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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Love Letter

I know I don't usually do this, but this time of year, I am taking things pretty rough. I've tried to be "strong for the kids", tried to be "over it", tried to embrace the "childlike spirit of Christmas", but damn. This truly bites. Like sucks beyond anything that has come before it. So, to get it all out, I am writing a love letter to my best friend, my lover, my soul mate, my partner in crime, my sweetest love so I can tell him all of the things I didn't get to say. But, like an oscar speech, there first are so many people to thank...
     First, I would like to thank all of my widow(er) friends I have met along this journey. We may have all arrived on this path at different times but we all go through the same things, feel the same feelings, and are there for each other when we feel like no one understands us. This last year for me has been super tough and I don't think I would have been able to make it without the love and support that you have shown me. Chins up, fellow widdas; we will continue to make it through as long as we remember to take baby steps forward for ourselves and hold the memories of our spouses close to our hearts.
     Second, I would like to thank my friends and family for being there for the kids and I as we made it through this incredibly tough year.  You have all watched me as I struggled with the crippling loss of B, and steered me in the correct direction when you saw I lost my way.  You watched and supported as I became a single mom and found out about D's diagnoses and all of the struggles that go along with being the parent of a special needs child.  You encouraged me to not turn back to my old ways following the most devastating loss of my life.  You pushed me to go back to school and fulfill the dream I have to get a college degree. You have listened to me tell stories, you have held me when I cried, and you have come with me to movies and dinners so I didn't have to be alone. Most of all, thank you for just being THERE. Those moments when you just gave me a hug or held my hand and watched my tears fall silently and we didn't speak...no advice given, no words of encouragement spoken. Those were the moments where I knew that the love you had for me and my children was truly the most selfless gift anyone could ever give.
     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 A love letter to my one and only.....

My sweetest love,
     There still are so many words unspoken that I didn't get to say.  There are so many dreams we had that are unfulfilled, so many trips not taken, so many of the children's milestones that we will not get to experience together. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of you or speak of you or wonder what you would think about how my life is turning out.  Just the other day I was telling a new friend about our amazing love story and it reminded me of how truly blessed I was to have you be in my life for 30 of the 35 years I have been on this earth. I told the story of our first kiss at the Allentown Fair. I spoke fondly of the surprise picnic you made for me in the woods. The way through all of high school and college we were on again off again until that amazing night at dinner 12 years  ago when we went to dinner and knew, from that point forward, that we would be together forever. I have explained the story of without wax and sparked jealousy from some of my girlfriends whose husbands aren't nearly that romantic.
     I can only hope that you see my life as I keep going for the boys.  I hope that you are happy with the amazing people that your sons are turning out to be.  They are like you in so very many ways. They both have that same crinkly-eyed smile you had when they are truly happy and being their adorably silly selves. They have such amazingly kind hearts, and are so loving and giving...a trait that I know you helped to foster in them.  They love you and miss you so very much, and talk about you and to you all the time.  I hope you hear them and guide them as they grow into the amazing young men you always wanted them to be.
     I know the last months you were here we struggled. I am so sorry that I never got to fix that struggle for you. Every day I hope that you knew how much I loved you no matter what. How no matter what we were going through I always believed that our love was so strong that we could make it through anything. I truly believe you are my soul mate, B, and in another time, in another place our souls will be reunited an the B-shaped hole that is in my soul now will finally be filled. Our love never knew any boundaries, and I am sure it will overcome this one, no matter how immense the space between us is. You were my rock, my balance. You were the dark to my light, the calm to my crazy, and the quiet to my loud. As I have always said, you saved me from myself, and I am a better person for having loved you. You will have my love always and all ways my sweet, without wax.
   

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cobwebs, Fog, and Apathy

        This grief is an interesting thing.  I have lost people, things, and pets before in my life, but none have affected me to such a degree as the loss of my husband. At this point, a little over a year after B passed away, I thought I would be able to function just a wee bit better. I'm not. Well, I am, but not as "better" as I thought I would be.  Of my bad days, I can usually put them into three categories: cobwebs, fog, and apathy.
      My cobweb days are interesting.  Sometimes a memory will just fly up out out of the blue and get stuck in my head. Usually it is a good one like our wedding day kiss, or a day we spent goofing around with the boys, or a day where we had one of those dates or conversations that reminds of why we loved each other so much to begin with. These cobweb days, I'm like the spider. I turn the memory over and over in my web, spinning more and more silk over it to keep it protected. I visit it from time to time, gleaning what goodness I can to sustain me and keep me going.  These cobweb days are my favorite. Then there are the not so good cobweb days. The ones that are so very much NOT my favorite. The stupid, sucky horrible memories that fly up out of nowhere and get stuck. Getting that phone call. Hearing the doctor say those horrible words. Seeing you there lifeless. Our last fight. On these cobweb days, I am less like the spider and more like the fly. I fight and fight and fight to disentangle myself. The more I fight, the more I get caught. Caught up in the replay, caught up in the horrible feelings that go along with it. I try not to get caught, but, like the fly, sometimes you are just going about your day and WHAM! Stuck. No matter how hard you try, you are just not going to get out of it.
     Foggy days have their own "special" quality.  These I know are coming as soon as I try to get up out of bed in the morning.  I am usually that bouncy, bright-eyed, chipper morning person that everyone loves to hate. Up at 5am regardless of the hour I went to bed, ready to go and coffee and breakfast made for everyone shortly thereafter. I know. Just reading that makes you want to kill me, right? Especially if you haven't had your morning cup of coffee yet. If it is any consolation, on foggy days I am very much NOT like that.  Foggy days start with the complete inability to get out of bed. Usually that half asleep/half awake state when your body can't move and your brain is trying desperately to cling on to the last vestiges of that amazing dream you were just having. Once my feet hit the floor, I know it is going to be a no shower, jeans and a hoodie, 5 cup of coffee kind of day.  There are tears in the corner of my eyes the whole day, and more often than not I will find myself in a room of the house with no recollection of why I went in there.  I go through anything I have to do that day in a daze that resembles that of a zombie.  I am assuming I probably look like that to the outside world, too. Unkempt appearance, slow shuffling walk, incoherent speech...yup. Sounds like definite zombie qualities. Surprised I haven't been taken out already by one of those doomsday preppers. Comforting, sort of. These foggy days are becoming fewer and farther between, but man, when they do hit, they are doozies.
     What more and more of my bad days are becoming is full of apathy. Just going through the  motions. Not sad, not happy, not angry, not anything. I could win the 40 bazillion dollar lottery and  just shrug my shoulders and reply "meh". It's like being a 2D figure in a 3D world.  I look all right from the front, but if you catch me at just the right angle, you can see something is missing. I'll participate in activities, but only if I have to.  I might smile, joke, or even, laugh; but if you watch or listen closely you can tell that they are missing their usual luster.  My cooking is less flavorful, my housework suffers, and the general world seems less colorful. I can't even shop properly on these days. I know, how very commercial of me, but admit it, sometimes shopping makes all of us feel better. Especially shoes. And purses. And clothes. And random gifts for other people. I've been told self-care will help with these apathetic days. Going to the gym, going for a walk, stopping and smelling the roses, etc.  The problem is, on apathetic days, I am disinclined to anything that requires even the tiniest bit of motivation. Then my motivation comes home from school. The bright shining moments on these days are my beautiful boys.  Somehow, some way, they usually find a way to inject a little bit of sun into even the greyest of apathetic days.  The older one getting a good grade on a test or telling me how he stood up to a bully.  The smaller one writing his name without assistance or getting excited about seeing a big construction truck being transported down the highway.  They remind me that even flowers can grow up through the cracks in the sidewalk if they have enough will.

 If a flower can do that, then damn....so can I.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Suck-cember

    I have renamed December Suck-cember. This month is just sooooo harsh on my emotions. His birthday, 13 months, Christmas, my birthday, New Years Eve, and New Years Day. That is way too many potentially problematic days to have to deal with in one month. Alone. I think that is what makes it exponentially worse.

Alone.

    The word just sounds depressing when you say it. Looks depressing when you type it. Feels depressing when you experience it. I was out last night having a cupcake for my cupcake's birthday and a little rhyme kept repeating itself in my head...."couples, couples everywhere and no someone for me".
     Not that being with someone is necessary to be happy, or would make December suck any less, but sometimes it is just nice to have someone to come home to, have a nice cup of hot chocolate with, snuggle and watch the kids play. Nice to have someone to go Christmas shopping with. Nice to have someone wish you a happy birthday. Nice to have someone congratulate you on completing your first semester back at school in 15 years. Nice to have someone to play Santa with. Nice to have someone to kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve.
     Suck-cember is fraught with remembrances, which is why I think it sucks so much. Remembrances for everyone, not just those of us who are grieving. How many times have you reconnected with an ex right around the holidays? How many times has one of your family members brought up specific memories while you are all enjoying dessert after a fun day of togetherness? How many times have you decorated for the holidays, remembering the story that goes behind each and every decoration or ornament? More often than not, these memories bring back warm fuzzy feeling of wistful longing, right? Well, multiply that longing by about a million and you get a sense of where a grieving person probably is this time of year. At least this grieving person.
    So, if you come in contact with me or any other grieving person this year, be gentle. Realize that while you may have moved on from the loss, we haven't.  At least not as much as you think we might have (we are REALLY good at faking it).  We might be a little grouchier than usual, a little more sensitive than usual, and a little more lonely than usual. If we have a significant day (like maybe a birthday, wink wink) try to make it bearable by including us.  If we invite you somewhere, it is not because we are trying to insert ourselves into your schedule, it is because we are trying to fill a really big hole in our heart with someone whose company we enjoy and makes our sad hearts smile for a moment.  Phone calls are awesome, cards are great, a lunch or dinner or even a cup of coffee is an  excellent way to show us that we matter and are an appreciated part of your very busy life. We know Suck-cember will pass, but for some of us, it doesn't pass soon enough.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday season? What holiday season?

    Apparently, the "holiday season" is upon us. Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. Food, family, football....what's not to love? Then a big chunk of my family went missing. I barely remember last Thanksgiving.  This Thanksgiving, things are a little different. There is no one big gathering. My mom and stepdad are in one place with one uncle and one set of grandparents. My dad and stepmom, sister, and aunt are in another place. My FIL and BIL are hosting dinner at their place for my BIL's girlfriend and her parents. I have friends who have invited me to their gatherings.  Everything feels fractured to me, just like my little family.
     So what do I do? I do what I used to do when I was younger, before I had a whole family of my own. I go everywhere. I put on my happy face and visit with my dad, my in-laws, and my friends. I show my kids that we can have a happy holiday even though we may not all be together. I show them that there are many different kind of families....some that are whole, some that are broken, some that are made up just friends, and that everyone in your life can teach you something. Teach them how to manage to eat a little at everyone's house as to be able to join in all festivities. Watch some football, play some games, and have some laughs.
       Just because there is a big hunk of my soul missing doesn't mean I have to take away part of theirs. I will try my best to keep Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. I will try not to drink to much and fall to pieces. I will be cheerful and thankful and everything else everyone expects me to be because I am "strong".
****POST THANKSGIVING****
      I made it. It was interesting.....three mini dinners, and nothing quite felt right. It wasn't wrong, but it wasn't right either.  You know how it is when you try on a shoe that looks good on the outside, but pinches your little toe on the inside? That is what Thanksgiving felt like.  I was all helpful and happy on the outside and tears and angry on the inside. I missed B terribly but found comfort in his favorite football team playing on the TV spending part of the day with my in-laws and another part of the day with one of his closest friends. The signs are always there, sometimes I just have to be no so wrapped up in my grief to appreciate them.