[Note: I wrote this last night; finally the exhaustion from all the emotions kicked in and I was able to get about 7 hours of sleep.]
Once again I find it impossible to sleep despite being bone-tired. Although generally I am able to look at and analyze people and events fairly logically, when I try to sleep, my thoughts always return to the death of my husband. And once again, I find myself so very angry that I toss and turn, sometimes for hours.
I’m angry at the circumstances that led to John’s death. Angry that those circumstances were so overwhelming to him that I couldn’t fix things and he couldn’t continue. I am not angry at him. I’m angry at why it happened.
Two weeks from today, September 20th, would have been his 64th birthday. The day before that, September 19th, would have been our 12th wedding anniversary.
John told me more than once that if it hadn’t been for me, he would have been dead by then. I thought he meant the rigors of his job, which he said was for young men, not someone who was a few months shy of 50 when he left it. I didn’t realize he meant his internal demons would have killed him – and he always made it seem that it was the job he was referring to.
I didn’t realize how much he hoped our love would ease his pain.
It couldn’t, of course. His wounds were festering like the puncture from a rusty nail that may seem healed on the outside, but is roiling under the skin, poisoning the whole body. No salve or bandage or massage can cure something that has been driven in so deeply.
He hid it well. I didn’t know I should have looked deeper those times his pain leaked out. I didn’t know that every day was a fight for his life.
Part of what makes me so angry is the incredible waste of brilliance and talent. John was a true Renaissance Man, skilled in everything from farming, to woodsmanship, to installing and maintaining survival systems on billion dollar Naval destroyers all over the world, to public speaking, to piloting helicopters, to pyrotechnics, to poetry and music… ahhhh, he was such a talented musician.
A volunteer firefighter, a volunteer for his town, a volunteer keyboardist at nursing homes, the musician and historian for his lodge… the list goes on and on.
When he wasn’t doing, he was learning. He loved researching anything and everything under the sun, and he loved reading.
He could have accomplished anything he set his mind to, if he hadn’t been constantly beset by those horrendous demons – and working so hard to prevent anyone else from seeing the intense anxiety and fear they must have caused him.
Yet despite it all, he was the kindest, gentlest, biggest gruff old marshmallow I’ve ever met. He was certainly a nicer person than I.
His life was important. He was important.
And I’m furious that it was so damned painful for him.
So again, still, forever… sleep is elusive.
In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.
My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see. I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him in this life.
The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1. Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.
Fair winds and following seas, Husband.
We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Grief Warrior Project off the ground. You can find us there at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewarriorproject/
Follow us on Twitter! @WarriorProjME.
Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps. All profits (after expenses) go to helping us help others. You can find Heritage Collectibles at https://heritagecollectiblesmaine.com, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts). Some of Heritage Collectibles’ inventory is on consignment at the offices of Heritage Health Services, 124 Canal Street in Lewiston.
Despite decades of disbelief, I have come to realize that our loved ones are able to communicate with us through the life/death barrier. My Johnny has proved this in ways that I can’t attribute to my own mind making things up… there have been complex coincidences and synchronicities, extraordinary happenings, and messages through others who could not possibly have any knowledge of the information they’ve passed on. Truly mind-blowing stuff. I don’t yet have a coherent sense of what I believe about life after death, but I know my husband loved me with everything he had, and that he still does. Our wedding vows were “to death and beyond” and that has proved true for both of us.
I can’t tell you how it all works, or how you can get through to your own loved one, but if you’re interested, I can tell you of my experiences and my thoughts on this.