Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | February 21, 2015

End of the Longest Year

On February 21, 2013, my late wife – Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  Thus, today endeth the longest year of my life.  My life, not ours.  And, so it went.

The long mourning from her death on December 9th, 2013 to her funeral was followed by a full year of grieving.  One year.  Nellie, the great grieving counselor, said it takes two full years to get to the new normal.  She was right.  Once again – she’d note.

Here is what we said at her funeral:

Here is what Dr. John Snow said:

The longest year has its pictures on my Facebook page.  I aim to write out the story “A Grief Felt” – a tangent from C.S. Lewis’  Beloved’s loss.  I think I need to walk the walk for the full 2 years, before I know what path I’ve trod.

The Good Lord blessed me with a new place to live through this longest year.  I call it ‘Sanctuary’, because it is.  I give thanks to Lord Jesus Christ often – every day here.  I behold the beauty of His natural world, The Bay, every hour I breath here.

Family, friends, church family and allies have shared their prayers, lovingkindness and caring.  I’m grateful.

I’m much, much healthier than I was.  I’ve done my duties as best I could.

I’m leaving unsaid what grieving for Nellie was and is.  I’m a man of words and I don’t have the words.

Let me say this: In a year of fitful and troubled sleep, I’ve been surprised to see my wife just a few times in dreams.  The last one,quite recently – which was clearly a dream and not a vision – made me so happy.  I got to hear her voice.  She asked me if I was ready to come home.  I said “Yes” and kissed her.  It was so wonderful to see and hear her.

Today, at the end of the full year of grieving, I’m grieving still.

I’m not holding on to grief as a way of life.  I’m not clinging to memories to avoid living life.  Quite the contrary.  I’m living with as much high energy, enthusiasm, disciplined passion and focused engagement as ever.

Then, why did I watch Nellie’s vimeo on this anniversary of her burial?  Why did I cry a keening lament through every minute?  Because I can see clearly through my tears, that I’m still married to my wife of our whole life.

The longest year was but one year.  It was awfully, horribly long without her.  In another year I should see clearly again, but differently.

I love you, Nellie.

Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden's words in her Bible in her hand.

Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden’s words in her Bible in her hand.

Singing "My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose" from a sheet to use the right words, not the ones I made up when I sang it to Nellie in private.  Her 65th and last birthday - Sep 2013.

Singing “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose” from a sheet to use the right words, not the ones I made up when I sang it to Nellie in private. Her 65th and last birthday – Sep 2013.



  1. Grieving is a process, Jim. I think it helps to remember that the same God who put Nellie in your life is the also the One who knows how to get you through your grief. Better to have had such a love in your life than never to have known love at all.

  2. Thank you, MB. Thank you very much. Agreed.

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