The Little Things

by Lori Dwyer on December 20, 2011 · 21 comments

“You can’t argue with the little things. It’s the little things that make up life.”
Hank Scorpio, The Simpsons

It’s the tiniest, littlest things that floor me.

I’ll be just fine, feeling as close to normal as I get (which is better and better, all the time, most of the time… some days at least), and then I’ll come across something that jumps at me, stops me… freezes me in time for a moment, memories rushing back over me.

I remember being dunked under huge waves at the beach as a child. I’d be standing, feet feeling the sand shifting between like the bunching muscles of a snake, with a wave rushing toward me, wave that looks innocent enough, one that I can surely jump.

And suddenly, faster than I imagined, a cold hard wall of salty blue and green hits you, immerses you, tumbling you over and over. The shock is so great you almost forgot to be afraid of the potential pain, and there’s not a lot you can do for it anyway… you just have to roll with the wave, let it wash you over and over until the suds recede and the water begins to rush back again.

Being shocked, knocked for six by tiny things, when I thought two moves, twice sorting and sifting my possessions… one would think that would be enough to purge all the surprises. It’s not. Things still jump out from dark places every now and then, things with teeth. Things that bite and kiss me softly, both at once.

Like a box of matches. A simple, stupid box of matches… pinched from the flash hotel where my husband and I spent our first and only wedding anniversary.

Or spotting something I’ve somehow missed seeing for years now, even before Tony passed away. His name hastily scratched into a old boombox stereo that he was given for his thirteenth birthday. He kept it for over 20 years, and it no longer works… but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it.

And then there’s the proof of life, proof of ordinary suburban life. A list for Chinese takeaway, scrawled quickly on the back of one of my notebooks. I remember being cranky when Tony did that, years ago, defiling my notebook with something so unimportant. Do I have to tell you that now I’m glad he did it? That sometimes I wonder, in the science fiction part of my mind, if it’s possible to lift someone’s DNA from their handwriting, and clone them…?

The little things, indeed. Responsible for taking my breath away, knocking the life right out of me, on a semi regular basis.


So far December has been quick and painless, the weather cool and strange… it doesn’t feel like last year, not too much, and I am able to lose myself in the pleasure of my children and my house.

But sometimes it is far too easy to picture my husband there, to imagine exactly what he would be doing if he were here. And that’s when the grief and regret and almost desperate sense of hopeless wishing kick in. It’s only momentary, that feeling. I think I’ve written about it before- the sense that if you try, if you ask, if you believe, time will reverse itself and you can start over. It’s the same childlike logic that shouts in your mind that “He can’t die because I love him, how can he die if I love him?”

A big family Christmas party, and I can see the ghost of him everywhere. My family, not his, so I doubt anyone feels his ghost but me. I can see him, smell him, hear him, picture him there… cooking the barbeque, drinking beer, playing with our kids as the sun goes down and people begin to go home.

It’s a cloud that hangs with me all day, a grey shadow of fettered pain. As darkness comes, the remaining members of my extended family stand around and watch a slideshow of photos on a digital photo frame. One flashes up of Tony and I, one a day just like this one, almost two years ago… we are smiling and happy.

Hot tears wash up through my eyes and I stand at the back on the darkened room and sob silently, lest my son hear me.

How has it been almost twelve months, since I last touched his skin? How is that even possible?

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Mirne January 30, 2012 at 11:29 pm

… the sense that if you try, if you ask, if you believe, time will reverse itself and you can start over. It's the same childlike logic that shouts in your mind that "He can't die because I love him, how can he die if I love him?"

Beautifully written. I think and wish and hope that all the time, even though I know better.


Livi December 24, 2011 at 2:54 am

Oh my love, I wish I had words of comfort. But I'm sending love and hugs right now instead because I just don't know what to say


scribblingmum December 23, 2011 at 10:30 am

I haven't been at yours for too long, I read you itpr but remembered that it was coming up for your first 12 months so I just wanted to say hello, no other words can touch what you feel, but hello is a start . X


Darnie December 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

The first Christmas is the toughest Lori and made doubly so by the fact that you lost him so soon after …the days ahead are the days of thinking " this time last year he was/ I was/we were….etc". It's tough and painful so let yourself feel it, don't squash it. This is my 2nd Christmas without my Mum and it's much easier this year. Take care of yourself and your kiddies x darnie


Annabellz December 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm

burning at the edge of my eyes… small spots of wet hot tears emerge. You are an amazing writer of things so impossible to even fathom by us ordinary people who just move through life thinking… thinking we are unaffected by such pain. Thank you for the willingness to share.


marketingtomilk December 21, 2011 at 9:01 am

I get this. Really get this. Devastating and comforting moments at the same time.



Andrea December 21, 2011 at 7:22 am

I haven't popped in for a long while as my own life has taken me away from blog world a bit, but was thinking of you this morning, and that this christmas might not be so easy for you. I wish you and your kids a joyful time and for you to forge a new kind of christmas….although i am sure it will be tinged with some sadness. lots of love and hugs. x


Pamela Gold December 21, 2011 at 1:32 am

This is the suck. I wish something more for you in the end. I do.


edenland December 21, 2011 at 12:20 am

Lori, I love you. I read every single post you ever write. I'm always here.

Have been thinking of you lately. XX


Melissa December 20, 2011 at 10:57 pm

You are amazing Lori. Just hold on. I can't imagine how difficult this is, but we're all here praying and pulling for you. Lots of love


Canadian in Glasgow December 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm

xoxo will be thinking of you over the holidays from far away. I hope the memories of joy can one day bring comfort instead of loss.


Amy xxoo December 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm

This is all i have – chin up, soldier on and get festive baby!


Mishaps and Mayhem of a Gluten Free Life December 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Ironically they say time will make it easier but harder in the same breath, some memories will fade, but my dear hold on to the tangible insignificant things to others, the matches etc, put them in a special place and look through them every now and then. Each first is hard, particularly the first anniversary, just be strong, do what you want to not what others think is best for you, cry for your loss but promise to remember at least one happy memory. Hope this has helped xxxo


Madam Bipolar December 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Keep on fighting, buddy.


Kirsten @WriteRTW December 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm

You are so brave, Lori. The way you carry yourself is nothing short of remarkable. I hope this Christmas brings you a little joy and peace in your heart despite so much sadness. Much love.


Debyl1 December 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Im crying so much.Been so sad over my beautiful dog who just passed after 12 yrs.Feel so bad as thats nothing compared to what you have to endure.I wish I could help ease the pain especially at Christmas.I hope us all reading your blog helps you in some way.Please feel the love and comfort we wish to give you.xx


Kate Sins December 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I, too, wondered about the DNA thing early on… I found a pair of ugg boots with a drop of blood on them and thought it might be possible…

Those little things freak me out but make me realise how precious it is to keep mementos and odd things like a handwritten list.

The first year was hard for me. The first birthday, the first Christmas, the first every day, the first anniversary, but it's easier now.

An always-reader, rare commenter. Sending you love.


Kristen December 20, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I don't really know what to say. I'm hear. I read the words you write. Happy words and sad words. I've been having a terrible time this holiday. Not because my husband has passed – but because this crippling FEAR exists that I won't get to touch my son next Christmas. When I ordered our Christmas album… I put extra pictures of him in there – and the thought crossed my mind – I need to because what if he is not here next year? Who the hell thinks like that? But it is true. He's sometimes so ill. *sigh* and I'm really sorry I just dumped on your post. I didn't mean it.

You can hate me. I think I read so you can keep me going. Knowing that you are surviving what I fear. But – I still love coming here. Where tears and fears are aired like laundry. xoxo

Kristen @


Lynda Halliger-Otvos December 20, 2011 at 9:57 am

Listening and sending whatever that shit is that flies over oceans, lands at your house and supposedly makes you feel better.

does it work !~!


Maxabella December 20, 2011 at 9:18 am



Library girl December 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

This will be my second Christmas without Dad and it is infinitely easier this time around. I've found that the weeks leading up to the anniversary of his passing are craptastic and as you say, it's all the little things that trigger you off. But on the day? For me, it was ok. I so hope and pray it is for you too. Makes me sad and mad at the same time that you have to go through this but look at what it's made you. Stronger than you ever thought possible, right? Did you ever think that you'd make it this far? And yet you have. The little things will continue to pop up but with time (yes, boring but true) they will no longer resemble tidal waves.


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