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 51: if at first you don’t succeed, figure out if it is really worth trying again

I got to thinking last night that maybe I was playing up the difficulty of going to work too much and it was in my head that it would really be that hard. So, I made the decision I was going to go to work in person and conquer it. I was going to find that inner badass I try to convince myself is there and just suck it up. It turns out, it wasn’t in my head. It was so hard. I tried, I really honestly did, but I spent the whole time in tears or trying to hold them back. By 1pm, I was sent home. I didn’t want to be. I was still holding onto the idea I could do it, but they gave up me. The lack of faith in my ability to know myself and my limits was highly disappointing. Most likely, I was sent home due to their own discomfort with my grief, which is their own issue, not mine.

The first thing I saw when I sat down were all the pictures of my husband and me in Maui. I looked away and saw a picture of us with George W. Bush that always made me laugh because neither of us were really fans, but we got to meet him through work. Then I saw the various little stuffed animals he had gotten me from business trips he took all over, and then I saw something I had not seen before. I have a white board at my desk and I have sticky notes on it with various contacts.  The format looks like this:

Name- Agency/Company

Phone Number

I noticed one in his handwriting. It had my name and phone number, but next to my name where an agency or company would be it just said “Awesome”. That was when the tears started and wouldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. I don’t think I will try again tomorrow. I’m going to take some time, mentally steel myself, and hope people will be more tolerant of my tears the next time I try because when I say I need to finish a day, I need to finish a day.

Today’s positive: I invented a whole new fat kid food- birthday cake oreos dipped in vanilla pudding. Healthy? Heck no. Do I care today? Heck no x 2.

Day 50: bills

In the BDH times (Before Dead Husband), I was pretty on top of our bills. I always had them paid in a reasonable time, was never short money, and had even allocated a static amount from every paycheck to my husband for him to do with whatever he wanted, no questions asked. In hindsight, maybe the latter wasn’t the best idea since I have ended up with a den bursting at the seams with toys, hobby items, etc. that I will need to sort through when my heart is ready.

To put it mildly, things are different now. It is so hard to keep track of time, much less the time that bills are due. I finally decided to swallow my pride and accept help getting organized. It was humiliating to admit I needed the help, but truth be told I feel a lot better. Almost everything has been paid and everything is organized in a way I can keep track of things even in my mentally disabled state. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of the new me at this point. She is weepy, indecisive, disconnected, doesn’t eat or sleep enough, and finds it difficult to even complete small tasks.

The one place I feel I am doing really well at is work, but I have been allowed to work from home and the patience with me doing that seems to be rapidly wearing out. It is frustrating to feel like I am making good progress on something only to be made to feel like it is nothing and not good enough. Ugh.

Today’s positive: I still have birthday bundt cake.

Day 49: “happy” birthday

Today is my 36th birthday. My husband and I had birthdays that were ten days apart so we used to refer to September as birthday season. Today is also seven weeks since he died. I knew it was important to stay busy today and for the most part I was successful. My brother and his wife paid for me to get a massage and facial so I went with my mother. Apparently my mother had warned them in advance about me because the masseuse asked if she could give me a hug when she took me to the room before she left me to situate myself on the table. When she got back, she slipped a tissue into my hand in case I needed it. I did end up needing it. I have thought a lot about missing being touched, and having someone touch me was so unfamiliar and welcome, even in a clinical setting. I understood why some widows go wild and become promiscuous soon after their husbands’ deaths. Touch is addictive, primal, and necessary, but that that path is not the one I would want to walk down.

When it came time for the facial, I had a bit of a moment when the lady was going over which tools she would use. She held up an electric device with shiny, metallic balls and explained it had a low electrical current and would only be an issue if I was pregnant or prone to seizures. I had a visceral reaction to the word seizure and explained I couldn’t allow her to use it on me. She then gave me a few minutes to myself to collect myself. I hate being this fragile, weepy creature. I want so badly to be as strong as everyone keeps saying I am, but in truth, I’m still just as broken as ever.

I also got the normal birthday well wishes, to which I expressed my thanks. At that point, people started commenting on my post about not feeling right about saying “Happy Birthday” because they knew how hard this day must be for me and “happy” didn’t seem like the right adjective. Yes, I have become the pariah people don’t even feel comfortable saying “Happy Birthday” to because they are afraid to offend me. I find it odd because I have never at any time expressed that anyone has said anything out of line, even when they have. I simply accept the support as it comes and make decisions to distance myself if all they seem to be able to say is the wrong thing (usually self centered or completely insensitive). I don’t need toxic people right now, so out of my life they go, and very few people fall into that category.

I want people to stop walking on eggshells around me. If you aren’t being a jerk, then I’m not going to decide you are toxic. I think most people are so afraid of upsetting me they avoid speaking to me at all. That is the last thing I need as I am alone enough already. I don’t know.

Good thing for today: A couple friends that are not afraid to talk to me took me out for drinks tonight. It was a nice time.

Day 48: reflections

When I decided to write this blog, I had two specific goals. The first was to honor my husband’s wishes and get back to writing. If I am honest with myself, that is why, for the time being anyway, I make the time each day to write a post. When I do this, I feel closer to his memory somehow because I can imagine his pride that I continue to stick with it. The second was to document my journey through find a life after him. Some days it is impossible, some days there are hope, and every day so far has been simply exhausting. When I first started hitting the internet in the days after I lost him so very suddenly, I found some resources, online forums, and articles. What I wanted more than anything was to to find someone that understood. I decided to become that person that understood for other women like me to find. Through this blog, I have met the goal of finding people that get this pain, and I am equally grateful and sorry for that fact, as I do not wish anyone this pain, especially people who are so brave and eloquent.

When I find someone’s blog, the first question I always have is “How long has it been?” It’s not morbid curiosity or even a desire to know details of their spouses’ passing (it doesn’t matter, all widows are part of the same awful club, just some circumstances make our journeys different), but rather the completely selfish reason of measuring my state of mind against theirs to see if I am reading something from someone further out that can perhaps inspire and give me hope or if I am reading something from someone closer to my own time frame who may be able to relate right now with some of my struggles. This is why I number the days of each entry. I have wondered if it makes me seem obsessed by the number of days, but in all honesty I always pull up my previous entry to make sure I have the current day correct since I really don’t think about time, except on Saturdays which is the weekly sadiversary. So, every time I put the day at the beginning of the entry, I picture my desperate self weeks ago finding this and taking the journey with me. I have no idea if this will ever happen or even has happened, but I hope it can help someone in this crap club.

If you have stuck with me so far in this post, thank you for bearing with my narcissistic reflections and thank you for sharing this journey with me, whether you can relate or not. Either way, it makes me feel less alone for which I am incredibly grateful.

Positive of the day: My mom stopped by and surprised me with a lemon bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Day 47: bigger things, smaller thoughts

Today is definitely a reminder that there are things in this world that are bigger than my pain. Thirteen years ago, I was on my first trip to Vegas as an over 21 year old with a group of friends. I was still three years away from meeting my husband. It was surreal to be away from home and trying to figure out how to get back to Phoenix with the Hoover Dam closed.

Although at the time and years since I had thought about the families left behind after the death of their loved ones, I never really got it. I still don’t think I really do because next July 26th there will not be news coverage and television specials commemorating my loss. There will be no nationwide moments of silence to acknowledge he once walked the planet. Yet the widows of 9/11 share their loss with the nation, have their grief and steps they have taken to move on with their lives picked apart and scrutinized. People may even expect these women to remain broken to remain symbols, not actual people with lives to rebuild.

It makes me wonder about my own life and if people will expect me to stay frozen in time to honor my husband’s memory. Obviously, all of this line of thinking is completely hypothetical as that pile of underwear he left behind the bathroom door still sits unmoved and untouched. However, some day maybe people will be right and things may get better and I may get to a point where I would want to move on, no matter how inconceivable that idea is right now. I wonder if I ever get there, will another layer of friends that peels away much as one layer has already nearly disappeared as some people have been unable to deal with my grief? I really don’t know. Luckily, I have a lot of time before and if that even happens.

Today’s positive: I got plans nailed down for my birthday this Saturday so I don’t have to be alone. It is a relief.

Day 46: god

I have never been religious. I wouldn’t call myself an atheist, I have always been an agnostic. In the absence of proof, my personal belief if that it is audacious to say with certainty there is or is not a God and I have never been prone to audaciousness. One would think this experience would have swayed me one way or another, but really it just confuses me more. So, here are my current thoughts on God filtered through my experience of losing my everything.

The comforts in believing in God:

  • If there is a God, there is likely an afterlife and my husband is not truly gone.
  • My husband may be reunited with his grandmother who meant the world to him. She died before he met me, so this also means some day I could finally meet this special lady.
  • There is some sort of reason or plan this happened. It wasn’t random and senseless.
  • If I prayed for comfort, maybe I would receive comfort.

The problems if there is a God:

  • Many believe that admittance to heaven is based on faith, not deeds. My husband was an atheist, but he did so much to make the world a better place through his battle against child pornography. He was selfless and genuine, but he lacked the requisite faith. Due to this, he could be a wonderful man doomed to suffer eternally in hell.
  • What sort of plan would possibly involve him to be taken from the planet so very young when he was doing so much good? I don’t think I want anything to do with anyone that endorsed that.

The pluses of there being no God:

  • No God means I was not preordained to be left in this hell on earth.
  • He would not be judged for a lack of belief

The downside of no God:

  • Most likely my husband would be right and that when you died, that was it. Darkness. Nothingness. I want to believe he is not completely gone.
  • With no plan or purpose, I don’t have faith I will make it through this.

So there you have it in a nutshell- my current crisis of faith. All arguments are equally compelling, infuriating, and scary. So I guess it comes down to what do I want to be true? As far as God is concerned, I don’t know. But here are my basic wishes:

  • I want him to have a spirit and that spirit to be happy and, at least sometimes, near me.
  • I want the rare dream visits I get (two so far) to be real.
  • I want him to reunite with his grandmother.
  • I want him to be waiting for me.
  • I want him to be rewarded for all of his hard work.

Since that all implicitly supports my arguments for there being a God, perhaps I am leaning that way but not the God described in the bible. Perhaps I want a God that rewards people for worshiping him through their deeds, not how much time they spend in a building with a cross on it each week. Either way, I once again will defer to Tori Amos- “God, sometimes you just don’t come through.”

Today’s positive: I got a lot done at work today so my normal emotional exhaustion is accompanied by a day where I really earned my paycheck. It is a good feeling.

Day 45: slacking

I have tried very hard to overcome a natural propensity for procrastination. I’d tell myself I did better under pressure, but really that was a bunch of crap. I would put things off because they were unpleasant and I simply didn’t want to do them. I would like to think my reputation at my job has been that I do not wait until the last minute or rush to meet a deadline. To do this, I simply had to give myself a deadline that was sooner than the one asked of me and treat my self imposed timeline as the actual one. As a result, unless there were a ton of fires to put out, I would always be early. However, when it comes to taking care of the paperwork nightmare of my husband’s estate, I’ve rediscovered my inner procrastinator.

I have had a probate attorney’s contact information since last Thursday and have yet to make an appointment. I need to send death certificates to several different places and am letting any inconvenience become a stumbling block preventing me from getting it done. I know there are at least a couple reasons why I am slacking off. First, once the probate train starts really rolling, this all becomes real. There will be obligations, even more paperwork, and due to me not being able to afford our house, a whole lot of stress and uncertainty. I feel I am already stressed and uncertain just trying to maneuver my way through my grief. Everything else just adds onto the already heavy burden. Second, I still have trouble deciding whether to take a shower or a bath. How am I going to possibly make the decisions I need to make? I know I need to get my crap together and face reality, but I just need more time.

Today’s positive: I stopped by my parents’ house and had a lovely dinner. I actually overate!


Day 44: Rain

Living in the Phoenix area, rain is a rare treat. I remember my first day of school in Arizona following our move from Upstate New York. It was raining and when we pulled up to the school, I saw something I had never seen in my short 10 years on the planet. All of the kids were out in the rain with no umbrellas just running around manically as though they had never seen rain before. Even the teachers were out in it, partially keeping an eye on the crazy throng of hyper children, but also enjoying it themselves. It took less than a year for me to assimilate into that throng.

So today, when I awoke in the middle of the night to crashing thunder and a shaking puppy, I was delighted. I managed to get back to sleep for a few hours and was surprised it was still raining when I awoke again. Then I started looking at the news and saw the city was pretty much underwater. By the time the governor declared a state of emergency, I was thoroughly glad I am still exercising my option to work from home.

My thoughts turned to my own state of emergency due to a different kind of flood- a flood of emotions and tears. I feel swept away by a sudden rise of water with a current so swift I have been powerless to resist. But, here’s the thing about today’s floods. They were sudden and devastating, but the waters have receded I know it will take much more time, but my own flood will recede as well. Instead of being swept away, I will instead be able to begin to paddle until my feet can once again touch the ground. There will be erosion left behind as evidence and some paths may be permanently washed out, but I will survive. I will not drown. I will walk forward. I just have to let everything wash over me and take its course.

Positive for the day: I went to a friend’s house for a few hours and brought the puppy. She became instant friends with one of her dogs and is thoroughly worn out! The friend was kind enough to listen to me being crazy and I am very grateful not to have had a night alone.

Day 43: Cynicism

I’ve been suppressing some really ugly urges to make inappropriate comments lately. I’ve always had a little bit of a filter problem, but that lack of filter was more directed towards making a joke and apologizing for any offense later. Now, I feel like shouting from the rooftops that anyone who believes in anything permanent is a damn fool. These urges tend to rear their ugly head when someone else is celebrating happiness, especially in wedding planning or engagements.

I noticed someone posted a funny video making fun of the trials and tribulations of wedding planning. The caption read something like “Congratulations! You found the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with!” It took everything I had not to litter insane young widow comments about the presumptuousness of that statement. I also noticed three separate friends of friends that have no concept of how to update their Facebook privacy settings showing up in my news feed naively showing off new engagement rings. All I see beyond that sparkling diamond is the wretched, painful, terrible ending.

The fact of the matter is, if you are lucky enough to have a wonderful marriage that beats the odds and doesn’t result in a divorce and you avoid being taken out simultaneously in some accident, one half of that oh so happy, optimistic couple is going to end up in my shoes. And if you really overachieve in life like me, you get the horrible experience of losing the love of your life before you exit your mid 30’s.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not regret the wonderful, blissful years I spent with the most awesome person I ever met. I can’t feel bad that there was someone that made me feel so incredibly special and lucky in life. I don’t want to take back investing my entire life in giving him the best life I could. I just want to give these women a disclaimer on the fantasy or some sort of warning that life and death are so very unfair. But I know if I had a disclaimer¬† when I went in I would have just assumed that disclaimer applied to someone else.

Today’s good thing: After my alone-fest of yesterday, I got the nerve to call a friend and ask for help. She spent several hours with me, shared a meal, and went to the store with me. I have to get better at asking for help.