Day 354: making my bed

Once again, it has been shamefully long since I checked in. Life has been crazy lately. I have relocated about 25 miles away from the home I shared with my husband for 7.5 years. It was hard to leave and I am still working on making this place feel like mine. I have taken this as a chance to stop living like a disgusting frat boy and start actually cleaning up after myself. I even started making my bed every day.

I have never been one that placed much importance on bed making. I always had the philosophy that I was just going to mess it up again so why even bother? But, now there is something calming about the clean feeling of walking in and seeing everything look on point, which nowadays feels better than not bothering straightening the mess because I know the mess will just be recreated. This is also how I am choosing to try to live my life.

I know as I continue to grieve there will be messy, emotional days but I cannot make the decision to not make attempts to straighten myself up and keep moving forward. It is nice sometimes to feel put together instead of simply waiting for that next wave to wash over and try to drag me below again.

Good thing for today: As a different sort of day count, I am counting the dwindling days until Friday when my new guy and his daughter arrive for a two week stay, which means also additional support for my one year, at which point I will stop labeling my posts with the number of days since his death. I no longer felt the need to count several months ago and use a day between dates calculator to figure out what day I am on any way, but it felt most complete to finish the year as I started. So maybe that is two good things for today?

Day 281: widda.org

I don’t have a ton of readers, but I know that most of you that follow my journey are widowed. If you are a widowed person, I wanted to let you know about a forum for people in our tribe called widda.org. I previously belonged to a different forum, but it was shut down suddenly and widda.org is where the community migrated. It is a great bunch of people over there and although it is only a month and a half old or so, we already have over 500 members. The community has helped me out so much in having perspective and feeling so much less alone on my tough days. So, if you are looking to find people that “get it”, check it out.

Good thing for today: There was some drama yesterday with the townhouse I was buying as the appraisal was 5k under the agreed upon purchase amount. After some posturing between the agents, the sellers agreed to lower the price 5k. Excellent news!

Day 279: an awkward lunch

Today was a rough day. I started my day normally enough but some time between feeding the dogs, the turtle, and cleaning up the puppy destruction of the day I just got sad. I cry a lot less these days, but still do at least briefly more days than I don’t. On the drive to work, my mind started to drift back to nine months ago and I started thinking about all the support I had back then that now, except for a few people, has evaporated. For some reason, this got to me today. I think it has to do with the impending move and how I wish I felt like I could call in those favors based on offers of “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” Usually, I am okay with the fact that most people are gone. Today, it made me cry. I thought about my husband and what he would think of the state of things. He was always the first person to offer help or to be kind to the point of self sacrifice. He was no saint, but he was a very giving, generous man.

I have noticed that most conversations I have these days with the people that surrounded me in the beginning start with “I really meant to reach out to you sooner.” I know they mean well when they say this, but really all I honestly hear with that statement is “I really meant to reach out to you sooner, but the thought of having to actually think about your situation makes me a scared little pussy so I just chose not to until our paths pretty much were forced to cross or the guilt got to me. My next sentence shall reveal which one it is.” Spoiler alert: typically the next sentence reveals the reason to be the former.

Every day however I do have lunch with some guys that try to make sure I’m not that sad widow in the corner no one will talk to. In exchange for their company, I try not to burden them with my struggles and emotional turmoil but today it just got to be too much and I started crying in front of them like a big, dumb girl. I felt kind of like I broke the unspoken rules- that they treat me like a normal person and in exchange I act like one. I could literally see the wheels of panic spinning like mad behind each of their eyes as they desperately tried to come up with something else to talk about, anything to distract from me loudly blowing snot into a crumpled napkin. To their credit, they didn’t get up from the table until I seemed to have my self under control. Truth be told, that control is an illusion.

The fact is I need some damn help. I am overwhelmed. I am stressed out. I am exhausted. I am being hit by a wave of grief either brought on by the passing of time or the pressure of having no time or some sadistic combination of the two. I do not want to drown in these feelings. I want to keep doing what I have been doing which is just keeping on paddling towards the shore, intently focused on the horizon and believing with every ounce of faith left in my weary soul that the shore is just out of sight, soon to emerge. I still believe it is there. Some days I believe I can see it, but sometimes you just have to stop paddling, lay back, ignore the shore and look at the stars.

Good thing for today: My manager was out so I was left alone way more than usual, which was the perfect thing for a tough day.

Day 274: Change is afoot, and my feet are dragging

It has been a few months since I last posted. Part of it was being tired, part of it was being busy, and part of it was simply not knowing what to say. Things are still hard, but there is much more light these days. Life has been in a state of influx since my husband died suddenly last July 26th, and now one day shy of nine months into this twisted journey, more change is coming.

The simple fact is I cannot afford my house. A house payment is more than one of my paychecks. So, a few months ago I started the search for a new home. A few weeks ago, I found a town home that seems promising and put in an offer. It seems like all things will go through and I have a tentative closing date of May 15th. This means I have started the arduous task of going through my late husband’s belongings. Every choice is hard, but necessary. It is emotionally exhausting. Why did he have to have so much stuff? I am inspired to try to live simpler so when I die, no one is left with the magnitude of sorting I have been faced with, but paring down possessions has been really hard. I even rented a large dumpster, filled it, and am still just buried in stuff. I am feeling so overwhelmed facing this task I do not feel read to handle. However, if I have learned anything these last 9 months, life doesn’t give a shit what you are ready for- you either handle it or give up and I have never been the giving up type, no matter how tempting it has been in moments.

As for things with the new guy, it is still going very well. We have been talking about long term plans and his daughter and I have started to really click. On a recent week long visit, we trekked down to Tucson for a tour of UofA, and it seems that is now her first choice for college, which makes me really happy. If all goes the way we hope, after his daughter graduates high school next year, they will become Arizonans.  It is exciting and still a little scary because allowing love in your life also invites the possibility of soul crushing loss and grief, but when someone is worth it, they are worth it. My husband was worth every ounce of pain and every tear shed and to be shed. The new guy in my life is also worth this, and that realization is very heavy to accept.

We do not typically enter into relationships even considering the worst case scenario, but widowhood makes the thoughts of loss bubble to the forefront. When my husband passed, I felt certain that I would never be willing to face the risk of feeling so much pain again. It surprises me sometimes that I am willing and willing so soon. It comes down to love is positive. Happiness is the only point to living. If you don’t do things to make you happy, then you are simply wasting moments instead of living them. I don’t want wasted moments. I want life.

Good thing for today: It is a lazy Saturday, my coffee was good, and I have lazy Saturday shows recorded on my DVR to catch up on. This may not be the life I wanted, but I can still enjoy the simple things.

Day 183: denial… a family story

My family has always been a bit strange. Let’s start with my mother. While she is a sweet, hard-working woman that I have a lot of love and respect for, also at time has the emotional intelligence of a 15 year old girl. She takes things very personally and has a hard time maneuvering through challenging emotional situations. As a result, she has skipped over or avoided a lot of grief. When my husband died suddenly last July, she finally met grief she couldn’t escape from and all of that other emotion from previous skipped grief came crashing down around her. She could hardly be around me for the first couple weeks. When she would be, she would just sob. Nearly six months later, she still starts crying uncontrollably every time she sees me, and then tells me I need to come see her more. Mom, I love you, but no thanks.

My father is a great guy. Following my husband’s death, he essentially moved in with me for several weeks and helped me navigate when I felt like I had been plucked from my old world and dropped into a brand new one with no road signs nor map. He and my mother are still married and seem to like each other, but even he still gave me lectures about being gentle with her regarding her outbursts that were rattling me.

My brother… oh my brother. He is an odd one. I try to tell people about him and explain that he is not quite like other people. He doesn’t march to the beat of another drummer,  rather he hears drum beats in his own head that no one else can perceive and ignores them altogether. He does mean well and has made a huge attempt to be there for me, but he just doesn’t really know what to do, not that I blame him. No one really knows what to do.

As I have spoken of previously, I have someone new in my life that means a great deal to me. Although they have their quirks, the support of my family also means a great deal to me, maybe even more than I can usually admit to myself. I made an attempt to talk to them about him at Christmas, but it was like there was an invisible shield over their ears that my words simply bounced off of into oblivion. That said, they know he visited me in December and this past weekend, but have not asked any sort of questions about it. I tend to get told “Well, that’s nice.” The consensus from other people I have told about this is that they are not ready to hear what I need to tell them and maybe they are afraid of me being hurt due to my timeline. I really don’t know. It is whole new brand of strange for me.

I am set to go visit him for a week at the end of February, which I am very excited about doing. To get this set up, I had to find someone to take care of my four dogs. I knew my father was the best option. My mom enjoys a break from him sometimes and my dogs know and adore him. I decided to go ahead and ask, knowing full well I may finally get some questions about what exactly I am up to. Here is how the conversation went:

“Hey Dad, can I ask you a big favor?”

“Sure”

“I am going to go out of town for a week on a trip at the end of February, could you watch the house and dogs?”

“Your mom will be out of town that week, so as long as you don’t mind me dividing my time between my house and yours, sure”

“That should be fine. I am really looking forward to getting out for a while.”

“Sounds like a good time. Good for you.”

“Thanks”

Now, what is missing here in this conversation? Not once did he ask his young widowed daughter WHERE she was going for a week. When even a casual acquaintance mentions going on a trip, is not the natural reaction to say “Where are you headed?” It is really strange.

Last night I had my monthly dinner with my brother and his wife. He did ask how the visit last weekend went and I said it was a good visit. I then said “You can stop calling him my friend. My friend’s name is XXXXX.” My brother then looked tight lipped, in fact so tight lipped the skin around his mouth turned pale from tension. I dropped it, but mentioned I was getting out of town next month. To his credit, he did ask where. When I said where, we were right back to the tight lipped expression. Still no questions about any of it.

So here is the issue, I am an honest person that has nothing to be ashamed of or to hide. This relationship is a good, healthy, helpful thing for me. I was a good wife that was true to my marriage, but that marriage ended without warning nor bothering to get my consent. How do I be honest about such an important part of my life when no one is willing to hear the words? Part of me thinks I just need to live my life as I have, communicate when he visits or I visit him and wait for questions that will come when they are eventually ready. Another part of me feels like I need them to hear me now so I don’t have this thing hanging over me. I despise the idea of something so positive becoming a “thing” to be dealt with, but that is where I am finding myself. I just don’t know.

Good thing for today: Did I mention my tickets are booked for a week long visit?

Day 180: i can do this

Immediately after they told me my husband was dead in a crowded, buzzing hallway, they tried to usher me into a room to decompress me. I wasn’t having it. I needed out of the sterile hospital air and insisted on going outside. I paced back and forth and kept repeating over and over “Ican’tdothisIcan’tdothisIcan’tdothisIcan’tdothisIcan’tdothis” and they kept saying “Yes, you can.” It sounded ridiculous. The love of my life was dead with no warning whatsoever. I had no idea what to do. They were lying to me. As I was sent home in a new, comforting numb state with AARP pamphlets on losing a spouse clutched in my hand, I knew there was no way I could ever do this. Now, a few days shy of 6 months out, I begrudgingly have to admit that they were right.

I think about myself six months ago today. July 21st was a Monday. I was at work and was probably excited for a four day weekend I had talked my husband into taking with me. I had not had a lot of time off that year and my manager at the time had insisted I take a break, so I picked two random days on the calendar and emailed them to my husband and asked him to take them off too so we could spend time together. He had a lot going on at work and was hesitant, but ultimately my multiple whines of “Pleeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaase” wearing my best pout won out. That day was a normal, unmemorable day in which I had no idea I was a mere 5 days from my life changing forever.

I have been wondering what it would be like to speak to my July 21st self and tell her what her life would be 6 months from then. It is likely I wouldn’t have believed myself. I would have had to explain the following:

1. In 3 days, your husband will talk you into getting a fourth dog.

2. In 4 days, you will kiss him goodnight and head upstairs just before midnight.

3. A few minutes later, you will hear him making a strange sound.

4. You will find him having a violent seizure and call 9-1-1

5. His friend will drive you to the hospital, but he will already be dead

6. You will plan his funeral with his sister, and there will be stormtroopers present

7. You will take 3 weeks off work, and then work from home

8. You will finally get the change offices

9. At eleven days out, you will meet someone that eventually becomes your new boyfriend at just over three months out

10. At just over four months out, you will meet him in person and it will go amazingly

11. At just under six months out, you will meet his 16 year old daughter and she won’t think you totally suck

12. Through all of this, you will keep it together at work and not be in danger of being fired or talked to about performance

So, if you were me, would you believe me? I sure wouldn’t, but thinking back on all of this it is clear that not only can I do this, I am doing this and am not the total failure I feared I would be. Sure, the fetal position is awfully tempting too many days than I would like to admit, but I don’t often succumb to it. I can do this.

Good thing for today: My performance review at work was actually pretty good. It is a miracle!

Day 160: hey, it would be hard to be worse, right?

Hello 2015. I have high hopes for you. I don’t think you will be spectacular, but you couldn’t possibly be as much as a pain in my ass as 2014 was. I expected to be hit with some emotion as the new year started without my husband. That expectation was met in spades. Although I feel I am making good progress at putting my life back together and moving forward, some days his absence is just so very glaring.

I left work early yesterday to pick up the updated final death certificate. I plan to scan and email it to the woman assigned to my life insurance claim. I am not counting my chickens before they hatch, but I know that getting the life insurance money, even though it isn’t a huge amount, will really help me breathe so much easier. I will have options to be able to move forward in a very real way, and while it is so scary, it is also a little exciting. So, here is my checklist (don’t you dare mistake them as resolutions, those are for chumps!):

1. Figure out where I am going to live. I cannot afford my house on my current income and any possible insurance money would just be pissed away into the gaping hole of upside down that my house is in. I have 4 dogs so renting will be a challenge. I think it is time to get serious about a house hunt.

2. Settle all of my husband’s debt. Arizona is a community property state, which means I get half of his debts accrued during our marriage. Luckily, he had very little debt so this should be cake.

3. Take a damn vacation. I seriously need some fun and fast! If I should ever see my husband again, I want to have so many stories to tell him about how I lived life to the fullest. It is time to start making it happen.

4. Simplify, de-clutter, and clean. I need to get serious about going through his old things so I can have the time I need before leaving the house to make sure I am making good decisions. I also need to pare down my own possessions. They don’t really matter.

5. Get a plan in order to make sure new guy and I have more time in person to get to know each other more and slowly start letting more people in on our secret that we are together. It is hard to gauge who will be ready for it and when, but things feel like they are heading in a direction where people will need to adjust to the idea of him in my life.

Good thing for today: I cooked and ate one heck of a fine steak for lunch.