Monday, February 27, 2017

What's in a Year?


My darling,

A year ago, I got the call. The call that I didn’t realize was you shuffling off this mortal coil. I was home because I was getting rest. I was getting rest because the doctors and nurses all told me that you were coming home in a few weeks and that I would have to monitor you and take care of your IV antibiotics. I needed to be rested up for that. Nobody ever told me that these would be my last few days with you.

You died on a Saturday. You had a stress test scheduled for the following Monday. I have often wondered if they remembered to cancel or if the doctor giving the stress test waited for you at your scheduled time and then had to call to find out that you weren’t actually skipping out, you were dead. Why do I wonder that? Because it seems like the medical community here doesn’t communicate much. I have had to tell several doctors and nurses about your death when they called to schedule appointments or ask why you didn’t make it to an appointment that had been scheduled months ago. I had assumed that is something they would put on your chart. I guess not. 

If only I had known. If only the doctors had known. My love, I would have demanded a cot and slept next to you every single night of the short time you had left. I would have held you and hugged you as much as your pain would have let me. I would have cherished every moment knowing that there wouldn’t be more left. Your children would have known to come. I would have told them sooner, I would have done so much more. How could nobody have known? How? How could you be so alive one day and then just gone the next? Just the day before, you had asked the doctors if you would be well enough to shoot a film down in Atlanta in March. Always the workaholic. Always, right to the end. My love. My S. I miss you with every cell in my body. 

I can’t believe it’s been a year. It feels like so much less and at the same time, so much more. It’s not the same world you left…in so many ways. Your youngest daughter got married, your grandchildren are growing up, the world continues and goes on. I’m not the same woman you left. I feel like a new person every month. The forced growth and new life that I have begrudgingly succumbed to is full of so many different things that I wish I could tell you about. Oh sure, I tell you about them. I talk to the empty air in our apartment every day. But like a widow friend said the other day, I want you to answer! I want to have a conversation that you participate in again. I want to hear what you think, I want to hear the jokes you would make (and you would), I want to hear you laugh, I want to feel your hug. I want to fucking feel your hug again, S. I need it. Why aren’t you here? My heart aches for you.

The pain never goes away. You learn how to endure it. You learn how to let it exist alongside joy. You figure out how to join the world again with this pain always there in the background, to the side, all around you but you ignore it or you make friends with it or you take a quiet moment to cry and let the pain envelop you so that you can shake it off and keep going on as if you are a normal person who isn’t surrounded by this torment that you’ve learned to live with. You know all about that. You had to do the same thing with your oldest daughter’s death. You had so much pain. My only consolation is that you are free from that now. Free from your emotional pain as well as your physical pain. 

I now face another year ahead of me without you. What will this one bring? More joy and sadness. I know this is a definite. More sadness and joy. More living without you and more me becoming somebody else, a different woman than you knew. That hurts. It hurts so much. You wouldn’t even recognize me, S. If only I could hug you right now, a real hug, a long and lingering hug that lasts forever. It’s all I want in the world right now. I would give anything. 

This won’t happen. But what I do have is a stronger bond with your children and people from your past. That is something I cherish. If I can’t have you, at least I still have parts of you and your history. Your mark in this world. I am working to make that mark bigger with your work but I have no illusions that the people in your life are where you left the biggest mark and that is so valuable. 

Value has such a different meaning to me now. Am I thankful for that? I don’t know. So much clarity and depth comes from so much pain. But at least there is that? Who knows? I ramble when I’m sad. I ramble when I’m happy. I ramble when I’m both. You had endless patience and endurance for my rambling. I miss that. I miss that so much. Today, I am sad and today I ramble in hopes that you are listening. In hopes that you are here smiling at me the way that you would as I go on and on. 

What’s in a year? A fucking lot and yet, not enough. My perception of time is different now. My perception of everything is different now. I am different and that is the only thing that won’t change. I hope you can still find me as I continue to morph, evolve, grow wings I don’t recognize…

I am still waiting for you in my dreams. I will wait forever. I don’t want to face another year without you. But I will. I have to. I can’t stop it. I can't stop any of this. I love you, S. I miss you, S. Forever.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It's a different world but everything looks the same...

I did it. I made it through my first Christmas without you, S. I can sum it up in two words...it sucked. Want more? How about three words? It fucking sucked. I haven't posted here in a while...a long while. I thought I was doing okay. I thought I was really getting through this. Then the nine month marker hit right around American Thanksgiving. Hoo boy did nine months hit me hard. I have no clue why. Six months was pretty hard but nine months was unbearable. I don't know what made that one so bad but it was torturous.

I didn't quite recover from that one because then all the Christmas stuff started. My widow brain returned full force and I have been walking around like a zombie all month. I actually got the energy to put up all of our decorations and it was a lot. We really decorated, didn't we S? I was up until four in the morning but I was so glad I did it. It was good to have that familiar Christmas grotto (TM my wonderful husband) that our apartment turned into every year.

Then Christmas week hit. Boy, I have never felt exhaustion like this. Everything exhausted me and annoyed me. It didn't feel like Christmas, it felt dirty, like everything was taunting me. My mom came up and spent the time with me and she was a trooper at dealing with my moods. I was glad to have the bonding time with her, even if I wasn't at my best but the actual holiday part of it was for the birds. I didn't like it. I'm so glad it's over.

I don't know how New Year is going to be. I dread it but also look forward to it. I don't want to be in the year my husband died anymore. I want to be in a new year to go along with this new life I'm building for myself. I want to leave my husband's death behind because I know that I'm taking him with me. He and I have a new relationship now and he will travel with me into 2017 as I continue to find out who I am becoming. I know S will be there for that. I don't think he wants to stay behind in the year of his death either.

There is that feeling of the more time goes on, the further I get away from him when he was alive. I do carry that. It is a burdensome feeling and I put it next to all the guilt that's still there. Those are things I will have to still work on but I won't let them stop me from moving forward. There is room for them and joy and heartache and hope. There is room for all of it. I can't make myself wait for the bad feelings to be worked on before I let myself feel the good feelings. I want to feel them all. That is who I am now. Somebody who has made friends with both sadness and joy and all the emotions that swirl around both of them.

I wouldn't be able to do that without love. S and I had that in spades, we still do. Love is the reason I feel so many conflicting feelings all the time. I am blessed to have had the love that I did. I am blessed to be the person I am now because of my husband. I fucking hated Christmas this year, it hurt, it sucked and it felt like a heavy cloud over me but the lining to all of that is love and I'm still filled with all of it, like an earth sized blanket of warmth...and pain but the pain is a reflection of that love. What more could I ask for besides the impossible notion of having my husband back?

Our eleventh wedding anniversary is next month and then the first anniversary of his death is the month after that. There is a lot of pain ahead of me but there is also so much more. Just like Christmas, it is going to hurt and it is going to suck but that is part of life. I know how short life is now and I can't wait to move forward and find this new life I see ahead of me. Thank you, S. Thank you for everything you did to make me who I am now. You did a lot and I am so grateful for the time I had with you. I would have loved more, you sonofabitch, but I'll take what I can get. I cherish every moment we had together.

If this blog seems conflicted and all over the place, welcome to my head. That is grief. That is moving forward as a widow. That is life and death. It's all so weird and mind bending. Happy New Year.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What is this life?

I don't get it. I really don't. I'm not unhappy about that, just making an observation.

I went out with a friend tonight and yes, I'm a little bit drunk. I was hoping to get hit on. Can you believe it? I was wanting to be desired. I wouldn't have thought that would come out this early on but it did and it isn't the first time.

What is this life? Why do I want to be desired when I still pine for you, S? I know you would be okay with this, in fact, I know you would be ecstatic. You would be so overjoyed to see how well I'm doing. But am I? I really don't know. I haven't had a grief wave in almost a month and I have been able to overcome the sad moments quite easily. I'm still sleeping in the whole bed, not keeping your side sacred and I'm feeling like I want to be a desirable woman. What is that? I don't know. All I know is that I miss you and would have you back in a fucking second but I also really want to live and am excited about my future all at the same time.

What does that make this life? What is it that drives us and makes us want one thing while at the same time wanting the complete opposite? I will never know. Maybe you know now where you are. Send me a clue, S. Send me something. I want to know that I'm not crazy because it's really hard to tell right now.

I love you so much, S. Just because I don't cry for you as much anymore doesn't mean I don't miss you with every cell in my body. I do. I just focus on other things now. It's hard to reconcile that at the moment. How can I still love you and miss you just as much as I did and not be devastated by it anymore? I really don't know and sometimes it really does bother me.

What the hell is this life? I just don't recognize anything anymore and sometimes that's okay, other times it feels empty and numb. Sometimes it feels fucking exciting and I won't sugarcoat it, it really does.

Just tell me, S. What is this life? What can I do to not screw up the rest of the short time I have on this planet? Or does that even matter? Just tell me what I can do to make the next few months feel more sane. Just tell me anything. I miss you. I miss knowing what life was with you.

As for now, I just have to keep asking, "What is this life? What is anything anymore?"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Something happened...

Not long after my last post, I was hit by a huge grief wave. I'm talking the mother of all grief waves. It was like the first week all over again. It was like the first day all over again. I couldn't stop crying, it was a major breakdown.

But then...as the wave stopped crashing against me, I saw...life. I felt like I wanted to live again. At first I couldn't believe it and thought it was some sort of mania that would pass but as I came out of that horrible tar pit of what felt like eternal misery, I felt like a person again. Not just a person but a person living in this world who wants to live in this world again.

I have been absent here the last few weeks because that first week was the grief wave and then when it let me be, I have been marveling at the world again. It's like I'm seeing it for the first time. At the end of April, I remember seeing things start to bloom and recognizing that there was beauty there but that it wasn't for me this year. It was almost like the beauty of everything was looking at me with the same dead eyes I was using to see the world.

But now I see it with vibrant eyes and everything feels so much more alive than it ever has before. It's like a kaleidoscope out there for me right now and I'm feeling almost giddy. I wanted to give it a couple of weeks to make sure it wasn't some anomaly but it really feels like it is here to stay (I hope).

Now, I don't know what it is that is making me feel so much more alive and excited for the next chapter of my life but what I do know is that part of why I'm feeling this way is because I am carrying my husband's love with me instead of over me. I can now look back on our life and cherish it, not be sad by it. I was able to put his stuff away, for the most part. I was able to sleep in the bed again. I was able to sleep in the middle of the bed and not hold his side sacred anymore. I realized that he didn't need me to do that and I didn't need to do that to myself.

But it's only been three months! How is that possible? I honestly have no idea. I am definitely scared that another big huge wave is going to take me down again but you know what? This time, I know there is sunshine on the other side and I just have to ride it out. Now that I have this feeling of life again, I am not letting go of it (I really hope I don't).

Don't get me wrong. Things are not perfect. My concentration levels are still zilch and my appetite is still very, very small but that's okay! I would be even more worried if I were all of a sudden perfectly out of my grief. Grief is still with me, I know it is but now it is residing alongside life.

I don't know how this happened, I don't know why it happened, all I know is that I can now safely say that it does get better. I have heard that so many times from so many widow(er)s and now I fully understand what they mean. Yes, I know it is very early for that but everybody has a different timeline and somehow this is how it is happening with mine. I can only hope for the same quickness for others. If not, please know that I'm so sorry and I know there is no way to tell you that it will get better until you actually feel it. I hope you do as soon as is humanly possible for your personal grief. It is my wish that we all feel this thirst for life again.

I love you so much, S and I love us and I also love that I still have a life to live. You taught me so much, including how short life is and I am going to enjoy it for the both of us for whatever time I have left. I am going to laugh as boisterously as you did and smile at everything the way you did. I am going to dance and sing and carry you in my heart through it all. I am going to love you with everything I have while I live my new life with the joy that I know is possible from my life with you.

Thank you. Thank you for everything. This is a new beginning for me, for us because you are always going to be a part of me. I couldn't be happier about that. I had such a wonderful person be the biggest presence in my life during our time together and how lucky am I to still have your love with me? I am the luckiest girl in the world. I never would have thought that even three weeks ago but now I get it and I can feel you smiling and nodding your head. I know you are happy about this and that keeps me going.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The H Word

I haven't been a big fan of the word "healing" since my husband died. That word just didn't sit right with me for a while. It felt too tidy, too neat. It didn't describe a way out of this mess to my shocked brain. I think I'm ready to take another look at it. I think I might be ready to give it a chance. If you ask me again tomorrow, I'll probably say something different but tonight, I'm setting an intention to heal.

I don't want to be stuck in this darkness forever. I do not want to feel insane forever. I can't feel this miserable for what short time I have left here. I want to heal. I want to learn how to live in a way that I feel honors my love for S. I want to nurture the love, not the loss.

This is not to say that those who nurture the loss are wrong. They aren't. I understand it and I'm still there myself, to be honest but I am putting it out there that I want to try to do it a different way. I just don't know how yet.

This is just an intention I am setting for myself. The darkness is still there and will be there for far longer than I could ever predict. There is a lot more pain to go, I won't delude myself. However, hopefully, as I swim through this black sea, I will eventually find a raft and then instead of swimming through this muck of darkness and pain, I can float and will be less likely to drown.

As I float down the dark waters of hopelessness and despair on a raft that saves me from drowning, at some point I will see a clear blue sky and calm blue waters in the distance and hope will fill me again. I will show S that I remember life and beauty and wonder again and it will be even better because our love will be in everything. He will be in everything.

I love you, S. It is my intention to heal, not just for you but for us...for me. I am the best memory of us there is now.

(Last line borrowed from Patton Oswalt's amazing Daughter)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

He made the moon shine for me...

I had somebody in this life who just had to look at me for me to see a universe of love.
His smile swirled around me and filled me with joy.
He soaked in my pain with the deepest empathy a human is capable of.
He brought out the best in me, a side of me that I didn't know existed before him. 
We held each other up, creating such a strong foundation that it felt like it would never crumble.

Part of our strength was that we were real.
He had flaws, I loved him anyway.
He annoyed me, I loved him anyway.
We argued sometimes but we never went to bed angry.
We were important to each other because we allowed each other to be authentic even when it was ugly.

He was a storyteller and full of magic.
He created rituals that made our house and our little tiny family feel so cozy.
He called me duchess, doll, gorgeous and played with my name in the best ways.
He made characters for our dog and cats.
He created worlds out of words and they were all for me.
He made the moon shine for me...

I miss you, S.
This world is so dull without you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Who are you?

I look in the mirror
I don't recognize who is looking back at me
I am what's left
One side of the portrait

Is there beauty in pain?
Maybe, but the pain remains
I am half of what we were
No beauty of life can replace that

I am what remains
It is a very different view
I don't like it
But I must see it

You are so alive in my dreams
The waking world wants more
I can only survive
I can't offer what we would

I am alone in this beautiful hell
Of love and family shattered
If only you could come back to me
Until then, I am lost.