Sunday, March 31, 2013

Imaginary Friend

Source: My computer. I can't remember where I got this from.

I feel like my dead husband has become my imaginary friend.

I still tell him about my day. I still rant, cry and laugh about my day with him. I tell him my secrets, whisper to him in the dark. I will remember something funny he did, and laugh out loud, usually in the most awkward situations. And say “Remember that time you were showing my brother how cool your new lantern was, and you lit yourself on fire?? That was hilarious!”

I will be going on with my day. Working in the garden or at the grocery story. In my head, I will be rambling on to my husband. I go on and on, and suddenly I realize what I am saying in my head, isn't really in my head. It’s coming out of my mouth.

When I realize I’m actually saying my one sided conversation out loud, I stop mid sentence, and slowly and shamefully look around.. Of course, there is always someone standing there, giving me the look.

I want to scream at them. “I don’t have an imaginary friend. I am talking to my dead husband. Mind your own business.”

Because… well, talking to my dead husband is far less insane then talking to an imaginary friend.

I have lost my friend. My confident. The therapist I found inside my husband’s advice. He’s gone. I miss talking about my day. Bouncing ideas off him. Asking him “Does this dress make me look fat?” I can’t watch is face glow and hear his amazing laugh when I tell one of my not so funny jokes. I can’t wake him up in middle of the night after a bad nightmare, ramble on about the dream, and curl up in his arms. The arms that kept the world at bay. The arms that protected me from the midnight thunder storms that would shake me from my slumber.

I can’t call him crying when I have a flat tire or when I have a pipe break and it’s flooding my neighbor’s basement.

I miss my best friend, more than words could ever describe. I miss knowing no matter what, he has my back, and he will make everything okay again.

The loss of this friendship is shattering.

I have grown tired of this one sided, imaginary, friendship.

He never has a response. Never answers my questions. Doesn't wipe my tears or tell me it will be okay. Some days I think I truly am insane, and he actually can’t hear a word I say to him.

There is just the sound of my voice blabbing on, then complete silence. No response from my not dead, very much alive, husband.

The silence is deafening. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013


…One thing you learn when you’ve lived as long as I have-people aren’t all good, and people aren’t all bad. We move in and out of darkness and light all of our lives. Right now, I’m pleased to be in the light.”-  Neal Shusterman

It hit me the other day, while driving in my car contemplating what I would write about on my next blog post.

Nothing came to mind.

I went back to rehash past posts.

So much of what I had written was of the pain and perseverance after losing my soul mate.

The ups and downs. Ins and outs and all the unforeseen speed bumps in between.

All of those things are still factors in my life and I don't assume whether they will always or possibly never be an issue for the rest of my days.

But I took a scan over of my life. At this moment. Not next week or two weeks ago. This very moment.

It scared me, and made my heart race all at once.

The pain wasn't a large percentage and angst was no where to be found.

There was the ever present longing of my baby, but the kind of longing that became a companion in life to push me to live harder  and recognized the sweetness that would await me when reunited after fully lived life.

But more than anything, I saw a ton of peace. A quiet that has my mind relishing a time where nothing is forced; a smile, laugh, or hug. Relishing a time where a still and well rooted happiness does its job.

I don't know how long or if it's some calm before the storm, but I don't care. My smiling heart and smiling memory of Michael lead the way to a time that just is. Is and nothing more.

Friday, March 29, 2013

On Your Mark. Get Set. WHAT?

When you run a race, you always know ahead of time when you will be finished. There is a pre-determined length in miles or kilometers that you will run. Or walk. Or crawl. 5k. 10k. Half-marathon. Marathon. 100-yard dash. Whatever it is, there is an ending in sight. That ending is real and it's tangible, and there's a big sign at the end that says FINISH, and maybe some pretty ribbon to break through as you raise your hands up in victory, and people cheering and saying with delight: "Congratulations! You did it!"

What if someone told you that starting right now, right this second, through no choice of your own, you would have to run in a race that had no finish line? No chance to go out and buy a fancy track-suit. Nobody applauding or even noticing your efforts. No friends holding up signs along the way or handing you water and orange wedges. None of that. Just, from this moment on, your life would be one, long, endless race that leads to nowhere, and there is no Finish Line. None. The race never ends. Well, okay. Let's not get overdramatic here. The race ends when you die.

Would you ever purposely put yourself into any such kind of ridiculous race? No! Of course you wouldn't. Nobody would. Youd have to be a crazy person to sign up for such lunacy.

But that's grief. That's widowhood. An endless race that leads to nowhere - a race that never ends. And when your husband dies in a flash, with no warning, like mine did - that is exactly what it feels like. From the first second that I was jarred awake by that ringing phone on July 13, 2011, it was a new life of: "GOOD MORNING! YOUR HUSBAND'S DEAD! READY? ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO!!!!!!

It's been almost 21 months now, and I'm exhausted. Every decision, every turn, every corner, every dilemma or problem or obstacle - these are all things I must face alone now. Without my other half to give his take on the situation. Without his help. And let me tell you - people stopped handing me water and orange wedges long ago. For them, the race was over awhile back. For me, it's always there. Life is exhausting when you are living it without your teammate.

Those of you who have been following my blogposts here, know that my current roommate asked me to leave our apartment by the end of May, just 5 short months after I moved here. I had left the apartment that my husband and I shared for 7 years. Where we lived our short life together.

The news of my roommate wanting me to go was shocking. I was blindsided by it. And when you think you are on solid ground in life, or in your living situation, and then somebody comes along and knocks your house of cards down and wont give you any reason for it - you begin to question everything about yourself.

What did I do? Why did he ask me to go? Did he hate my kitty cats? Did I not keep the place clean enough? Do I smell weird or act weird? Do you find me repulsive or annoying or crude? What could it possibly be that made you suddenly decide that you dislike sharing space with me? But I will never get an answer. And my husband isn't here to talk me out of my insecurities, so they magnify and they grow and they manifest. And then that weighs on my heart, and I begin to doubt myself and my progress. I start to feel like Im moving backwards in this race. I cant see the road anymore or where it is that Im supposed to go next. It is very tiring to feel this way. It sucks to wake up each day, and already feel defeated. How can I be this tired the very moment that I wake up? But I am.

Something that I keep saying over and over again to my grief counselor, week after week, is this: "Everyone keeps telling me that Im doing really well. That I look 'better', or that I seem more 'alive', or that Im doing good things and progressing in all the right ways. So if Im doing everything 'right', why do I still feel like shit? WHY? Why doesn't the pain ever lessen? I know it will never go away entirely, but why does it feel just as intense now as it did when it happened? When will I not feel like shit everyday?"

She reminds me that it's only been a short time - 21 months - and that it will take a very long time before I feel a little bit of release. She reminds me again that the level of pain is equal to the level of love we shared. She tries to comfort me with her words of hope and promise. My logical side understands all of this, and it makes a lot of sense. My heart will never comprehend any of it, and it makes no sense at all.

And so, with no answers about much of anything, and no real reasons why; feeling dehydrated, lethargic, and about to lose my mind; I just keep running. I suck at running. I have terrible feet and my shoes are old. Im overweight and Im breathing hard. I look like a complete jackass. WHERE THE HELL IS THAT FINISH LINE???

But there isn't one. There never will be. But maybe one day - months or years or a decade from now - there will be more answers than questions.

Maybe one day - my ankles will adjust to the rocks in my shoes - and the pain won't be so crushing.

No Finish Line. But another start.

Ready? On your mark. Get set. GO ..... 

NOTE: Picture shown is my late husband Don and I - participating in a 5k Walk in NYC - 2010.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

seasons of grief


I laid in bed the other night, eyes brimming with tears, threatening to overtake me at just the thought of Jeremy's smile or to hear him laugh just one more time. Ultimately, I couldn't shake it and balled at the overflowing grief that seemed so prevalent. 

It's weird that lately, my ache for his personality and presence is so strong. The way he got excited about things, his voice when he was happy, the way he brought life to a room....I miss that. More than I think I ever have before. 

It struck me the same evening that my grief goes through different seasons. In February and March, while my children were celebrating birthdays, I was really grieving the loss of their daddy in our lives. It was hurting me that Jeremy was missing them reaching new milestones and getting older and bigger, and he wasn't seeing any of it. I couldn't seem to turn a corner without feeling a stab of bitterness that he wasn't here for our kids. 

Now that I think back, I can remember going through different seasons of grief. Not just the stages of grief like anger, denial, or depression....but grieving different specific pieces about the man that I loved. I went through a long phase of grieving not being able to experience Heaven with Jeremy, or constantly wondering what it will be like and yearning for the experience. Anything that was different than life without him. I went through a phase of really missing his knowledge of being able to fix anything, answering the questions I couldn't, and figuring out every electronic in our home. I remember for weeks in a row focusing on the absence of his physical presence - the feeling of holding his hand, the physical space he took up in the bed next to me and how empty it felt without him there, the comfort of his embrace. Then, it was smells - I missed his cologne, and the smell of his deodorant could have sent me on a downward spiral of tears....I even missed the smelly work clothes wreaking of cut grass, sweat, dirt, and body odor!

Has anyone else experienced these different seasons of specific pieces of grief? I call them seasons because they inevitably come back around. I will eventually grieve those pieces again in different situations along the way. And I also wonder what other pieces of him I haven't fully grieved yet.

Ultimately, it's all pieces of the same whole. All the parts that made up the man that I fell in love with. I grieve him completely, and apparently separately for all the different voids he left in my life. Different views of the same heart. Seasons taking affect on the same tree. But, oh, that tree sure was beautiful. I will miss it in every season.

What Do I Like ......


...... about the "after" me?
A friend and I were driving across town the other day and she asked me this question.

I stopped and pondered for a few seconds, but found it really quite easy to answer.
At this point in my life.
At this point in my "after".

"Almost everything.", I replied.
Of course ...... she wanted specifics.

So I started to list the things about the "after Janine" that I like:
- I'm more laid back than I was "before".
- I'm not afraid.  Of anything.  Anymore.
- I know that life is short and so I take nothing, nor anyone, for granted.
- I don't sweat the small stuff.
-I know what, and who, is important.  And what, and who, is not.
- I don't deal with B.S. any more.  Or the people who are full of it.
- I tell the people I love ...... that I love them.  Often.
- I'm kinder.
- I'm more patient.
- I don't waste as much time as I did "before".
- I'm more open minded than I was "before".
- I don't judge.
- I'm more accepting, except for judgmental people who are full of B.S.
- I make room in my life for new friends.
- I have too many "after" friends to count.  And yes, most (but not all) of them are widowed.  And yet are here for me.  No matter what.  As I am for them.
- I have no room in my life for so-called-friends.
- I'm stronger than I was "before".
- I'm willing to try new things ...... new experiences.
- I'm not afraid of death.
- I'm not afraid of life.
- I'm not afraid of being alone.
- I rarely doubt myself ...... or my abilities.
- I like myself.
- I have survived.  Against the odds.

She then asked me what I don't like about the "after Janine".
This list was short ...... but there were still some items.
- I'm less naive now.
- I'm generally more subdued.
- My happiness/joyfulness is still here, but it's never been as high as it was "before".  Nor do I expect it to ever be that high again.  Though I may be wrong.
- I'm less care-free.
- I'm more of a realist than I was "before".
- I don't want to be in a relationship again.  Ever.
- I have been too "trusting" in my "after" ...... and so have trusted the wrong people.

I'm sure there are a few other things that I'm not crazy about, but it's been a long day, I'm tired, and I really do like the person I've become in my "after", though I would never have believed that ...... in my "before", or even in the first 2-3 years of my "after".

Yes, I'd give every good characteristic up in a heartbeat ...... if that would bring Jim back.
But we all know that it won't.  And so I have learned to move forward, and to accept who I am and where I am.
No, I don't always like it, but I have accepted it.
So that I can move forward.

I am a different person than I was "before".
And though I'd never thought this in the beginning of my "after" ......
I like me.

And that's what counts.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I need a new bed

There, I've said it.

We bought the current bed in 1996 when Greg and I got engaged and we were planning our lives together.  Neither of us had a decent bed, so we bought a new one.

New lives and all.

That bed has had a lot of use in the intervening years.  ...and not just for sleeping on ;)

Our first bed in our first home together.

The place where our daughter was conceived.

The place where we snuggled and read and slept and snoozed and connected every single night under a hand-stitched quilt. 

The bed that I had to come home to After, and look at the indent where he should be.  The bed that I lay in each night and hold a one-sided conversation with the vacant side.

The bed that still holds his shape deep within its fibres.

Our bed.


According to my chiropractor, after 17 years the bed needs to be replaced.
...and my left hip agrees with him.

My mind agrees with him too ... but my heart is not so sure.  My heart thinks that I am leaving yet another part of the old life behind; leaving a little bit more of Greg behind.  A part of life that I really wouldn't want to change ... except for the recurring hip pain from sleeping on fabric stretched too tight over barely-padded springs.

...and so today, as this post goes live, I will be at the furniture store, trying to select a bed that has got half a chance of living up to its predecessor.

I never thought that buying a new bed could ever trigger quite so much grief.

Monday, March 25, 2013



I was driving down the road in my neighborhood when I felt and heard a collision on the right side of my car. I immediately knew I'd clipped someone's car door which was parked along the side of the road and nearly left my car running to race out and make sure I hadn't hurt anyone.

I apologized profusely, even though I hadn't seen her open the door. I felt that since mine was the moving vehicle, I was to blame. Also, this apologizing mode is very automatic for me. Not to blame my childhood for everything, but it has child of an alcoholic all over it, I think.

It wasn't until I was driving away later that I realized that she was the one who'd opened her door into moving traffic and that it wasn't necessarily all my fault. I also realized that while I wish I weren't so quick to blame myself for everything, I'm glad I'm me. I'm glad I reacted the way I did instead of the opposite. I'm glad I got out of that car ready to take responsibility instead of ready to assign all the blame on others. I'm glad my first concern was for everyone's safety, NOT the state of my vehicle or how expensive repairs would be or why that woman opened her car door into traffic. I'm glad I was my true self, instead of hiding my vulnerability under a cloak of anger or righteousness.

So, whether my reaction was because of childhood programming, or my own neuroses, or the alignment of the planets, what I realized was that I'm ok. Seems like such a simple awareness to have. That all of me, faults, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and broken bits included, is good and worthy of love. This is something I've struggled with since I can remember being able to think. The fact that it took maybe 5 minutes for this to sink in is a victory. There was a time when this would NEVER have sunk in. I would have spent a lot of time thinking about how I was faulty and therefore it was my fault. I was a bad driver, a bad person, simply unworthy in every way. My hitting her car was my fault and my blaming myself was a symptom of how screwed up I was, and I was hopeless.

But not now. Now, I'm directing my thoughts elsewhere long enough to see a different perspective. Long enough to find value in myself as I am. I don't need to change to be worthy. I don't need to be better, smarter, prettier, nicer. I need to be me. The real me. And that's all I need to do.

Easier said than done, of course, but I'm getting there and I can see the progress.

What does this have to do with being widowed? Everything. In that moment of collision ALL I cared about was human life. I prayed a million prayers in the 5 seconds it took to run back to her car that no one's precious family member had been injured.

I'm not sure that would have been my reaction before I lost Dave. Now, a day is considered a success when no one dies, my loved ones are all safe in their beds and I can have a moment of peace and tranquility to balance out the little hardships of a day in the life of a human.

And somehow, through all the pain of the past two years, my heart has been broken open and somehow softened. Not dramatically, and not suddenly, but over time and so slowly that I can't always tell until I look back and compare the before and after.

I'm proud of who I am and I'm stronger than I ever thought possible, even when I feel as weak and as scared as ever. Realizing that is a victory in itself. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Source - Thanks to my facebook friends for always posting things that I love.

I remember telling my husband “time moves way too fast. Life is flying by. I just want everything to slow down!”

Time came to a screeching halt on July 27th, 2010.

After my husband died, time stood still.

It still does today.

Time moves so slow now. This winter has been horribly long. I swear it's been winter for 2 years now. The days, weeks and months feel like decades. I’ll be at work, pounding away on my keyboard, almost completely done with my work, and I’ll look at the time. I do a double take every time... usually I have only been at work for 2 hours. Feels like I have put a whole 8 hours in, plus some. Yet, I still have 6 hours to go.

With coming up on the 3 year anniversary, I have been thinking a lot about time.

It doesn't feel like it’s (almost) been 3 years. It feels like it’s been a million years.

In fact, the day he died, feels like it happened in a past life. There is no way that at 32 years old, I have been alive long enough for that to happen in this life.

Time has become an illusion. Some days I feel like I have lost my mind. My internal clock is broken. I check the time over and over. Check the calendar over and over. Thinking I have missed a year somewhere. I lose track of the months and years, because it feels like they have already happened.

I have cursed time. Cursed myself for wishing that time would slow down.

It feels like it will be a billion years before I will see my husband again.

That thought alone is devastating. How do I live the rest of my life in slow motion?

Just yesterday, I was on my hands and knees, crawling past the 31 month anniversary. Today I stood up, wiped off my bloody knees and hands, and suddenly the 32 month is staring me in the face. I can still turn around and see the 31 month mark, now I can see the 32 month mark at the same time.

Where did March go?

For the first time in 32 months, a month has flown by.

And it feels fabulous.

I want life and time to speed up. I want the days and nights to not be so damn long.

I want the 3 year anniversary to fly by.

I don’t want the upcoming months to drag. I just want to get the 3 year anniversary done and over with.

I want my days and weeks to fly by.

I want my normal, fast paced life, back.

So I write...

Dear time,
I am sorry about what I said. You are more than welcome to speed up now.

I am ready for it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.
It's been nearly one year since I started my practice of meditation. 
It came at a point where I was hit head on with the awareness of how much, even at a point where I felt in control and happy, that my thoughts held me back in ways I didn't even know.
I saw the doubt that still had a room booked in my soul.
I came face to face with the mind jabber that was creating a smoggy film of my view of all that life could be.
That's when I started.
Now a daily practice, I see the benefit of acknowledging and noting when my mind is wandering...which it always does....but most importantly, realizing who and what I am and am not.
Which was a huge challenge, at times, after Michael died.
The same way we train and exercise our bodies, meditation has been the same for my brain that I felt I had lost a huge chunk of after his death.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Memories of Pulling Weeds

Tuesday night I finally connected with a widow that I had reached out to last September.  We talked briefly but the conversation was difficult.  We really didn’t click which made me sad.  Maybe it’s because she’s about two years out while I’m pushing the 4-year mark.  After we got off the phone and using my personal blog, I traveled back in time to remind myself where I was when I was two years out.  It’s amazing how crystal clear the memories of the feelings are of my life back then - a moment that seems not that long ago.

From March 2011…..


You’d think after almost two years I’d be used to the silence in this big house on Sunday mornings.  I’m surprised at how thick it still is.  Sundays were fun days for me and she.  Inevitably, she’d spring out of bed with a little dance, a smile and a plan:  work in the garden, go for a walk with the pups, brunch, paint, something.  She was always moving, it seemed, moving and smiling.  Now Sundays, once my favorite day of the week, are my most lonely.

Today will be a continuation of a process that started a long time ago.  But today is different; I’m bringing in help.  Mom Mary and Sister Lori are coming over and we, together, are going to sort through some more of Maggie’s stuff.  There’s still so much to go through.  I’m not sure how much we will get done but any progress is movement forward and movement is good.  Still, I both fear and look forward to the work.

I suppose until Mary and Lori get here I could go work in the garden.  It could certainly use some love.  It’s been several years since we tended it together and working alone seems so….  Pointless. But watching the plants and flower grow do make me smile still, just not as sweetly.  I always felt as we worked the dirt together we were building a foundation for happy times to come as a couple.  Now, I’m not sure why it’s worth the effort.  Sure, it looks nice.  I enjoy the flowers.  But it just doesn’t seem as meaningful.

Over the last number of years I’ve let the yard and garden really go.  It used to be a breathtaking work of nature (and our hands.)  We loved working in it, on it and watching it grow.  It was a labor of together love.  But as she got sicker, priorities had to be rearranged and the gardening fell out, that is, unless she wanted to go play in it.  Then, later, I pretty much lost interest.  Well, that’s not quite true.  I still love the garden.  I just didn’t care about anything anymore.  It’s funny how this garden has reflected the health, both mental and physical, of the people in this house.


Even though moments have passed since you started reading this post, hours have passed since I started typing it.  And in the hours, I did go out and work in the yard.  I didn’t do much; I evicted some quite large weeds that had taken up residence and had been bothering me for quite some time.  It was cathartic.  I was surprised, actually, at how hard it was to pull some of them from the hard dirt.  They really, REALLY didn’t want to go.

When Mary and Lori got here we started our work for the day: underneath Maggie’s bathroom sink.  It’s not particularly complicated work but nonetheless it’s kept me perplexed now for, well, nearly two years.  Various bottles of hair stuff and face stuff and nail stuff that took up residence when we moved in or soon after had all but spoiled.  Many garbage pails of stuff had to be thrown out.  It surprised me at how hard it was to pull some of them from underneath the sink.  (I think it surprised Mary and Lori, too.)  But it was time for all that stuff to go… Some to Mary…. Some to Lori… Some to unknown recipients… Some to the garbage.

After we finished the monumental task of clearing out one (exactly one) counter, we were emotionally drained.  We packed up the dogs and headed to Red Barn Nursery to peruse the fresh spring plants.  It was quite a contrast to just moments before when we were separating out hair gel from hand lotion while unearthing under-the-sink emotional land mines.  Here, while we looked at caladiums and oxalis, my mind raced through years of memories of Maggie and me (and Niko) spending hours (and many, many dollars) at Red Barn, picking plants for our garden.  Now, I was there with Maggie’s mom and sister (and Niko and Kali) while they picked out plants for their gardens after spending a couple of hours throwing away my wonderful wife’s, their wonderful sister’s and daughter’s things.

I wish I could avoid the metaphor here.  I was certainly relieved when I finally pulled out those pesky few weeds that had been bothering me for so long.  I can’t really say I can feel relief about clearing out one more stack of stuff of Maggie’s.  Right now, when I look at the places her stuff used to be, I see great big holes, just like where the weeds used to be in my yard; there are big divots in the ground that are all dirt and no grass.  These empty holes dot the yard, just like the empty spots on Maggie’s side of the bathroom sure do stick out.

But I know grass will grow back in the yard and fill in those holes.  The grass around it may be a little shocked from the winter, but it’s good strong grass planted in good strong dirt.  It’ll take time but eventually, I won’t even be able to tell where those weeds used to be.  Heck, I might not even remember that they were there.  Ya know, before we started clearing out the cabinet, I took pictures.  Maybe I should have taken pictures of those weeds, too.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Love is bigger

I was thinking about Amanda's post last week comparing divorce to death and how perturbed it made me what some people have the nerve to say. I've been lucky that no one has been dumb enough to try to compare the two to my face....or I should say, they've been lucky enough.

Not even my husband, who has been through one of the most painful divorces I know of, tries to compare the two. Just as I don't ever try to play the widow card to trump the hurt and pain that he's gone through. We know they're different and both painful in their own right.

But in my own personal experience, I have recently really noticed the difference that those tragic experiences have played out for our children. I ache every time I realize that Jeremy is missing out on things in his childrens' lives and there is nothing that will ever fill that void. But there is one thing I'm always certain of: Jeremy was an incredible daddy and his children will never doubt the love he had for them. Now that our oldest girls have gotten to a place where they realize their biological mother is not in the picture because of her own choice, that is a much harder topic to trudge through. The questions of why dad was the one who did the things that moms were supposed to when they were little are hard to answer. Knowing that we look for opportunities to honor Jeremy and talk about him in our household is a stark contrast to the care and sensitivity we take to not expose the pain and hurt the runs deep (and unfortunately current) caused by a mentally and physically unhealthy person who wants other people to be as unhappy as she is. I never thought the ripples and scars left by that tragedy could be as complicated to heal as my own.

How could you choose a more painful experience between watching a child that has night terrors about their parents leaving them or a child who has a hard time trusting people because they don't feel safe with the person who is supposed to care for them the most? A child who asks why daddy had to die or a child that ask wonders if it was their fault that their mom never did their hair or bathed them and would leave for days at a time? Which is worse? The truth is, they both are and comparing the two only makes it more painful.

What is boils down to is that it's ultimately not about divorce vs. death, but it's about love. While I wouldn't wish a death of a spouse on anyone, I can say that I am thankful for the love that Jeremy gave me, and I would NEVER trade it, even if I had known I would lose him so soon. And while I certainly would never wish a divorce on anyone, I know that divorced parents are not DEAD parents. But to feel a parent choose to leave is a painful trail in and of itself. I get frustrated in either situation by people who abuse these experiences to hurt others, or put children in the middle of it. In my book, that's unacceptable. To feel unconditional love is to be given wings in a very heaven laden world. Love matters, and when you get to experience it, no matter how short of time you have it for, it changes you and the way you see the world. It makes the harder parts easier to walk through. It make life worth living.

At the end of the day, we love our way through grief and divorce when our children struggle, because love is bigger than both, and the only thing that gives us the strength to keep going. We might not always have the right answers, but we are sure they cannot be out loved.

In the end, love wins.

For The Times That You Want To Stop ......

...... going on.

I received an email last night from a woman who found my blog.
Her husband died 5 1/2 months ago.
She had a question for me.
And I knew what it was before she asked it.

"Hi Janine... still reading your blog.. and am so happy you are doing so much better.  However.. I am no where near that point. I have a question for you.  Did you ever want to stop... to not go on... even though you had children and parents who needed and depended on you?"

My heart immediately hurt for her.
So much.
And my mind immediately went back to that cold, lonely, inky black place where she is now.
I remember every detail of that place.
Even though I'd like to forget ...... as I've forgotten so many other things.

And I know that she is not the only one out there who feels this way.
Who hurts this way and wonders if she/he is alone in that wondering.
Has anyone else ever wanted to just ...... stop?

Very much so.
I did more than just want it to stop.
I attempted to stop.
But I couldn't go all the way.
Someone intervened ...... and here I am today.
I'm not sure if I would've gone all the way ...... had they not intervened.
Sometimes I think no.
Most times I think no.
But sometimes ...... I wonder.

For all of you who've been there ......
For all of you who are there right now ......
And for those of you yet to go there ......
You are not alone.

Many of us have been there.
And are still here.

No, not everyone goes there.
It's not a requirement or anything ...... for grieving.
Thank God.

But it's not all that unique, either.
Or abnormal.
Or wrong.

You feel what you feel.
And sometimes ...... you think that you cannot feel like that for one more moment ...... let alone for the next 40 years or so.
You want the pain to stop.
And it doesn't matter who might be left behind.
Or how it might affect them.
Because you think that they'll be better off to be done with you.
With you and your grief.

I get that.
I understand that like I never, ever did ...... or could ...... "before".

So I will tell you what you don't ...... can't ...... believe.
You matter.
Your existence matters.
No matter how negative you think it may be.
No matter how much you are grieving each and every day.

And the emptiness you will leave behind will shatter someone ...... several someones ...... into a million tiny pieces that cannot be put together again.
They have already lost one of the most important people in their life.
They cannot lose another.

You can't believe that.
But try to believe me.
I have been there.
I was there for a long time.
But I've made it to here.
And I worked damn hard to get here.

So try to believe me.
And if you can't ...... let me believe it for you.
You matter.

And ...... this is the most important thing I can tell you ......

I promise.
That's all I have.
My word.
I hope that you can trust me.
Or ...... let me believe it while you can't.

Your days will not always be this dark.
His death will not always be the first thought you have when you open your eyes in the morning.
Her absence will not always be the last thought you have before you fall asleep at night.

The pain will not always be this intense, this suffocating, this soul-killing.
It will not always be this heart-shattering.

My existence here is proof of that.
And your presence here is my reason for that.
I've made it to this point so that I can help others make it.
And I will do whatever I can ...... whatever it takes ...... to help you keep believing.

To help you ...... keep breathing.
And to keep coming back here.

One breath at a time.
That's all.
Just one breath.

You are not alone.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Are You Done Being Widowed Yet?

I am filling in for Amanda today who is swamped with school work. She will be back next week!

It has been seven years, six months, and 19 days since the word WIDOW first applied to me.

In the first moments after Phil's accident, I hoped that he would survive the impact of that car colliding with his body.

In the first few hours after I knew his accident was fatal, I hoped I was living a terrible dream from which I could eventually wake up.

The next several painful hours I just hoped I could live through having to repeat the words...Phil died, Phil died, Phil died, Phil died. Every time I had to say the words I held back the vomit that wanted to come out with them. Every time someone screamed back into the phone at me, because they could not believe the words I was saying, I felt slapped by what was now our shared reality.

I didn't really think about the fact that I was a widow until the morning after Phil died. I woke up to his alarm sounding at four thirty in the morning. For a minute I expected to hear his arm reach across and turn off the alarm clock, then the memories of the day before flooded my mind. I laid there in bed, eyes closed, hoping that I would reach over and find Phil in bed right beside me. Keeping my eyes squeezed shut, I slid my hand across to his side of the bed. My searching fingers were met by the cold sheet where his warm body should have been...demonstrating that this was not a dream, just a new and awful reality. As tears slid down my cheeks I  realized for the first time that I was a widow. The image that popped into my head at that moment didn't resemble me at all. It was like staring into a mirror and seeing a reflection that you've never seen before, then touching your face as the reflection does the same. Suddenly you know that you are looking at an altered version of yourself that you've never met, and don't particularly want to get to know, yet understanding that you have no choice.

Since that moment of dawning realization I have spent years and years and years getting to know this new version of me. The widowed version of me. The altered, never to return to the old me, version of me. At one point I hated the person I'd unwillingly become. I couldn't look her in the eye;she knew too much, hurt too much, needed too much. I felt sorry for her, and so did everyone else. That sorrow threatened to swallow me whole. I was so tempted to drown in the depth of the pain.

So, I didn't look at her. I ignored her, and kept trying to remember to breathe while I worked equally hard to forget how to love. Because the love hurt so damn much. I ached with need, I swam in self-pity, I spewed curse words or laid on the floor weeping...depending on the day. I was either repelled by or obsessed with yesterday, while doing my best to feel nothing in the present, not quite believing that tomorrow would actually come. The one thing I consistently did NOT do was try to get to know the widowed me. She revolted me, because I didn't want to be her. I didn't want to live her life.

Eventually, out of a desperate need to figure out if I was losing my mind for good, I sought out other widowed people. I started with one who 'looked' nothing like me. Our experiences were polar opposites, with the exception of the fact that both our husbands were dead. But, in a span of only two hours and twenty minutes this woman introduced me to the widowed version of myself in a new way, and for the first time I did not turn away in horror. Using her mirror I looked like a survivor, instead of an abject, tortured soul. Looking through her eyes I saw a version of myself that deserved respect, and consideration. She admired the widowed me not because I was so strong, but because I was willing to be weak. She told me that survival was possible, and I could see the truth of that statement in her experienced eyes.

Since that one powerful moment I have been determined to help other widowed people see their new widowed self in a different light. Our widowed selves have been changed by love. We have also been changed by grieving the loss of that love. Our transformation from our old self to this new widowed self is so painful that viewing this metamorphosis as beautiful seems impossible. Yet, beauty can be found in every tear, in every memory, in every determined step forward into a new and unexpected life. Our widowed selves are have been forced into a cocoon mode because of the pain of our loss. We have shrunk into ourselves in order to find the strength, the courage, and the will to recreate our lives. Breaking out of that cocoon may well be the life work of this phase of our life journey.

How can we be anything but changed by a loss that destroys the foundation we have built our lives upon? Both poets and politicians have frequently noted that there is a danger in forgetting our roots. The consensus seems to be that we must remember where we came from in order to get where we are going. Following that logic, I don't think that I should forget that I have been widowed. Being widowed created the woman I am today. The butterfly wings that eventually emerged from my grief cocoon are colored with Phil's love, and I will use these wings to fly for as long as I am able, in his honor.

Please learn to love the widowed you, and don't let anyone convince you that "the widow card" is a liability. That card with your widowhood em-blazed on the front is a survivor card. Tuck it into your back pocket and know you can count on this card when the going gets tough. Seek others who have this card in their pocket too, they will be an invaluable point of reference as you get to know your widowed self.

In the early days of my loss my only hope was to survive the pain of losing Phil for just one more minute. Over the past seven years I have become willing (and able) to hope for more than minute to minute survival. Today I live a full life that honors my past, makes the most of my present, and never assumes that tomorrow is guaranteed. I actively hope for that kind of life for every one of my cocooned widowed friends. My widowed self found a way to embrace and nurture the glimmer of hope provided by those that walked this road before me as I struggled day by day to break out of my cocoon. Hope fueled by widowhood?
 Believe it or not that is one powerful combination. Hope matters.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Worry Wart


When Dave died it was as though my brain got a reboot. I think of it as though my thinking brain went offline from the shock and my mind was led more by my emotional, intuitive brain. The chronic worrying I had before ceased. Vacillating over a decision stopped. Giving a shit what anyone thought about me ended. I was fearless and though I felt insane with grief, looking back now, I can see that I'd actually gained some sanity because my overly vigilant thinking brain was largely silenced.

But as the months rolled on, the old thinking brain has slowly returned, bit by bit. Lately, it's been back with a vengeance. I've been struggling to listen to my intuition over the roar of my thinking brain. I've been struggling to sleep over the sound of the loops of worry. All the bad news in the world seems to stick to me like glue and all of this is affecting my health (as of course, it would).

So what to do?
A book (saving me yet again) has helped a bit so far. It's called The Worry Solution*.
The title made me suspicious, but less so than another one called The Worry Cure. I have no patience for too-good-to-be true bullshit. But I took a chance with this one because it's brain science based.

It's helped me to learn that scientists believe that the brains of those who've lived through difficult childhoods are wired to be more vigilant. I can see that my brain is wired to worry. It's to protect me. Also, worrying for all of us was (and still can be) evolutionarily helpful. When we used to live in the open plains and get stalked by saber toothed tigers, we needed to be vigilant or we'd be lunch. But now, we have so little to actually worry about day to day and yet our brains are still worrying. It's as though they need something to worry about to protect us so they find something. Even if it's something that probably won't even happen. Also, when we worry about things we can do something about, it usually spurs problem-solving and becomes productive.

Knowing that this is what our brains do helps me feel less alone in my worrying.

The other thing that is starting to help me is imagery.
Imagery comes from the emotional part of our brain. It bypasses the verbal, thinking part of the brain that does all the worrying.
I've been practicing imagining a superhero me (cape and all) kicking the hell out of the worry when it begins. Then I imagine holding the worry out into space and letting it blow away. Last night I asked Dave to take it from me. I know he'd do that for me. On earth he'd do anything for me, so why not imagine him doing the same now?

And finally, before bed each night, I've gotten out my notebook, listed my worries, one by one, and then refuted them. Most of my worries are the kind I can do nothing about and will probably never come to pass. So I refute them. If my worry is "I'll be rejected" then I refute it (in writing) with reasons there isn't evidence to support that worry.

I also imagine all my worries stacked up over the years and think about the percentage of them that actually came to be and compare the two. The stack of worries reaches the moon and the events that really came to be can be counted on my hands.

The thing is, though, those of us who've had a spouse die, know what can really happen. And those of us who've suffered more losses on top of our spouse's death, are hyper aware of how bad things can get. It's possible our losses train our brain to be vigilant and the worrying is launched as a way to protect us (though it does no such thing most of the time).

What makes me most determined to kick my worrying habit is the fact that the worrying has the potential to suck the joy out of the current moment so that when something bad does happen, I don't have a lot of joy in the bank to sustain me through an inevitable rough patch.

My big worry lately (for some reason) is that I'll get sick and need help and my friends will have to take care of me or I'll just suffer alone in my condo. Yesterday I did feel some yuckiness coming on and took to bed, almost more as an excuse to lie in bed and watch movies than because I really felt seriously ill. As I lay there in my comfortable bed, listening to the rain outside and feeling the cool breeze from an open window slide over me, I realized that I had a lovely moment right there. Worrying about how sick I might actually be and how I would get help if I became really sick was not only ruining a peaceful time, but also probably making me sick.

I decided that instead of worrying, I'd consider myself lucky that I got to go to bed in the middle of the day and watch 80s movies with a napping cat tucked into my side.

Later, I took a bath, made my worry list, listened to the rain some more and slept through the night. Which is a miracle all its own.

I'm getting there.

*Disclaimer - There are some annoying bits of this book that I won't get into here, but there's just enough in it to make me think in different ways and that's what I wanted this post to be about.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Addiction or Grief

A friend posted this on Facebook.

Warning. This is a rant and a poor me post.

This week has been full of downs.

Most of my downs this week are from feeling unsupported in my grief.

I think everyone in my life is either getting over my husband’s death, or sick of hearing about it. I’m not sure which.

And everyone is going through it at the same time. Besides me.

I've heard “It’s been 3 years already, when are you going to get over this?” I've heard “Forget the anniversary, it’s just a date, and eventually you will forget anyway.” Eventually I will forget the day my husband died? Seriously? 

A friend gave me a not so friendly lecture this week.

It started with sharing my excitement of going to camp widow. I was blabbing on and on about what I want to do while there.

My friend says “Why are you going to camp widow?”
Me: “Err.. because I’m a widow? And camp widow has amazing support that I really need.”
Friend:  “When are you going to give this up?”
Me: “Give what up?”
Friend: “Being a widow.”
Me: “Ahh.. give up being a widow? My husband died. How do I give up being a widow?”
Friend: “It’s like a drug addict or alcoholic. At some point they have to decide they don’t want to live that lifestyle anymore, give it up and move on. Same with you. You need to give up on this life style or you will never move on.”

I was so shocked that I just sat there. And honestly, I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself.

How dare I let being widowed turn me into a widow. How dare I let that fact that my life is shattered effect me.

Now, I remind myself, that the people that always have their 2 cents to put into my grief, have no god damn clue what it’s actually like to live with it.

In the last couple of weeks, it seems like its one person after another, not being supportive.

I try to remind myself that these people care, and want to see me better.

What they don’t realize is I will never be the same person again. Never. I am forever changed from this.

It makes me feel so alone, I can hardly stand it. I feel like I can’t talk about my husband, cause god forbid, someone has their own opinion about my life, my grief, the amount of time it's been since he died, blah, blah.

I've thought a lot about what my friend said. Basically referring to my grief as an addiction.

I think there is maybe some truth in that. Maybe I have gotten so used to be widowed and dealing with my grief, that it has become a habit. A habit that is impossible to break.

What if it was an addiction, and a support group or medication was the cure; could I give up my addiction?

After fumbling for words, I finally told my friend “Well, I guess I’m not ready to give up being a widow.”

Maybe it’s a decision, that one day I will wake up and say “Ok, I give up on being a widow. I give up on my love for my husband. I’m moving on.”

Honestly, I hope it’s that easy. But I know it’s not.

My support system is shrinking daily, and I don’t even know how to give up being a widow.

I can’t wait to get to camp widow, so I can be surrounded by people that get what I am going through.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. ‘Floods’ is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, that valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory.” 

Over 5 years ago I started writing on a blog.

Writing to release. Writing to express. Writing to hold the seams from bursting open. Writing to feel that there was at least some place to place my sanity and insanity. Writing to the person that wasn't here to read it.

I am by no definition a writer. But I am someone who has written to heal. To remember. To recognize just how far I've come in retrospect, and I'd just like to take this Saturday to thank you for allowing me to do so. For allowing me to go back to that original place before the loss...

But more importantly, for allowing me, in some capacity, to not only remember, but to create. To evolve. To let those banks and curves of my soul and eternal love, guide me to where I need to be.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Six Degrees of My Dead Husband

Everything in life comes back to my dead husband.

This month, I have had a few unexpected expenses, and I make crappy money to begin with, and today I sit with $87 in my checking account, and somehow need to make that last until the end of the month, which is payday. Now; when my husband Don was alive, being broke was no picnic, but it also wasnt the end of the world. We got through each broke cycle together, and he always had my back. Often times, the first thing he would say as I was shaking him awake in the morning was: "Take whatever's in my wallet, Boo. Love you, have a good day." Then he would roll over and go back to sleep as I left for work. (He worked the overnight shift as a paramedic.) But now? When Im broke, Im just broke, and there's nobody to shake out of their slumber to loan me a few bucks. I just gotta "figure it out."

This morning, right in the middle of going to the bathroom, I came to the sad realization that there was no toilet paper on the roll sitting there next to me. Great. What the hell do I do now? Walk pants-down to the hallway closet and grab another roll, taking the very high risk that my roommate will choose that very same moment to walk down the hall as well? Back at our old apartment in New Jersey, in my old life where I was a very happily married person, this was a common occurance. No big deal. I simply open the door and shout: "Boo! Throw me a roll of TP please?" "Again?", he would chime in, not believing how many times I leave myself sans toilet paper. "Yeah yeah, enough with the critique. Just do it." I dont feel comfortable enough to have that kind of dialogue with a roommate, so it doesnt happen.

About 6 months ago, I made the decision to move out of the NJ apartment that my husband and I had shared for 7 years. It was a crappy rental, it was old as hell, and we were always saying how we wanted to move out of there and find a nicer place. But Don made everything that was miserable - funny - and so when he mocked the apartment or me or our life, it always made me laugh. Well, living in a crappy apartment by yourself with nothing surrounding you except your husband's things? It ain't that funny. It sucks. It sucks hard. So after searching and searching and packing up our entire life into boxes and spending months getting rid of and selling and donating our furniture and generally having every second revolve around moving, I finally found what seemed like the perfect place at the perfect time. There was a really nice and generous man on the 21st floor of a high-rise in my favorite neighborhood of NY, Forest Hills. He was (still is) a gay man, so there were no worries about weird heterosexual tensions or "intentions", and after meeting up a few times, once in his Manhattan office and once at the apartment so I could see it, we decided to be roommates. In New Jersey, one of the best things about our old apartment was that it sat right on the Hudson River, just 8 minutes outside NYC. The city skyline view was amazing, and at night, the whole city lit up like a Lite Brite board. It was pure magic. Don and I used to take walks at night and look at that view, and he would say: "You know, Jersey sure is a craphole, but this view never gets old." My bedroom on the 21st floor has that same view - but better, because its in my bedroom. I dont even have to walk outside to see it this time. The neighborhood is only a 20-minute drive to work for me. In NJ, I was commuting about 2 hours each way (driving to Long Island and back.) with traffic. Everything about this place felt like home to me, and it felt like a sign. It felt like my dead husband had sent me here.

And then, last month, it all came crashing down. Out of the complete blue (at least from my perspective), my roommate told me that "we are not a good match" and he would like me to be out by the end of May. I think I asked him to please repeat himself because I was so shocked. I asked for an explanation, many times, as to the "Why" of this sudden mismatch news. He refused to give me any specific reasons, and so, to me, it became just another thing that I was losing suddenly - in a flash - and for no reason - just like Don.

Just a few weeks before, I had specifically inquired with him as to whether or not we were on solid ground, and should I feel comfortable selling my car in order to save money and just use the amazing public transporation options that are available here in Forest Hills? Not only did he tell me we were doing great, but also talked about a year or two down the line, when he may move to Los Angeles, and how I could stay here and find another roommate if I wanted to. Feeling confident about things, I decided to drive my car home to Massachusetts and have my brother try and sell it for me. This was also a hard decision to make, as this car was a used car that my brother bought for me just a couple months after Don died, because Don's car was very old and had tons of miles on it and was becoming too unsafe for me to drive. So we sold my husband's car for super cheap, and my brother bought me this one. Ironically, both cars looked exactly the same, and were both Pontiacs. My brother switched out the rugs and the rearview mirror on the cars, so that I could always have Don's rearview mirror.

Now, a few weeks later, my car sits in my brother's snow-filled yard and on Craigslist. There have been no calls on it. And here I sit, just 6 months after moving my entire life from NJ to NY - exhausted, confused, terrified, broke, and once again; looking for a new place to live.

This year, I have been asked for the first time, to be a presenter at Camp Widow. I will be doing a stand-up comedy performance about grief, and about my husband's death. The presentation, which is the weekend of April 19th, is supposed to have the tone of inspirational. Coping with loss through humor. Meanwhile, my life is such a mess right now and I am such a mess right now, that I went to bed at 9pm last night because I couldnt handle any more random crying outburts or emotions or things I have to get done or stress. I was jolted awake at 4am this morning with this thought: "SHIT! It's Friday! I have to write my Widow's Voice Blog!!!" Normally I write it up and submit it on Thursday night, but I was so stressed out, I forgot. Never did I picture my life being one where I would awaken in a ball of tension screaming about a blog for widows. Never did I think that at age 41, I would be no longer married, but feel married, and be going through roommates like toilet paper. Never did I see my life ending up here - once again packing boxes and bags, once again relocating and "getting used to it", once again making yet another sacrifice so that I can keep going, keep surviving, keep trying. Once again, I need to just figure it out. Alone.

A couple of months ago, when I was starting to consider selling my car due to the huge expense of simply owning a car in New York, I was bringing up the idea in an online private group I sometimes hang out in. It is a group of women, and they are not widowed. I was talking about how difficult it was going to be for me to sell this car, because Ive come to love it, and my brother bought it for me after Don's death, and it would suck to let it go. One of the women made a comment that she "didnt see what selling my car had to do with Don's death at all", and basically implied that I was being stupid if I didnt sell it to save some money, and that I needed to start "sacrificing" some things. Oh really? Would you like a list of everything I have had to sacrifice since my husband randomly died that morning? Sit down, because its a long list. It was one of those many moments in this new life where I wanted to scream, but had to instead hold back and keep reminding myself: They just dont get it. They just dont get it. They just dont get it.

And, among many other things they dont get, the big one, is this:

When you lose your life partner to death, it affects every single part of your life going forward. Everything  changes overnight. Every. Thing. Tiny things like shopping, to what you eat, to how you look at pictures, to cooking , to watching TV, to your music selection, to what route you take when you drive to work, to everything.

And then, of course, the big things. Like letting go of your 2nd car in a year. Your 2nd home in a year. Your 2nd time of feeling like you were on solid ground, and then having that ground pushed out from underneath you. It all goes back to the very reality that he died, and it always will.

It's like that game; Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, where every actor at some point has worked with or has worked with someone else who has worked with Kevin Bacon. This is the same thing, except it's not a fun game to play. It's just the truth. And sometimes, the truth is a really sucky place to be.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Through Your Eyes

Yesterday, my 6 year old turned into a 7 year old. Like any birthday, I can hardly believe it. But birthdays after loss can be so much more bittersweet. Bitter for the every moment that Jeremy is missing out on his daughter's life, and sweet that in spite of the great tragedy of losing her daddy, Faith is growing into a beautiful young girl. I'm so proud of who she is and the heart she carries with her.

While I am always proud of my children, I've also recently taken notice of what a spectacular thing it can be to stop and look at them through Jeremy's eyes. It's like I can see his smile and hear his voice in the same way I heard it for days on end after Faith was born saying "she's so beautiful." Or see him sit back in his chair with arms crossed in satisfaction at Caleb when he makes something amazing with his legos. I can almost hear his amusement when I get a belly laugh out of Carter. Somehow, my chest sticks out a little farther to take pride in them for the both of us.

I've often wondered what purpose Carter was to serve in my life, having never had the chance to meet his daddy face-to-face, and then had to come into the world with a mother who was broken hearted and didn't have a clue how to put one foot in front of the other. I often call him the boy who saved my life because he literally forced me keep going, not for myself but for him, because he depended on me for survival. But I questioned God's purpose in his birth so many times, because it was so painful to endure. Then, the other day when I was having a bad day, upset on the couch, he came and brought me a blanket and pillow and even brought me an ice pack (cause he thought I was hurt) and then laid with me and patted me with his tiny little hands chanting "it's ok mama"........this guy just turned two. What kind of 2 year old has the sense to take care of his mama like that? It's like he knows. He's my protector. And suddenly I got the sense that maybe he sees me through Jeremy's eyes sometimes too.

I know my children's futures have unending potential, but I think maybe part of their purpose in this world was to show me how to see more of the world through Jeremy's eyes and to recognize how Jeremy saw me. What a gift that truly is.

I continue to remind myself to stop and look at the world through his eyes, not only to keep him close to me but also to feel the passion for the things he loved....which just so happen to include the people I love. Sometimes, the change of perspective is all I need to remind me to keep going.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sometimes ......


...... I still cry really, really hard.

Sometimes ...... I cannot seem to stop.
Not often.
Not any more.
But sometimes.

Last night four of my kids and I went to see Tom Hank's new play, "Lucky Guy".  We were so excited to be seeing him, an actor we've all enjoyed thoroughly over the years.
It was good.

It was a true story ...... about a New York reporter who made quite a name for himself back in the 80's and early 90's.
This man is no longer alive, and that was brought out in the play.
He had survived a horrifying car crash, only to die of cancer a few years later.

My tears started flowing when his wife said something like this:
"We had been through so much.  SO much.  When you go through so much and survive, you think that  the rest of life will be easier.  It should be easier."

I cry now as I type those words, because damnit, that's what I believed.
We'd been through so much.
The year 2001 was a year that will always live in infamy for me.
Of course ...... it pales in comparison to 2007.  Now.
If I'd only known.

Anyway, the end of 2001 ushered in not only 9/11 but a huge upheaval in the industry Jim worked.   Huge.
He had worked for one firm since we graduated from college.  Twenty years.  A life time ...... for some.
Twenty years tossed into the wind after the end of 2001.
He/we were blessed.  He was great at what he did and so had no problem finding another firm who wanted to add him to their roster.  But still ...... twenty years of working and making friendships and seeing the same people every year at the Christmas party and other get-togethers.  Twenty years of sharing stories of raising our children and watching families grow and watching children grow up.
Twenty years disappearing right before our eyes.

And, during our Thanksgiving vacation to his parents' farm in 2001, he was target shooting and the gun blew apart ...... into his face.  Fortunately, I was with him that one and only time.  I was able to drive us back to the farm to get his dad and head to the hospital.
He lost his eye.
But thankfully nothing worse.  Pieces of the gun came close to entering his brain.
All he lost ...... was his eye.

As one can imagine, it was a very difficult loss.  And a very difficult recovery.  All I could think, over and over again, was "If we can just make it to the one year mark, things will be so much better."
And we did.

He went through so much.
And then he died.
And I wondered what the hell was the point of all of that.
Really, God ...... what was the freakin' point?!

I'll never know.  Just as I'll never know why he had to die.
And I've come to peace with that.  Because I know this:  even if God himself came down and told me exactly why Jim had to die ...... the reason would not be good enough for me.  Ever.
And so I don't ask anymore.

But ...... he went through so much.
We went through so much.
One would think that the rest of life would be ...... should be ...... easier.

One would be wrong.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Not the Same

OK - I have got my ranty pants on here because I am So Tired of hearing the following statement:

"You are lucky - my husband is such an arsehole - I wish He was dead".

Usually uttered by my divorced friends who keep on telling me How Much Tougher they have it due to custody battles and financial settlements.
And I understand that at this point in time, they truly hate the person they once loved.  That they are hurting and feel betrayed by love.  That legal battles are not fun. Disputes over children are fraught with emotion and righteous indignation.   Financial hardship is hurting their lifestyle.
And I feel the hate for their husband emanating from their mouths in streams of vitriolic rage.


Being widowed and being divorced are NOT the same.

I listen to all these reasons quietly, repeating in my head that the do not know what they are saying because they have not walked in my shoes......

I deeply love my husband.  Still.
I  cry myself to sleep every night.  Still.
In my darkest moments, I fine tune my exit strategy.  Still.
I look upon the compensation payout as blood money.
I am sick of the ongoing legal battle for the insurance company to pay out the full amount of compensation.
I am still trying to live day-to-day on a single wage and the entirety of ALL expenses fall on my shoulders.
I tire of being the only adult making major life decisions that affect our children.
I would dearly love to find a great bloke and fall in love again .... but   Greg set the benchmark so high that I doubt I will ever meet another soul who is so perfectly imperfect for me.  Even if I was ready. 

But I don't say anything in response to these friends who tell me that death is easier than divorce because their Dad died and they had to put up with their batty mother who went  insane and OMG life was still so much better than being divorced ....  I don't comment that losing a father is not the same as losing a husband and I don't point out that her mother's insanity was probably deep grief mixed with depression and terror.
But perhaps I should.

Perhaps I should say the one thing I know to be true:

Death and Divorce are NOT the same.