Day 96: Halloween

Tomorrow is the day I have been DREADING. Halloween. My husband loved that day. He liked to sit outside and greet all of the kids in their costumes. He would recoil in faux terror from the goblins and witches, act shocked that he got to see a superhero in person, and always gave little princesses royal respect. He was so good at Halloween.

I had convinced myself I was going to hand out candy and was worried that I would cry through the whole thing. Luckily, instead I got saved from that by getting an invitation from a friend to come hang out with her. Thank freaking goodness. I think as the night would have gone on, my cheeks would get wetter and I would get, well, drunker.

I even have come up with a costume for myself. It is a subtle sort of inside joke only I will get. I will be wearing all black tomorrow. Black widow? Get it? Ha. It is kind of sick what amuses me these days, but laughing about anything is a good thing.

Good thing for today: It was tear filled day of wallowing today, but I did manage to put together a proposal at work that I think was pretty good!

Day 94: like it is

I am starting to consider sewing a black “W” onto my shirts. My life is not nearly interesting enough for a scarlet “A”, not that it would be a good thing to earn but at least it is a better story. I am so sick of my story, which has somehow become some craptastic Nicholas Sparks novel without the moon-eyed naive notion that death is actually romantic. Death is not romantic. Death is shit. Can people please stop giving this man their well earned money that allows him to sell this pathetic fantasy of beautiful tears, peaceful acceptance of death, and all around BS? I have to think he doesn’t know any better and the people that watch this drivel also don’t know any better, but really, enough is enough.

I am not sure why Nicholas Sparks is on my shitlist today. I don’t personally begrudge the man. I just want him to happily find satisfying work elsewhere because he has this whole loss of your great love thing all wrong. I want to see the real story on the screen. I don’t want the crazy adventures of Mary Louise Parker on Weeds. We widows make some bizarre choices, but peeling back a cheerful, summery outfit for hate sex with a murderous mexican drug lord is not high on the list. I don’t want Danny Tanner’s perfect Full House life of awful catch phrases. I want the uninteresting one that has an incredibly low costume budget because it only requires one outfit- a well worn in pair of pajamas. I want the one where the widow stares at her husband’s clothes having no real use for them but finding it impossible to give up. I want sinks overflowing with dishes, laundry on the floor, clothes stained with Cheetos dust, and floors not mopped. Most of all, I want to see this real widow pull herself together and be okay. I want her to slowly find her way to new happiness. That is what I want MY story to be and if I can’t watch something that shows it to me, then I’m going to live it myself and tell my story here.

Today’s good thing: I got a revision of an article that is being shopped around by my company for publication. A big part of the article is about my husband’s legacy so I got to contribute quotes to it. My fingers are crossed that it will get published, but it was nice to be able to contribute no matter what.

Day 92: three months

Someday the 26th of the month will roll around and I won’t feel the way I feel today, which is crushed under the weight of missing my husband. Reality is cruel. Time is a bitch that keeps on marching on without him. I am carrying on without him and most days I feel like a failure at life. I guess the good way to think about it is it is not all days. Hopefully someday the failure days will become less frequent.

I feel overwhelmed in so many ways. I try to take one thing at a time, one hour at a time, and one step at a time but at night when I struggle to fall back asleep for what feels like the millionth time it all rushes at me at once. It is hard to get a restful night of sleep when you start having a panic attack. I’ve gotten a lot better at reining those in, which is kind of sad in and of itself- that I have become so used to panic attacks I have tried and true methods for pulling myself out of them.

I have been doing my best to feel all of the pain and not distract myself too much from grieving. I worry if I don’t do this then later on it will jump out at me out of nowhere and slap me down into submission. It is better to submit now, let it wash over me, and drown in it. It is the only way I will ever learn how to tread water and ultimately swim on through the pain.

I am so insanely lonely and I hate it. I have decided I need to find and make some new friends that get what I am going through. People in my life right now don’t get it. If they did, my phone would still be blowing up the way it did the first few weeks, I would have more invitations to go do things than I knew what to do with, and I’d have visitors a lot. Instead, my phone sits silent most days and I sit in my house alone with the dogs with my new boyfriend, Netflix, whom I am having a torrid affair with and am not sorry. The truth of the matter is that people cannot put themselves in my shoes and understand my need for company. I think it is easier to assume I need space to grieve because that requires nothing of them. Yes, I suppose I do need space sometimes, but when you have nothing but space it sure doesn’t feel like you need any more of it. Over a month ago, I told a friend I really wanted to try a new restaurant in town and to let me know when would be a good time to go. I’m still waiting and that is pretty typical for me. It hurts so I need to find people that can understand my existing pain, not add to it like many people in my life are doing, even if they do not mean to be doing that.

So, here is my three month temperature check: I can do this. I will do this. I just have no freaking clue how most of the time.

Good thing for today: My mom is heading over with food and some groceries to spend some time with me.


Day 91: by hook or crook

It’s been quite a week. Every day I came home from work simply exhausted. Most days I had a staring match with the white text box I am somehow managing to fill with words right now. Every day I blinked first, closed my laptop, laid back onto the couch and closed my eyes. I’d like to say I spent my week catching up on sleep and kicking ass on getting stuff done, but that wouldn’t be true. I continued my pattern of middle of the night wakefulness and didn’t manage to get anything done.

Yesterday I finally caved and did something I really didn’t want to do. I requested a loan on from my 401k. I had to face reality. I am going broke. No matter how much disgusting ramen I choke down or how warm I keep the house to keep the electricity bill from skyrocketing the cold, hard truth is I cannot afford this house on just my paycheck. I have no idea when I am going to get a final cause of death and I cannot apply for his life insurance benefits until I get that so this was my only option until I figure out what to do. I feel ashamed and embarrassed.

Now I can only hope that the loan comes through quickly so I can breathe. Part of me wants to take a portion of the money to be irresponsible and get the heck out of dodge for a week. I have no idea where I would go, but anywhere but here sounds pretty good. I know I shouldn’t do that because of the money situation, but I feel like I need time and space from my normal life, which tends to be so isolated and lonely.

I’m so tired of doing everything alone. I miss being part of a team. My husband and I could handle anything together. We were so cohesive. Now, I’m just floundering. I know I can make it through all of this, but I need him to tell me it is just money and everything will be fine. I just need him.

Good thing for today: I’ve been developing a strategy for handling my husband’s hoard. One more step in the right direction.

Day 86: and the meaning of this all is…

I’ve been struggling a lot with the meaning of things. If all we do is die in the end, what does any of the methods we utilize to kill the time matter? Good people, bad people, and people who fail to budge the needle one way or another all end up dead. It is natural to try to assign some sort of bigger meaning to things, which is the need religion attempts to answer. I have always been an agnostic. I don’t know what to believe, but I am not willing to count things out unless I live in those shoes and my gut tells me it is false. So, in that spirit, yesterday I tried out talking to a medium.

My husband didn’t believe in mediums or even an afterlife for that matter so a part of me thought if there is a chance this is genuine would he be too stubborn to be right that he wouldn’t be receptive to come out making the whole thing a moot point? I decided it was better to give it a go and see what happened. And what happened I simply cannot explain. I was very careful not to divulge any information to be exploited and went with an instant reading to eliminate the possibility of  being researched.

She started out saying she was going to give me some information to help verify it was him coming through. She talked about having broad shoulders. He had broad shoulders, but a lot of men do. She said he was a bigger guy. Yes, he was a bit overweight. She said he was short. Yes, my husband stood 5 foot 5 inches. Because of his height, weight, and very broad shoulders, finding suit jackets was always an adventure. She talked about him being fun loving and finding a lot of joy in hobbies. Again, yes.Then she talked about his death. She described a tightness in her chest, difficulty breathing, and that she couldn’t stop shaking. He had a seizure, his breathing was so very shallow when the ambulance came they told me they were going to start breathing for him, and on the ambulance his heart stopped. All of that was correct. She told me that his death was incredibly painful and traumatic, but he didn’t feel it because he was already removed from it. She said that she got the sense I had seen it and that it was incredibly traumatic. Again, oh so very true. I still can hear his screams but have trouble remembering his laugh. She said he was so incredibly sorry I had to witness it because it was so traumatic for me. She then added that he said it was good I saw it because if it had happened differently, it would be more difficult than living with the trauma. That was also true. I was going on an overnight trip the next day to Vegas with my parents to pick up a free cruise certificate for a future vacation. I have thought a lot about what it would have been like to come home to him dead and how I would have been tortured wondering what if I hadn’t gone and what if I had been there. This all made me feel more open to what she had to say because nothing she said was wrong at all.

She then went on to say he was so sorry he left so soon and that we had been married less than 10 years, which was also true. She asked me to confirm we didn’t have children and I did. She said when he died, the first thing that hit him was disbelief. There was no hint this would happen and he’d never had a seizure before- also correct.She said the disbelief soon turned to worry for me and regret that this was happening to me, which is exactly how he would be. This will sound weird, but suspending my skepticism for a moment it was good to hear how sorry he was that I am going through this. I don’t know why that helps, but it does.

She told me that saw me getting married again. I don’t see that for myself, but she said he would find a guy that was drama free (is there such a thing?) that is very kindhearted. That all feels like a lot. She told me to focus on my dreams, that I am having them but I am not remembering them. I have felt that was the case for some time, but that is probably the case with most grieving people. She told me he said not to worry about his things, do whatever I need to because he isn’t here anymore and doesn’t need them. Most of all, she told me he is okay. He is happy and wants me to be happy, So, after that I spent my day blubbering. It was a lot to take emotionally. I still don’t know if it was real, but it felt real at the time.

So, flash forward to today. She sent me a follow up email and said that she saw a gold thread which means a miscarried child carried with him in spirit. My jaw dropped open. I had a miscarriage a couple years ago. Not a lot of people know that, but I keep thinking about the missed chance to have a piece of him with me and how after we never were able to try again and how I blew my chance. So there you have it. I don’t know what to think, but obviously I have much to think about.

Good thing for today: The puppy seems to have bounced back from whatever was ailing her.

Day 85: be okay

I’ve been obsessively listening to this song for the last couple weeks:

When I named my blog “Finding the Pieces”, it was because I felt my entire life had been demolished, exploded, and the pieces were strewn all over. I felt empty and had no idea how to even gather the pieces together to even attempt to reassemble myself. So when she sings “Just give me back my pieces and let me hold my broken parts”, it really speaks to me.

When I really think about where I am right now in navigating through my grief, I know my goal is not to have a good day or even be happy. I want enough good and happy moments to fall on one side of the scale to get the other side that is weighted down with a boulder of misery to lift a little. I want days where I feel okay.

I know I’m still pretty much a baby widow. I have so much of the business side of things left to figure out. Who knew dying required so much damn paperwork? I am doing my best to take this time to really FEEL my loss. I know that for me, too much distraction will take me away from working through it so I am trying to give myself time to wallow in despair and really think about my life. It is so hard to do it. So, so hard. But I try to listen to myself as much as I can and this seems right. So I write. I talk to other widows online that understand, I read books both on grief but also on how to rebuild your life post-bulldozer, and I go to counseling. I am also on the brink of RSVPing to my first local widows meet up so maybe I can meet new people in person that understand since people in my life right now fall somewhere in between disappearing totally and being a wonderful friend that is there for me, but can’t really understand all of this.

I am starting to feel a little ready to go through some of his things and find them new homes. I am not ready to throw things away yet, but I think it will be good for me to give people things that I feel prepared to let go of that may mean something to them. I actually gave away the first item that was actually his the other day. It is a small replica of his jeep that he loved so much. It went to someone I know will give it a good home and that it will mean something to. It felt good and right, and it lifted that boulder just a little bit.

Good thing for today: People are coming over to help me hang a drawing of my husband I was given as a birthday present last month. I have toiled over finding the perfect spot and I believe I have found it.

Day 84: puke-apalooza

The puppy was sick yesterday. Puke everywhere. I went into full PTSD panic mode as the vomiting wouldn’t stop. I actually did reach out to a friend for help and she came over to help me evaluate whether or not the situation was vet worthy. After a couple of hours, she said I should sleep on it and see how she was doing in the morning. She seems better and hasn’t thrown up any more and has seemed to keep the reduced size breakfast I fed her down. Thank goodness.

I don’t handle puke well. I’m the type of person that hears, sees, or smells puke and has to fight the urge to also throw up. However, now I have the additional fun of associating throw up with death. That night was the one time where vomit didn’t make me also have to throw up. I think I was too busy panicking and screaming. It was all over my hands and arms but I didn’t care about it, I just needed to get my husband help as soon as possible and try to make sure he would be okay. I of course failed in that regard, but I tried. I wonder sometimes if I had known that he was going to die, would I have somehow gotten superhuman strength like those mothers that can lift cars off of their children and somehow gotten his seizing body onto its side? I don’t know.

I feel like I have done nothing lately but second guess myself and my actions- not just that awful night but every moment since. I never know if I am doing the right thing any more. Before I was always so sure of myself, but it is like a wrecking ball has destroyed my confidence in myself. I try to believe that through trial and error and learning to see my mistakes it will eventually return, but for now I just feel wishy washy.

Good thing of the day: No work today so no going-outside-pants required!

Day 82: breathing

One friend is fond of telling me that all I need to do is put one foot in front of the other and keep on breathing. If I am still breathing, I will be okay. Breathing seems like such a simple thing to do. Most of the time, it is involuntary. It automatically quickens or slows to maintain homeostasis. Easy. But if it really was so easy, I think my husband would still be doing it.

He had sleep apnea and much to his chagrin, he had to wear a CPAP mask. He hated that thing so much. I kinda found it funny and just relieved he had it so I didn’t have to worry about him doing that very simple thing, or so I thought. Soon after he got the mask, I noticed the sound of it disguised his actual breath so I developed the paranoid habit of waking up during the night, rolling over and watching to make sure his chest was rising and falling in time with the whoosh of the machine. It always was.

One night, he caught me watching him, sleepily removed the mask and said “What are you doing?”

I was honest and replied “Making sure you are still breathing.” He awoke a little when I said that and laughed.

“Of course I am still breathing.” After a pause, he follow up with “Just how often do you check to make sure I am still alive?”

“Every night,” I said sheepishly. He laughed again.


I thought a moment and decided to keep up my honest trend. “Because sometimes I think you are too good to be true so I have to keep checking and making sure you are sticking around.” He looked at me, smiled, and rolled his eyes.

“I promise I will not be dying any time soon.”

This was about a year ago. I realize now I should have asked him to define soon. It is so stupid I miss rolling over and checking for his breathing, but I know really it is much more about missing having someone to look after, to fret about, and to take care of the best way I knew how. Obviously I didn’t do a good enough job because he is gone and never coming back. His chest will never rise and fall. He will never laugh at me worrying about him as though it was ridiculous. I guess it is also ironic he used to tease me about worrying too much and being paranoid, no matter how many times the subject of my paranoia actually ended up coming true.

Good thing for today: I got a draft of an article my workplace is trying to get picked up about the therapy dog program my husband had pushed for. I got to contribute to it and tell his story. I really hope it gets published so more people can learn how great he was.

Day 81: anniversary blues

Sitting here at the end of a very long, very challenging day I can at least say I made it through. I took a lot of breaks, I broke my rule of not crying at my desk, and I probably wasn’t very productive, but the day is done and I’m still here, safely ensconced in my fluffy blanket and surrounded completely by little dogs. At times today, my chest felt so tight as if my grief had taken the form of a fist gripping my heart, making me catch my breath. For a few moments, I thought maybe I was having a serious physical issue, but after breathing deeply for about 30 seconds all of the pain passed. Grief is an odd thing.

I had dinner with my brother and his wife. We are originally from upstate New York and there they have a regional food- white hot dogs. They are completely different than regular hot dogs as they are made from pork and veal. They are awesome. There is one place in Phoenix that sells them. It’s not the right brand but it does well in a pinch so we decided to meet there. It was a nice dinner, even if I kept bursting into tears.

Good thing of the day: A friend reminded me today is the last time I will ever have to live through the first anniversary without my husband. For some reason, that really rang true to me and made me feel a bit better.

Day 80: widow island

Tomorrow is going to probably be a roller coaster. I’ve never been a roller coaster kind of girl as I don’t like the feeling of big drops. Disneyland is more my speed, I just stay away from Splash Mountain. Tonight, I am making sure my lap bar is firmly in place. Tomorrow should have been our eighth anniversary and I have no idea how I am going to manage to get through the day.

I was going to take the day off work, but days off my employees had conflicted and I don’t want to leave anyone in a lurch so I am going to do my best to be focused but I worry it is a fool’s errand. It is complete crap that in less than three moths since he passed I have had to go through both of our birthdays and our anniversary. Thanks a lot, universe. Good looking out!

As I was entering into tomorrow with no plan, I asked my brother to meet me for dinner. Luckily, he agreed. Then I get a text from a friend saying people would like to come over and have dinner with me tomorrow. I replied that I wish I would have known because these are people I hardly see and my brother and I have made it a point to see a lot of each other lately. She simply replied it was good I had plans and that they just wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be alone that day. It was very sweet of people to offer that, but something kept nagging at me. I tried to let it go but couldn’t. Finally, I replied back that it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to make that kind of offer and that I am alone most of the time and thus painfully lonely. I said don’t assume I have plans, I hardly ever do and it would be nice to have them sometimes. I never got a reply to that. I think maybe it was too brutally honest? I don’t know. It honestly was a cry for help. I’m drowning here and need someone to help pull me out of this. Instead, I get no reply.

I can only blame myself for not having people in my every day life reaching out to me. My husband was my everything. If I had him, I didn’t need other people. So now when I do need other people why do I get so upset they aren’t there? I certainly didn’t invest the time in them to make the connections before all of this. This is the bed I made, now I am laying in it and it sucks. Don’t get me wrong, there are token gestures here and there like offering to come for dinner tomorrow or asking me to go camping, and I do have two friends that really have been great, but one is on vacation in Florida and the other is pregnant and I don’t want to cause her more stress than she already has, and she has way too much already.

I hate feeling like I’m stuck on a lonely island. I hate feeling so freaking needy. I hate that the times I do make a cry for help I get no reply. It is clear that if I am to survive all of this, I only have myself to rely on to do it. It’s time to find that inner badass and let her take over.

Today’s good thing: It started as a bad thing where I was being asked to do something at work that in my current mental state I simply cannot handle. I knew I had to calmly express my limits and did so. Afterwards, I received apologies for them unintentionally pushing me in a way I wasn’t ready for and letting me know it was good I declined and they would make alternate arrangements to accommodate me.