Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Running Away ......

                                               The holiday ice skating rink in Bryant Park, NYC

...... or moving forward?

I could use the trite saying, "You be the judge",  but I don't really care to hear any judgements.
Go figure.

I'm back in NY.  The place where, at this point in my life, I love to be.
The place where, at this point in my life, I feel happy.
The place where, at this point in my life, I feel at home.

This will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas that my family (most of us) has spent here.
This will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas that we haven't been in our previous home (for one or the other, or both, holidays) ...... since Jim died.
Almost 6 years ago.
Six years ago ...... the week before Christmas.
But who's counting?

(As an aside, I've always found it interesting, and pretty damn amazing, that my body seems to keep count ...... even when my brain doesn't.
I would bet that most non-widowed people would scoff at this thought.  Or think I (we?) was crazy.
But I don't think it's just a thought.  I think it's a fact.
How many times have I (you?) felt "unsettled", or very emotional (more than usual, anyway) and not really known why?  Until it suddenly occurred to me (you?) what date it was.
And then my (your?) brain caught up with my (your?) body.
Or is it just me?
I know.
That was a very long aside.)

I know there are those of you who don't want to hear/read this, but I think there are more of you who need to:
For the first time in almost 6 years ...... I am not dreading Thanksgiving.
Or its aftermath ...... which has been Christmas.
Or New Years.

I don't think for one moment that these holidays won't end up smacking the air out of me ...... again.
All I know is what I feel right now...... at this point in my life.

I know this has to do with being here, somewhere new.
Somewhere where "we" were not.
At least for the holidays.

And I know, as sure as I know that Jim loved me, that I am not, as some have said, "running away".
I'm not running away from our home.
I'm not running away from the memories.
Like that's even possible?!

I am moving forward.
As I know he would want.
I'm choosing to start the next chapter of my life.
And it doesn't happen to start where the last chapter ended.
For some people ...... it does.
But not for me.
And I'm ok with that.

This is not how I saw my life going.
Seven years ago.
Or even four years ago.
But then ...... life often throws curves, doesn't it?
Curves that no one saw coming.

I'm not running away from this curve.
I'm choosing to follow it ...... in my own way ...... and see where it goes.


  1. Janine, you have such a special talent for inspiring people. I really get the body/brain theme. I have felt that so many times. Heading into my 4th holiday season without the man I loved so dearly and once again, I am dreading every minute. But as you said, life throws curves. Maybe and hopefully my head will overtake my heart and tell me that I should enjoy spending time with my children and special friends.

    Thank you for your sending a "hopefilled" message. Have a great time in NYC with your family!

    1. Thank you, Anon. Very much.
      Most of the time I feel like I'm not making much of a difference here any longer. There are too many new "club members" ...... who can't hear anything positive ...... yet. And I get that.
      So thank you for taking the time to comment, and to say that you can relate. I appreciate it.

  2. Good to hear you are not dreading the holidays this year. I still am, especially since this month and the next hold those special dates when we were frantically trying to find out what was going on health wise with my husband, and were taken down by each new doc appt or scan or biopsy. Just today I was reminded of one appt, and it all came flooding back in. I have hope that some day I will be like you, but I'm not there yet. I just want November and December to be done with. Wish I could just crawl into a cave every year at this time, and hibernate until spring.

    1. Hi Anon, and thanks. I'm sorry that you're dreading it, but I truly get that. I've dreaded it for what seems like forever, even if it's only been 6 years.
      I'm so glad that you can hold on to hope ...... and look forward to the day when you won't wish that you could hibernate at this time of year. As I said, it's the very first time I haven't felt that way, too.
      I hope it lasts.

  3. "And I know, as sure as I know that Jim loved me, that I am not, as some have said, "running away"." "Running away"... I am sick of the "some" out there and what they say. Are you supposed to live in the same place until the end of your life? And then "some" would say you are living in the past and not moving on. That is the thing in this widowness, you can't win. This whole thing is horrific enough without having to hear from other people who now define your every move as being about your "grief" and your mental state.

    I am so grateful for this site, I am so grateful to know I am not alone. I am so grateful to be able to read about those with more time in this, it gives me hope. And I am so grateful to read about others who are where I am, I feel less crazy. Thank you Janine for sharing all that you do.

    1. Dear JSP,
      You're so right. I wish I also knew why other people feel that they can judge, comment, or share their opinions of the way we grieve. Or don't grieve. It's amazing to me how so many people who don't have a clue ...... can tell someone what they should be doing, or how they should feel.
      I'm glad that you found us here ...... and glad that you know you're not alone. That is the only reason that we're here.
      Well that ...... and to offer hope.
      Thank you for returning those. :)

    2. I have seen comments from other widows on WV who also judge, try to tell someone how to grief, what they should or should not do. I do my best to not say anything but it is very difficult. I so want to ask them "When did you become the expert on grief? What right do you have to judge other's?"
      Thank you Janine for this. This is my 3rd time for me dealing with the holidays. I have to admit that this year I nor my son have no desire to do Thanksgiving or Christmas. Hopefully next year.
      Enjoy your time with your family and thank you for giving us hope.

  4. Janine, I can only pray that I get to the place of moving forward as you are doing. Those who have never experienced the loss of a husband or wife will never know the pain, grief & being without your best friend, lover, companion & soul mate. Don't they know we will always, always carry this loss & sadness with us until we pass away. Memories will never die. So, if you & your family can find happiness god bless you. Because it does give us hope that someday we can get there also! Have a great holiday season!

    1. Thank you so much, Jul. You're right. They don't get it, and we hope they never do (though we know that the odds are against that).
      I know you'll be here one day. And I'll celebrate with you. :)

  5. I need to read this today. Last night for the first time we took the photos down in the hall way that were used at his funeral. I knew i was ready but did not want to hurt my daughters (then 2, now 8) feelings...and at the end of the day she is the one that walked me through taking them down. she picked 1 to stay, 1 for her room, and the rest will get put away. and as I was amazed that my daughter had the strength and courage to do what I could not bring myself to do, i also was relieved, and am ready to start a new chapter and fill the wall with new memories. tons of hugs to all of us at the holidays approach no matter where you are in your grief....know that one day (even though it may not seem lil it now) it will feel ok...and even if it is just for that moment embrace it!!

    1. Dear ItzaLoveThang,
      First, I totally LOVE your online name!!
      Second, I'm glad that you stopped by today ...... and found what you needed. What an amazing daughter you have! And what a blessing.
      Thank you so much for sharing that with us ...... it gives others hope. And that's a wonderful gift.

  6. Replies
    1. Thank you, Anon. I appreciate that.

  7. This is my third holiday season without the love of my life who died suddenly beside me in the middle of the night in June 2011. I have zero emotion about this holiday season; none whatsoever. I do believe that I had more in me last year. Our friends are long gone and my family is busy with their own lives. I feel totally empty.

    1. Dear Anon,
      I'm so sorry that you're feeling this way. I'm sorry that so very many of us feel this way. I have to tell you that last year, my 5th without him, felt just as empty, if not more so, than the 4 before. I think I pulled out one box of decorations (out of so many more!) for Christmas, and if it hadn't been for my children, I wouldn't have even pulled that one out.
      Christmas not only brings our family sadness that he's not there, but grief because that's when he died. A double whammy, so to speak.
      But I also have to tell you that you won't always feel this way. I know that it seems that way now, but hope is out there.
      I know that "hope" is a foreign word when you feel so empty ...... when friends have faded ...... and when people who once supported you seem to have "moved on". I get that. Truly. More than I like.
      So even if you can't see a glimmer of hope, know that I'm hoping for you. As are so many others out here. We hope for each other.
      I know that's not much, but I hope that it lets you know, on some level, that you're not alone.

  8. Janine, so glad for you & your family. I truly understand, the holidays were such a special happy time for Mike & I. Thanksgiving, our Anniversary, Christmas etc. For the past four years, since Mike passed I have dreaded them and find them so painful. This year I was just starting to feel differently,but unfortunately the grief and pain are back mixing the old grief with new grief are just compounded with the holidays. I wonder if the holidays will ever be a happy time again. But I have hope some day, it's just been so long.

    1. Hi Roseann,
      I know that you understand. It used to be my favorite time of the year. Maybe it will be again one day, though I doubt that. I'm just hoping that it will now bring less pain than happiness. We shall see.
      But here's to hope!
      Love you, my friend.

  9. Janine - I often come to this blog when I am feeling lost and alone. My husband passed suddenly just 2 months ago (we were married 32 years, and he was my soulmate). I've been keeping my own blog, mostly for me, as I want to remember this journey that I have just begun. I have been dreading "what is to come" all month with the holidays. We did everything together during the holidays, which always started off the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I am feeling like I am the only one that is feeling this pain (and yes, anger). This site assures me that I am not alone and that I can survive this. I am not foolish enough to think that I will eventually be back to "normal". I accept this is my "new normal", just attempting to learn to live with it. Thx for the encouraging words today!

    1. Becca,
      I'm glad that we can, above all else, assure you that you are not alone. Not in the least. This time of the year sucks ...... for so many people.
      It's funny (not ha, ha) that I often heard that fact in my "before" life. But I didn't get it. I thought I did. I thought, "Oh, those poor people who've suffered loss, or who have so little at this time of the year. Yes, I understand how this time of the year can bring about more suicide attempts than any other."
      But I really didn't get it. At all.
      You can't truly understand something that you haven't experienced. And God forbid you would experience something so horrific and tragic as the death of your lover, spouse, best friend, partner for life.
      But you're right. You will experience a "new normal". And that can be pretty damn good. It doesn't have to worse. Not at all. It might never be better ..... I can't imagine. But it can be good. Very good.
      There comes a time when we become strong enough to accept that, and to become able to choose that. So do we choose the new normal, and hope for good? Or do we stick with the "after", and never rise above the grief. We have to choose. When the time comes.
      And we're the only ones that will know when that time comes for each one of us.
      I pray that we all recognize it ...... and have the strength to choose. To live.

  10. Janine. Your 5 years ahead of me. My wife Jane'e passed just before Christmas in 2012. Thank you for your writings for it does give me direction. I'll see how things go this year with the Holliday's, as everything was very soon after her death. Yesterday was 11 months, time does move on -- doesn't it??
    God Bless..

    1. Anon,
      I'm so glad that my words can offer you something. You're so fresh in all of this, and for that I'm so very sorry. This will truly be your first Christmas on this path, because you were still in shock last year. And I happen to think that the first year doesn't count ..... for that exact reason: shock. Which often times makes the second year all that more difficult, unexpectedly. The shock has worn off and reality starts setting in.
      But yes, times does move on. Slowly, but surely. As much as we don't ...... and yet, do ...... want it to. And you will slowly get stronger so that your grief becomes easier to carry. And it becomes easier for you to move forward.
      God bless you, too.

  11. I so get this message and the thread of comments. My partner died very suddenly after only 7 months of living together (we were planning a wedding for 12-12-12). He was proud of his Ukrainian heritage and so we celebrated Christmas and New Years twice. Now I get to endure the dreariness of him not being here with me at this special time of the year twice over... Like some others on here, I used to really enjoy Christmas - the celebration of family and friends gathering to commemorate a special event, etc. Our first New Year's eve together we toasted to our new life and happiness at midnight with champagne and close friends. Last year I had no decorations around and celebrated a very low key Christmas Day with a special couple that also were alone and that were always there for us (and me). On New Year's Day I took a bottle of champagne out to his marker at the cemetery and raised a solo glass to him (and us) about bitter sweet... This last week I decided that I had to deal with the reality that it will never be what it was. I went shopping with a friend and together we picked out (haven't bought yet) a few small "Christmasy things" that maybe we could enjoy together. Maybe I can move small step at time...altho this incessant cheery Christmas music that assaults your ears from first thing in the morning on the radio, in the malls as soon as you walk in, etc. just keeps me on the verge of sadness. Thank God for understanding friends! I too fully believe that we all deal with grief in our own way and on our own timeline - how dare any one judge me otherwise as they have not walked in my shoes - it is a very individual journey we all are on and all I ask is their respect, consideration and I would do for them.

    1. Anon,
      I'm so glad that you're here .... and that you've learned that you can move forward ...... one small step at a time. Sometimes we take one giant leap backward, but as long as we're patient with ourselves, we'll continue to move forward. When we can, and as far as we can.
      Sometimes the "fake" cheeriness of others (or of store displays) really can grate on our nerves. But it's at those times that I remind myself that not everyone is on this road. Thank God for them. I wouldn't want anyone I know to "get it", the way that we do.
      So keep coming here and keep placing one foot in front of the other. And keep being grateful, as am I, that we are not alone on this path. We have each other.
      And that's a lot.

  12. lovely to know we can change, that somewhere in the future it will feel different. I am coming to my 1 yr, my husband had a heart attack after skiing and went to ICU 12/18. He died 12/31/12. I am dreading all the memories, emotions and trying to balance creating a decent holiday season for my 2 boys. At the same time I do see blessings and am thankful for the many people who swooped in a year ago when I could not function and those that continue to support us now. Still it's rough time of year for grieving. Thanks as always for sharing. Much ♥

    1. Oh, Anon ...... I'm so glad that you can see that Hope is out there. You are still so early in this journey, that it's amazing to me that you can know that hope is out there somewhere. I think that's rare. Your husband went into ICU on the day my husband died (though 5 years later). That day is also a birthday. My sister's. My brother's. My step-dad's. My friend's. It's a very bittersweet day.
      But my children and I decided, last year or the year before .... I can't remember ...... to stop making this day, December 18th, a day of grief. It's not what JIm would want. It's not what I want for my children. It's the week before Christmas, for crying out loud. There are bound to be parties upon parties on that night. And I want my children to celebrate joy, not mourn their father, on that day. No that both won't occur, which is fine, I just want there to be a balance. And I do NOT want them to think I expect them so sit in ashes and tear their clothes in morning. If I had been the one to go (and damnit, I wasn't) ...... I would want them to be happy ...... and to celebrate what Christmas is ...... rather than what death is.
      Thank you for commenting. And for your kind words.
      I wish you peace this holiday season.