go ahead, clap your hands.

I finally held Dave’s death certificate on Monday night.  It shouldn’t have been a shock, but it was.

I flinched.
I cried.

It reminded me of the game my little brother loved:

Are you afraid of a monster this big?  He’d ask, arms outstretched, as wide as he could reach.

No, I’d claim.

Are you afraid of a monster thiiiiis big?  He’d ask, hands and arms only shoulder width apart now.

No, I’d say, doubling down on the claim.

Then are you afraid of a monster thiiiis big?  His hands were less than a foot apart now, right in front of my face.

No, I’d say.

Are you sure? He’d goad. Hands still in front of my face, holding the shape of the smallest invisible monster he’d shown me yet.

Yes, I’d say– confident in the way that only a small child can be– and as soon as I staked my claim, his hands would clap together.  Loud and fast.

And I’d flinch.  Every time.

If you weren’t scared, he’d laugh, why’d you flinch?

Why, indeed.

I wasn’t scared of the big monster.  I wasn’t scared of the medium-sized monster, or the small monster.  I was shocked, by the sound and the fury of the space where a monster could have lived.  Somewhere between the living of life with a little brother, and the dreaming of the monsters he created, was the waking up– and waking up hurts.  It shocks the senses, burns the eyes, jumpstarts the heart.

I know my husband is dead.

A piece of state certified paper did not tell me anything that I didn’t already know.   I won’t be binge-watching Aliens this year on the 26th, celebrating my anniversary with a homemade gift I can fit in my pocket.  I won’t kiss my way into the new year.  I won’t wake up to french pressed coffee unless I make it in my sleep.  I won’t blog as I listen to rumblings about how restaurants putting lettuce or rice in a burrito is basically a scam.  A world-accepted soul-sucking burrito scam.

The paper doesn’t know any of that.  It only knows that he died.  I already know that, more than anyone.

So why did I flinch?
Why, indeed.

I guess I was shocked.

Somewhere in the space where I know he no longer resides is the whole rest of my life.  A dream and a life, full of motion and sound, and it clapped right in front of my face.  Loud and fast.  I woke up to it, and waking up hurts.  It shocks the senses, burns the eyes, jumpstarts the heart.

Since that night, life has been a medley of legalities and followups.  With the death certificate, I can now close accounts, contact social security, change patent and copyright ownership, take over control of his books, repair tax situations, claim benefits, resurrect accounts that were joint once upon a time, etc.

It is an expensive, time-consuming process.

I am okay, but annoyed at myself, for how often these things make me wince and flinch. It bothers me when the sadness rises in my throat and when the fear of filling his space paralyzes me.

I just want to be able to say that I am 100% happy, and mean it, but I can’t. It all reminds me of this dinosaur joke that floats around the internet:


(Image shows sad pink t-rex with standard short arms. Text reads: If you’re happy and you know it clap your… oh”)

When someone sends it my way, I always tell them– that’s okay, sometimes part of life is waiting for the next verse.

If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet– rawr! rawr!

That’s been my mantra this week.  Wait for the second verse.  Be patient. Be still. Enjoy the joy of everyone who can clap their hands, and let that joy fuel you.

I want to clap, too. I want to play. I want to be able to say that I am okay and fearless and happy. I want to be able to know it and show it.

But everything comes with time and patience, and I am certain a verse suited to me will come along one day. There’s a life filling up the blank spaces and it is a beautiful one. I will be there, with big strong dinosaur feet, ready to stomp.

Should I be sad just because I can’t claim to be totally happy yet?


Am I afraid of a life this big?
Am I afraid of a week this big?
Am I afraid of a day this big?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

But I’d rather flinch and be awake to the joy around me, than spend my time hiding from invisible things.

So go ahead.
Clap your hands.

158 thoughts on “go ahead, clap your hands.

  1. *sigh* You’re words both break and warm the heart, Rara. No doubt the new life you are slowly building will be a beautiful one — a reflection of what you carry inside that wonderful heart. And as you do, I will always be claping for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My beloved was 52, too young to leave. The space he left was so very large. I’ve filled some of the space in with activities, things we did not do together, to help me heal. The space will never be fully filled, nor do I really want to fill it. The space that was my father has not been filled in the past 31 years. For now, I am learning to breathe again and to live with a soul shaking earthquake that is the loss of my beloved.
    The only antidote I have found is to take the love they gave me and find another life and pour it into them. There are so many out there that go through each day and feel no love.
    Thank you for your post, well said. It helps to know that I am not alone. Prayers for you rarasaur, may you find peace and wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My beloved was 52, too young to leave. The space he left was so very large. I’ve filled some of the space in with activities, things we did not do together, to help me heal


  4. “You captured the feelings, the picture uniquely and clearly; the state of some-other-kinda-consciousness. I imagine having done that so well helps. I’m on a similar journey too. Some times we thud, some times we nod our heads, some times we jump… I’ll clap my hands for you, softly for a while. You keep on your way till you feel like banging yours. Deal?”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I reread the story again today. You wrote it so well, I came back to it instead of reading your other posts. The way you lay the time line makes me feel more hopeful, anticipate better from my healing journey through grief. Well done. Jus’ Sayin’

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been through cancer, chemo, and radiation treatments, but the thing that scares me most is if my husband dies before me – what will I do? I read your post and just nodded. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you know, we figure out how to survive by surviving. We learn how to live by living. It’s not a great system, but it’s the one we got. 🙂 Thank you for sharing a bit of your story and for reading. ❤


  6. Reblogged this on gainperspectiveblog and commented:
    This is how Phoenix is born, a super creature emerges from the ashes of death. loss, and destruction into a magnificent being. When one reevaluate his reality and stand up on his own feet and break the chains and look up and beyond and continue living. Marvelous.


  7. Hello my new friend. As I said the other night, the words flow from you like heavenly music from a magic flute. You are inspiring, and so very special. It was fate lead me to you and your words. You uplift me, like a cloud to heaven. It is a special time for me this week. On Friday, it will be 20 years since the death of the love of my life. I plan to visit his grave if the weather allows. If not, I’ll go as soon as it does. Thank you for all the kindness and beauty you have shared with me. I look forward to sharing with you my heart, words, feelings and thoughts. Have a beautiful day tomorrow and always. Even when its bad, the day is still good. Until tomorrow my friend.


    1. Thank you. Fate does many things, and guiding us to new friends is one of my favorite of her tricks.

      20 years. I will think of you Friday. May it be a beautifully healing day, but as you daid, every day is. ❤



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