Posted by: Ken Wheatley | October 3, 2009

…”the last time”…

I finally went back to the gym today after a break of several months and at first it felt good to be there. But that feeling evaporated after I realized that the last time I was there I was with Sheila.

We tried to go to the gym after work, together, a few times a week when she was well. Surprise, surprise. So I had “forgotten” the image of seeing her visually searching for me if she lost track of where I was in the gym. But the memory abruptly came back when I was on a lat pulldown machine and immediately remembered/sensed being on that same machine one time when Sheila was across the room on a treadmill. I remembered seeing her head swivel while those intense blue eyes scanned the room looking for me. As I was recalling the memory I looked up and across the room, in a way hoping to see her there again.

I remember how her face would brighten up when she’d spot me between the equipment, and a big smile would erupt when she finally saw me. She’d usually put her right hand up near her face and wave at me with just her fingers going up and down, sort of the “bye, bye” type of wave.  And then of course I’d smile big too and wave back the same way.

We’d usually reconnect, physically, a few times when transiting between routines. Sometimes I’d stop behind her on the treadmill and gently run my hand over the side of her butt. Then she’s straddle the moving belt and lean down to kiss me. Or if we happened to cross paths I’d embrace her around the waist with one arm, put my other hand on her hip, and she’d put her arms around my shoulder, and we’d say “hi” or just kiss right in the middle of the gym. I was always so pleased that she didn’t have a hang-up about public displays of affection. We’d kiss and embrace in the aisle on airplanes when either of us would stand to go to the bathroom. She was very, very loving and affectionate. We loved touching each other and being in touch with the other. 

So with that flashback at the gym today, and then a song that came on later that Sheila liked, my chest tightened up and I choked up. It happens at the most unexpected times. Just like my friend, Patti from Florida told me on Friday it would. She lost her husband over 20 years ago and it still happens to her.

There have been many “…the last time…” thoughts in the past week. And it just adds to the burden of adjustment. But I don’t want to adjust. I miss her terribly. My hands ache to touch her again.

I finally changed the sheets on the bed today. I considered not putting her pillows back on the bed, but dismissed that thought as soon as it entered. I’ll always put her pillows on the bed.

I took pictures of her desk, her corner of the kitchen counter, her shoes in the hall, her closet, and the small dish of spaghetti she had left in the refrigerator on the 9th.

She intended on eating it when we got back from the cottage – although she really wasn’t one to eat leftovers. But it had started to turn bad – along with the other science experiments in the frig – so it was time for them to go. For some reason that small, curved, greenish glass bowl stood out in importance. Probably because it was the style she always had her apple sauce/cottage cheese in when she sat on the couch.

I’m sitting here writing and playing the Stephen Bishop song (You’ll Always Be My Heart and Soul) crying my eyes out. I was sooo sad today. I putz around the house absently doing busy work, but she’s everywhere. And nowhere.  I drove her car to see if that would help and it didn’t. I talk to her urn. We watched a little football. I try to turn her urn around to always face me, as if she really could be watching what I’m doing. I put Chuckles the dog on top of the urn to brighten her, and me, up. That helped a bit. Kevin, Sheila’s nephew, who stopped by last night for a few hours, initially thought it odd until I explained.

I wear her wedding band on my left pinky finger and every now and then it’ll clink against my band. I touch it a lot. And I wear the “Sheila” purple wristband she had on the day before she passed away. Her body temp was high due to her heart working overtime and the watch and wristband were uncomfortable. So it’s keeping my wristband company.

Tomorrow, I’ll be going to Cici, one of Sheila’s girlfriends, and Joel’s wedding.  It’ll be at 4pm. The same time of day Sheila and I got married. And also on a Sunday, like we did. Fortunately it’s not the same place. If they are even half as happy as Sheila and I were together, then they will have a very rich life. I wish them the very best.



  1. enjoy..the love you feel…the love you will see today………
    its very catching …….i will be in the mts……..and i
    will think of you …..

  2. Cherish the memories . . .

  3. Ken, you will “see” and “feel” Sheila in so many moments. In so may ways. Though her physical body can’t warm you, and comfort you and hug you and kiss you in the so romantic way you interacted … you know that she is with you… that the very special and strong person that she is– is ultimately is with you spiritually. And you will have that forever. I won’t say “was”, cause I’m still in denial that she is no longer here with us. But I know Sheila surrounds you with love. I’m sure when your head feels her pillow every night and you breathe in the scent of her, she is sending you love and comfort to make you feel at peace. And, I know her being will never leave you. How robbed we are of the devestation of the loss of our flesh…. but the spirit never dies. For always, and forever, Sheila will be your angel, your lover, your friend, your wife. And always my dear friend. I’m crying with you…

  4. We were so pleased to see Ken with Sheila’s dear friend Jean in the audience of our wedding ceremony. She wanted so very much be be there to share my happiness on our day. I felt her “there” all afternoon. I did all the flower arrangements myself, and added just a wisp of purple fresia’s to each arrangement in memory of our lovely sweet Sheila. She is smiling for me just as I did on their day. Thank you again for being part of the happiest day of our life Ken. xoxoxo
    p.s. You can really cut the dance floor up!!!

  5. Cathy, thanks for convincing me (it didn’t take much) to come. Sheila and I were looking forward to being there to see you marry the love of your life, Joel, so I’m glad I was there “representing.” And thanks for suggesting bringing Jean. Other than Sarah, I didn’t know anyone else there, so it was good to have a familiar face to spend the time with. The wedding was beautiful, the setting perfect, the food wonderful, and of course, you looked incredible. Joel never stopped smiling. It’s obvious you make him very happy.
    As for the dancing, many of the songs you picked were songs Sheila and I loved to dance to, so of course I was moved by the spirit(s)! Thanks again for including me.

  6. Thanks for all the messages, Kathi. I’m planning on responding to the many others as well. Just still dealing with the many business aspects of her passing, along with adjusting to life without her physical presence. Having her urn with me around the house actually helps. I hug it and kiss her engraved name a lot, and yes, hugging the pillow provides some solice for now.

  7. …and there are so many really excellent ones….

  8. Thanks Mo for the friendship and love you shared with Sheila, and for the many times you helped her/us out in the final months.

  9. Ken, It was so good to see you at Cathy and Joel’s wedding and to finally meet you. It had to have been a bittersweet experience for you. You are an extraordinary man so it’s no small wonder that Sheila loved you as she did. As I told you Sunday evening, she will always be with you. There were times during the evening that it must have been difficult for you to hear the songs that you and Sheila shared. “Sweet Caroline” was my song with Cathy’s father, Charlie. Even though nineteen years have the past since I lost him, when it was played at the reception I felt a definite catch in my throat and tug at my heart. However, the tears that I once had when I heard it have now been replaced with a smile. I could feel his presence and his love for Cathy on her special day and I’d like to think that “Sweet Caroline” was his way of letting us know that he was there…just as Sheila was there with you.
    Much love,
    [Cathy’s mom]

  10. It was good to hear your voice on the conference call today. I have picked up the phone so many times to call you since Sheila passed to express my condolences in something other than a card. Tears always fill my eyes, I never feel like the time is right, nor do I have any idea what to say. From your blog, it’s obvious that the pain you’re feeling is just as deep as the love you still feel for her. I know it will never go away, but I hope that eventually it will subside enough to be tolerable and to allow you to focus more on all the wonderful times you had together that made you love each other so much. Please know that you have been and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  11. Elena,
    It was great to finally meet you as well. And thank you for the very kind comments.

    You’re right, it was difficult at times during the ceremony not to be pained at the reminders. It seems like Sheila and I just got married and already she’s gone. And yes, there were songs that were either played at our wedding, or sent me back to places visited with Sheila. It was a good night however, and a good place to be to feel happiness and genuine joy. I told Sheila about it when I got home. She would have certainly enjoyed it.

    Thanks again for the great hugs you gave me, and for the words of hope.


  12. Hi Kathleen,
    It was good to hear your voice as well.

    You may not have called, understandably, but I appreciated the card you and Rosemary sent. That was very nice.

    I’m at the airport trying to get to NJ – delays, as usual. So I’ll stop by your office and catch-up.

    See you soon….

  13. Ken, are you in New Jersey now? Let me know… I would love to see you or take you to dinner and give you many hugs! Call me at 908.872.6550. I am in Manhattan today doing research into the evening… but I could meet you if it worked out. I live in Bedminster…not sure where you are heading or how long you are here. Let me know… Arms and thoughts and prayers around you all the time. xo, Kathi

  14. Ken, don’t ever let that pillow go… She’s with you always and forever in spirit, but that will make it more tangible and comforting in our fragile human space. My many hugs, Kathi

  15. Ken, I was just thinking… is there any way you could share all the special music that you two loved with all of us that love you both? Especially for all of us who couldn’t get to your memorial for Sheila? I somehow think that if we could help you burn a disc of all the music that was special, and that you played at the memorial, we could all share in those special notes, endearing lyrics, and meaningful songs that would keep us in touch with Sheila and what she loved. I think it would serve as a beautiful, musical memorial to her that we could play often and reflect upon. I would be happy to help you create it. I know I would certainly love to hear the music and be soothed by the sounds she loved, as I know so many others would be…
    Let me know… Kathi

  16. Ken, how are you doing, feeling? You know we can’t stop thinking of you, and want to make sure you are well and finding peace. What about your own medical issues? Who is taking care of you right now? Don’t let your own health slip… Sheila wouldn’t want anything but the most attentive care for your needs and well being. Sorry to have missed you on your trip to the East Coast. Hoping to be out in SD in the next few months… and count on seeing you…
    Hugs, and my continued kisses and prayers for Sheila,

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