When my husband, Ron Grogan, passed away on December 7, 2015 it was at a time of year when I had a lot of distractions to get me through my days. Christmas, New Year’s, and the birthdays of three grandchildren helped the days go by like normal.
I told people I was okay, and I was. I just hadn’t had closure, but I didn’t know it. My house looked identical to when Ron passed. It looked as though he might be on vacation and could walk in any minute. Nothing had changed. His mess of stuff lay on the bathroom counter; . his wallet, keys, etc. were still on the charging station. Even the duffle bag of clothes from hospice I had dropped onto the closet floor where he would have. Everything remained the same. Why? Because as long as I kept them there I didn’t have to let go.
December and January flew by. Then I had to dive into memories because I had Ron’s burial and Celebration of Life scheduled for the first weekend in March. Ron and I were/are photographers and his Celebration of Life was being held at Studio 1219 in Port Huron, an art studio where a display of his photography would be available for viewing and purchase. This required me to go through all the photos he had prepared…on canvas, framed, matted, made into cards, etc. I had to locate, sort, make decisions on what to use, make sure it was all priced, fill out inventory sheets, and get it to the art studio.
In addition to the photos for the art studio I printed photos of Ron to use in putting together memorial boards on foam core and in a memory album about Ron. My best friend, Vicki, came to visit for a weekend and we went through 35 years of photographs, which I scanned and worked into a slide show presentation. All of these things brought back to life 34 good years of marriage.
I had to do all the preparations for Ron’d burial, which was being conducted with military honors at Great Lakes National Cemetery. Preparations are a bit more detailed, as I had to contact a scheduling office, then the cemetery, then call a third number to schedule Naval Honors. Ron’s DD214 had to be faxed, forms had to be filled out. Before the burial I had to drive over to the National Cremation Society and pick up his ashes and flag.
February was a hard month. I finally grieved over what I had lost. Ron and I had an exceptionally close relationship. We were wrapped up in each others lives for 35 years (16 months dating, 34 years and 3 months of marriage). Ron loved life, he loved family, and he loved photography. He was a great person who touched many lives. It is hard to understand why people like that are taken so early in life. I spent a lot of time during the month of February in tears. I felt as if there were bricks on both shoulders pushing me down.
Then came March 4, 2016, the date of Ron’s burial. It was a dry, sunny day with temps in the low 30’s. When our vehicles were led back to the ceremonial pavilion the Navy Guard was standing at attention curb side. I almost cried then, but I didn’t. They were introduced to me by the gentleman who had led us back, so they would know who to present the flag to. Naval honors were given, Taps was played, and I was presented with the flag, received condolences for my loss and thanked for Ron’s service to his country.
The Navy Honor Guard then left the area and I spoke for a few minutes about Ron’s service in the Navy, his Patriotism, his love of life, family and photography. We then followed the gentleman who was in charge of the ceremony as he walked Ron’s urn of ashes over to the columbarium and watched as Ron’s urn was placed inside and the tile bolted into place. I hugged his flag and cried. It was final.
After the burial those of us present gathered at an Irish pub for socializing. It was fun, relaxing. That night for the first time since Ron’s passing I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. That burial gave me the closure I needed.
Saturday my daughter helped me run around and pick up all the food and beverages needed for the Celebration of Life on Sunday, March 6, 2016. The Celebration was a well attended event, busy. Lots of people I knew, lots of people I didn’t know. Ron touched many lives. It was a happy event, good memories. We chose to leave the memory jar and guest book there for any people that visit the exhibit while it remains hanging. I look forward to going through that jar and reading the memories. I know I have many thank you notes to write. However those are just simple steps.
I finally have closure. I have grieved Ron’s passing. I have celebrated Ron’s life. I am ready to clean out, store, save, or sell things to get our home organized the way I want. I am now ready to move forward with my life.