A Thief of Tomorrows

Whereas with the Mrs. our default TV background noise -- especially today -- would be The Weather Channel, I've taken to having The Cowboy Channel on, at least during rodeo telecasts.

Every so often a commercial will come on mentioning the Fort Worth Stockyards, which we had the opportunity to visit back in 2002 when I accompanied her to Texas for a meteorology conference there in Cowtown.

More than once today I've heard the mention and thought that "we" ought to take another opportunity to visit there sometime.

I can still go, I suppose, but even if I went with someone else for company, my memories of that previous visit would just be so much excess baggage as far as another companion would be concerned. However understanding the new companion might be, it would get in the way of them creating their own memories.

I mentioned in a previous post that I find myself existing in two worlds. That feeling won't ever go away completely; she was part of my life for half my life.

I still have a lot of tomorrows ahead, but they're not the ones I thought I had a few weeks ago.

Lone Star Belt Buckles and Old Faded Levi's

Well, not really. I'm wearing Wranglers, and the need to chase my waist size down the scale has forced me to buy belts so hastily I can't put my choice of buckle on them.

Come to think of it, I don't have a lone-star belt buckle anyway. Various critters, or one of those Western-style designs. Maybe I should start shopping for buckles again, when I get around to buying a belt I can put one on.

Probably not a lone star though. Unless I ever actually move to Texas. I don't foresee that. Maybe a buckle with Steamboat, the legendary Wyoming saddle bronc.

Anyway. A downside of this blog format is it doesn't offer much customization, regardless of what theme I use. Some of you might have forgotten what I look like.

I don't look like you'd recognize anymore, anyway. I'm clocking under 200 pounds now for the first time since college. Used to be I'd tell myself I needed to have Mrs. McG take a new picture of me, but that's out now. I'll think of something.

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Meanwhile, here's what I looked like almost a year ago. the Mrs. took this snapshot, which I used as my headshot on the old blog, in a turnout along Highway 20/789 in the Wind River Canyon of Wyoming.

I'm toying with growing out the beard again for the winter.

I'm also toying with upgrading the blog platform for 2022.

Please, Mr. Postman

Some time in the last couple of weeks, my mailbox was damaged to the point that the letter carrier can no longer open the door to deposit mail.

According to FedEx, its replacement arrives today, so I've just been out there trying to remove the damaged box from the post and make room for the new one. And after a good half-hour of working at it, I've extracted precisely one screw of the four.

These things are as long as rebar, seems like, and after being out there for just a few years they are resisting what leverage I can exert with a standard screwdriver. When I return to the job I'll take a pair of Vise-Grips, but the heads of the screws are inside the box, limiting the amount of turn I can get before needing to reset the blade.

I wish I lived closer to a post office; I could just rent a box there and be done with this carp.

Tell me again why a government corporation is needed to deliver advertising circulars I never look at?

Reflections

I live in two worlds.

Far and away most of the time I'm in this one -- where she's already gone, and I have to reorganize my life to adapt to her absence. In this world I still have a huge list of things I need to do, processes I have to wait out, until I have a life that fits reasonably well within it.

But sometimes I see something, or I have a stray thought, and suddenly -- just for an instant -- I'm in that other world, where it hasn't happened yet, I haven't lost her yet, she's still here.

Being in that other world, the world that ended that day, doesn't hurt -- but the abrupt, inevitable shift back into this world that follows, and I once again have that emptiness where she used to be, it's like losing her all over again.

Today, finally, I can cry. I guess that's progress. It means I've gotten enough done that now I can stop doing and -- alone with my memories -- I can just feel for a few minutes.

And today's her memorial service. I'll never be able to say all of the above in front of that room full of people, so I've written it here.

The process of adapting goes on.

Catching My Breath

Under pressure, I tend to focus on what I can do something about.

Loss is something that, once it's happened, is a fact of life. Nothing to do about that. Mrs. McG is gone.

Intense feeling is another fact of life, under these circumstances, and all I can do is manage how it affects me in the moment. In fact, focusing on what I can do something about, is one of my strategies for dealing with grief. It lets me keep some emotional distance so I can remain functional until remaining functional is no longer a critical need.

In recent days I've tried to let some of the feeling run its course, but I only get tears for a few seconds. Clearly I'm not ready yet. I'm too busy coping with the thousands of little changes that have happened in my life because of this big one. Right now I still need to breathe more than I need to cry.

She had plenty of opportunities to learn this about me. I'm sure she understands -- especially since she would never have let all this fall on me so suddenly, if she had her druthers.

Bereft

I have lost my beloved wife.

Update, next day: I'm still getting over the shock. Keeping busy, but most of that involves constant reminders that she's not here anymore, and won't be coming back.

On Wednesday afternoon, just as we were about due to leave home for a doctor's appointment -- for me -- I left her sitting as she usually did on the loveseat in the living room to go comb my hair and splash water on my face. When I came back about five minutes later she was slumped over on the loveseat, sweaty, breathing oddly, and unresponsive.

The ambulance arrived quickly, but by then, according to the sheriff's deputy who had arrived first, she had just gone into cardiac arrest. It was only the first of many times her heart would stop. I later learned she had suffered a pulmonary embolism -- a blood clot in the lung.

Shortly after 2:00 a.m. yesterday, with her father and me staying out of the way in her ICU room while nurses worked, her heart stopped for the last time.

Back in 2006, an online friend of mine, Rob Smith (Acidman) died on his living room couch of a pulmonary embolism. He lived alone.

Now, so do I.