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.

Advertisements

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.

Day 159: and we have a cause of death

Last night, I got really angry. The medical examiner had told me that it would take 3-5 months for a cause of death. Last Friday, I hit the five month mark. Nearly every day since month three I have made the journey to the mailbox and steeled myself for that autopsy report to show up in my inbox. Every day, nothing. Last night, I decided to give them a call. I didn’t really expect an answer much less for them to tell me on the phone what had caused his fatal seizure, but both occurred. The lady on the phone explained they were missing a form from me and that was why I didn’t receive a copy of the report I had requested, but they also didn’t bother to contact me as his next of kin. The results were actually ready November 4th. I think it was fear that kept me from hounding them sooner. Part of me was terrified the results would show I had missed something or he had maybe done something stupid that inadvertently caused his death. Instead, I am left with a cause of death that simply makes no sense.

Officially, it is “Natural Causes- Cardiovascular Disease”. So here is the thing, if they can pinpoint it to cardiovascular disease, wouldn’t that have been apparent from the initial autopsy? Why did we go through all of this rigmarole of toxicology if it was something that would have been perceivable from the initial exam? To me, this means they really don’t know, saw he was a bit overweight, and simply slapped that convenient explanation on it. It doesn’t feel right.

However, I do feel a little lighter with this knowledge. Since I think they don’t really know, how could I have known that he was going to die? I was not a crappy wife that missed something. Apparently, as appalling and scary as it is, sometimes people just die. We don’t like to think about this. Our minds require reason, which is why people that have not experienced deep loss will default to “Everything happens for a reason” as the least comforting attempt at comfort in the history of grief. So what if there is no plan or reason to anything? What if everything we take as minor comforts to continue on with our day to day lives is humanity’s big old dose of lithium meant to numb us to harshness of randomness and chaos? Or maybe there is some sick plan that involves the deaths of good people and suffering of the innocent. I think I would much prefer to live in chaos.

Good thing for today: Adios 2014, you whorey whore!

Day 156: tis the season

Screw Christmas. Screw packages, boxes, and bows. Screw mistletoe and lights. Screw smiles of recognition that fade into grotesque sad clown faces. Screw my lack of ability to get a single “Merry Christmas” or card without the caveat “I know this will be hard for you.”  Screw platitudes and praise of strength. Screw my brother for calling me yesterday commenting that my “attire” has changed only for me to find out that he is referring to my lack of wedding ring that I have not worn since October. Screw the people that didn’t even bother to call. Screw the people that did and made it about my grief. Screw my five month sadaversary coming the day after Christmas. Screw 2014- the single worst year of my life. Screw 2015 for having the audacity to arrive without him. Screw the funk I have found myself in that keeps on creeping in any time my mind is quiet and giving me a small reprieve. Screw it all!

Bah humbug.

Good thing for today: I finally cleaned off his sink yesterday. No more stubble and globs of toothpaste. It is another thing that is mine that I needed to reclaim and now have.

Bonus good thing: New guy has a ticket booked to fly out MLK weekend, I am very much looking forward to it!