Monday, December 31, 2012

The Choice


I was telling my therapist all about the process I went through to decide to sell our house, quit my job and move to Portland after Dave died.

I told her about the epic snowstorm that buried me in 2 feet of snow on Dave's birthday and left me without power for two days and without contact with another human for four days.

I told her about putting the house on the market and getting an offer and selling it in less than a month. I told her about the day I woke up and had the thought "I'm going to move to Portland!"

Then I told her about finding my current home. I told her that the realtor didn't have my condo on her radar at all. We happened to drive by and I saw a for sale sign. I bought it days later.

I am in unit 1. My next door neighbor in unit 2 was widowed in her 50s. The professor who lives in unit 3 was widowed in September after his wife's battle with cancer. Three widowed people in a row.

When I told her this part, her eyes filled with tears. She said she was suddenly struck by what I'd been through and overcome. She said it gave her hope for herself and all her patients. I've never thought of it that way. That makes it sound heroic. It hasn't felt heroic. It's felt desperate.

All this time, I've felt desperate. I've made decisions I had to make to do the best I could for myself even though my compass was gone. I've leaped into the unknown with what I can see now was nothing but hope.

It was hard to see it as hope then because I was terrorized by fear and doubt. Other than having one clear moment when I formulated my plan to move to Portland, I didn't once feel absolutely certain or at peace about any of these decisions. They were all terrifying for me. I had doubts that kept me up at night, and turned my stomach. I deliberated and tortured myself over ever single decision I've had to make since my partner in life died.

I had to finally get a little more comfortable with the idea that the world wouldn't end if I screwed up. The worst had already happened so from that point on, I could get through selling our house, moving and starting a new life. Even if it all turned out to be a mistake, it wouldn't have been as bad as hearing the doctors tell me that they'd done all they could but hadn't been able to save my soul mate.

And yet...It's probably a product of my combined losses, not just Dave's, but I still expect more to go wrong, even as I grow more comfortable with change and making decisions on my own. I still expect what I have left (my cats, my home, my friends) to be simply gone if I don't keep my eye on them. I halfway expect a fire to take it all away from me if I'm not looking, or tragedy of another sort I haven't even thought of yet to come my way.

Logically I understand that nothing could be as bad as Dave's death, but my heart feels precariously patched together right now. I could survive more loss, yes, but would I want to? Would all hope be lost at that point? Would I have anything left in me with which to soldier on?

I have had hope all along. It's what drove me to jump into a new life when I was terrified to leave the old one behind. It's what keeps me going now. My wish is that hope is strong enough to withstand anything that comes its way.

Life isn't extra gentle with me now just because my husband died. The universe doesn't give a shit. It just keeps churning away, with its joy and sorrow, good and evil. I hope (ha!) like hell I have enough in me to sustain whatever else comes my way.

I'm not naive enough to say things (even to myself) like "everything will be okay," anymore. I have to learn to live with the light of hope and the darkness of potential tragedy. Holding them both together takes work. It's like trying to process things like school shootings. How does life go on after something that horrific? I don't know, but it does.

I suppose it's what we do in the face of all the horror. We reach out because we don't give up hope DESPITE the sorrow. It's all we can do. We make things better when we can. We hold onto each other when we can't. We breathe. We take leaps of faith. We don't give up.

I can't close up shop yet and hide away from everything because it might hurt more. That would be the real tragedy. Tragedy on top of tragedy. Dave couldn't help leaving. He would have stayed if he could have. I have a choice though. I can give up or I can keep hoping and fully living with all the risks it entails.

I'd better not squander that choice.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

3, 4, 7 and 14


3, 4, 7 and 14.

My lucky numbers.

I am anxiously waiting for the New Year to begin. After all, my lucky numbers will be part of the New Year. 2013 and 2014.

I don’t know why, but I feel it in my bones. I know the next two years are going to be “better” then the last two years.

With the New Year, I am pushing forward. I am pushing to not be “idle” anymore.

For the first time since Seth’s death, I have goals, plans, and even started a bucket list.

Some of the goals are short term, some are long term. Some goals I will see in 2013, some I won’t see until 2014.

But I am excited.

I have goals! 

Who would have thought that 2 years after Seth’s death, I am just barely setting long term goals.

Who would have thought it would take me 2 years to see past tomorrow.

One of my goals is to work hard on myself and my grief. I am ready to push through and break out on the other side.

Part of me knows it’s because I’m stubborn. I am sick of being mentally exhausted, so my stubbornness has kicked in with “Let’s get this over with!”

But my brain keeps going there “The 3 year sadiversary is coming”. 
It’s not until July, and I’m already anxious about it. Maybe because I am learning my triggers, and looking 7 months out, I know the sadiversary is going to drop kick me to my knees – again.

I might fall flat on my face, again.

But I will get back up, again.

Life will still go on, I will learn more about myself and my grief, dust myself off, and tell myself “Let’s not do that again”.

When I was 6 weeks out of Seth’s death, I went to a support group. There I met another widow that was 4 weeks out. We instantly became best friends.

At one point, we talked about going to camp widow the following summer.

We both laughed and said “I will be over this by then!”

Silly me. Stubborn me. So naive.

Here I am 29 months later, still grasping for air. Still grieving. Still trying to get a grasp on life, and learn to roll with the punches.

Since Christmas I have found myself in a slippery slope of death and despair. Grasping at anything that will catch my fall.

I don’t want to hit rock bottom, again. I never want to hit the bottom again.

So stubborn me, has chosen to not hit bottom. To not let the depression sneak in again. Why? Because I deserve better then rock bottom. 

Been there, done that.

And I didn't even get a damn t-shirt to prove that I have hit rock bottom. And lived.

A lot of people have asked me how I have survived Seth’s suicide.

The only thing I can think of is “I’m too stubborn to give up”.

Really, what other choice do I have?

Cheers to the New Year!

I can feel it, it’s going to be a great year!

If it’s not a great year, it will still be better than 2012.

I have hope and faith for 2013.

Saturday, December 29, 2012



If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.

~ William Penn

On December 23, 2005, he said I was the kindest person he knew.

A year and a half later I never had the chance to tell him that it was he that was the kindest. It was he that chose me for some odd reason and showed me what true kindness was. It was he that I prayed to god every night to keep alive over me. It was he whose life echoed and echos on through those I had no clue his kindness had touched.

Now, 7 years later, I woke up on the sofa. It was a hard night to try sleep in my bed. I awoke knowing that I could take this day that was the moment that solidified our eternal love, and for once, not make it a day that was harder than any other. This day was going to be the day I wanted to live up to the vows he wrote to me. Today was going to be a day that I echoed his life, even more, to strangers who would never know his name or sacrifice.

My best friends sent me flowers and survival kits full of tissues and chocolate, but I knew there was much more to be done.

I jumped in my car and headed to Wal-Mart. I purchased the needed items. Heavy duty sticky notes, "Hello, My Name Is" labels, Ferrero Rocher chocolates and 4 gift cards.

"$25 on each please." I asked the cashier.

"And I need you to do something for me. Keep one and give the next 3 to the next 3 people to check out."

"Are you sure?" she asked hesitantly.


"Well, Merry Christmas!" she replied.

I walked out as I heard her tell and hand the first gift card to the next to check out.

I exited with a smile.

I got into my car and started preparing the notes and labels for their mission for the day.


I drove off and stopped at the first ATM to leave one gift of kindness. Then off to a Redbox.


Then off to Starbucks where I ordered a drink and 3 more gift cards.

The lady was going to grab a bag for all three when I stuck a label on each and asked her to give one to the next 3 customers. She couldn't believe it, and even gave me a free drink coupon. I looked in my mirror at the young man in the truck that would get the first one and I drove off.

All of this had taken place in 15 minutes and my heart swelled...and so did the tears in my eyes....this was the feeling I had when Michael read his vows...I was living them out loud 7 years later...but had just begun...

I headed to the nearest shopping center for a continuation. I stopped at another ATM to leave a message of hope before heading to Marshall's to leave a message on the bathroom mirror and on a couple of cars before departing.-14 -13I knew there was a nearby bus stop that would be my next location. I pulled over to see a single dad with his two kids, lovingly playing with them while sitting on the bench and smiling with pure love. I put together another bag of things to ensure their day and Christmas would be a better one, handed it to him as he looked at me in shock and uncertainty, and walked off to turn and see the kids smiling and waving to me. It was amazing.

As I drove off, I saw a group of world travelers, with a lack of means and two dogs, asking for any sort of help. I pulled over, gave them water, dog treats, and some funds to buy a couple more meals, shook their hands, shared some laughs and a photo and departed. Their spirit was amazing.
I drove to the next town where I left a couple other messages and goodies in random spots before heading to McDonalds and grabbing a snack wrap and the tab of the stranger in the car behind me.

Next was Half Price Bookstore, where I grabbed some 80s records, and while checking out, a gift card for the next person to check out. The kind-hearted cashier told me she would remember this for a very long time. I smiled and exited and left another note on a random car.

I then headed to pick up our favorite food we used eat together...sushi...where I tipped 50% and while walking back to my car saw a young couple and their young children,  and left one more note for the end of the day on their mini-van.

These individuals weren't any worse off, any less happy, and less loved than I. But they are individuals I feel forever grateful for. They were strangers that became saviors, friends, and  ones that I admired.

They let me give them what I have always felt in my heart I was given too much of. Even when I didn't deserve it.

I don't know what will happen. How may people I may have freaked out or may have made their day better. But for 24 hours, I have felt pretty damn good on a day that has always been hard to bear without the person that chose me 7 years ago to be his wife. A person that showed me a level of kindness that I can only try to live a quarter up to.

We danced on December 23, 2005 to Louis Armstrong's "A Kiss to Build a Dream On". One set of the lyrics stated:
"Give me a kiss to build a dream on
And my imagination will thrive upon that kiss
Ah sweetheart, I ask no more than this
A kiss to build a dream on.."

That kiss he gave me led and leads me to thrive, to live, to give, and to show kindness the way he did....or at least a fraction of the way he did. And for the first time in a long time (outside of my daily AWP mission), I felt it the way I did when kissing him, when knowing that all was possible, because I saw it in each person and stranger, and others that I don't even know that were affected by the kindness he inspired me to show on the toughest, but most beautiful,  of days.

Happy Anniversary, baby. So in love with you. SO grateful for you. So eternally inspired by you in every way.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My Christmas Gift

It’d be impossible to explain to a non-widowed person how I can be sad and happy at the same time or how having many of our shared friends over at the house – OUR house – is both wonderful and miserable simultaneously.  While it seems obvious to me why it’s appropriate, it’d be a train wreck to suggest that we set one more place setting for that one very special person who is with us but isn’t going to eat any food, not even desert.  No one is going to even see my sad eyes late that evening when the lights go out on unstuffed stockings.

On Christmas morning, not one of my friends or her friends thinks about that absolutely perfect present that’s not sitting on my pillow when I wake up.  No one misses that wonderful smile and happy clap that signals I nailed my gift for her.  And not one person in my world realizes how much I miss her and what a huge part she played in my life and how loud her absence is on every single day of the holidays while it seems like all the other families are celebrating their perfect little Christmas gatherings.  All those other families, with their happy gift unwrapping and their family bickering and their taken-for-granted togetherness have no clue how much I would sacrifice just to have one miserable, boring, regular ol’ plain Christmas with my sweet wife.  Just one more time.  One more time.

I say the following because maybe I’m trying to tell you or trying to tell myself but nonetheless, I say it and I mean it.  My gift to myself is that I recognize that I am one of the few that walk this earth who have experienced true, deep, passionate, respectful, honest love.  That experience and that love can never be taken away.  I win and I lose. Thus, I’ve been given more gifts and more riches than most people will ever know.  For that, I am thankful.  For that, I count my blessings.  I may have not had a Christmas present sitting on my pillow on Christmas morning, but I have a very wonderful gift sitting forever in heart that can never be taken away.  For I have known and shared in true love.  There’s no greater gift than that.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Have a holly, guilty Christmas

Yesterday, after a full day of sitting at home with the kids, opening presents and playing with those presents, and then picking up after all those presents time and time again, we started to get all 5 children ready for bed. As I was helping my 6 year old, Faith, I asked her if she had a good Christmas. She nodded quickly with a smile and I added, “Best one yet?” She nodded again.

Suddenly, I regretted asking her that. And for a split second I was hurt by her response. Of course I did my best to give her the best Christmas I could, but Christmas will be forever missing her daddy. And that’s something I can’t give back. And, I’m thrilled that she enjoyed our first Christmas as a family of 7, with two new sisters and wonderful dad in her life that love her immensely.  But my regret came from feeling like I made her choose between her life before and her life now. Obviously, that’s absurd but that’s how I felt in the moment.

As a widow, I am always careful about using phrases like “best day ever” or “best time ever” because it always feels like that is somehow disrespecting the life I had with Jeremy.  Like if I say it, it means Jeremy suddenly means less to me. So I steer clear of theses phrases of absolutes. I surprised even myself when I asked Faith if she had the best Christmas ever. I got caught up in the joy of a child-like excitement and when I heard her answer, it suddenly brought me back to reality.

I don’t want that to bother me. I want all of our kids to be able to have the best Christmas ever. When I really sat on it, I realized that I, too, enjoyed Christmas this year. What a far cry that has been from my last two Christmas’ and I was so thankful to have a happy home this year and to make new memories and new traditions. Even though grief is always hovering, there was a lot of joy too. But enjoying it made me feel guilty.

I’d hate to think that my best moments are behind me.  I have wonderful memories, but I know I’m not done making them. And so, I smile knowing that I can make good memories still, even some of my best, without comparing the life I had with Jeremy.

I’m glad Faith had the best Christmas ever.  And I think Jeremy is glad, too. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ho, Ho .......


...... Humbug.

This post is for all of you who are more than relieved that Christmas Day is done.  Over.  Finished.  For 364 more days.

I hope that you experienced what I usually experience:  the actual day that I dread goes a lot smoother than I expect.  The days leading up to it and all of the stress in those days seem to build and build ...... until the day actually arrives.
And then I find that it's over sooner than I expected.
I survived another "big day" ...... and it actually was easier than I anticipated.

December is hard.
There's no doubt about it.  This month is full of all kinds of land mines.  And that's for basically anyone.
Add a widowed person into the mix and you've got 31 days of potential nuclear carnage.
And then there's the extra oh-so-lucky "club" members who's "death day" just happens to fall somewhere in this month.
We'd prefer to just sleep through the holidays, thank you very much.

But here it is, December 26th ...... we made it through another difficult day.
Even though some of us are a little pissed that the Mayans were wrong and we're still here.

We cried our fair share of tears.  And then some.
Our hearts ached for who wasn't there.
But we're still here.
We survived.

And though you may not believe this, and don't like hearing it from "non-members" ...... you are stronger than you think you are.  You can't help it ...... it just happens.  You survive another day ...... you wake up stronger the next.  You may not feel that strength, but it's there. It grows quietly and slowly.  So slowly that it's imperceptible.  Until one day, further down the road.  On that day you'll glance behind you ...... and see how far you've come.  You'll be surprised by the distance.  
And you'll be surprised at the number of people behind you ...... who watch you with hope.

Until that day, just breathe and keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And know that the days leading up to the "hard days" ...... are usually worse than that day itself. 

You've just made it through a pretty difficult one.  So get some rest.  
You deserve it.
And you'll need it ...... because we have another one next week.

Two holidays in one week.
Ho, ho ...... humbug.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

So this is Christmas

After a week of holidays, I have been doing well ..... all things considered.

I have lulled myself into the false sense of security that this, my third Christmas as a widow would somehow be softer than the previous two: seeing family and friends; wrapping gifts and preparing food; looking forward to next year with excitement. 

But its Christmas Eve as I am writing this and it has finally hit me - Greg still won't be here, again, no matter how chirpy and upbeat I am.
He won't open the present we bought him and he won't tuck into the smoked ham, salad, treats or plum pudding.
He won't rig up a paddle pool for the children to escape the summer heat and for adults to cool their feet whilst sipping icy drinks in the shade of a tree.
We won't tag team present wrapping with scooter assembly and we won't stifle giggles as we sneak about, drinking Santa's milk and eating his biscuits.
He won't kiss the foreheads of two sleeping children before heading off to bed in the hopes that the children will sleep in until at least 6am.

....but I don't think for even one minute that he won't somehow be with us, grinning as the children open their gifts and standing close as tears are shed. 

.....and I am sure that I will feel his love around me like a cloak as I get myself through another Christmas without him.

Monday, December 24, 2012



I was recently asked how Dave's death affected my spirituality and this was my response. I thought I'd share it here.

I was an agnostic at best before Dave died. Very scientific, raised by an atheist physicist who abhorred organized religion, I was skeptical (sometimes I think skepticism can be judged as a negative trait, but I think it can be healthy) and approached all of life with a “lemme see the evidence” attitude. 

I was much more open than my dad was, though, and appreciated all the different religions and how comforting they seemed to be for others, but they’d never appealed to me personally, at all. 

Losing my mom to cancer by the time I was 5 and watching my dad drink himself to death by the time I was 28, I had difficulty understanding why life was so hard. I had a VERY hard time with statements like “they’re with God now!” and “God only gives you what you can handle!” and so on.

 I didn’t know what I believed in and I didn’t know what happened to us after we died, other than becoming a part of the earth again (unless we’re preserved and buried in a giant concrete box, of course). 

After Dave died, I was cracked open. My skepticism was softened by my grief and my need to be comforted. I was open to a lot more, not organized religion or a belief in a God, but a desperate hope that I’d see Dave again (even if it meant as a spirit). 

I believe that energy isn’t destroyed and our bodies (including our souls/minds) are energy so I don’t think Dave is just GONE now although it sure seems like it via my senses and awareness.

I believe his energy is now a part of everything else. 

I don’t necessarily believe he sends me signs or visits me. I have no idea if he does or not. I can see certain things that are perfectly normal and explainable and say “that’s Dave sending me a message” and if that helps me, great, but I don’t always fully believe it’s true. 

If I witnessed something truly inexplicable I’d be open to believing, but I haven’t yet. I’m not afraid of it, either, though. I’d like to see a medium one day, just to see what happens, but to be honest, I’d still be skeptical, simply because not everything is as it seems and often times, people are unscrupulous, taking advantage of people who are desperate to hear from their dead loved ones.

I’m completely open to hearing about others’ beliefs about the afterlife. My belief is that I don’t know ANYTHING about what happens to us after we die. I can guess. I can hope, but I’m not convinced of anything, either way. 

I can see how it’s the only comfort one can sometimes find to say to oneself “I’ll see them again one day” or “They’ve gone home to God” or even “It was their time to go”, but they don’t comfort me as they seem to comfort others. I deeply wish they did.

Buddhism, on the other hand, and its focus on the impermanence of life helps me the most. Its focus on understanding more than blind faith really fits into my world view and personality

According to Buddhism, the first noble truth is that life is suffering. It’s unavoidable and normal. This helps me because it allows me to look at the truth and see it for what it is, versus trying to put a pretty, romantic, angel spin on it, which just doesn’t work for me. 

Actually, as the doctors were trying to keep my husband alive (with no luck) I asked my religious friend to pray and I prayed right along with her with a fervor I’d never had before, though I wasn't quite sure who I was praying TOO. I suppose I was simply praying to Dave himself. I believed in him and I had seen over the years how much he loved me. I prayed for our love. If I could’ve prayed a miracle into existence I would have. I was open to believing anything might happen, but a part of me somehow knew I'd lose him as much as I pleaded and prayed I wouldn't. 
I might not have religious or even spiritual convictions, but what I do have I have a ton of. I have hope
Hope is in the people who turn up when you least expect it and lighten your load when you’re suffering. Who extend a hand to you when you’re drowning. Hope is in the little coincidences that bring you the people and experiences you need to move through the pain. Hope is in the strength that tragedy reveals in us and the unique lessons it provides. Hope is there, it’s just sometimes hard to find, which makes it all the more important to REALLY take note of if it and grasp onto it when it makes itself known. 

Maybe hope is my religion. I'm a hopeaholic. Wait, no that sounds wrong. A hopeist. There we go. I'm a hopeist. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Even in death, love never dies"

Click to make it bigger

Every time I go through a grief "stage", I come out on the other side with more love in my heart, and more acceptance of my husband's suicide.

I have come through the anger stage (again) and thankfully it didn't last as long as it has in the past.

Out of all the stages I go through, the anger stage is the hardest.

I don't want to be angry at my husband. I know he did everything he could to stay alive.

And I know he held on as long as he did for me.

But see, there lays the problem.

He held on for me. Not himself.

Through my journey, there have been times that I am only holding on to life because of my family.

That my death would destroy my family.

So through the really bad, scary times, I think of my family.

And think "I have to get through this, for them".

I have to admit, when I crawled in to bed on 12/20/12, I secretly hoped the Mayan calender was right.

That I would wake up, but not in this life anymore.

I fantasized about being in heaven, with my family, and seeing my husband, standing there, with that gorgeous smile and inviting arms.

I prayed that my nightmare would be over.

I would get to have my cake and eat it too. My family would be there. I wouldn't have to leave them. And I would get my husband back.

The husband I married, not the husband that died.

But 12/21/12 came and went, like every other day. And once again, my prayer was unanswered.

As I face my 3rd Christmas without Seth, I am trying to focus on the holidays and being happy. I am trying to not grieve, but it's not working.

I am grieving really hard right now.

Everyday I have to take a time out. Some days I have to take multiple time outs.
A time out to grieve, cry and just be with my thoughts.

I can only cram my grief down for so long before it irrupts. With the irruption I become a hysterical mess, that lands me exhausted and useless for days later.

It has taken me 29 months to learn how to take care of my grief. It has taken me 29 months to realize what my brain, body and heart need.

It has taken me 29 months to realize that with each passing day, I love my husband more.

When I started in my journey I never thought I could possibly love Seth more then the day he died.

Ever since Seth died, I have always said "Even in death, love never dies".

Merry Christmas Seth. I love you and I miss you don't even begin to express how deeply my love for you runs.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I wish I had the words. Tomorrow is our 7 year wedding anniversary and I felt this post from 2 years ago is a bit more eloquent than anything i could currently write. Happy 7 years, my love!

If I had to choose between loving you and breathing, I would use my last breath to say, “I Love You.”

If I had to choose between loving you and breathing, I would use my last breath to say, "I Love You."

This Thursday will mark our 5 year wedding anniversary. As I've stated through the years, this day has always been more difficult for me than any other...including the day he was killed.

You see, I don't define Michael's life and our life together by the day he was killed, I've always defined it by our eternal love, and no day signifies that more than when we exchanged vows.

We clasped hands from the first moment, rocking into each other, looking into each others eyes in a sort of dream like gaze, exchanging words that were more than words, letters that when compiled and verbalized explained our unfaltering devotion and feelings towards each others. Verbalized our future and our present, all that we were thankful for the other teaching/allowing us to experience.

With the go-go-go of the past couple of months, it feels good to sit here and reminisce about a moment that lives on in me forever, and through those that for a brief period in time, saw the union of two souls connected beyond measure.

I miss looking into his eyes, kissing his lips, knowing that that moment in time all was as it should be. But the angst of separation is still overpowered by that which surpasses all the physical, something that words haven't been created for, yet we exchanged them that evening. The knowing...the absolute knowledge that we will spend eternity together, even if briefly in two different realms.

One of the last letters Michael and I exchanged, I told him there were no words created for just how much I love i created one. I called it: loveinity.

I loveinity you baby (and am so in lonveinity with you)...Happy Almost Anniversary, My Love.

Friday, December 21, 2012

What If It Really was the End of the World??

So the Mayan calendar only went through today....considering they stopped recording their daily lives over a thousand years ago - having a stone carved calendar that went forward in time this far is pretty amazing!  The fun of the last calendar day is the mystique of the "end of the world".  Fun to consider the zombies, earthquakes, life ending flu virus, alien invasion, whatever your fantasy end might be.  If today is the last day of the world, I have only one regret - some of my favorite peeps aren't close by and I can't hug them one last time.  If tomorrow never comes, consider yourself hugged by me, you know who you are.  Mwah!

What a great opportunity to really take stock and think about what you would regret if today was really the last day.  As New Years approaches and we have the usual self assessment and diet/exercise or life improvements, I find myself thinking of what I want to change or improve.

I want to take better care of my body - it's getting older and is starting to require more maintenance...ugh.  If today isn't the end of the world, my recent physical indicates I could live for very long time and I want to make sure I'm moving around comfortably for the next 50 years... :) 

I want to take better care of my spirit.  Recently I saw a quote about people having the habit of complaining about the bad and only appreciating momentarily the good.  I want to celebrate my joys and talk about them more often.   

I want to take better care of my loved ones.  I want to be more present and more expressive of my appreciation for all they are and how much they mean to me.

I want to take better care of strangers - people I don't know, people who need help.  I can do more with the blessings I have been given.

Most of all I want to live each day deliberately.  One of the clearest lessons of my widowhood has been the shortness of life.  This is all we have.  Despite the potholes or canyons in our path, we have to persevere.  We have to find our way and we have to find our joy.  My new Baktun (next Mayan calendar) resolution is to keep my eyes on the joys in my life.  Even when everything looks dark, a little light is there somewhere.  I'm going to focus on the light. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012


You have been everywhere lately. 

You know, I was dreaming about you almost every night for several weeks until Jim died. Now, I don't see you in my dreams anymore. I'm trying to make sense of what that's about. But now, you seem close in my every day things, more so than usual.

Maybe it's the sentimental time of year, maybe it's all coincidence, but I know better. I started playing "Song Pop" on my iPhone for Zada (she wanted to compete with me) - and it reminds me so much that you used to try to do that to me: play a few second clip of a song and I'd have to guess it. You were always so good at it, so I didn't want to play. And every time I answer one right that I knew you'd be proud of (you having been much more musically cultured than me), there's a split second I find myself wanting to show you and see that approval on your face. 

I finally cleaned out the utility room before our Christmas party last week. Going through your stuff is always challenging and emotional. I realize every time how much of my life is still very saturated with your influence and presence. 

I randomly found myself watching old videos of Faith and Caleb on the computer. Oh, how I ache to see you alive and moving - I always feel a deep yearn to reach out and touch you, just to make sure you were real. 

Yesterday, out of nowhere, I heard your voice singing South Park's Big Gay Al's "I'm super." I laughed remembering and realized it was one of those things I hadn't thought about maybe since you died. Steve had never heard it before, so of course, I had to look it up and play it for him. And I laughed more thinking about you singing it. And more importantly, the facial expressions that came along with it. 

Speaking of things I haven't done since you died, we drove down Mound yesterday past the park you used to play softball at. All of a sudden, I looked up and noticed where we were and felt a tiny panic set in because I hadn't grieved this spot yet. I instantly knew where we were and had to tell Steve why it was significant. I feel the need to share all our significant places to anyone that will listen. I need someone else to know how important these places are, and I never want to forget why. 

Carter and I spent the day shopping together earlier last week. I love spending one-on-one time with him, but the whole day I kept wondering what he would be like if you were still here. Would his personality be different because of your influence? Would he have picked up more of your mannerisms instead of mine? I know he's just the way he should be, but maybe that's what hurt about it. I wish just once, I could've seen you interact with him. 

I have shed countless tears for the senseless tragedy that occurred last week in Connecticut. Aside from the fact that it is inconceivable that someone could harm children like that, and aside from my momma heart feeling ten times more protective of our own precious children, I also shed tears of knowledge. The knowledge of intense grief. Of loss. Of those families losing hope, losing faith, losing memories and plans, futures and pasts. The ache to be with their loved ones and the hole that will never fill for those families. It's a pain I would never wish on anyone.

I can't believe this will be my 3rd Christmas without you. It doesn't seem possible. And yet our last Christmas together feels like an eternity ago. Faith and Caleb were so little. I'm so looking forward to Christmas this year, and celebrating it with people I love and new traditions and new family. But there's always a special place in my heart that holds on to the innocence of our Christmas' together. My sweet memories of life before grief. 

Thank you for staying close to me. I miss you more than I know how to describe. I felt the need to write it out and remember, and to tell you that I love you. Always and forever, I love you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

So Year Five ......


...... hit harder than I expected.

But what else is new?

Actually, as I've written before, this month has gone more smoothly than it ever has during the last five years.
And while that's been a relief, it also kind of set me up ...... to think that THE day would also go more smoothly.

So I wasn't looking for the wave that came in the night before.  I wasn't standing there, watching the horizon, bracing myself for both waves and undertow.
I tend to face things much better if I'm able to brace myself beforehand.
I should've known better.

But here's the thing ...... if I'd braced myself and waited for the wave ...... then I would've given up the hope that I had ...... the hope that this year, this day would be different, would feel differently.
In looking back ...... I'm glad that I held onto hope.  I'm glad that I didn't see that wave, no matter how much it hurt.  Because I think that the hope I held helped me to recover more quickly.  I was knocked down, to be sure.  But I stood back up, dammit.  And I did it faster than I have before.
So ...... this day was different.  In the end.

Yes, it did hurt.
And the memories of that day hurt.
The missing of him continues to hurt.
But none of it paralyzes me anymore.
None of it sucks me under and threatens to flood into my lungs and drown me.
I am now stronger that "it" is.
Most of the time.
"It', being grief.

So right now, as I'm writing this and year 5 is coming to an end in less than an hour ...... I see myself standing on the shore, looking off into the horizon with the wind whipping around me ...... my right arm stretched out and the middle finger of my hand firmly extended ...... as I yell at the top of my lungs, "Fuck you, Grief!  I'm still standing!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Ambulance (Photo credit: gwire)

Last Friday wasn’t the worst day of my life, but it ranked up there....

I technically lost my job (although I have one lined up with a much nicer boss next year). My current boss could barely speak to me and I refused to be present when he did the awkward "goodbye and thanks" crap at the staff lunch and went on duty early (any kids who come on the last day are supervised all together and we rotate duties throughout the day).

So I go on duty 5 minutes early and am met with a preppie who has probably sprained her ankle (got leaving teacher to carry her to first aid room).

Then I got called over by another child to the other teacher on duty who has a child on the ground under the swings. It is obvious he has 2 broken wrists. A lot of other crap happened that I can’t write about. .....
.....But the short story is that I was the one who stayed to look after this kid and his broken, deformed arms until the ambulance arrived. 

 I was the one who kept the child calm and alert and still while we waited the million years for the ambulance to arrive.  

I was the one making sure that those wrists with bends where there shouldn’t be were kept still. 

I was the one doing all of this despite my existing, documented PTSD and nightmares about what the phrase “multiple injuries” means on a coroner’s report, and what a policewoman means when she says “he definitely died instantly.  There was no doubt about that”...... and thinking about all of that while staying positive and calm for this child who was in agony.
So by now, I am wondering how it was that the One Person on staff with major issues associated with trauma was the only one who could sit alongside the agony, stare it in the face,  remain calm and provide as much reassurance and comfort as required. I talked to that boy and rubbed his back until the ambos (paramedics) took over. Everybody else (aside from the ambos) busied themselves with the mechanics of “emergency action” – phoning the ambulance, alerting the parents, keeping other students away, opening the gate for the ambulance etc., because that raw pain was too much for them to look at for more than a few minutes at a time.

I have no idea how I managed to remain calm and *present* for this student for over 45 minutes, but I am glad I was able to.  I was glad to be there for this child, just like I hope that someone was there for Greg.

I was glad that despite my own issues, I was a ‘helper’ that day.

....and I am proud of that.

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Monday, December 17, 2012



I dreamed of him last night. For the first time in months and months, I dreamed about him and remembered it.

When I woke up I had the vague feeling that he'd made an appearance and then I couldn't quite remember actually seeing him in the dream. It was like he was there, but only as a presence, just outside of my peripheral vision.

Not a ghost. Not back from the dead. It wasn't a dream where I know he has died and I'm trying to figure out how it is that he's back.

It was a dream in which he was alive and with me, but I couldn't SEE him. Or I don't remember seeing him and this drives me insane. I want desperately to see him again, even it's only a dream Dave.

We were on a group tour of some sort of facility. Maybe a college campus building, I'm not sure. The building was like a maze and the deeper we were led into it the more lost I got, but I knew he'd help us find our way back out again or if not, at least we'd be lost together. Everything would be okay as long as we were together.

At some point, though, the tour disbanded and I suddenly realized Dave was gone, too. I had lost him in the maze and had no idea how to get back to our car or even how to get out of the building. I couldn't even remember where we were in relation to our home.

I was vaguely worried at first, and tried to text him and call him, but my phone was suddenly and inexplicably not my phone. All my contacts were gone, it wouldn't work properly, I didn't know what number to dial, it was malfunctioning and on and on and on, my concern and frustration growing. Hours passed and I could do nothing but continue to try to reach him but I made no progress. The overall feeling was that I would never find my way home again if I couldn't find him. I wasn't terrified so much as worried, lost and confused. At some point I realized that he was never coming back and that's when I woke up.

Later today, I remembered what proceeded that tour on which he disappeared. We'd moved into a little house on the ocean and it was more beautiful, peaceful and calming than I can describe. I was overjoyed to be starting a new life with him by the sea in our perfect little house all filled with light and views of the ocean.

It's not too tough to decode this one. Life is in order, beautiful, comforting and full of loveliness until I lose this man and then I'm lost. Can't find my way back home.

Externally, this isn't a true assessment of my life now. I'm finding my way, slowly but surely. I'm fighting to make a future for myself that both of us would be proud of. My life did not completely disintegrate when he died, it just changed completely and is now a life I never imagined for myself.

But internally, I feel the before and after so acutely, still. The sense that something right, and true and golden was taken away and its absence has left me lost and unmoored. That with him was taken my sense of peace and love and home. He was my home.

Not that I don't ever feel or experience peace or beauty or love now, but they are on a much smaller scale than before and feel dulled by the pain of his absence. He loved me so much that it made me feel as though my life had a purpose and truly meant something. He has always been home for me. The home I searched for until I met him and then the home he embodied when he was alive.

I'm missing my home.

It falls on me to provide that for myself now, but that is a task I'm still not convinced I can do without him. His particular love for me isn't something I can ever find a replacement for and don't want to.

What the future brings, I don't know. I have hope and look forward to many things, yes. But my true home is gone. That's a big loss to process, much less heal from. I can imagine that I might one day feel a new sense of home, but it's hard to imagine now.

I don't have a choice though. I have to keep going, hoping that time (and more so, my own hard work) will bring me the healing I so long for. Hoping that I will one day feel at home again, somehow.

If he could, he'd beg me to find the courage to keep hoping for that day. That's enough to keep me going. I want to do right by him. But more than anything I miss feeling the way I did when he was by my side and I haven't wanted to admit it lately, but I still feel lost because he's not.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I am calling myself out on my crap.

I've been doing it all week.

While talking to a friend, I realized I have commitment issues.

I’m not talking about relationship – commitment – issues.

I’m talking about committing to life.

I've realized I have a major problem seeing past today.

A friend will ask if I want to do something, go out and have fun, say, a week from now.

And I can’t really commit to it.

I think to myself “That sounds like fun. But that’s a week away. Today I just need to focus on today”.

This week I've been struggling with – is this the “grown-up” version of me, or is this the “widowed” version of me?

I've gone back and forth in my head, trying to figure out when this commitment issue started.
And why?

I guess it started about a year ago. A year after Seth died.

When Seth first died, I used to keep myself far too busy. I think to avoid my grief and pain. For almost a year straight, I was far too busy.

Then I crashed. Fell flat on my face in depression.

Suddenly I had to stop my life from spinning. I had to slow down, and just grieve.

I had to just stop. Stop everything.

Make my life stand still, so I could grieve and breath.

Now I’m afraid of being too busy.

I think the fear comes from “What if I have plans, and I’m riddled with grief, and I don’t feel like going??”. 

Then I have to pull the widow card, tell my friend I don’t feel up to it, and feel slightly embarrassed that something fun is too much for me to handle.

It’s embarrassing.

So instead of making plans, say a week from now, it’s easier to focus on just today. Because in a week I might not feel well. I might be emotionally sick next week.

So instead of dealing with the embarrassment of having to cancel plans, I have trained myself to not look past today.

Everyone says – “Take it one day at a time”.

I don’t think this is what they meant.

I think there is a silver lining in it. Stay focused and present with just today. Not next week.

Also allowing myself to be un-busy, and just be, with my grief. Rather than avoiding my grief.

But am I missing out on life in the process? Am I missing out on something amazing – a week from now?

I can’t tell if my commitment issue is a good or bad thing.

I do know not being able to look past today, isn't exactly a great thing.

But I realized that my brain and body have naturally figured out how to handle my grief, even if I don’t like the process.

It’s amazing what the human brain and body can do.

Forcing me to focus on just today, is ironically a good thing.

Thank you my dear, tired, body.

I appreciate it.