Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Grief Hits Like a Brick: April 27, 1975…by Robert M. Katzman

Grief Hits Like a Brick: April 27, 1975

by Robert M. Katzman © April 27, 2018

 

Never knew when it would hit, how hard it would hit, or where.

Didn’t think it would be in my kitchen in Wisconsin on a sunny Friday morning, on the 43rd anniversary of when I met a beautiful young love I’ll never see again.

It is one thing to type that.

It is another thing to experience the totality of that slammed door all at once on the first anniversary of that endlessly shared day with her, without her.

Oh, she’s gone.

Forever.

And the pain of it unexpectedly just smashed into me with a suddenness that made me think I was going to break into pieces, very wet pieces. Tears poured through my fingers where I was holding my face, dripping on my greying beard, down my neck soaking my black T-shirt. And they kept flowing because there was no way to turn them off. Fifty weeks after Joy’s funeral, I’d figured whatever I was going to feel, I’d already felt.

Wrong.

After a while, still in my kitchen with yellow slanted light pouring through the windows, illuminating dozens of photos of my family at different ages, and my grandchildren’s art hanging on the walls, like my actual life was a movie set for some scripted drama, I wanted to stop the tears and sense of obliviousness.

So, I did what writers do.

I began to write about Joy.

On Facebook.

I wrote an open letter to strangers everywhere about how I felt, deciding to be unguarded in my description of Joyce, us and now. I wrote for a little while, felt a little better, made some coffee, came back to look at what I wrote, changed some things, added some things, and then, taking control, or pretending to do that, posted what part of me felt was too embarrassing to say out loud in public, which is exactly what Facebook is, and what the other part of me wanted to shout about.

An extraordinarily easy way for any old guy to make a fool of himself, in mere seconds.

This was my post:

“I met Joyce Esther Bishop, a Lutheran girl from Dolton, Illinois, today at the Unitarian Church in Hyde Park at about 7 pm April 27, 1975. We were both 24. Years fall away like clouds floating by, like suns setting, like time eventually has no meaning because it keeps moving regardless of what happens. 
I married Joy 33 months later in 1978 at the same Church and added she Katzman to her other names. Then what?

Saying a person is the “love of my life” has no meaning for those who’ve never had one. The certainty I had one is currently ricocheting inside my heart, with sharp edges, reminding me of who she was and what we had for 42 years.

We married again on March 26th last year in a Jewish ceremony, and it made her happy, very happy, and she was the queen of the moment. She and I both knew that many of those people would be coming to see her again, very soon.

She died on Mother’s Day exactly seven weeks later. I will not write about this woman again like this, so publicly open, but right now, as the seconds pass like leaden bullets, I see her, and I miss that girl. Better be a heaven, God, because she sure had one coming.”

And I decided that was that and went to lie down for a little while.

Came back an hour later and to my amazement, hundreds of mostly strangers responded to the three paragraphs.

I stared at the number of them, like this was a fantasy, because people lose people every day.

Why would so many strangers on Facebook bother to stop whatever they were doing and express themselves so openly and lovingly? I began to answer the messages, mostly thanking people or pressing “Like” to show someone I’d read what they sent.

And still the messages kept coming.

My empty kitchen floor was filling up with invisible envelopes filled with sympathy, shared pain, concern, and seemed amazed that a man, of all things, a man would willingly say how much he loved someone, and not care how it diminished his “masculinity or stone reserve, or iron control of his emotions” and dumb words like those. Crying in public on a computer so plaintively that people could feel the dampness on their laptop screens.

As the day went on, because I never left the house all day, I kept up with the flow and responded as much as I could. Then there was this one letter (I’m not naming anyone except one man) :

A woman asked: “Just Curious as to why you share so much of your life on here?”

Then another woman responded: ” Why not? You want to hear about my divorce LOL! Many times people need to get things OFF the chest so what better place than here.”

So I responded to woman # 2: “Thanks. I had no answer for that other lady. Some questions are mysteries.”

Then came this. I was becoming fascinated by this silent conversation:

Richard Irish‪: I admire Bob for being so open and honest about his feelings. Not very many males who I have known in life can do that. In fact some advise against it. One person who I know said

“Don’t share your problems with others because 90% of them don’t care and the other 10% are probably glad you are having them.”

So I responded to Richard:

Richard Irish, my unknown and thoughtful friend, you moved me to respond more completely above. Thanks for that inspiration.

Then I posted this at the top of the page:

(Richard Irish wrote this note to me a little while ago in reference to my earlier post. I decided to respond like this):

“I admire Bob for being so open and honest about his feelings. Not very many males who I have known in life can do that. In fact some advise against it. One person who I know said,

“Don’t share your problems with others because 90% of them don’t care and the other 10% are probably glad you are having them.”

(Bob Katzman, my response to Richard): 
Your friend can only speak for himself. Not for me, Richard, not you nor the guy across the street. His supposed weighty philosophy is meaningless. The numbers are empty and he’s a lot of gas.

Telling a woman or a man that you love them has nothing to do with masculinity. It has to do with love. I love my closest friends. Their gender is irrelevant. Telling the world you love someone whom you lost, or who died is exactly that: Sharing your deeply felt pain, seeking fellowship. The comfort of community.

Others, men and women, seem to find meaning and comfort that my sorrow matches theirs. A very good thing.

Facebook; what is it good for? I’d say this. Letting others lighten your pain for even a short time because so much of our lives across the world, race, religion, assorted genders and even politics, are the same.

Heartache is a world language.

Thanks to what must be by now hundreds of people from different groups who bothered to take a moment to care about how sad this complete stranger was, who at this moment is thinking back 43 years, when that quiet new blond girl sat down next to me in that church right about now, even though there were about one hundred other empty chairs all around us, and unbeknownst to me, she was waiting to see if I would treat her as callously as other men had. Patiently waiting.

When we parted three hours later, though I was completely unaware of it, evidently I passed her test.

How do I know?

She figured out pretty quickly that I was clueless and it took me a month to find out that I was in love with her. Good thing she was patient. A very good thing, Richard Irish.

And as I stated at the beginning up there, my entire point being is, how could I possibly be so brilliant as to assume I could speak for anyone but myself?

I am not.

Thanks to all the kind people who shared a moment of their lives with mine.

Thank you very much.

Love,

Bob

 

Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart  and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: http://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998                                                                                                                    (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $24.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.

2 Comments »

Comment by Don Larson

April 29, 2018 @ 11:08 am

Hi Bob,

You have impacted more people than you know about. That’s one of your gifts.

I came across this web page of mine related to your books. I hope it continues to help spread your work and name.
http://www.timeoutofmind.com/bookReviewsRealm/bookReviews.html

Warmest regards,

Don

Comment by Brad Dechter

April 30, 2018 @ 8:17 am

Good stuff Bob- all good. You are a good example to set for other men too, with similar heartbreaks.
Joy is smiling down from Heaven right now saying “That’s the man I love!”
Brad

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