730 Days of My New Life!

On July 17th 2017 I wrote a blog post entitled “365 Days Without Tim, My Grief in LEGO Bricks!” It was such an emotional and freeing time for me because I often express myself with my hands and build what I’m feeling. It helps me to actually “see” what I’m feeling. I loved looking at the large LEGO structure that represented my Grief (blue), Growth (green), Memories (yellow) and Love (red).
July 17th is an emotional nightmare of a day, as not only did Tim die on that date in 2016, but my sister died on the same day in 2011. Maybe God’s plan for me was for all of my sadness to occur on one day.
I said last year that I’d continue my “grief build” into 2018 because another widow who has become a friend had warned me that the second year without Tim would be much worse than the first. She was absolutely right and it was brutal at times! This year I added an entirely new large plate to my build, and since my life has changed dramatically I decided to call this year’s memorial post “730 days of my new life”.
I added a piece, or two or three over the last 12 months as events and emotion led me. AND I added part of the white Temple I built after seeing the Burning Man exhibit at the Renwick Gallery in D.C. because it absolutely reflects how my Faith and Spirituality has evolved over the past two years. Here are how the four colors are represented in LEGO bricks and the stories behind them.
Grief (blue)
Being alone at night continue to be the worst time for me! I still hear noises at times but I’m not nearly as afraid to be alone as I was last year. The biggest surprise of this year is how easily and how much I cry now. I cry about everything that reminds me of Tim, and I never see it coming, it just happens!! I cry about the happy and fun stuff too wishing Tim was experiencing it with me! But I wipe my tears and embrace the moments just as Tim would want! Prior to two years ago I rarely cried….and now the tears just flow, but I’ve embraced them!! So the many new pieces I’ve added to last year’s section are indicative of my tears!
Growth (green)
My how I’ve grown!!! I traveled to new places on the book tour including Louisville, KY,  Waynesboro, PA and Boca Raton, Fl, places Tim would have absolutely loved. I spoke to my largest audience to date (800 AKA sorority members in D.C.) last month at a Sunday afternoon tea.
Work continues to be a great place for me! I love the team I work with and they love me and the job I’m doing. I’m amazed that they continue to be so supportive as I spread the word about Alzheimer’s across this country.
The thing I still haven’t grown in at all in my new life is cooking! I’ve mostly avoided it though I enjoyed cooking with Tim. As of now I love the healthy frozen meals with veggies that I’ve been living off of and I think my awesome health this year loves them too! I just pop them in the microwave and I’m all set! My goal is still to use my Instant Pot that I purchased in 2016 a lot more over this next year.
I made a big decision about my house and signed a maintenance contract through Michael and Sons so I don’t have to worry about huge bills for home repair! I also continued to purge and downsize. I’m sure my trash collectors are happy I’m done with the cleaning as I had dozens of huge bags of trash over this past year.
The many green pieces I added to the build this year reflect all of the growth I’ve made in my business and my personal life, especially around the house.
Memories (yellow)
I cherish all of the memories Tim and I made together and even though I may cry a little when I see them, the Facebook memories are always a huge boost for me whenever they pop up!!
I’m making some incredible new memories too! I took Kim and Kendal to LEGOLAND and did all the things Tim wanted to do with Kendal including staying in the LEGOLAND Hotel.
I began offering my LEGO Art class for those with dementia who live in the Collington Episcopal Life Care Community. I’ve been surprised at how fulfilling a ministry it’s been for me!
I met my friends Larry and Barbara in Pigeon Forge, TN for a great four day camping adventure. We’d tried on several occasions to go when Tim was still here, but something unfortunately always came up! I was thrilled we finally were able to do it, and Tim was with me all the way as I drove the 9 hours there and back all by myself!! As we caught up on our busy lives, we laughed, hiked, ate amazing food and drank some wine too!! What a confidence builder that trip was for me!!
I went back to St Croix to deliver two presentations to the Virgin Island caregivers!! I was thrilled to see them all again and how they were thriving after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. I’ll never forget how this group ministered to me in 2016 when I went there to speak to their group 10 weeks after Tim’s death.
My memories new and old sustain me!! Seeing all of the yellow pieces stacked on top of each other reminds me of how intertwined my memories are from throughout my life. One memory, runs into and builds off of the next memory! Recalling the memories brings me so much joy and reminds me that I’ve had a wonderful life thus far!
Love (red)
There’s no way to adequately express my sincere gratitude for all of the LOVE and support I’ve received from my family, friends, Facebook friends (especially those in the Alzheimer’s Support groups), friends who are family including Loretta’s Angels Support Group and especially my work family with whom I spend a lot of time!!
As you can see from the number of red pieces I’ve added since last year, the love I’ve shared and the love that’s been given to me has been overflowing! Though it may not be visible or evident from the photo there are more than 150 red pieces and that’s a lot of love!! I’m so Blessed and grateful!!! You have hugged me, held my hand, wiped my tears, laughed with me, texted me and called me!! Where would I be without all of that love?? I don’t know but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out!!
Final Comments of my Grief Build
I’m so happy with how this build turned out. On the second plate that I added this year the focus was on how I walked the path between all four of the pillars over these 24 months. Each of the paths led to the next one. All of the paths go up and down like a staircase and basically go in a big circle like life!! Each color has its own small structure, but there is a red piece in each of the four corners because I was always surrounded by love. There are also four pillars with alternating colors because I could change from one mode to another in seconds depending on what was happening. In a nutshell, when I look at these pictures I can see and feel some of what I’ve been through these past 24 months.
I’m likely going to take my Grief Build apart at some point in the coming months…. kind of like all of the pieces to the Burning Man exhibit being burned at the close of the exhibit!! I’m certainly not trying to burn away Tim’s memory or love. Quite the contrary actually, because everything about Tim and our life together is burned into my heart and soul. Tim would love this Grief Build because it’s sitting on an orange plate and because it really does capture our love and our love of LEGO bricks!! It’s tall and wide like the ground we covered together, and our faith that carried us through sickness, in health and in death is at the center of everything!! He’d surely be smiling!! In the coming year, I look forward to continuing to embrace my Grief, to Growing and Loving and making new Memories and Tim will be with me on the journey as always. Love and miss you Tim!

7 thoughts on “730 Days of My New Life!

  1. “…reflects how my Faith and Spirituality has evolved over the past two years…”

    These are my favorite words of this blessed post, Loretta. And coming near the beginning, these words, for me, are the harbinger of what is to come. For as you write, sharing the details of your grief, growth, memories, and the enabling love you have received, the word that began and continued to arise in my mind was and is: hope. This post rings…sings with your anticipation of what is to come. The words of my namesake, the Apostle Paul, come to mind (with ONE twist): “…NOT forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3.13b-14).

    Bless you! Carry on! Love you!

    • Love you too Paul!! And thanks to you and Pontheolla for the phone call last night! I’m definitely looking forward but YES I’m so filled with love and joy and hope! Im Pressing on…….

      Bless you too!!

  2. You are such an inspiration, Loretta, and a blessing to all of those whose lives you touch daily. Your book has a special place on my coffee table and reminds me of your two wonderful presentations here at Artis in Illinois. You give us all courage.
    Huge hugs, dear one! ♡

      • He most definitely would be… and I know he is! ♥ I’m planning to share your post and your wisdom with a friend who is just beginning her second year. Thanks for being such a guiding light in the world! ♡

  3. Dear Loretta, I can’t believe it’s been nearly two weeks since you posted this, and I’m just now getting to the point where I feel I can respond to it. When I read it the day you posted it, I was so moved by it that I had to give it some time to settle in my heart. I have read it again several times since then, and while I still don’t think I have the words to express my gratitude for your sharing not only the beauty of your relationship (past and ongoing) with Tim but also the beauty of your life since Tim left this earth, I guess I’m going to try. Thank you, sweet lady; thank you, dear friend.

    I’ve said it before; you are such a remarkable woman. To have taken one of the very hardest losses a human being can endure and while clearly deeply grieving it, in the midst of grieving, using it as a call and as a reason to love more, to grow stronger, and to become wiser and more open, more joyful even, is what I see you doing. Braving the lonely nights, and filling the days with energetic and loving work, venturing to new places with new people to share what you have so dearly learned while caring for your mom, holding down the fort at work and supporting your colleagues, all while learning to live without Tim beside you: that’s an enormous amount to take on. I love the Lego structure and calling on your creativity to make concrete the myriad emotions that surround you day to day. I’m glad it gives you quiet time, time with Tim’s memory, feeling him close to you.

    I’m with you about the cooking! I’ve gotten to the point where it is not anywhere near my favorite activity. When Ted and I cook together (as we did while making Julia Child’s recipe for Salade Nicoise tonight!) it’s more fun, but in general, I just can’t get into it very much. I’m glad you’ve found simple, healthful food that satisfies. I need to go in search of simple things too.

    You continue to inspire me, Loretta, just by being yourself and sharing it so joyfully and generously.
    You’re in my heart as you embark on your third year without Tim. May you always feel the love you spread so freely and openly in the world coming back to you every day. And may you know that there are those of us out here who not only love you but who love the world more because you are in it. I can’t thank you enough for being my long-distance sister/friend.

    Much love,


    • OH MY Karen!!!!! Thank you sooooo much for your beautiful response!! Brought tears to my eyes!!

      In all honesty, writing how I feel has always been comforting and healing to me starting way back when I was a teenager when I began writing about how I felt about not having a relationship with my father! Don’t know where I’d be without my writing!!

      I run into people sometimes whom I’ve met once or twice who read my blog but have never commented, who have shared with me how inspired they’ve been by my writing! So I keep writing!! I had no idea when I started this blog that people would be so drawn to and inspired by it.

      So I really appreciate you writing this amazing post in response to my blog. This one is much longer than I usually try to do, BUT I had a lot to say!!

      The LEGO bricks have kept my mind and hands busy over these past two years, especially when I’m feeling really lonely… AND I still have some amazing pieces that Tim made that I will keep forever!!!

      I absolutely DO feel your love and the love of others I am connected to out there in cyberspace!! If I’ve helped one person find joy in their day I feel like I’ve accomplished something!!

      I’m thrilled to be your sister / friend!!!

      Much love and thank you again from the bottom of my heart for this heartfelt response!!


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