, 2015 at 4:48 pm

  3. One of the things I do when I get down is read. I have a few staple books I go to for this, they are guaranteed to make me laugh. Two of them are by Jay Johnstone (former baseball player) that are full of funny stories not just from him but several different players. I like TEMPORARY INSANITY better than OVER THE EDGE, but both are hilarious.

    I’m also partial to the 30 for 30 series. They have some pretty entertaining and informative episodes.

    kamas716

    September 16, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    • Kamas, I’m going to have to look up the Johnstone books. I remember that he was quite the raconteur when he was still an active player; he and Bob Uecker used to have a great time during interviews. (I don’t know if you ever heard any of those, but they were hilarious. Uecker has said that the off-color stuff is even better, but of course what I heard over the air was clean — and very funny.)

      My husband used to read books like Patricia C. Wrede’s TALKING TO DRAGONS when he got a little down.

      Barb Caffrey

      September 16, 2015 at 8:32 pm

  4. […] last year I wrote this post about September and mortality. My husband Michael died in September of 2004, and I miss him even worse during September than all […]


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