Day 119: me – 1, underwear – 0

Now that title probably reads a bit more pervy than intended, but as I did win a major mental battle, it remains as the theme of today. Yesterday, I started getting sick. I had the shocking realization that this was the first time I have been sick since July, which is nothing short of a miracle considering my sporadic sleeping and eating habits I have adopted. By the time I got home, it was pretty clear there was no wishing away the phlegm building up in my chest or my raspy cough. Being sick and widowed sucks. I was used to having someone to whine to “take care of me!”. I looked at the dogs, but knew none of them would be of any help.

This morning, it wasn’t any better so I called into work sick. As the day wore on, I started feeling better. I started thinking about the state of the house with portions of it set aside as some sort of cluttered, perverse museum of his life- of our life together. I have been really focused on trying accept that no matter how much I may long for it, that time is over. So I grabbed a newly purchased storage bin and entered the bedroom.

I haven’t slept in that bed more than a couple times since he died, but I suddenly want to get back to it and reclaim it. I began piling his shirts into a bin and had an odd experience. I expected to cry and to have to give up with barely anything done. Instead, each shirt I touched brought back a happy memory of us and of him. I found myself smiling as I packed things away, wrapped in the warmth of my own thoughts. I then realized if I was in a good mindset, there was something I finally felt ready to do. I grabbed a bag, went into the bathroom, and gathered up the now almost four month old pile of his dirty underwear I’ve been unable to bring myself to clean up and put them inside the bag. My head buzzed momentarily as I tried to decide if this was really what I wanted to do. I realized it was.

You see, my husband loved things, but these things are not him. He is not simply a pile of underwear or a funny t-shirt or silly stuffed animal. He is not a wedding ring or video game or blanket. He is the biggest influence on the woman I am today, which means my choices to live, love, and laugh ARE him. Everything else is just details.

Good thing for today: I had a long talk with a friend who lets me laugh, cry, or say nothing- such a gift right now.

Day 114: the weight of emptiness

I just finished a really good, cleansing cry. It is funny how going through this has made me realize there are different kinds of tears. There are the silent tears that fall against your will, sliding down your cheeks undisturbed and somehow reaching the corners of your mouth, at which point you are reminded to rub them away from your face. There are the desperate tears that demand utter surrender and seem to come from the deepest pits of anguish like an unstoppable flow of lava. Then there are the cleansing tears. Like a cry of anguish, you have to give into it but after, somehow you feel a little bit better, if only just slightly.

I had a dinner tonight with friends tonight. I had been doing better with getting used to being just me, but tonight was hard. I felt really alone. The weight of my husband’s absence weighed on me so heavily I considered leaving several times. I didn’t leave. I tried to joke and smile and be the old me with old friends, but instead I was reminded I am not the old me any more. The old me would have had my husband to verbally spar with, to pick up on the punchlines of my jokes and lovingly squeeze my hand as though to congratulate me for being clever. Tonight, I didn’t feel clever. I felt like my thoughts were wading through a chest high pit of mud. My heart hurt.

As I struggled with trying to find my footing in this strange old world, I suddenly realized no one even mentioned him. I was sitting there picking at my spinach enchiladas feeling like I was screaming and pounding my fists against my carefully maintained calm expression, just daring someone to say his name- to acknowledge how wrong everything is. No one did. And that, ladies and gentleman, is how people let you know they have moved on from their pain. Sure, at the end of the night I got tight hugs which was nice, but time has clearly marched on. That is hard to accept.

When I got home, I let myself cry. It began as anguish but slowly turned into cleansing tears. I took a few deep breaths and realized people moving on is not such a bad thing. We can’t live in the past. The option to do so is not even on the table. All we have is right now, this moment, because there is no guarantee there are more moments to come. I have not accepted my loss, but I have accepted that no one, no matter how powerful or weak, has any control over their fate so it is all about making the choices that make us feel alive right now. That is what I plan to do.

Good thing for today: I stepped out of my comfort zone and actually interacted with my neighbors. It was pleasant.

Day 111: progress

I’ve had a few milestones that felt as insurmountable as the world’s highest peak but to most people were simply anthills. A few days ago, I finally turned the tv off. I hated the silence of solitude so much I had not turned it off since July 26th. It was on when I was awake, when I slept, when I was home, and when I was away. It was a constant distraction from what was missing, even if it was impossible to really forget.

I have also started sleeping with the lights off. Living alone with no warning it is going to happen is incredibly frightening. Each sound was unexplainable and somehow the light drove away at least a little bit of my fear. I am losing some of my fear.

Not everything is roses, though. I still have rooms to go through, piles to dispose of that I still simply cannot move, and ghosts to make peace with. I would like to say I am closer to being ready to deal with all of that, but truthfully I am not. There is some finality to the exercise of deciding the fate of his things. As much as I intellectually accept that things are as final as final can be, emotionally I can’t commit to doing things that would move me into that phase of acceptance.

Good thing for the day: I have learned to accept happiness when it comes and not question it.

Day 107: strange days indeed

No, I did not fall of the face of the Earth. I’ve just been really tied up lately. For once it’s mostly good stuff and not more weight on my shoulders. I have a lot of hope for the future right now. It is new and kind of scary, but I want that feeling to stick around. Typically, the thought of possibly decades alone is scary but I am starting to see there are a lot of possibilities. I wish I had a time machine to go back and stop this reality from ever coming to be, but the fact is this is my life now and I can either wallow, or I can pick myself up and let myself be open to opportunities. My husband died. That impossible, devastating truth is still so hard to grasp and I have such a long way to go for me to really come to terms with that. I know that my grief over his death will be lifelong companion that has replaced his physical presence, but I am going to make that companion someone I can live with and carry along with me in all of my future adventures. Some days that companion will demand I sit with it and offer seemingly endless tears as tribute. Some days it will stand idly by, quietly whispering “I’m still here”, but perhaps taking some satisfaction from me choosing life and to live… to thrive… to never forget.

Good thing for today: I had a few good talks with a friend that is a very positive influence on me in this journey.

Day 100: triple digits, triple sad

Lately I’ve felt like I was turning the corner a bit on my devastation. I still cry a few times a day, but the recovery is quicker. I still am alone a lot, but I have been putting myself out there. Today was not just three steps back, it felt like it was 100 steps back.

I woke up and felt like I did not want to go to work at all. It is not an unusual feeling but I usually power through and go and it all turns out okay. I figured today would be the same thing. I begrudgingly got dressed and headed out the door. I got in the car, backed out of the driveway, and noticed that the neighbors had already begun putting up Christmas decorations. I hate that. At least wait until after Thanksgiving! I took a picture, uploaded it to Facebook, and took off driving. I started thinking about how my husband and I would laugh at the craziness of their elaborate display. We learned early on there was no competing, so we instead decided to go the tacky route with our decorations. We have pink flamingos, pigs, and chickens all donning Santa hats. We always loved putting those out together and wondered what they thought of our meager tackiness. The more I thought about this, the sadder I got. The tears started but I kept on driving. It was not the first or last time I would cry on my way to work, I could do this.

As I pressed on, I started getting slapped with memories of the hospital and the doctor telling me he was gone. It was like I was trapped in that horrible moment and couldn’t claw my way out. My vision blurred with tears and I did something I hadn’t done before. I grabbed my phone and called my manager. I tried to control my voice as I said I needed to go home but couldn’t. I just sobbed. It was humiliating. She told me to go home and take the day and not to worry about it. Since then, I have been in ball of tears on the couch.

I know I am allowed to do this sometimes, but I still feel bad I couldn’t make myself get through the day. Let’s hope getting all of this crap out of my system today makes day 101 a better day.

Good thing for today: A friend managed to make me laugh and smile, which on a day like today, is a welcome gift.

Day 99: mine

Yesterday was eventful day. I had lunch with a friend at a local casino, won $400, went shopping, and then watched some other friends compete in a fitness competition. It was the direct opposite of last weekend when I got home Friday night, put my pajamas on, and then didn’t remove them until Monday morning for a, let’s face it, long overdue shower. It was a good day, even if I still cried in the morning, driving, and when I got home.

When I set out to leave yesterday, on a whim I decided to take my husband’s jeep. Friends have been helping with starting it and driving it around a little since it has been too hard for me to do it. He loved that jeep. It was his dream vehicle. He got it a couple years ago when I reviewed our financial situation and decided it was time to make his bucketlist goal of owning a jeep actually happen. He wasn’t one of those jeep owners that never risked it getting a scratch. Instead, he would go off roading every chance he got, There is desert terrain behind our house and he would go out there a few times a week and practice his skills. When we’d go camping, it was always someplace a normal car couldn’t go. I grew accustomed to random clumps of dried mud falling onto the driveway where it was parked, even if I did try to get him to sweep it up. The jeep was not just a jeep to him. It was the culmination of hard work. So, with all of these memories attached and knowing what it meant to him, it has been hard to get behind the wheel of it and take it anywhere. I don’t know what made me do it yesterday, but it lead to an epiphany.

I was on my way home, exhausted from so much activity when I’m used to none and I of course started to cry because that is what I do. I punched the accelerator, rolled down the windows, and let the wind blast my face and sweep my hair out of the way. It suddenly became fun. Then I said out loud “This is no longer his jeep, this is MY jeep.” I repeated “My jeep” a few times because talking to myself is also what I do now. For the first time, I thought about his hobby hoard at home and thought some day I will be able to get through sorting all of it because just because I didn’t make the mess doesn’t mean it is not now my mess- my things to decide what to do with. Nothing is his anymore, This is something I should have realized ages ago, but I wasn’t ready. Now I know I need to make decisions based off of my own needs. Everything is mine, nothing is his anymore… except my heart.

Good thing for today: This weekend has been alright. I may just get through the mess my life is in after all.

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 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.