Written on Tuesday, 7/31/18

I try to focus on the work at hand as we prepare the old house for sale. Even though lots of memories are evoked as we go, and Steven tackles the difficult challenges of finishing Keith’s unfinished house projects, going through collections of “stuff” inside the house, the workshop, the basement, and all around outside, I feel incredibly blessed. Although it’s taken longer, Steve’s workmanship shows and I know it’s a matter of pride – and love – in his mind, and I am forever grateful to this wonderful man who has taken on so much. To live in the shadow of Keith’s spirit can be a challenge. But today I think I found a sign that Keith was pleased.

Dane and I moved a very large 10-drawer flat file into the garage today. Drawer by drawer. Most were empty already but several were full and it was kind of a pain. But we got all the drawers moved and prepared to move the cabinet that held them. I looked back to the empty steel cabinet and there was some stuff still there, curled up against the back. A few pieces of Stassia’s, a few pieces of mine. But there was this one big piece still curled up against the back wall. I pulled it out and there it was – an impromptu angel made from overspray from a project Keith did many years ago. And in the corner, he’d painted his initials “KF” to ensure there was no doubt. Among the last pieces of family “art” to get moved out of the house. Finding it today felt like a special sign, a message of love from the spirit of Keith.

 

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Spraypaint art made by Keith when he was working with Stassia on a costume. He liked the angel he recognized and signed it in the corner. I’d completely forgotten about this until my daughter reminded me.

Woman in Mexican dress with hat sits in the shade of the carved pillars of the Pyramid of the Moon

Visiting the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. ©2018 Mara Jevera Fulmer

I was feeling nostalgic, and even a bit unsettled. In early 2012, just as I was preparing to go on a Fulbright scholarship trip to Russia, and was making the circuit of presentations for my doctoral work, Apple computer was making a serious update to their MobileMe platform. They were going to be shifting to iCloud and eliminating the iWeb software that had made it so easy to produce websites and blogs.

In the midsts of the swirl of activities in the late Winter/early Spring, I managed to have the presence of mind to archive five years of blog posts and podcasts to a corner of my computer for future attention. Unfortunately, events in life took a serious twist. In summary: I went to Russia, returned early due to my husband’s preliminary Stage IV cancer diagnosis, he died on 9/1/12 and I found myself redefined as a young(ish) widow at the age of 51, I finished my doctorate (10/2014), remarried in to my second husband (12/2014), welcomed a new grandson (12/2015), and built a new home (2015-present).

Needless to say, life has not stood still.

But for some reason, a trigger happened. I felt the need to reread these old posts, pull them over my head like a warm, cozy and familiar blanket. To close my eyes and step back a bit, remind myself where I was back then. The posts generally run from early 2006 to 2011 and cover the gamut, from art exhibitions and creative musings, to reflections on travel, being present, and just some funny thoughts. Overall, I enjoyed the time spent rereading and listening to these. They simultaneously gave me a sense of wunderlust and a firm grounding, a sense of being…where I am supposed to be.

Feel free to enjoy them at your leisure. – Old Blogs & Podcasts Revisited

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“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

~ Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

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Dear readers,

For the last three and a half months, ever since my arrival home from a shortened visit to Russia, I have been on a journey of a different kind, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. While in Russia, the family emergency I left early for was my husband’s preliminary diagnosis of metastatic liver disease – i.e. liver cancer that is not the “primary” cancer source.

From the moment I arrived home in late May, I focused on ways to help my husband of 30 years find the care he needed. Unfortunately, without the earlier symptoms to warn us (he was not a smoker… ever), his disease had already progressed before final diagnosis in early June. He waged a brave battle, attempting chemo but making it through less than 3 full rounds before his body could no longer bear the torture of that kind of treatment. Even eating became a chore since the cancer had already spread to his stomach and spine, with the primary suspect to be in the lungs and pancreatic biliary system. To watch a loved one die is to have the ultimate feeling of helplessness and yes, even failure, because we were partners, always helping each other out, caring for each other during those challenging times.

But this was one that I couldn’t save him from. The fates, God, spiritual being that guides us on our path, whomever you follow, had something else in mind. And so my husband, who made it to our 30th anniversary, just after his 54th birthday, passed away on September 1, 2012, at home with his daughters and me nearby. We were relieved that he no longer suffered, that he was at peace now, going onward to continue creating and building and making art – all the things he did in this life – now in the next. But we also grieved, as we had all summer, knowing what was to come. We grieved for the loss of a husband and best friend. We grieved for a loving father, talented artist, a generous man and natural teacher. We grieved for ourselves. And we will continue to do so, while we also continue to hold him in our hearts and souls, a part of him that will never die.

So, while my visit to Russia was cut short, life gives us many different journeys to travel on. It will take time. But I know that I will continue to travel, bringing you, and my husband and my family along with me… even if it is not always in person, but in spirit. And I will continue to share that journey, too. Because when the stories are shared, they live on, connect us to each other, helping each other along the way. And they help me, too… Because there is a lot of healing to do…

Thank you, Spasibo, Vinaka vakalevu, Muchas Gracias…

– Mara
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PS: Included above is a quote that a friend shared and which connected to me immediately.

PSS: If you are interested in seeing the talent and creativity my late husband had, his website will remain online at www.fulmerwoodworking.com. In addition, a scholarship has been created in his name: Keith E. Fulmer Memorial Art & Design Scholarship, c/o Foundation for Mott Community College, 1401 E. Court St., Flint, MI 48503. Contributions can be made payable to the Foundation for MCC, with note in memo “Keith Fulmer Scholarship”. Our hope is to nurture young passionate artists/designers who exhibit the same desire to incorporate beauty and craftsmanship into both form and function. That is the legacy through which we will continue Keith’s life’s work. With love, mjf