Monday, October 31, 2011
Another lovely day in San Diego. The sun was up high and shining brightly this morning. I was awoken by a call from Abel, which is our usual morning routine. It's a wonderful reminder that someone is thinking of me.
As the day went on my mood began to fail me. My daughter kept asking if I had not slept well the night before. When she pointed this out I realized that I was feeling quite low in energy, and said well, I thought I had slept well, but I was terribly tired none the less. I ran out to do a few errands, as I was having some friends over for a pumpkin carving party.
As I left the grocery store it hit me, I wasn't tired at all, I was overcome by grief. With that simple realization the tears began to flow. How is it on such a beautiful sunny day, with life going so well, with a festive day ahead of me, that I was to succumb to my grief?
Of course I know the answer to my question.
Because it never really leaves me, and once in awhile, maybe more than once in awhile, it needs to rise to the surface and reveal itself.
Now it's the end of the day. I had a wonderful evening with friends, and the pumpkin carving was such fun. The biggest surprise was that Abel ended up not working, and surprised me with a visit.
Now I end my day, the way it began, yet the sun is shining on the inside. Who knows how I will feel tomorrow. Yet, I don't worry about it too much. It's an all too familiar occurrence. I accept that grief and I go hand in hand. It is my companion.
Overcome by grief. It doesn't have to overwhelm me. It just is. And then it moves on.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
That last few meetings of our group were tributes to our dead spouses. The tributes could be a video, something they wrote, or wore. Anything that one wanted to share with the group about the person they loved. This is a post from that time.
For the first time since his memorial,
I watched the video that our nanny made for us.
It’s all so deeply, black-holey and sad
That it makes me wonder
If there is a God.
It makes me wonder
how I will ever
Allow this to be
A point in my
It makes me wonder
How will I
Saturday, October 29, 2011
“I love that moment. When you’re on a long car ride, or listening to music, or reading. And you completely zone out. You forget your troubles, and everyone around you. You’re focused on that one thing, and that one thing only. You’re content, and everything seems peaceful.”- Unknown
I savor these moments.
After Michael was killed I had to remind myself when they were happening, but ironically knew right away when they were taking place. Almost as if my mind couldn't believe that peace and a quiet smile was possible.
I savor these moments even more, even though they come around more often.
They're no longer a shock to my system.
They are a gift I excitedly tear open to savor for whatever period of time that is.
Life is finite.
These moments are too.
But it doesn't matter...
These moments are happening and it's all I could ask for.
Waking up to my dog curling his tail and stretching. Watching the biography channel over a glass of wine. Listening to Coldplay echo in he background. Feeling the breeze as I take out the trash. Smiling with a dear friend. Laughing at the random moments of beauty and awkwardness that plague any widow.
That's life...my life.
A quilt of moments...good..bad...unexpected...expected...
My own little odd paradise.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
... I want to get off for a few hours.
Just a few hours so I can sleep, catch up on housework, catch up on schoolwork, maybe even read my book, and just veg out for a while.
Just a few hours where I don't have to make anyone a meal, break up any fights, look after my own or other people's children.
Just a few hours where I don't have to feel that constant worry of whether my contract will be renewed next year, or whether I can stretch the bank balance to cover the upcoming summer holidays where I won't get much pay.
Just a few hours so I can have a good cry and a decent sleep and be back on deck.
Back at the helm of this barely floating ship of a life.
Greg wasn't exactly the most domestic of husbands - when we became parents we fell into the age-old roles of him being the main breadwinner, and me being a kid-wrangler/cook/cleaner.
So he did the "boy" jobs - mowing the lawn, keeping the cars in running order, fixing the dryer...
.... but every so often, he's see me get tired and cook a meal or do the laundry.
and I never really valued that cup of coffee that I didn't have to make myself or that greasy fry-up that he made for dinner.
But just now, I really wish someone would bring me a coffee. Make the kid's beds. Even just DECIDE what I should cook the kids for dinner would be such a help.
Just so I could rest for a short while and set down the weight of the world for a while.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I think for some, G's resemblance and similar behavior is hard to take. At least that is what I assume. Recently Grayson told me he thinks a family member doesn't really like him. I told him I don't think that is true at all. I explained to him that I think it is just sometimes hard for people to be around him because they miss his Dad so much, and he reminds them of it. He's a super empathetic kid, so he got the concept right away. "So I make them kind of sad?" he asked. "I think both of us do" I responded. He didn't take it personally and seemed relieved that there was a reasonable explanation. As sad as it is, I think my explanation is true. It's been 6 years and the wounds for all of us aren't always as healed as we'd like them to be.
It's sad, but I guess it is what it is. Most of the time he doesn't notice or ask those kinds of questions and I'm grateful for that. He's a happy kid and tends to notice the good in life and overlook the bad. I'm trying to learn from him...he's got a good perspective on things.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Well, yesterday was a step into the next phase of my relationship with Abel, and the beginning of my family getting used to seeing me with another man.
It was the occasion of my niece and her husband baptizing their newborn baby boy. I drove up with two of my kids, and a new person at my side. It was not a surprise to them, as I had broken the news of this new relationship with them one week ago. Each of them were surprised to learn that I had been dating, and that I had chosen not to share the news with them for well over a month.
I let my family know that I needed some time to feel secure in being part of a new twosome before having to deal with the looks of confused emotion on their part. My family loved Michael, and they, like me, continue to grieve his absence from their lives.
Abel himself was a nervous wreck. I suppose it's always a big occasion when the new love gets introduced to the extended family members, and he wasn't quite sure how he would be received. He knew that my family had grown used to seeing me either as Michael's husband, or later, as Michael's widower. For the past two years they grew used to seeing me in a continued somber state of mind and emotion.
Once at the house, most of Abel's concerns began to melt away. My brothers and parents were very gracious in introducing themselves to him, and each spent some time getting to know him and wanting him to feel comfortable in their presence. At one point Abel leaned over to me and pointed out that my mother kept glancing our way. I reminded him that this is the first time that she has seen me with another man. It has to be both pleasing and bittersweet. Around this time my mother told me that my decision to move to San Diego has been the best choice I made for myself. She reminded me that I now have "a lovely home, a good job," and looking at Abel, then back at me, she said, "and now you have this."
On the long drive back to San Diego from our day in Thousand Oaks, I received a text from my older brother telling me that his day was great. Among those events that made his day was seeing me happy again. After reading the text to everyone in the car, my kids both chimed in, saying "Abel, we are so happy that you and my dad are dating."
Oh, to be happy once again.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
“Hey! How are you?” she asks.
With that question a hand is placed gently on my upper arm. Her eyes are round, her voice soft and kind, as if she were talking to a person who is old.
I wonder “Do I look ill? Is the lack of sleep that apparent?”
My friend wants to know, to
how I’m doing.
Only her assumption is that I’m not doing well. After all,
And all I want to do is smile and say “I’m doing….
GREAT! Today, the kids got ready for school by themselves and this included Langston (age 14) folding his laundry. The very same laundry he put into the wash AND the dryer by himself the night before.
I had to tell Ezra this morning as he dilly-dallied over his breakfast to “put down the book or I’d have to take it away from him." This same child, 2 months ago, I had to cajole into picking up a book.
Pallas is using me as her confidant (I know this will change) she comes into my room and we talk about friendships and bodies and nail polish color.
Me. Well, I closed my business and I feel free. I have an informational interview next week and you never know where those end up! Our new place is great. I like that there aren’t all these places to disappear to. If Langston is not in the great room then he’s in his bedroom or the bathroom. That’s it. No where else to look for him. And did I mention that it was 75 today? And I wore shorts that I couldn’t fit into when Art was alive because I am now healthy skinny not a holy-shit-my-husband-is-dead skinny? “
I want to tell her all of this. I want to go on and on and on to show her the other side of widowhood, the side that is beyond just getting through another day.
But I don’t. Because I also don’t want her thinking that it’s all OK again. I don’t want her to walk away from our conversation thinking I am “over” Art's death.
And then I feel guilty. Guilty for feeling good..
Guilty for thanking Art for dying. Without his death I would never have become 70% fearless. 89% authentic, and 100% alive. I really like all the ways I have been pushed to grow and expand and live.
Guilty because the kids and I are actually ok. We laugh and have fun without him, without thinking about him.
Guilty because the intense bouts of grief come further and further apart from each other. I can go weeks without crying about him. I can go days without yearning for him.
Guilty because most of the time, when I think of him, it is with sweetness, laughter and a deep sadness that doesn’t overwhelm me.
And honestly part of me doesn’t want to disappoint her. I want her to know that as a widow my life will never be "back to normal." I want her to know that I am still different from her and she absolutely CANNOT complain about her husband to me. I want her to know that it’s still a struggle – just less and less of one.
So instead of answering her, I simply change the subject.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Life's pretty darn comical.
I get all I could ever dream of...then that gets taken from me.
Next, I get used to the grief and pain and in a way have it take the backseat to the life still before me...but then I'm slammed with something else that clouds the clearing my heart and mind had worked so hard on clearing.
A recycling of the good and bad...a recycling that fogged over the beauty still present in the midst of the uninvited madness that made its presence pretty darn known.
I was never good at juggling...or surprises.
Everyone's been telling me to take me time, in hopes that a clearing can be made once more.
But it could be clouded over again...or it couldn't....or maybe I was too preoccupied by the clouds that crept in to not look a bit further to see the clearing was still there....just a bit harder to see.
I think I'm going to have to go with the last theory.
It's slowly getting brighter and brighter. I'm finally kind of enjoying the whole recycling thing, too...keeps me on my toes.
And I'd rather be on them than my knees...
Friday, October 21, 2011
Why am I surprised that it is hitting me again?
I have told others how I think that these waves are our way of coping with grief. We can't take it in full-force. We need small sips or the strength of it will destroy us. Like a horrible tasting medication that you loathe, it is necessary to heal. But, I always wonder if I've taken my last dose. That I am 'better'. That maybe I can be whole now. I'll have to keep reminding myself that this medication needs to be administered again and again until I no longer need it...So I must need it now. I must relish that this pain and sadness is in someway healing this broken heart. I can't turn my head away. I have to take it or I will become even more ill.
I have a sneaky suspicion that this medication is now a lifetime prescription, but at least it doesn't need to be administered as often as it was initially. Right?
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I dread deathiversaries, "with my whole soul", as my daughter would say. This dread is instinctual, and has nothing to do with how happy I am in my current life. The creeping feeling of impending doom sneaks up on me at the same time every year, and at odd times when I am distracted by nostalgia or lost in a happy memory. Sometimes the feeling of dread appears as a great crashing wave, hitting me full force from behind and knocking me into the swirling sea of despair, shocked and unprepared. Other times I can hear the drumbeat of the death march from afar, and I have time to steel myself for what lies ahead.
I am amazed by the way my body takes over as the days before Phil's death day unfolds. Singing along to the radio in the car can be suddenly halted by a realization that I am living in the moment when we visited my parents for the last time. How does my body know this, when my mind is completely unaware? The simple act of walking through the front door is fraught with danger when the death march has begun, each time I step over the threshold I imagine a random moment when Phil did the same. Pancakes become tearjerkers, cyclists cause a lump in my throat, photos now stacked haphazardly around the house are dusted and petted, and the memory of the life I used to live whispers my name over and over again.
The craziest part about this death march is that I am happy. Life is good. There are still difficult grief moments, but I am more aware of the goodness in the world, and in my life, than I have ever been before. So why does the death march have this hypnotic power over me? Why do my feet dance to the beat of the drums before my mind is aware that they have begun to play? Why does knowing the outcome of the story not alter in anyway the dread I experience as the day approaches? I don't know.
What I have learned is that the death march is worse than the actual anniversary. I have realized that honoring my feelings, and allowing my body to move to the rhythm that I can neither anticipate nor control, does help. Allowing the people who love me (including my new husband) to walk a portion of the march with me keeps me from isolating myself in the sometimes overwhelming sorrow. One other thing I know from experience--all marches come to an end. When this one moves on, I find myself still standing and holding onto the memories of a love for which I am eternally grateful, and moving forward into a life I am blessed to call my own.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
And sometimes .... that's the only explanation you have.
And really, that's all you need.
I know what I know.
That's all I've got.
And I'm great with that.
In fact, I'm pretty great in general.
Life has changed for me in the last month.
Not so much on the outside.
Not so much to people looking in.
Two new doctors were added to my life last week.
More crappy tests.
More stuff going on.
On the outside.
On the inside ... things are drastically different.
And drastically good.
I've been mostly quiet about the details.
Because I realize how crazy it sounds .... to say it out loud.
In front of other people.
But when I think about it, or say it to myself, or to him .... it's completely sane.
I don't know why.
I don't know how.
But I do know what I know.
And I know that I'm not going to be quiet any longer.
My heart has been captured.
And all it took was one smile.
His heart has been captured.
And all it took was one smile.
Yes, it sounds insane.
But not to us.
Because ..... we know what we know.
I have always enjoyed spontaneity .... in the right moments.
But I have been mostly stable and steady.
Have I had times when I've made bad decisions based on spur-of- the-moment feelings?
In a word .... absolutely.
Oh my word the stupidity.
I've had my moments.
But mostly? Mostly I've been very steady.
And the "before Janine" would never have believed that two people could connect .... with just a smile.
She would never have believed that it was possible to know that a life could be changed in so short a time.
But the "after Janine" has learned a lot in the last four years.
I've heard mutterings.
I've heard comments.
"How long have you known him?"
"She hasn't had that much experience."
You know .... those kinds of things.
Which is ok, because I know that I am loved by many people.
And I have 6 special people in my life who want me to be happy, and yet miss who I was .... and the only man they knew with me.
But I know what I know.
And while I may not have experienced a lot of life before I met Jim, I have experienced more life than anyone should have to since he died.
I have aged beyond my years.
In some ways.
I have learned more than I ever wanted to know.
But I have also learned wonderful things.
I have learned to know myself.
I have learned to trust myself.
I have learned that life is short .... and gifts are not to be taken lightly. Or for granted.
I have leaned that nothing, and no one, is guaranteed.
I have learned that when something, or someone, good happens .... you must enjoy it, or him, while you can.
Tomorrow is not a done deal.
I know what I know.
I know that I have more life behind me than in front of me.
I know what I want.
I know what I don't want.
I know what I like.
I know what I don't like.
I know that I am not willing to settle for less than I've had.
I know that I was incredibly blessed to have an amazing love and relationship with Jim.
And I know that if I were to never have that again, I'd be ok. I'd be more than ok. But I will not settle for less. Because it's better to have no relationship, than to settle for less than you want .... or need.
I have learned.
And for some reason .... some unknown ..... and certainly undeserved ..... amazing reason, God has blessed me .... again.
I am loved.
I am loved fiercely, deeply, unconditionally .... and crazily.
I am loved exactly the way Jim would want me to be loved.
I am being treated exactly the way Jim would want me to be treated.
And I think that Jim had a hand in picking this man out for me.
And I know, without a doubt, that Jim is very, very happy. Because he still loves me as much as I still love him. And he wants me to be loved fiercely, deeply and crazily. He wants more for me than I could have hoped for .... a second time.
I know what I know.
I know that my heart has room for another love, without losing my love for Jim.
I know that I have experienced a lot of crap over the last 4 years, and that part of me questions how long this can possibly last .... given all that crap.
But I also know that I'm not gong to listen to that part ..... but am going to enjoy the gift of this man for as long as I have him.
I know that I have been blessed .... again.
And I look forward to the future.
And for what it holds.
For as long as it holds it.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
So High. So Low.
My week has been different than what I'm normally familiar with. I'm experiencing such high moments. Moments of feeling the excitement of new love. I look forward to his calls. I smile from ear to ear whenever we are together. I feel so excited with each plan we make.
I also come home each late afternoon, and as I close the door to my bedroom the tears fall down my face. I wrap my arms around myself, and hold on tight. I lay on my bed, and feel such sorrow.
One wanted me to be happy. Another is making me happy.
One gave me all of his love. Another looks forward to sharing more days together, with hopes of a love that can signal a future together.
For two years I slept with his pillows taking up the space he used to occupy. I held onto these soft objects that no longer carry his scent. For two years my arms and legs clung to a form that served to remind me that yes, he was here, but now he is gone.
This weekend someone new occupied his space. My arms were wrapped around this new person. The space he takes up is different. He is not the same person. His form feels different.
There is comfort. There is affection. There is warmth.
Tonight the pillows will be back. Tonight I will grieve the one that is gone. Tonight I will miss the new one that is absent. Tonight I have a longing that is less clear. Tonight there are two that occupy my mind. Tonight there are two that fill my heart.
Wednesday is, was, our wedding anniversary. It's a very odd day. Yes, it is the day we wed. Yes, it is the anniversary of a wonderful love filled day. Yet, it is also an occasion we never celebrated together. Michael died one month shy of our first wedding anniversary. The wedding came later in the relationship. It was a day we never expected would be possible. We seized the opportunity to stand before our loved ones and pledge our love to each other. With all that happened in the year after we wed, few ever remember the day. His death eclipsed any type of celebrated remembrance.
Perhaps this year I will simply celebrate love. I will celebrate that I stood before a man, and pledged my love. I will celebrate that I made a vow, a promise, that I kept. I will celebrate that while I have yet to say those words to someone new, those words have been on my mind. I will celebrate that one day soon, those words will be spoken again. I will celebrate that my heart is filled with love.
I will celebrate that there is room enough for the love of both of them.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I’m with her and we are walking to find the bathroom in Macy’s. Pallas (my daughter) and I have just been bra shopping...for her.
A momentous occasion full of “Moooommmm!” and “Why are you looking at me that way?!”
She has requested this shopping excursion and I go along, resisting the urge to take photos and whip out the recorder to “document” the occasion. (Langston forbid me from documenting his first shaving lesson with our wonderful neighbor.)
We walk towards where the sales woman said we would find a restroom.
Completely unaware of the time, the casino-like lighting making me feel out of touch, in a dream like state.
We pass the mens clothing on the left.
I think “Huh, Art would look good in that.” Then chuckle, remembering his frustration. The day Banana Republic started selling tall clothing online was the day I tossed those ugly, but long enough jeans! His 6’6” frame too long for regular clothes.
I stop to touch a shirt as Pallas and I pass the rest of the lingerie department. I see the restroom sign off to the right.
I stutter step in my mind
“Fuck, is he?
It just simply can’t be.
He’s never coming back? How can someone never come back?
I don't understand.”
The thought encases me in what feels like a full body plastic bag.
I run toward the restroom.
Hands to mouth to catch.
Open stall or not, I don’t care, I need to get it out of me.
It. Out. Of Me!
Pallas is running behind me, “Hey," she says disappointedly, "you can’t just decided to race without telling me!” Using her longer-than-mine legs to catch up. She notices my hunched run, reaches for me and says “Mom are you ok?”
There’s an empty stall
Lunch, bile and tears mix together
Into the toilet
which automatically flushes.
Loss swirling down.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
“I define comfort as self-acceptance. When we finally learn that self-care begins and ends with ourselves, we no longer demand sustenance and happiness from others.” -Jennifer Louden
Let me just say how much I love this quote. I really should print it on cards and hand it out to those who make the snide remarks that I will not be able to be happy until "move on" or somehow refuse to acknowledge the smile on my face when they see no one is standing at my side.
In my later years of college, single, partied out, and facing a world sans boyfriend...I found self-acceptance. I learned to love ME as ME. Flaws, bad decisions and all (and believe me when I say made a few). That was a trying time; I believe we sometimes are our worst critics. But I did, I peeled the layers of my onion and saw a new life before me, one like play-doh; bright, colorful and ready for me to mold.
Well, a little less then 9 months later Michael came back into my life. My own personal happiness was there, but enhanced by my soul mate...caught on fire. Maybe that's why separation did nothing but enhance our relationship, not strain it, because the happiness never faded, and still hasn't to this day. Others just seem to have a hard time grasping that "sustenance and happiness" still run through this widow's veins.
So as I walk on this journey, I've dusted off my "self-care"...which was gathering dust...and decided to continue the path of happiness I found on my own, found enhanced by my soul mate, and found resurrected like a phoenix out of the ashes.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
My son needs to have an endoscopy done under general anaesthetic next week.
I have not told the small boy yet.
It's a relatively minor procedure as these things go, but the thought of my little 7 year old man being probed and prodded whilst knocked out terrifies me.
The specialist who is doing this exploratory procedure will hopefully have some answers to help the boy who has had reflux since he was a baby.... reflux that has grown worse over the past two years and which sees him vomit several times a day, or constantly need to spit out mouthfuls of semi-digested food.
It could be a reaction to grief. It could be an allergy. It could be cancer. It could be habit.
... but the surgery was not deemed "urgent" so I think the paediatric gastroenterologist is leaning toward allergy and is ruling out other causes.
That worry aside, I have another worry ..... my parents are going interstate the following day (my brother's wife is sick and they need to help them).
Which means that if there are complications .... we are on our own.
There should be two parents around to organise the logistics of getting one child to hospital by 6:30am and the other to school by 8am.
There should be two parents to share the worry and talk it through out of earshot of the small boy and his sister.
There should be two parents who can hug each other tight and mutter that everything will be fine.
....and there should be two parents who can make this child feel protected, safe and OK about going to hospital
I am not meant to be doing this alone....
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
.... seems to be my theme these days.
Well, I guess when I say "these days", I really mean these past 3 years and 10 months, but who's counting?
I used to be so "stable", emotionally speaking.
Or at least, I thought I was.
I know that I could wear a good mask. Maybe I even wore them for myself sometimes.
But these days .... these days I can cry at the drop of a hat. Even when I'm feeling fine.
And I'm usually feeling fine .... pretty darn good, actually.
And then .... I'm not.
Yesterday was one of those days.
I started out feeling great. But then I found out that a friend was attending a funeral later that day.
A funeral for a 23 year old boy .... who killed himself.
That news made me sigh .... and feel sad.
But the following news shook me to the core: his mother .... his single mother .... came home to find his body.
I managed to not cry in front of my friends. I firmly put my mask in place, and locked it tightly.
Until I got home.
And then I broke down .... because all I could think, was that woman .... that mother .... has no one with her.
She has no husband, no partner to help carry her grief. No one to sit with her and share the blackness with her.
She has a daughter, but as we all know ....
A couple of day ago I saw a news story about a couple who have written a book.
His wife died a few years ago, leaving him to only parent their 3 young children.
Her husband died shortly before that, leaving her to parent their 2 young children. It seems that his wife knew this woman. And she knew that this woman was newly widowed. His wife, even as she was dying of cancer, encouraged him to contact this widow.
And he did.
And they fell in love, married, and have written a book.
And I just stood there, watching them .... and cried.
I'm not sure why I cried, since they all seemed to be one big happy family .... now.
Maybe I cried because I knew what they had to go through .... before they got to "now".
Maybe I cried because they both teared up as they spoke of their late spouse.
Or maybe I cried just because I'm an emotional mess "these days".
I can be up one minute .... and then hear a story of someone who's died .... and barely hold the tears back.
I'm really ok.
In fact, I'm more than ok.
I'm happy most of the time.
There is someone in my life who seems to understand more than he should be able to understand. And he gives me more support than I've felt in almost four years.
But still ....
My body seems to be emotionally confused.
I don't like being confused.
I don't like being emotional.
But after three years and ten months ....
you'd think I'd be used to it .... wouldn't you?
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I sit in traffic in my emptiness. Lately, as I make my way home from the office I am still on a conference call dealing with some new crisis. My head begins to throb and I wonder if it will ever improve.
I drive up the hill to our house, turn onto our street, and see our mailbox. I point my car up the driveway and pull into my spot. I turn off the car, look up at our house, and suddenly, I feel it.... Sanctuary. Our place. A place becoming more like home each day as the boxes are slowly unpacked and familiar items are carefully placed and co-mingled. A place I go to at the end of a long day and feel loved and cared for. A place both unexpected and wonderful. A place I didn't even dream of finding.
(photo from: http://www.fornire.co.uk/)
Monday, October 10, 2011
I have never reposted anything here, as I prefer to speak in the present, yet I wanted to share something I wrote on my own blog a few days ago. It's something that is still very much on my mind, and something that is likely on the mind of those around me.
Funny how lying on a bed can bring about soul searching, or heart wrenching, conversations. My bed is no different. It has been host to many discussions in the past, and continues to host myself, and various people I love, as we explore our intimate thoughts and feelings.
Earlier, after coming home from work, and getting out of my work duds, I was lying alone on my bed, looking at Michael's urn, and feeling a variety of feelings. I wanted to smile, and I felt like crying. I'm in a good place right now, and yet my grieving continues. As I began to bury my face into the pillow, and allow myself to give up control, there was a knock at my door. It was my 13 year old son, who asked if he could lay on my bed with me. We lay there, in silence, with my arm across his body.
"Dad, can we talk?"
Yes, Remy, whatever you want to talk about.
He wanted to talk about my developing relationship with this new man in my life. He expressed, as well as a 13 year old boy can, how conflicted he feels about how quickly things appear to be moving for this person and me. He said that it is clear that I am happy, and he is happy for me, but what must Michael be feeling right now? Before I could answer, he said that he knows that Michael would be very happy for me, because Remy knows that Michael wanted me to be happy, and to love again. Yet, Remy wanted to know, "Don't you think Michael might be just a little bit mad?"
It's been two years, two very long years. And yet, it also feels like it just happened yesterday. In the two years that Michael lived with his death sentence he would speak of my next boyfriend, and what my life might be like. I would ask him not to talk like that, but he never would stop. He was very clear with me. He wouldn't be happy, if he knew that I wasn't happy. He wanted to die knowing that I would find love and happiness once more. He believed that I deserved that.
One day, long ago, my older son Dante was having a conversation with Michael. He told Michael that he worried that I wouldn't survive after Michael died. Michael told him, in his usual humorous way, that he certainly hoped that I would be heart-broken, and that I would miss him, but that he had no doubt that I would survive. After all, Michael was there with me when I went through many a trial in raising my kids.
Today, while lying there with Remy, I reminded him that we are all so capable of loving. I love him with all my heart. I love his brother and sister with all my heart. I love Michael with all my heart. And, I can love someone new with all my heart.
One love does not negate another.
Tonight, lying in my bed, I spoke with this new person in my life, his name is Abel, and we too spoke of Michael, of Remy, of Dante, and of Arianne. We spoke of my journey as a widower. We spoke of my heart-break and healing. We spoke of the time needed to grow into love, and we spoke of how we can carefully navigate all this while being mindful of younger minds and hearts.
This has become a part of my nightly ritual. The nine o'clock hour arrives, I pick up the phone, I call him, we talk, we listen, we laugh, and we smile.
I have the ashes of my husband to my right, and I have the voice of a new love interest to my left. Is this balance? Is this chaos? Is this right? Is this wrong? Will it last? Will it not? Will I be happy? Will I be sad?
There are no easy answers, but then, I'm not looking for easy answers. I'm looking, and planning on, more work ahead. I'm expecting struggle, and I'm expecting ease. My life is a journey that I often have little control of. At this point in my life, I no longer seek to control it. I choose to experience it, and to embrace as much of it as possible as it unveils itself to me.
I consider myself gifted by this new person in my life. I am experiencing hope once again. I'm feeling like I have much to offer, and I feel like someone is extending a gentle hand my way.
After an hour of intimate conversation, it was time to say goodnight. There was a longing there, which we both verbalized. It gave me a feeling of anticipation when I will have this person before me once again. I rolled over on my bed, and looked up into the brightly lit night. I thanked Michael for his love. I thanked Abel for his open heart. And, I smiled.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
I got this image from here
In-laws. (My husband’s parents)
I have not spoken to them in 1 yr and 10 months.
Until three months ago, I had not corresponded with them for the same amount of time.
Have not seen my youngest since he was 7. He’s now 9.
When I tell people the story of how I was treated by them, they are the subject of much head shaking and “OMG! They did what?” by all.
Lets just say …. We’ve gotten along, umm, better when Art was alive.
My little “widow” secret is 9 months after Art died, my relationship died with them died.
For months over a year, I have wanted to write about them but ... first there was the rage to get through, then the shame, then the rage again. And it all felt taboo. I mean, they lost too. I do not know what it’s like to loose a child. How can I possibly pass judgment on their behavior?
That's what I told myself when they were cruel to me. “Grief does wacky things to people.” I said. And so I let them treat me poorly, giving them the space to blame me or the city or his life out here or anything they wanted to for his death because I know, accepting a death is not done gracefully.
In a perfect world, when death hits, a family pulls, together. They round up their wagons, support and love each other right into healing. In a perfect world.
Instead, they didn’t like my wagon, couldn’t understand why I would drive it and why I would not return with their wagons to where they were.
I felt shame … bad widow. You are not the only one who has lost.
Hurt … how could they not help? How could they say no to his kids?
Rejected – they never liked me or the different way my kids "look."
I had quite a few pity parties.
All of that I carried around with me like a purse of gold coins, valuable to my worth by really frickin' heavy. Ashamed to write about any of it, because somewhere I believed that I was not good enough for them.
Until I got tired of telling the story and listening to the righteous indignation of others at my in-laws behavior, until I accepted they never understood the life Art and I built so far away from them, until I realized it was not my problem but theirs, until I just got tired of being so mad.
So I let go and suddenly I forgave them. I do not, nor will I ever, know why they did what they did. (I suspect they don’t know either.)
I didn’t send them a note announcing “I have now forgiven you!” I didn’t call them either. I just started emailing little tidbits about the kid’s lives and how the weather was.
And now I don’t hate them, I don’t worry about what they think of me cause, for the first time, I don’t care.
Death (and time) have freed me.
I don't think we will ever be friends. And the days of staying in their home are very limited if not over. But...they lost a son. God willing, I will never know what that's like. They did what they did. I will never forget that. But I have forgiven them, finally. And it feels good.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Two weeks ago, the kids and I holidayed at a little island just to the north of where we live. It's a cheap and cheerful sort of place and only an hour away from home.
We've always holidayed at this island.
Greg taught the kids to ride bikes along its many bike paths, and he showed them how to use a shovel to make enormous sand castles.
I taught the kids to boogie board on the little waves on the surf-side of the island.
We stayed in the same house every year and made more and more memories.
This year, we holidayed in a different house. My parents came with us - Dad brought the fishing gear and Mum just made things happy.
We went fishing: the kids both caught lots of fish.
We went walking along the trails and the kids rode their scooters to new parks.
We examined strange animals washed up on the beach and we spent an entire morning at the new island museum.
But it wasn't the same.
It wasn't completely awful though ... we just made new memories and reminded ourselves that it is OK to relax even if it isn't the same as before.....
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
... to drop .... and land right on my head.
Or, rather, on my life.
That's where I find part of my mind these days.
Not a large part, but still ....
Funny (or really, not funny at all), my mind rarely, if ever, went there in my "before".
I enjoyed my life, our life, without wondering when it would go to hell in a hand basket.
I felt blessed that our children, all six of them, were healthy .... and didn't wonder when that would end.
I made plans with my husband about our future .... never once doubting that there would be one.
I could give my children a kiss and send them back to college .... or just off on an errand .... and not consider that it that might be the last time I see them.
I could watch a young couple playing in the park with their small children .... without wondering if they realized that could be the last day they were a family.
I could see a father with his daughter .... and not question whether he's going to be there to walk her down the aisle.
I could attend my son's football game alone .... never once thinking that I'd really be doing it alone one day.
There seem to be an infinite number of times I enjoyed my life .... without waiting for that other shoe.
I don't think about it every day.
And I am able to enjoy life again, without wondering when the next wave will knock me down.
But there are moments .... quiet, sneaky little moments that creep on on me ..... and make me look over my shoulder to see if my past is repeating itself.
Moments when I'm enjoying an evening with someone new ..... and then suddenly wondering how much longer he's going to live.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Shoes. We take for granted that these little bits of leather, plastic and rivets will be ready for any adventure that pops up. We assume they will support and protect us as we walk over hot sidewalks and soft carpets. And at the end of the day, it's nice to take them off and place them next to another pair of still-warm, well-traveled shoes. Shoes are at the start and the end of every adventure.
Maggie loved shoes. Her eyes would light up when she saw a pair that tickled her fancy. She’d be so excited to bring them home that she’d walk around the house wearing them like she was a model putting on a show. I don’t know for certain but I imagine that in each pair she saw a lifetime of adventures to be experienced. She loved adventures, large and small. I loved seeing her happy. Ergo, I loved her shoes.
Sunday I packed up 118 pair of adventures not taken and put them into boxes to be given away, or rather, set out on adventures that wouldn’t include she or me. The careful process of moving each pair from the closet where they’ve sat for more than two years frozen in time was painful. Each pair represented a thousand adventures we’ll never have together and a million memories we’ll never create.
Some shoes looked pristine as though they had never been worn. The mysteries surrounding these shoes made me wonder what grand adventure she was dreaming about when she bought them. Where was she planning to go or what was she planning to do while wearing these shoes? I am sad that she never got the chance to walk a mile in those shoes. I’m sad that each of these pair of untouched pumps, flats, boots or heels represents so many unrealized dreams and adventures not taken. For each pair, I mourn the loss of what we didn’t have. I’m sad because she was sad that life was cut short too soon. She definitely wasn’t done living. She, rather, WE had miles and miles still to go together, hand-in-hand.
The others, obviously her go-to shoes, showed her love with well-worn soles. Touching those shoes hurt because so many of those scuffs and scratches we made together and I miss her and those moments dearly. I suppose now is the time to be reminded of the sage advice of Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
Crap. Why is it that the shoes hurt so much? They are just f-ing shoes.
Because it happened… Yes. I’ll smile. I’ll keep smiling through my tears.
The business of change presses on.
Monday, October 3, 2011
I hate to share too much, as it's something very new, and something that is going very well.
I am dating.
Yes, I decided to try it once again. I attempted to re-enter the dating world at the beginning of the summer, and had a rather quick go of it. At the time I felt like I wasn't connecting well with the guys I was out with, yet at the same time enjoyed being out. It was fun to be out with another adult, and to feel like I was back in the game. But just as quickly as I tried it, I decided to put it on hold. Shortly after that I fell into a bit of a depression, as I'm so easily prone to.
Recently I started an online chat connection with a really nice guy. We chatted for a couple of weeks, almost daily. It was going rather nicely, but at the same time I was not wanting to get too caught up in an online relationship that might just go no where if and when we met. I did my share of Internet dating many years ago, and it never went well. Yet this time, I found myself really connecting to this guy. We exchanged photos, and both seem pleased. Our talk was about the type of things we enjoyed doing, or how we were spending our days. Then one night we started going much deeper. We spent about 90 minutes talking about our family histories, and past relationships. After listening to his stories I decided it was time to share more of mine. I told him about my husband Michael who had died two years earlier. I told him about my three kids and their special needs. He had many questions, and responded very well.
Last week we met for a walk downtown, had a nice dinner, and listened to a cool blues band. It was a very nice evening. Today he came by my house at 8:30am, and we spent our day at the zoo, out to lunch, then back to my home to hang out with kids, and have dinner. What can I say about today? It was wonderful.
It has been so long since I sat across a table and saw someone staring back at me with such romantic interest. It has been so long since I walked through a park, and ever so slightly brushed arms against another person with such excitement. It has been so long since I had my arms around another person, and felt their strong embrace in return, one with no rushed separation.
All this, with no hesitation to speak of Michael on my part. All this, with no hesitation to question about Michael on his part.
A very nice day.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I can't write.
I'm tired, so, so, so fuckin' tired.
I don't know how I will get up tomorrow and begin another day.
I am tired of putting on my battle armor every morning to go through my day.
I am in over my head, raising my kids and trying to earn enough for us to survive.
I feel my energy being leeched, drawn out, mercilessly sucked from me every day.
I just don't see how this can keep happening.
I can not replenish as quickly as it is drawn forth.
So, I re-post.
in an effort to give myself the tiniest of breaks: to suck in, a small portion of what has been sucked out.
I’m tired of being a widow.
I’m tired of bringing the car to the mechanic when the red maintenance light visually screams at me.
I’m tired of running out of food and being responsible for getting more.
I’m tired of waking up by myself.
I’m tired of being solely responsible for:
Bringing in all the income
Paying all the bills
Making sure the kitchen is clean.
Preparing the kids for their car pool.
I’m tired of not hearing “Daddy?”
I’m tired of hearing “Mom?” from three different voices in 13 seconds.
I’m tired of being interrupted while I am trying to hear what the first "mom" yeller (or was it the second) call was about.
I’m tired of telling people I’m a widow.
I’m tired of using it to help me get what I need
Or don’t need (like that traffic ticket).
I’m tired of the look that people give me when they find out I’m a widow.
I’m tired of that fucking gentle touch on the arm which really means “I’m so sorry for you and I’m so glad it’s not me.”
I'm tired of my widow story.
I’m tired of explaining that widowhood is not all doom and gloom
I’m tired of talking about the growth, the joy, the fun it is too.
I’m tired of going to teacher conferences alone.
I’m tired of teachers asking me to do that one more thing for one child or another, not realizing that it will break me.
I’m tired of taking the kids to doctor’s appointments, dropping off the prescriptions and picking them up and administering them by myself.
I’m tired of listening for that horrible cough in the middle of the night by myself.
I’m tired of holding our children as they cry because they want you to come back.
I’m tired of my powerlessness to fix it.
I’m tired of telling myself that they will be better people for your death.
I’m tired of my over reaction to the Legos on the floor.
I’m tired of not knowing what will trigger sobbing.
I'm tired of the guilt I feel because Langston, as a teenager, doesn't have a father.
I’m tired of being awed by all that they are doing and then, in the next breath regretting that they won’t ever know the joy of looking up and seeing you smile at them after they did it.
I’m tired of the irritated sound of my friend's voices when I need to talk.
I’m tired of the shallow “OMG! You look so great!” as if there is a direct correlation between looking good and feeling good.
I’m tired of admiring my body…by myself.
I’m tired of deciding to: break the cell phone contract, buy a new couch, and enter that cycling race with you not here to discuss it.
I’m tired of being lonely.
I’m tired of writing about widowhood
I’m tired of crying.
I’m tired of missing you.
I’m tired of loving the person I have become since you have been gone.
I’m tired of forgetting, in very brief moments, that you are dead.
I’m tired of planning each day, a closely choreographed dance, with dancers who want to go their own way on a tiny stage.
I tired of remembering drinks for the team, that Langston is sleeping over at ___'s house, that Ezra needs cleats and what color Pallas wants to paint her room.
I’m tired of asking:
What is your homework plan?
Did you write that thank you note?
Will his parents be home?
I’m tired of forgiving myself for the missed phone calls, forgotten plans and skipped lunches.
I’m tired of fearing dates:
1 year and now
two years dead.
Your birthday or
Ezra’s or Pallas’s.
I’m tired of discovering that the reason I have been feeling so crappy for so many days is because I have been in a death march (Susan, such a great and accurate phrase!) because one of those dates is coming.
I’m tired of crying in Trader Joes (I am sure they are too).
I’m tired for trying to remember if something occurred before you died or after.
I’m tired of looking forward to the weekend, only to realize the weekends offer no break from the kids, from the grocery shopping, from being an only parent.
I’m tired of the men I date not even trying to understand what it is to be an only parent, not just a single one!
I’m tired of not having someone to tag team with.
I’m tired of not having anyone to look horrible in front of but still be loved.
I’m tired of your parents who can’t take ONE damn step out of their comfort zone to see your children.
I'm tired of hearing them say how important family is but backing it up with NO action whatsoever.
I’m tired of not having someone to talk about the car or the stupid pedestrian I almost hit on my bike ride today.
I’m tired of having no one to discuss my day with.
I’m tired of thinking about the energy and time it takes to get into a new relationship.
I’m tired of craving sex.
I’m tired of wanting to be held, of needing to be touched.
I'm tired of wondering if my sagging breasts are a turn off.
I'm tired of wondering if I'm good in bed.
I'm tired of waiting to have sex.
I'm tired of wondering if I can give a good blow job.
I'm tired of worrying about diseases!
I’m tired of wanting someone to take care of me, so I can have the energy to take care of everything and everyone else.
I’m tired of clean sheets and a clean body and no one to enjoy them with.
I’m tired of wishing I could see you just one more time, just one more fucking time, healthy.
I’m tired of watching the anguish in our kid’s eyes as they miss you.
I’m tired of writing about you.
I’m tired of talking about you.
I’m tired of telling stories about you to our kids so they can know you.
I am so, so, so fucking tired.
When the fuck are you coming back? Cause I’m tired of this shit.