Wide My Ocean, Deep My Grief - header

If you wish to contribute, please refer to your last
Grief Connection Letter for Bev's email address.
Click back to subscribe if you haven't subscribed already

In Memory of Carol by Allan Legg

Dancing With Carol

February 5, 2009
I first met Carol on a Saturday night in the fall of 1953. She
was a friend of my sister, Janet. They had been to a dance at the
YMCA and had come to our house, where Carol was spending the

I was just coming in from a date. I thought she was kind
of cute and seemed very nice, but she and my sister spent what
seemed like hours telling the corniest knock-knock jokes and
giggling incessantly.

Someone said something about being hungry, so I got out some
hamburger and proceeded to make some cheeseburgers. Carol was
impressed that a guy who she thought was cute, could really cook.
We finished the food and I excused myself to go to bed. I was
really escaping the knock-knock jokes and all of the giggling.

The next morning, at breakfast, I was bombarded with the same
stale jokes from the previous night, with the same or more
giggling. I think I buried myself in the Sunday paper.

Sometime later my folks said they were going to Brown County to
see the fall colors and asked if I was coming. This is true. I
asked if Carol was going and upon getting a yes, said no I think
Iíll stay home and watch the Chicago Bears at Green Bay. I had
planned to do that anyway. Later I learned that Carol was

I saw Carol at my house a couple of times after that and she was
always doing the constant giggling. Years later I found out that
she had found reasons to come to our house in hopes that she
would see me. She had also been asking Janet to fix her up with
me and that Janet had refused.

More than a year after I had last saw Carol I went to a dance at
the YMCA. They had really good local big bands playing there
every Saturday night. I had only been there a few minutes when I
spotted this really great dancer on the other side of the floor.

I moved to the other side to get a better look at her, because
she was really great. Much to my surprise it was giggly Carol,
but she was not giggling, she was dancing. She danced with some
guy a couple of dances and returned to her table.

I really wanted to dance with her! I moved real quickly across
the floor, before someone else beat me to her. Carol was the best
dancer and the greatest follower I have ever danced with. This
was no small compliment as I had just had a few lessons, from
professionals at Arthur Murrayís Dance Studio. I think we danced
every dance the rest of the night. Of course I took her home.

We saw each other regularly after that. We went to dances at the
Y, at local clubs, at the Indiana Roof and at the NCO Club at Ft
Harrison, where they had a band or combo every Sunday night. I
never dated anybody else after I met her at the YMCA dance.

She did have a few dates with other guys for a while, but before
Christmas we were a steady couple. Carol had a wonderful laugh
now, but not the giggles she had previously had. She had grown
into a beautiful woman, which I hadnít failed to notice.

You have heard my story about the YMCA encounter. Now let me tell
you what Carol just recently confessed to me. She saw me watching
her dancing and told the guy that she was tired and needed to sit
down, hoping that I would see where she was sitting. When she
saw me walking across the floor toward her direction she prayed
"God please make him ask me to dance." "Please God make him ask
me to dance." When I got to her table and ask her to dance, she
said "I got weak kneed and felt all wobbly legged." "I was
afraid I was going to fall."

While we were dancing she said "Thank you God for answering my
prayer." She said she was shocked how smooth I was on the dance
floor and she hadnít expected that. She said "I was so afraid
you wouldnít ask me out again and I wanted to go out so bad; I
couldnít sleep until you called the next day."

By Valentines Day 1956, I knew Carol was the one for me and I
hoped she felt the same way. I thought she did, so I bought a
ring set and planned dinner out at a very nice restaurant, where
I was going to give her the ring and ask her to marry me. We
did keep our dinner reservation, but nothing else went as I had

First I got to her house early and she was dressed but not ready.
I sat in her living room patiently while she finished her make-up
and hair. I could see her in front of the mirror with the door
open. About 2 minutes after I sat down I saw her putting hair
spray on her hair. I got up and burst into her bathroom, knelt on
one knee, held up the ring and asked, "Will you marry me?" I was
so nervous and excited that I was shaking. I didnít hear her
answer, but I think it was yes. She bent down and planted a big
kiss on me, grabbed the ring and screamed for her mother.

When she returned to the bathroom where I was planted, I took the
ring and placed it on her finger. By that time I was so elated
and nervous that I couldnít even think about driving. It took
about 15-20 minutes of cuddling and caressing to even consider
operating a motor vehicle.

As I am writing this I am experiencing the kind of nervousness
and elation I felt some 53 years ago. Only now I canít hug her,
kiss her, dance with her or take her out to dinner, but it
doesnít keep me from dreaming about what we were feeling and what
was to come later.

I feel Carol is here with me. I sense her presence and it is
bitter sweet. Itís sweet because she cares enough to be here, but
it is bitter because I canít show her how I feel and tell her how
much I really love her. I guess she can see me racing away on
the keyboard and see what I am writing. Tears are running down my
cheeks and my nose is dripping on the keyboard and I donít care.

The words are coming out and I donít even know what I am writing,
but it doesnít matter because they are coming from my heart or
somewhere deep inside of me. I think my heart is racing and it
doesnít matter, because I am feeling love for Carol and I know
she is watching me.

Thank God I have stopped the rush I was in. Princess is here
licking the tears off of my hand, as if to say itís OK. Whatever
I just typed will never be edited, because it seemed to be coming
from my soul. I feel calm now without any worry, fear or grief at
this moment. It feels good.

Wow!; what a rush I had last night. I felt so calm and relaxed,
but I couldnít even think of writing anymore at that time. Itís
now a little after six on Friday morning. I have to confess I did
wake up several times thinking about what I had experienced
earlier and my love for Carol. It was almost surreal.

Well back to my story. Shortly after Carol had accepted my
proposal we placed an announcement in the Star/News, Pal-Item and
the Hagerstown Exponent. I think it said we were planning a June
Wedding. (And we were).

By March 1, Carol Said Why donít we go for May, maybe right after
Moms birthday. (Her Moms birthday was May 1st) I said OK. Well a
couple of days later Carol said why donít we get married as soon
as we can arrange the Church and Minister?

So the next day I called and arranged to meet with Dr Theo
Fisher. He said he would consider marrying us if we underwent 3
pre-marital counseling sessions to be 1 week apart. I called
Carol and she agreed, so we met with Dr Fisher the next evening
and the two following weeks. He and the Church Chapel were
available on April 6. We barely had time for our blood test and
license, but we made it.

Our Wedding was small with my good friend Bill Campbell and
Carols best friend Nancy Degner standing up with us. Basically
only our family was there. Iím sure everyone thought Carol was
expecting, but they were all fooled. We just couldnít wait.

We had 52+ wonderful years, including raising our 4 children,
lots of travel and a life I couldnít have imagined. I am skipping
ahead from April 1956 until October 2007 when unfortunately Carol
was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia.

We tried to get her the best treatment available at both the
Cleveland Clinic and Indiana University Medical Center. Carol did
gain remission on a study drug at I.U. Med. Center, during the
summer of 2008. She and I enjoyed a fabulously wonderful late
summer and fall. There was adventure, dancing and many things
which brought us joy.

We were enjoying family more than ever. Wow, what joys both her
birthday and Thanksgiving were. We were also aware that there was
more treatment in the offing and probably another round of Chemo-
Therapy, after Christmas, as her remission was waning.

Unfortunately a complication of her disease struck her without
warning. Due to her low Neutrophils, her infection could not be
overcome, and due to her low Platelet count surgery was out of
the question. We prayed again for Divine intervention, but
apparently God thought she had suffered enough and it was time
for her to come to her home in Heaven.

I know there is far less laughter on Earth, but I also know
there is far more laughter in Heaven. Carol, my angel, lets
dance again in heaven.

I actually started to write about a month after Carol died, but
probably my best insight came when I went to Indianapolis, about
75 miles from my home, approximately two months after Carols
death. My reason for going was to attend a grief support session
titled: "Journaling Through Life and Death". I thought it would
be an opportunity to hone my writing skills. I will share my
story about exactly what happened.

On Feb 21, 2009,
I attended the affore mentioned meeting. There were only two of
us plus the facilitator. After talking for about 20 minutes each
telling our stories, the facilitator said well it time to get
busy. She left the room and returned with 2 sketch pads and 2
boxes of crayons. Her instructions were on page one I want you
to draw a picture describing how you felt at the moment of your
loved ones death............ I sat......... I sat and I stared at
the floor, I stared at the ceiling, I stared at the blank paper,
for at least 20 minutes or longer.

Then without even consciously knowing why I took a black crayon
and started drawing a cloud so dense that no light could ever
possibly enter it. I pressed so hard that I actually broke the
crayon. Then I drew a line which represented the ground level. I
then drew a grey vortex from the surface of the ground to the
bottom of the page, at which point I wrote with pen "NADIR". Two
pieces of my broken heart were in the vortex at different
locations. But, there was a saving grace. I drew a rainbow from
the black cloud to the vortex. I wasn't exactly sure why I had
drawn that.

My picture was finished and I sat in my chair staring at what I
had drawn. I had a strange feeling of sadness, numbness and
almost a sense of elation, at the same time..... I don't know how
long I sat there, but the first thing I remember was the
facilitator saying "Oh Allan that's beautiful." Now can you
write a story describing what you have just drawn?

This was the first time that I realized that one can escape their
aloneness and escape into their solitude, which is a strange, but
creative place to be. A couple of days later I wrote the

February 24, 2009
I probably couldn't have written this without first drawing a
picture to describe my feelings on that day. This surprised me
very much as I thought drawing with crayons was for children.

On the day of Carols death, I had conditioned myself to the fact
that I could not personally do anything to affect the outcome of
her disease and that I was hoping for Divine Intervention, I
would "let go and let God".

This meant that I was at peace with God's will and would not
cause Carol to suffer through an ICU experience unless I and my
family were moved by Divine Will for this to happen. My family
had joined me in this conclusion. All of her loving family except
for her grandchildren, were present with her when she passed
peacefully into the next phase of her life.

At the moment of her death, even though I was at peace with my
decision, I felt conflicted..... I had just lost my mate, my
lover, my best friend and the best part of me for over 52
years..... Part of me saw no future, just black.... Part of me
felt I am glad Carol is not suffering; I'm glad she is in a
better place; I look forward to joining her there; but God why
did she have to leave me?

At that moment an awful feeling of loneliness and emptiness came
over me and I felt like I was spiraling uncontrollably in a
bottomless abyss; my heart was broken and there was nothing,
absolutely nothing I could do about anything..... Then a
miraculous thing happened; natures morphine took over and Thank
God I became so numb that nothing could affect me, at least for a
short while.

The numbness did its job and I was able to survive that awful
day...... The emptiness would remain for sometime and still
appears nearly every night and blindsides me at various times in
the daylight.

As Edna St.Vincent Millay so eloquently said "Where you used to
be, there is a giant hole in the world, which I find myself
constantly walking around in the daylight and falling into at
night. I miss you like Hell" - Allan

June 6, 2009
Tonight I chose to turn on a PBS program titled Big Band Era. I
liked what I heard for a few minutes until I realized that I
really wanted to dance and my dancing partner was no longer

The fact that Carol wasnít available to dance with me, was not
new or even the issue. The fact that I teared up and even cried
out loud was not new or the issue either. What was the issue is
that I am permanently and hopelessly in love with a Vamp.

A Vamp who intrigued me and lured me into falling hopelessly in
love with her, by giving the freedom to let go of all of the
barriers which were blocking my ability to really live my life
instead of pretending to live. But unlike the conventional Vamp
she lured me into life instead of death.

In that respect she was more like a Siren. Yes thatís it; a
Siren of the Dance Floor. When she first lured me out there, I
became helpless. I was like putty. The self-consciousness, ego
and stoic nature were left at the edge of the floor. She was like
Geppetto who was not satisfied with just being a puppeteer, but
wanted a real live partner in dance. Her music was anything one
could dance to. And; Wow how she could dance, dance, dance.

Itís nice to remember the places we went and the great times we
had. Everything from intimate clubs, to giant Ballrooms, to Gyms
converted to dance pavilions. Itís not remembering the wonderful
times that we had, which bothers me. Itís hearing the music we
danced to and wanting to do it again, that is so painful.

The pain drove me out of the living room and away from the TV. So
I am writing down the musings of an old man. Itís probably
meaningless to anyone except me (and Carol, If she is here with
me.) However, it is how I feel and what I am thinking right now.

I had been warned that we are often blindsided by articles or
events, which come at us from the most unexpected places at the
most unexpected times. That is certainly what happened to me
tonight. Now that I am not crying or watching TV, this whole
episode seems foolish and somewhat sophomoric. Like I said in
the poem Re-discovering Myself; (about Carol). ITS GREAT TO

Allan Legg

Copyright © 2010 All Rights Reserved Bev Swanson