January 12, 2013

No Zombies Allowed

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 11:03 pm by Debbie

I sense lately, when someone sees me for the first time since Dave’s death, that they are instantly surprised I appear to be a normal, functioning person. I don’t have that distant zombie stare, uncombed hair, or mismatched clothing (except maybe my socks, but nobody looks at socks, do they?) There aren’t track marks on my arms from the drugs I’ve been taking. I haven’t gained or lost dramatic amounts of weight. My house isn’t a shambles. The dishes are clean, the laundry is caught up and my recycle bin is not full of empty liquor bottles.

I get up every morning, shower, dress, and go to work. I come home each evening and cook, clean, read, write, and work on my craft projects or genealogy research. I occasionally go out with friends for dinner and conversation. On the weekends I relax, run errands and go shopping – perhaps we should discuss retail therapy another day, though. In short, my life hasn’t changed. Except that it has. Hugely so.

I remember the day that we received Dave’s diagnosis. When we returned to the car after leaving the doctor’s office, I turned to him and said, “The way I see it, you’ve got two choices. You can either roll over and play dead now. Or, you can fight this like a madman. Pick one. I’ll be here with you no matter what you choose, but I need to know what you’re planning to do.” His response was, “I’m going to fight it all the way.” And he did. Right along with his TMNT jammies*.

When Dave died, I could hear him asking me the same question, “You can either choose to live in the life that surrounds you, or you can crawl in a hole and cease to exist. Pick one.” I also chose to fight. Must be the Irish in us.

That doesn’t mean I don’t mourn him, that I’m not grieving, that I don’t sometimes spend my commute crying over some song that comes over the radio, or that I don’t miss him every waking moment. It means that I’ve decided to learn how to live with my grief. I’ve decided to learn how to live without him. I’ve decided that zombies aren’t allowed in our house. I’ve decided to find a new normal (whatever that is.) I’ve decided to live. And so I will.

*For those of you that don’t know the story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) pajamas, here’s the short version:

During Dave’s initial hospital stay, it became apparent that he needed something other than the one pair of thick flannel pajama bottoms that had graced the bottom of his dresser drawer for years. So, we asked our (adult) son to buy a pair on his way to the hospital. He bought two. The first were a black pair of Captain America pajamas. The second, everyone’s favorite, and much cooler looking, were green and adorned with the heads of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They instantly brought a smile to the face of anyone seeing (or hearing about) Dave lying in the hospital bed wearing them. Along with his cowboy boots. Both. Together. In bed. They also became a symbol for the good days. The smile days. The days that he was kicking cancer’s butt. And the turtle dudes lent a moral support helping hand.



  1. Scott Forney said,


    We think and talk about you (mostly good ) and Dave a lot. I’m glad you are getting along ok. please keep in mind, we still extend the offer to come and visit next summer when it’s warm so we can go out on the lake. We’ve moved but still keep our boat at the lake. You take care and you are in our prayers. (and the Big Guy)

    R. Scott Forney Owner

    Fish Window Cleaning 5400 Fort Henry Dr., Ste. # 5 Kingsport, TN 37663 423.343.4496 (direct) 423.943.8414 (cell) 423.726.2082 fax http://www.fishwindowcleaning.com/664 Independently Owned and Operated

    Logo With Button

    • Debbie said,

      Thank you, Scott. You’re a good man. No matter what anyone else says! 🙂

  2. Joy Marcus said,

    We need to get you a book deal. You write so simply and beautifully, and you’re so funny. I don’t know what its like to lose a spouse, but I sure know about grieving, and reading your blog is very helpful.

    • Debbie said,

      I have no idea what I’d write about! 🙂 Thank you, Joy.

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