Monday, February 28, 2011

And the Oscar goes to...

No, I'm not watching The Academy Awards. Not that it doesn't interest me. I used to be one of those people who saw every single film nominated, even the foreign and sometimes documentary. I love film, and I love story telling, but that love, those interests, are part of those things that have dropped by the wayside.

Friends and family are still often surprised. "Hey Dan, did you see..?" No. "Hey Dan, what film could you recommend?" Well, I haven't seen anything, so I'm no longer the person to ask. I have no interest in going out anywhere these days. I have no interest in viewing other people's lives.

But I do know one thing, they forgot to list one very talented actor from this year's list of nominees.


Best Actor in a staring role....Dan!

This life that I am now leading is one that takes careful, and trained, execution. Before heading out each morning, I am already studying my lines. What will I say when asked how my weekend went? What will I say when other's ask how I am doing?

Nobody where I now live and work ever knew my husband Michael. They never knew me when I was happy. They didn't know me when I was on top of the world. They never new me when I was filled with love.

At my last job I was the only person there who was widowed. Nobody had anything to compare me to, so I was a bit of an anomaly. At my current job there are two of us. A widow, and me. I remember not so long ago my office mate said that someone remarked to her that Dan seems to be handling the death of his spouse very well, and that I didn't seem as emotionally fragile as my female counter part. My office mate looked at the person and said, are you serious? She went on to say that I put so much effort into getting through the day, but if you stop and take a good look at me, you will see the enormous pain just below the surface. And, if you follow Dan out to the parking lot at the end of the day, you will likely see him in tears.

You see, acting is a difficult profession. It requires you to stay in character through a sometimes very long and grueling day. When my day is finally over, I have to almost run out of the building, because my pain begins to ooze out of every pore.

When a new day begins, especially on a Monday after the weekend, I have to prepare something to share about how I spent my time. Explaining how many hours I actually sit and do nothing just doesn't cut it. Talking about how many minutes a day are devoted to getting lost in memories of him, or getting thrown off by unexpected jabs to the heart, aren't often what people want, or are prepared for, to hear.

And let me say this about my time at home. While I am often very honest with my kids about how much Michael is still on my mind, and in my heart, I cannot be falling apart around them all the time. Even though I have a staring role in my own life, I play a supporting role in theirs.

As a parent I have to be prepared to tend to their needs, and emotions, at any given moment. I have to be prepared to stop what I am doing, be it typing on this computer, or crying in my bedroom, and go cook them dinner, or rush them to the ER when they fall face forward from their bike and split their lip!

And somehow I do this with great finesse. Apparently, I'm one damn good actor, because no one around me thinks to ask if I'm needing any help? No one around me stops to think that what they say in front of me might make me feel hurt, or slighted. No one stops to realize that perhaps while they are off having wonderfully romantic, or exciting weekends together, I am at home, sitting on my couch, staring at this computer, or staring off in space.

What did I do this weekend? Not a damn thing. What did I feel this weekend? Sadness, loneliness, and that I really need to get my shit together. But, just once, wouldn't it be nice to have some occasion to get dressed up for? I don't need a red carpet, a fancy tux, or even a beautiful trophy. I just need a place where I don't have to be acting. I need other people around who are interested in what is really going on with me.

Well, the night is still young, and the award show is still going, but I can tell you this much, I don't win. Why? Well, because I am all about loss, right? I'm not on the winning side of life, at least I haven't been for awhile now. It's okay, I've come to accept it. I've learned to keep that ever present smile on my face just in case the camera quickly pans my way. And, just like the nominees that will go home empty handed tonight, I have to be a gracious loser. You know the drill: "Just be happy for what you had."


Sunday, February 27, 2011


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:
6 months,
1 year and now
two years dead.
Your birthday or
Langston’s or
Ezra’s or Pallas’s.
Or mine.

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’m tired.
I am so, so, so fucking tired.

So honey?
When are you coming back? Cause I’m tired of this shit.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


My personal growth, as well as dedication to the American Widow Project, has brought me more healing than I could have ever fathomed. I still attend each event hoping to get as much out of it as a widow who RSVPed, and continuously I am not disappointed. This evening though, I received a call that meant so very much to me.

I rarely hear or ask what the organization means to others, but today I received a call that made the organization, and the work and dedication come full circle.

A fellow widow and friend rang me up. She spoke about her new engagement and asked if I would be a part of her wedding, as she could not envision being where she is in life had it not been for the AWP. It blew me away and left me speechless, to say the least.

You see, all I hope for myself and my fellow widows is for each to find their own place of happiness. A place they will end up spending more time in than their grief. A place that they know is unique to them, and them alone. All I've hoped for is for others to find this place and embrace it to the fullest, as it is the true guiding light to all that is amazing and yet to be explored in the lives still left before us.

I'm honored to have been even a small part of someone finding their place and am even more grateful to celebrate it with them, as I celebrate mine.

I have few words else to put into what this conversation meant, other than that I am happy, I am grateful, I am blessed. And I find myself to be so grateful to be among the ranks of military widows.

Congratulations my friend, and I can't wait to stand their on your special day.


“It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”

-Dale Carnegie

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Signed Up for This?

Special thanks to Jo Rozier for joining us as a guest blogger today.

That’s what my son likes to remind me, usually when he’s gripping a leg and pulling, while his sister is gripping an arm and pulling, and the dog is looking like he’d like to grip something…if only he had thumbs.

“…just remember Papa, you signed up for this…”

Funny, I don’t remember the widower, single parent, caregiver, dog catcher clause in the plethora of forms I’ve signed over the years. Certainly my marriage license didn’t have an expiration date on it. I’m sure I would have noticed. My kid’s birth certificates said nothing about parenting without a partner. They say all you need to know, you learned in kindergarten. Well I was gypped. My early reading primers taught me “See Dick run.” They never included the phrase, “change your father’s diaper” something I did again this weekend.

Everytime my son says those words “you signed up for this…,” and lately he’s been doing it a lot, I’m taken back. My usual banter gone. I just don’t know how to respond.

Because maybe when I looked my bride in the eyes and before God, family and friends promised to love her in sickness and in health, till death do us part; when I held up my then newborns and promised them I’d love them unconditionally and raise them in the “nurture and admonition” of the Lord; when I rushed back from Afghanistan, held my wife’s hand in ICU and whispered to her, I’m here now, you can rest; maybe when I realized I now had the opportunity to "honor my father and my mother" and to return just a portion of the decades of love and service my parents extended to me…maybe I did sign up for this.

I’m not telling my son he’s right…not yet. Wild animals can sense fear you know!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

moments like this.

it's not what

any of us

(including brooke)

would have wished for,

but moments like this:





on the beach.

and this:

on the beach.

give me hope.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strength ....

.... or at least the "appearance" of it, is very illusionary, is it not?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard, or read, someone say, "You're so strong, Janine.  I just don't know how you do it." ..... or some variance thereof.  I bet you wish you had those dollars, too (not for me hearing it, of course, but for every time YOU heard it).

My emotions ran the gamut upon hearing those words (or some variance thereof).  Sometimes I was a bit stunned. Sometimes I was frustrated.  Sometimes I was pissed off.  But most of the time I think I was just .... puzzled.

You think I'm strong?
Because I'm still breathing??!
If so, then yes, you're quite right.  My body is strong, indeed.  It just keeps right on breathing and yes, the heart keeps pumping .... damn those organs!

I was never strong.
I never felt strong.
I never did anything even remotely strong ..... in my opinion.
My body just continued to function.
Totally and horrifically .... against my will.

I'm strong because I continue to exist?
Because, truly, that's all I was doing for a very long time ..... existing.

I'm strong because I haven't left my children on the side of the road somewhere?
Trust me, that's only because they were old enough to find their way home or because I had very good friends who looked after their best interest.

You would think that I would have been used to this phrase WAY before Jim died.
You see, I've heard it many, many times over the years.
Ever since the birth of our twins (numbers 2 & 3 out of 6).
"I don't know how you do it."
"You must be an amazing mother." (really?)
"You must be an amazing woman for God to give you twins." (yes, really)
"I could NEVER handle twins." --- one of my favorites ..... because, you know, I totally planned on giving birth to two identical girls .... at the same time.

Here's what I wanted to say .... in both situations.
Wait ...... no, here's what I wanted to scream sometimes:  "What in the world are you talking about?  Just because this is the life I've been dealt ..... and I'm living in it ..... THAT makes me strong??"
And to those who would say, "I could never handle ________ (fill in the blank)":  "You THINK I CHOSE this???  Do you think YOU could choose this?  Life happens.  And when it happens, you do what you have to do.  You don't get to choose what you are dealt!  DUHHHHHH!!!!!"

Sometimes you are dealt wonderful things .... like a beautiful set of twins that were added to a beautiful daughter and would be followed by 3 equally beautiful sons (so yes, I continued to hear these phrases.  Their frequency increased as the size of our family increased).

Sometimes you are dealt a huge load of crap.

I didn't choose to be a widow anymore than I chose which type of child I would have.
And what does one do when one's spouse, the love of her life, her support, her heart, her soulmate .... dies?
Trust me ..... she sure doesn't stop breathing.
Damn it.

So yes, there are people who think we are strong.
Because we get out of bed every day.
Because we go to work, tend to our children, drive a car (I'm not saying we do any of this very well, I'm just saying that we do it).

We're strong.

Simply because our spouse is dead .... and we are not.

I don't know about you .... but I'm thinking that being a widowed person ..... should become an Olympic event.
Hell, one of us should be strong enough to win it ..... don't you think?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Judging Grief

I've frequently thought over the past years that I was doing this whole grief thing wrong. Clearly I wasn't sad enough, skinny enough, or laying in bed enough. I was also not happy enough, not moving forward quickly enough, and not dating anyone yet. Once I wasn't so wrapped up in the actual grieving that I couldn't see anything but my own shoes, it dawned on me that other people had lots of opinions about my grief process.

When will she get over it already, it's been two years? Is she dating so soon, it's only been three years? Clearly she didn't really love him if she's dating. She's still writing for that blog, isn't she over it already? She sure does work a lot, I wonder if its because she's not over it yet. She sure travels a lot. I wonder if she's saving any money? I mean, she's got to be more responsible, she's got a child to raise. I guess she might marry again, but I couldn't, I mean, I REALLY love MY husband.

It's amazing the thoughts that people express to you without realizing how clearly they are passing judgment. For a few years it drove me insane. I'd hear their thoughts and see the looks on their faces. I've even overheard conversations, or had people tell me directly their opinions about my grief and how I was handling it. I was shocked at how freely people would give me their unsolicited opinions about my life as if I was a small child who needed their guidance or approval. In grief I have found more thoughtlessness and rudeness than in any other time in my life.

I've also found more understanding, unlimited support, and love. These are the things I focus on when faced with the unintentionally rude judgments of others. I have to tell myself it is fear and insecurity that causes people to be so thoughtless and unaware. Regardless of the reason why they do what they do, I am finally in a place where it doesn't bother me. I don't focus on the implied judgments of others. I know what I've been through, and I know what I've had to endure to come out on "the other side."

Grief is an intensely personal experience. No two people experience it in exactly the same way. I have experienced it my way, and dealt with it my way. I don't need the approval of others and I'm not brought down by their disapproval either. I'm fine with me. I'm proud of myself for the way I've dealt with my situation, and I'm proud of every other widowed person I've come in contact with. We each do it our own way, and that is all we can do. Sometimes just getting out of bed is an act of heroism, and each minor accomplishment should be celebrated. So happy Tuesday! Here's to you if got out of bed today....and here's to you if you didn't!

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Friend Grief

I wrote this post last year, after four years of walking side by side with grief. Searching through old posts last week, I found this one again and read it with tears in my eyes. Grief really has taught me how to take a punch. A lesson I could have lived without perhaps, but one that will continue to serve me well.

Over the past four years grief and I have reluctantly become friends. Grief is not the kind of friend I can call in the middle of the night when I am sad, but rather the kind of friend who sits quietly at the end of my bed while I cry myself to sleep. Grief may be away for weeks or even months at a time, but the knock of this friend is now as familiar to me as my own voice. There is no need to explain my sorrow to grief; she understands my process better than I do. Grief knows I will get up again no matter how hard I have been hit by her power, and patiently stands as a witness to my ability to regain my balance time and time again. When grief calls, I stop what I am doing because I have learned that she must be answered. When I quit trying to escape her, I found an unexpected comfort by her side. She calls me and repels me; guides me and confuses me; moves me forward and throws me back.

Some days I hate grief, and other days I miss her. I have discovered a safe place in her arms, though her twisting, turning path won't allow me to be still for long. Her presence has added a soft cadence to my day-to-day life that I have come to rely on as confirmation that I am, indeed, alive. The irony of this does not escape me. I have realized that in my mind grief has replaced Phil, and that my fear of letting him go has created a relationship with grief I could never have anticipated.

I am beginning to believe that this is why grief comes in waves. If grief was linear and we could walk from one stage into the next, there would likely be large numbers of grieving people with severe stage fright. I would be terrified if someone were able to provide me with a grief graduation date. Instead, grief throws us from one phase to the next, with no predictable pattern or discernible course. Like a boxer who learns to fight on their feet, our tortured, grieving selves wheel from one moment to the next watching for the inevitable gut punch. And slowly, painfully we become stronger, faster, and more confident each time we are forced into the ring. That doesn't mean we won't hit the matt, or that we won't be tempted to stay down for the count...but somehow our spirits find the will to fight one more time.

Grief holds the towel as we come out of the ring. Grief bandages our wounds and then sends us to face the opponent called death, again and again. Grief stands behind the stool in our corner and insists we go another round. There is a saying that speaks to the concept that some friends come into our lives for a purpose, but do not stay long. I am beginning to think of grief as a friend who will come and go from my life. She will show me how to survive in the ring of sorrow, and then leave me with these hard earned knocks hoping they teach me something about living courageously. Grief will also point out that she is not Phil and that he is not her. He exists in a separate, and timeless, place that she does not inhabit. Grief is wise. And eventually I must let her go, knowing that when she resurfaces, sometime down the road, I will greet her as a friend.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Get the BLEEP Away from Me!!

Take your hands off of me!

I said get away from me!

Only you don't understand it cause the words that are coming from my mouth are...

"Damn it, L! How many times do I need to tell you to pick up, wipe off, clean up your _____ (insert typical mother rant hear.)


Really wanting to throttle him,

to give my hands something to do

with rage,




and trapped-ness.

Art Nagle! Damn you, Art Nagle!

You were supposed to be here!

I picked you!

I am not supposed to be doing this alone.

Damn you! Damn you! Damn you for dying!

And damn me for only having two arms, two legs, two ears and one over-wrought tired and lonely brain!

I scream, "Death sucks!" and I slam the door.

I cry.

And then later, I pick up and keep moving forward.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


***I'd like to take a moment out of my life to make this announcement***

I like being me.

I like being the wife and widow of a hero.

I like the knowledge that I have the best of family, friends and pets.

I like the oddities of my being that I'm still being introduced to.

I like being introduced to them.

I like sunshine through my blinds when I awake.

I like telling my husband how in love with him I am, every night when I go to bed.

I like to dream of him.

I can survive the mornings when I don't.

I like the warmth that overcomes me when I am reminded of the amazing things still out there for me to enjoy.

I like sitting a coffee shop and lip syncing the words of a favorite song.

I like to sing them out loud, but spare the strangers around me.

I like when strangers become the people who get us through the days we never thought we'd survive.

I like how they are no longer strangers.

I like the days when I am ready to take on the world.

I like having the ability to forgive myself when I don't.

I like when a sour time turns sweet.

I sometimes like celebrating the sweet over a glass of wine, sushi and foreign film.

I like turning up the volume on the foreign films, when I can't hear them speaking.

I like that it doesn't matter if the volume is up because I'm reading subtitles.

I like driving with my top down....convertible top.

I like looking down at my picture of Michael in the odometer and feeling an overwhelming sense of love take me over.

I like screaming out loud to him in reply....and smiling at the other drivers wondering why I am yelling to the heavens.

I like living.

I like having no fear for when the time comes that I will live no longer.

I like being Taryn Davis.

***You may now return to your regularly programmed life.***

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pretty Panty Problems

Photo from here...

There's an old adage that says that you should make sure that you are always wearing nice underpants in case you end up at the hospital and some health care worker witnesses the terrible state of your undergarments.
I remember this and other silly issues causing me concern at one point.
I could worry about this still...if I worked at it. But now, it is a choice.
I can care that someone believes that I am too old for my nose ring. I may occasionally wonder if I appear to be a socially responsible human. I might stress about the length of the lawn.
Since Jeff's death, I truly realize that "Life is short". All of us reading this blog are painfully aware. Our hearts ache and we may wonder 'why' this has happened. Why we have lost our loved ones.
But if we can look through the mesh of fear and sadness that our loss has created, we can see the gift that this loss has given us.
It's the gift of knowing what is important. Truly important.
It's not the whole-y undies that matter - it's the person that's wearing them. Their deeds, their heart, their memories. Well-loved and saggy, rainbow tie-dyed underpants can be replaced. The fabulous human who sports them cannot.
Although this lesson has come with a heartbreaking price, I am a kinder, better and more fun and confident person because of it....And if you look inside, I bet you are to. And I now feel that many of our everyday issues rank down there with pondering "pretty panty problems".

P.S. Nice undies!!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

shadows & shoes.

a message to those who came after:

it may feel like

it sometimes,

but none of

us want you to

feel like you're

walking in someone else's.

we don't see it

that way, and we

feel helpless when you do.

and you are most

certainly not a replacement.

so let me say

(for all of us)

i'm sorry when you

feel that way.

sometimes we're just

not that good

at articulating

these things.

nor showing them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

There is a Time ....

.... for mostly .... everything.
Even time for things that at other times .... look very negative.

Like Selfishness.

There is a time for selfishness .... and I had that time.  I needed that time.  I needed it in order to survive. 

Grieving demands selfishness.  
At no other time in one's life must a person think ONLY of her/him self, sometimes at the cost of losing friends, upsetting many people, or even not parenting in the best possible way.
But when one is drowning in grief, the only thing they are able to do .... is breathe.  
And sometimes .... even that is almost too painful.

So yes, I've been selfish.
And yes, I've upset people and even lost a friend over it.  
Some people do not, can not, or will not understand the very thin rope that grievers are trying to grasp.  
For whatever reason, they don't see that we are barely clinging to sanity. 
And so they leave.  
Which probably turns out to be a very good thing.

There's nothing like a huge tragedy to open your eyes to who your friends really are. 
Friends who know what love means.  
And what sacrifice means.  And what "hanging in there" means.

Not only was I barely clinging to that very frayed life rope, I was being knocked around by the probability that my 6 children might die from what killed Jim, the death of my sweet and loving mother in law 5 months after Jim died, and then by a cancerous tumor found in my body.  
I couldn't even grieve Jim's death as fully as I needed to.  
When I permit myself to look back at that time, which I don't do often, I am amazed that I am still here.
Totally amazed.

And very thankful to my family and friends who loved me through every moment of it .... who didn't expect me to "be there" for them, knowing that I couldn't even "be there" for myself.

I have been blessed abundantly.  
Many widows lose more than one friend.  Lots more.
That shows the caliber of friends that I do have.
I owe so very much to them.  
Yet all I can do, and all they care that I do, is to love them.
And I do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not A Quitter

I had one of those conversations with a stranger. You know, the one that starts with "so how long have you been divorced?" This one ended up lasting a bit longer than usual, despite my lob of the usually effective conversation stopper: "I'm not divorced, I'm a widow, my husband died 5 years ago." Instead, this person wanted the details - she was giving me a spa treatment, so we had some time to fill. We had a chat about cancer, the length of his illness and she even wanted to know about the end (thrill seeker, I suppose).

I gave her a brief timeline of how it happened over the 20ish months of his illness - 1st diagnosis - radiation, 1st re-occurrence - surgery, 2nd re-occurrence - chemo, and then a sudden and very unexpected death after a week of chemo. I could tell from the comments she made and the questions she asked that she thought he'd heard his final diagnosis and given up. He died suddenly in her mind because the news scared him to death - he gave up. There was a sympathy and implied judgment in her nodding head.

I wanted to rip her nodding head off. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but I really did feel tempted to call her on the judgment she'd made and defend his honor. Who the hell did she think she was? She didn't know him. I resisted the temptation, what did it matter really? She'd already made up her mind. He quit. It was too hard.

I walked away from the exchange completely annoyed. Why did I care what a stranger thought of Daniel 5 years after he was gone? I have no clue. But I do know that he was no quitter. It did get hard, and it continued to get harder and harder. He fought until the horrible awful end. I've never been prouder of a person's strength in the face of adversity.

So there. Up yours spa lady.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Broken Hearts Club

my broken heart

Well, it's Saturday night, February 12th, and I'm sitting here alone. My son has a friend sleeping over, and I can hear their laughter in the distant room, but other than that all I hear is the sound of a fountain next to my front window. I have been here most of the evening, sitting on my couch, doing some writing, surfing the net with a profound boredom, and staring into space.

I do this a lot.

It's a good thing that I like my own company, because that's about all I seem to have these days. Funny, or rather sad, my phone has not rung all evening. My home is made up of mostly glass doors, and large windows, so as I sit here, I am able to see most of my neighborhood. 360 degrees of it. And, as I sit here I wonder what is going on in each of my neighbors houses. Is there anyone else just sitting on their couch alone?

By some cruel joke of luck, I just realized that I am stuck writing a post on Widow's Voice for Valentines Day. Why me? Couldn't we just closed down the blog for the day? Surely we widowed don't need to be reminded about how alone we are. I also feel a sense of responsibility that I would frankly prefer not to be feeling right now. It's bad enough that I am feeling extremely sad and alone tonight. Now I need to worry about all the sad and alone widows who will be turning to Widow's Voice for support today.


Oops, sorry ladies. No, I wasn't raised that way. My mother would be very disappointed to hear me talk this way. In fact, most people I know would be very disappointed to know that I am still wallowing in my pain. I'm still angry and lost without Michael in my life. I'm still resentful of all those happy couples around me who will be making big plans for this stupid holiday.

It all makes me remember something some high school friends and I did one year around Valentines Day. We were all so fed up with being alone for the holiday that we formed a Broken Hearts Club. We would meet during lunch in one of the closets. Now I know by nature I'm supposed to have an aversion to closets, but it was a rather large closet, and it provided us with a quiet place to share our thoughts and feelings. It was a place where, for only a short time each day, we could stop pretending, and really talk about what it was like to be surrounded with people who were happily paired up. There was a lot of dark humor shared, some laughs, maybe some tears, and we all came to care a lot about each other.

So that is what I am providing here, a Broken Heart's Club. You are welcome to become members. Hell, there is really no invitation to the club, you are actually a forced member. You get no choice in the matter. Don't like clubs? Tough shit, your in. Never been much of a joiner? Oh well, your names on the list. So now that you're here, why not sit back and make yourself comfortable. None of us wanted to be here, so you are certainly not alone. Some of us may be better at hiding it, but the truth be told, we are all still struggling to mend our broken hearts.

So what are you doing to mend yours? Not in general, but today. How will you get through the day?

Well, today, being the weekend before this gets posted, I bought myself a beautiful orchid. I was shopping for groceries, saw the beautiful arrangement, thought to myself that it was far too expensive for an impulse purchase, started to walk away, then kicked myself in the ass, and told myself to march right back, and put it in my shopping cart. Let's be real, no one else will be buying me flowers, well, not this year at least.

You know, I'm a big romantic at heart. I loved showering Michael with small gifts, and special plans. We both loved to go away for weekends, or have a nice quiet dinner out. Our life was good, rather, it was great. Well, as great as it can be with a brain tumor coming between you. Anyway, that was then, this is now.

I wish you all a day of remembrance. Remember the love you had, the love you shared, and the love you still keep alive within you. Wrap your arms around yourself tightly. Feel the strength in your arms, because it is there. Our strength to get through this does not come to us on our own, it is a strength that was built out of love. Yes, they are no longer here with us, but we must find a way to access that love, and allow it to bind our broken hearts while they mend.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Smell

I didn’t mean to.
I was only trying to help,
to help him,

because he missed you so much.

He was in your closet.
He came out and said,
“It doesn’t smell like Daddy anymore.”

He looked so sad.
He looked so forlorn.

So I showed him my secret.
Your cap.
The one I keep folded up
in a Ziplock bag,
stashed in my
bedside table.

I unzipped it.

We both inhaled.
It smelled like you.

And then his face crumbled.
Mirroring mine, I think.

Your smell.
Your smell reminding us,
of how it no longer surrounds us,
how it is not just part of the background of our lives,
how it is fading,
from your cap,
from us.

We didn’t remember what you smelled like
till that moment.

And after we remembered,

me and Ezra,
Ezra and I,
sat on the floor
holding each other,
sobbing like ….

the people we are.

A wife,
a son,
missing you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When Does Grief End

Hey Y'all,

I'm short for words today, but wanted to sare a poem I hope will help you as much as it has helped me.

When Does Grief End?

Grief hits us like a ton of bricks,

Flattens us like a steamroller,

Hurls us into the depths of despair.

We know in a flash when grief hits,

But when does it end?

Like the month of March,

Grief rushes in like a lion,

And tiptoes out like a lamb.

Sometimes, we don’t know when grief leaves,

Because we don’t let go of the lion’s tail.

Why do we hold on so long?

Grief offers us safety,

Protection from the world.

We don’t want to let go

Because we secretly fear

That we’ll forget our loved ones,

And we don’t want to forget- ever.

We don’t want to let go

Because we fear the future

And having to face life without our loved ones.

We don’t want to let go

Because we make the mistake

Of measuring our grief with the depth of our love-

When neither has anything to do with the other.

How do we know when grief has run its course?

How do we know when we’ve grieved enough?

Cried enough?

“Died” enough?

How do we know when it’s time to let go of the tail?

We know when we feel joy again, in something or someone.

Joy in living. Joy in life.

We know when we wake up in the morning

And our first thought is on something other than our loss.

We know when we look ahead with a smile

And back with fond memories,

And when we no longer dread the nights.

We know when our life starts filling up with new interests and people,

And we start reaching for the stars.

Grief ends when we let go of the tail.

--Margaret Brownley

Friday, February 11, 2011

they are okay

There are days or moments that I watch my little ones and think, "Bloody Hell. They are going to be so messed up after all they've been through." Then there are times that I see them blossom and bloom with smiles, laughter and play where I think, "If you didn't know what had happened, you would think these two had a 'normal' life."
All I know for sure, is that no matter how our lives unfold, they are stronger because they have eachother.
They still know how to laugh and be silly without guilt or remorse.

And that these two little ones are the most amazing teachers of living after your life has stopped.
I am practising seeing the world through their eyes....It isn't as dark as it is through mine.

Originally posted 7 1/2 months after losing their daddy on our personal blog.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


last weekend

tom and candee

came to

los angeles for

a short visit.

and i watched

(in amazement)

as they continued

their support for

the life i've

made for maddy

and me since

the death of their daughter...

they're heavily involved

with the foundation

i started in



they excitedly ask

about everything that's

happening with

my book.

and they support

my relationship with

brooke in ways

i never could

have imagined,

(they had 8 huge bags of cheese curds shipped to us from wisconsin, and donned green bay packers shirts to help her cheer on brooke's favorite team, something utterly unthinkable for a couple of vikings fans).

after almost three

years of this kind

of support,

i have to remind

myself that none

of this was a

given after



they could have

walked away from

madeline and me

at any time.

but they didn't.

they've been

here for us

in every possible way.

and all of

our lives

are better because

of it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Have Super Powers ....

(let it be known that I tried for well over an hour to design a super logo with the letter W.  Huge, huge fail)

.... and so do you.

Some of you may be so new to this "club" that you aren't aware of your powers yet.  But you have them.  Oh you certainly have them.
In fact, the newer you are in the club, the stronger your powers are.  
And they are very, very strong.

My powers are starting to weaken, and I've lost one of them completely .... I think.
This was the power to ..... quiet a room full of people ..... just by walking into it!
I know!
But it really worked.
I also possessed the power to lower or heighten the temperature of a room of people, too, depending on what the temperature was before I entered it.
The effect I had on people was amazing.

I also had, and still do to some degree ..... the power to make people cry.
One look at me .... and they'd be off like sprinklers.
Seriously ..... one day I went into a store to buy some smaller sized clothes (the Grief Diet, you know).  It had only been a month or so since Jim died.
The woman who helped me to the dressing room knew all about me .... though I had never met her (it's a small community, I've lived here for 20 years, Jim was the school board president, yada yada yada).
As she hung up the clothes that I wanted to try on, she asked how I was doing.  I think I said something like, "Well, you know ....." and left it at that.
When I looked up at her she was crying.
Not just sniffling ..... crying.
It happened again in another store, but the woman who helped me that time was a friend.  I think she started crying when she saw me walk in.

I have sometimes used my powers to my advantage .... like letting my contractor get a more reasonable price for my kitchen granite by telling the granite owner that I was a new widow.  I totally let her play the "widow card".  And it worked (even though I shouldn't have needed to use it in the first place).  I have also given friends my permission to use this power.  You know ..... "Oh, I'm so sorry but I can't commit to that event because my friend's husband just died and I'm helping her."  I'm generous like that.

I realized early on that the biggest power I had .... and still have to this day .... is the power to totally ruin someone's day.
And by "someone", I mean a complete stranger.
I can do it in person, or I can do it over the phone.
I'm sure I could do it by e-mail and I'm positive I could do it through a text (Yes, I know this part is sounding like Green Eggs and Ham .... keep reading).

A few years ago it was almost impossible for me to not use this power.  I couldn't control it.  I was so new at this that I didn't know what else to say .... or how to react. 
It's done by simply saying, when asked about my spouse ...... "He died."  
See?  Just two little words (or some variation of them) was all it took.  I'm sure I sent many people home at the end of their work day, telling their families, "You'll never believe what I said today!".
Most people didn't deserve that from me, but some did.
Some totally asked for it.

Like a certain satellite company, which shall remain nameless (although it's synonymous with a word for a piece of table ware and a 1950's slang word for a cute girl ..... and NO, I wasn't alive in the 50's!).
Anyhow ..... I had to call them up to address a problem we were having and they asked to speak with Jim.  Yes, his name was on the account (his name was on ALL of the accounts .... so. much. fun.), but I was the only one who had ever called them .... to set up service and to make changes to our service.  I replied that no, they could not talk to him, but that shouldn't be a problem because they never had talked with him.
That didn't work.  This woman insisted that she had to get the OK from him.  We went back and forth a few times but she wouldn't stop being persistent so I finally said, "Look.  You can't talk to him.  It would be very difficult for you to talk to him because he's dead. He died a few months ago.  OK?  NOW will you let me tell you about my TV issue?!".
She was very, very sorry.
But evidently not sorry enough to make a note of Jim's demise.
Because it happened again, just a few weeks later.
And then ..... seriously, I kid you not ..... it happened a third time.  The third time was the last straw for me.  Too bad it just happened to be a nice-sounding young man who was holding that last straw.  I started crying and being angry the moment he asked to speak to Jim.  In fact, I'm not even sure that he got the whole question out before I went nuts.
Of course he felt horrible, but at least he DID make a note of it in the "system".  It was the last time they asked for him.

Now that I've had more experience on this path .... I've learned to have some control over this power.
Just a couple of weeks ago I could've trashed the day of a lively-sounding young woman who seems to gleefully work for my insurance company.
I called to drop one of the kids from my auto policy (because she has a job and a home and everything!  Can you hear the Hallelujah Chorus?!).  As this happy woman was looking at my info on her computer she said, ever so merrily ..... "Tell James happy birthday!"
I was stunned .... almost too stunned to be coherent.  I mean .... come on!  It's been over 3 years!  So I stammered, "Who?  James?  The one who's birthday is January 7th?" (because all 3 of our sons have James as their middle name, so I was giving her a little room to get out of this), but she replied ..... "Yes!" 
You'd be surprised at how many phrases can fly through your mind in a couple of nano seconds.  As I reflected over each one ..... and almost went with, "Well, that would be a bit hard to do since half of his ashes are in Oklahoma and half are at a lake in Texas!"
But I didn't.  
I stopped .... and thought, as I have many times in the past, "I really don't want to ruin her day."
And so I just said, "......OK." and left it at that.

Super powers.
We all possess them (I'd love to read about some of yours).
But we have to learn to control them.
And use them only for good.
Or ..... in extreme cases ..... for payback.

P.S.  I'm glad that so many of you enjoyed this post and even happier that now you realize just how strong you are!!  And what great Super Powers you have!!
Today I remembered the MOST bizarre time that I could have used my powers .... but didn't.
Last year ..... two years after the man died ..... Jim received a jury summons in the mail.  My first response when I opened it ..... was just plain dumbfoundedness (yep, totally not a real word .... until now anyway:).  My plan was to use a huge red marker and write over the front of the summons ..... "I REFUSE TO SERVE ON YOUR JURY!  NOW WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?!"
But I didn't.  I just decided to wait .... and prayerfully hoped they'd put a warrant out for his arrest.  REALLY hopefully.  Alas, they did not ..... or at least, not yet.  But I still have that summons and it makes me smile every time I accidentally come across it.  :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Importance of Being Frank

(image from

It's funny how life changes you. I'm sure part of it is just age, but I know lots of people my age who haven't "turned out" the way I have. What I wonder is: am I really different now, or am I really just getting to know myself?

I think my experience of widowhood has made me less tolerant of bullshit. I know it has. Life is too short to beat around the bush or hope things get resolved. This doesn't mean that I'm totally without tact. It does mean that I have a lot less patience and I'm a lot more likely to start a difficult conversation or ask the question no one else in the room wants to voice. I am "direct" - whatever that means. I guess it's better than being indirect? I hope it's a good thing, because I don't seem to be capable of much else.

I think I was this way before widowhood, but honestly I can't remember. I seem to recall that I was a bit more reserved back then. Maybe some of you remember? Regardless, the "new" me is fun. I like being the one to speak out. I like the thought that people might occassionally think: "I wonder what Dippel will say about that?" I like being that girl.

This is one of the gifts widowhood has brought to me. I'd rather have learned the lesson a different way, but I'm grateful for it nonetheless.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 7, 2011

This One's for You: Musical Monday

Before Phil died, I was that friend. The one you called when you were mad at your husband and needed to tell someone what he did who wouldn't hold it against him later. I was the person who could be counted on to answer the phone at odd hours; watch your kids if you needed a break; or the one person who would remind you of your new years resolution in March. I learned early in life how to be a friend, and worked hard to be a person that earned the title. Then death stepped into my life.

As the waves of grief washed over me, I lost my ability to think outside the box. The world I was living in became so dark that I wandered around my life bumping into walls that I couldn't see. Each time I hit something in the inky blackness I became more disoriented. Grief made my head spin and my eyes blind to anything but my own concerns. More than a few less than appealing traits became the norm when dealing with other people: impatience, intolerance, exasperation, bitterness, and I am sure there are a few others I am forgetting. When listening to another person's woes I had to bite my tongue to keep from spewing the litany of responses that flew into my brain..."Ha! It could be worse, trust me." "At least he is alive for you to hate." "I am sure that losing your job was very difficult." "The fridge broke again, how awful." " Tell me again, what exactly are you complaining about?" I couldn't hear another person speak about themselves without comparing their troubles to mine. And in my mind, death trumped all.

I read somewhere that grief is a selfish state. When I first saw those words I was offended. Obviously the person who wrote them wasn't actively grieving! Clearly no one would make that kind of judgement if they were living the nightmare that begins the minute after a loved one dies. But once I got past the negative connotation, I realized that I needed to be selfish in order to survive Phil's loss. I needed to come first. In order to find my way through the dark maze, I required every available reserve. My needs could not be pushed aside in order to put others first because suddenly the things I needed were so basic that my survival depended on them being met. Selfish was okay, even necessary, for a time.

Eventually I missed the friend I used to be. As time passed my needs became less pressing and no longer required my undivided attention. Slowly I could see that trouble is trouble, and you don't know the trouble of death until you live it, period. As time passed and bitterness started to wane I trained myself to hear the emotion in other's voices and to listen with my heart instead of my head. The futility of comparison became clear and my natural ability to care returned with a new twist. Having known the deep sadness of grief I am grateful for each and every problem that doesn't take me, or someone I care about, there.

Five years ago this song would have immediately reminded me of all that I have lost. Today it reminds me of all that I still have to give. I needed my selfish stage in order to reach my shining stage. This song speaks to the power of peer based grief support. We are the light for each other, even as we find the way through our own darkness.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Ever since
April 16, 2009
I have struggled
what name to put
in the blank space
that says

"In Case of Emergency"

I loathe that blank space.
It reminds me
no one will love my kids
as ferociously,
as tenderly,
as fully
as Art did.

It makes me
want to go
as if
sleep will solve the issue.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Someone once said that it is knowledge sets us free, but as I've learned, everyone's knowledge is different.

After Michael died I knew nothing but one thing in life. I could no longer answer questions on why or how things turned out as they did. I could not tell you right from left. As time has passed though, I have embraced the unknown and learned to accept it as a companion on my journey here on earth.

Still though, there are those times, those gut-wrenching, bring you to your knees moments in which the lack of knowledge of how one has ended up in the predicament they're in, can run a muck on the soul we each carry inside of us.

I don't know why I can't hold the hand or kiss the lips of my one true love, I don't know why his vehicle had to be the one to be absorbed by the 2,00 pound blast, I don't know why I must sometimes wander in a world in which few understand me...and overpowering and heartbreaking as some of these things may be I can only return to the one true thing I know...the northern light in a world that sometime has no direction....

I know I am loved...but not only loved but in love with my chosen compass.

It's all I know in a place that sometimes feels like a dark alleyway.

And that is all the knowledge I's all I need....and I am free.

Friday, February 4, 2011

silence and vulnerability

Photo from here....

The middle of the night is where I feel your void most intensely. I attempt to busy my brain with other less painful activities. I lay in our nightlight lit room listening to the drippy wet sounds of the aquarium down the hall, the monotonous whirr of the bathroom fan left on, the refrigerator starting up yet again. I attempt to make a mental list of activities that I'd like to do with the kids. A registry of people not yet called, thanked or contacted. A calendar of events that are upcoming.
But no matter what asinine or tedious thought temporarily enters my searching mind, it is constantly forced aside by thoughts of you.
I replay my walk down the aisle of the church...both on the day of our wedding and the day of your funeral. Both times, you waited for me near the altar.
On the day of our wedding, as I walked down that strip of red carpet, we smiled at each other, felt comfort in each other's presence and became the only two in the church. The day of your funeral, I clutched Liv's small hand and held Briar's little body close on my hip. I walked that same carpet with nervousness again, but this time not with nervous excitement. This time, it was terror and loss.
Although the tranquilizers administered to me by the doctor allowed me to stare out from my body with my mouth silent and closed, with my head erect, I felt far from 'tranquil'.
I saw the same faces staring at me from the front of the church as I saw on our wedding day. Their swollen and tear streaked faces a constant reminder of why we were there. But you were missing.
I saw your coffin. You were always the biggest in the room, the centre of attention, the one I looked to when unsure. Now you were a box. A big, wooden box. Liv asked if 'you' were in there. She thought she could hear your snoring. While I smiled at her, I could only imagine you, your shell, laying there, oblivious to the events that were taking place. Completely unknowing that today would be the last day that your body and mine shared the same space. Ignorant of the pain that all of us within that church felt without you there to sing out your laughter, grin your famous smile, make some completely ridiculous joke or tell a far-fetched story.
Without you, without your presence, I felt lost. Adrift. Vulnerable. I still do. I long to hear you. But I shy away from listening to your still recorded answering machine messages. I wish I could feel the comfort of my hand enveloped by yours. But the thought of it reminds me that I will never feel them again no matter how I can remember the shape and the feeling of your immense hand. The touch of your mouth. The softness of your earlobe. The shape of your knees.
On our wedding day, there were the sorts of issues that cause stress at all marriage ceremonies. Seating. Flowers. It was...interesting. But you were there. You would NOT let anything ruin our day. And we were together. That was all that mattered. We were together. The day signified our 'togetherness'.
Your funeral conveyed the separation of you from all of us left behind. A ceremony to let all of us know that we would never again walk with you, work with you, laugh with you, hold you.
As I followed you from the church once again, I had tears of loss and fear slipping over my cheeks marking my coat with wet dots. Gone were the tears of laughter and joy that we shared the day we married.
Liv, our little daughter, was with us both days. And this one fact reminds me of what I still need to live for. If only it is to see both of our little ones grown and happy, I must keep breathing until I can see you again. So I lay in this bed and listen to the appliances that surround me. I stare at the box beside our bed that contains your ashes in the orange glow of the nightlight and I miss you. God, how I miss you. And I wish only that first ceremony had happened. The second should not have happened....not yet.
Originally posted on my personal blog on February 12, 2009 (8 1/2 months widowed)

Thursday, February 3, 2011


back in june 2010,

brooke and i

took maddy to the

santa monica pier for

a day of fun.

it didn't start

off too well

because madeline's

forehead took a direct

hit when a pigeon

flew over her.

direct hit from a seagull.

damn birds.

getting cleaned up.

almost clean.

(she was calm throughout, and didn't seem to mind, unlike brooke and me).

so why am

i bringing this

up today?

well, because maddy did.

last week.

on the way

to daycare.

7 months after

it happened...

"daddy, what's that on the window?"

she said, pointing

at the big

spot on my windshield.

"that's bird poop, maddy."

(she laughed pretty hard when she heard me say poop)

but then she

got serious.

very serious.

"daddy, i need to wear a hat so that birds don't poop on me in santa monica, okay?"


now, i've maybe

mentioned this once

or twice since the

day it happened,

and i wasn't even

talking to her...

i haven't

mentioned in at

least 5 months

and i never mention

the santa monica part.

but she remembers

that a

bird shit on

her and that

it happened in

santa monica.

i had no

idea that a

forehead covered in

pigeon shit would

make such a

big impression on her.

but i guess

i'll never forget about

the time a

pigeon shit on

me when i was

in the

jardin de luxembourg

in paris in 1999.

the big difference?

i was 21

when it happened

to me.

she was a few

months past 2

when it happened

to her.


i spend a

lot of time worrying

about how

her memories will

shape her, but

i take heart in

knowing that

her first memory

will not be

about the day

her mom died.


and i find it

rather amazing

how perspective

can transform a bunch

of bird shit on the

forehead into a

happy memory.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Places Where I've Cried ....

This is part of a post I wrote February 7, 2008, about a month and a half after Jim's death.
I have yet to go back and read every post since he died ..... especially the early ones.  I'm not sure when I'll feel able to do that .... to go back to that very dark, very lonely place where death seemed to be the only escape.  But I will ..... some day.
So,  this title caught my eye and I thought I'd share it with you:

This isn't a sad post -- it's just ..... my life. It sounds sadder than I feel at the moment (that's for my mom).
It's occurred to me over the past couple of days that there are many places where I've cried.
There are the obvious places: my bed, church (all over the church -- my office, the sanctuary, the women's restroom, etc), my living room, the family room, the kitchen, the kids' bedrooms, etc. Oh, and a funeral home. That's a given.
Then there's my bathroom, on the floor next to my toilet. That was a bad moment. And there's the shower -- picture Glenn Close in "The Big Chill" and that's exactly how it was (well, except for that fact that she's blonde and had a better body, but other than that, exactly). The shower is a great place to cry and to cry loudly. No one can hear you.
And there's Jim's closet. I have actually only sat in there one time and cried. But it was that first week and it was horrible. I try not to spend too much time in there -- just a glance inside once in a while.  That closet gives me way too much pain.
I've cried in my car (I've cried in several people's cars). That option is best used when the car is parked in the garage. People tend to stare while you're driving. And well, it's a bit hard to see through tears. People also tend to stare when you're in a parking lot. Yes, the garage is the safest place.
I've cried in movie theaters and at at two live productions.
I've cried in the woods. I've cried on the tennis courts. I've cried at the nail salon. I've cried at the grocery store and at the gas station.
I've cried in an attorney's office, an accountant's office and a banking office.
I've cried at friends' homes.
I've cried on a cruise ship. That was the most expensive place in which to cry.
But not today. Not yet.  And I don't think I cried yesterday, though I really can't remember much over an hour at a time, so I could be wrong (which is a phrase I seem to say almost daily --- "though I could be wrong").
I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Yes, I have cried over the past 3-plus years.
That wasn't the last day I cried, but it was memorable because, at the time I wrote it, a significant amount of time had gone by with no tears.
That was huge.
And very uncommon.
And ..... it didn't last long.

I still cry.
But not as much.
Not nearly as much.
I can't believe that one can't die from dehydration caused by crying.

I'm sure that each of you could add to the list of places where you've cried.
I'd love to hear where some of the most "unique" places are.
If you'd like to share.

Sometimes it's good to look back .... and see that we've moved a few feet down the path.
Or heck ..... even a few inches ....
: )

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rose Colored Glasses?

Photo by Shot of Whimsy Photography, Austin Texas

What do you see when you look at this picture? I see love, fun, teamwork, happiness. A couple of years ago this picture, as happy as it is, would have made me sad. I would have seen sadness, loss, something missing. Unexpectedly, I am finally able to see what is there instead of always focusing on what or who is not. It's huge. It also happened without me noticing the subtle difference.

I didn't want it to happen, or at least parts of me didn't. Big parts of me were resistant. I didn't want to anticipate the future. I knew one thing for certain about the future - Daniel wasn't going to be there. What else did I need to know but that? If that was the lure of the future...I could resist for a very long time. I wasn't resistant to the present though, G is here...that's a big draw. I was fine with the present, I could take it one day at a time. The future on the other hand...the future was a black endless place with no certainty and no promise of happily ever after. Talk about having your illusions killed...when you watch your husband die at 35, life takes on a different color. The light is gone and blackness takes it place.

Until it doesn't. I think Janine wrote about life being shades of gray as she came out of the inky blackness of grief. I think the gray was my envelope for a few years until the colors started to seep back in. A few hues each month until suddenly a faded palette was there. Not vibrant, but softly colorful nonetheless. I noticed. It was good.

I think with my move back to Austin in 2009 the last pieces really started to fall into place. I was home. I felt it in my bones and it felt right. For the first time in a few years, I felt really good - healthy in mind and body. I'd like to say I felt like the old me, but the old me doesn't exist anymore. I felt in touch with the new me in a way I'd never felt before. Life was colorful again and the future looked maybe not bright, but at least possible.

It's been about a year and a half since then, and the trend has continued. Maybe it isn't so much the 5 years since Daniel died, maybe it's also the 40 year mark. I know who I am and I know what I want in a way I never have before. I've heard people say that you finally understand yourself in your 40s. Maybe it's true. Whatever the reason, 5 years or 40, I like it. It feels really good.