Writing From the Depths of my Heart~

My dearest love, my beloved husband.  D.

It’s 4 years since you and I drove to the ER at Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs.  It is now 4 years since you and I began our final Happily Homeless travels, travels that began on a sunny May day in NJ in 2009, as you got into the UHaul truck with the few of our belongings that we’d kept after the sale of our home, and I got in our car, having just signed the papers and closed on our house, and we headed west to drop those few things into a storage unit in Indiana and visit with your mom for a few days.

And then we headed south and west and our adventures began.

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Cake and Beer

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In honor of Sarah’s late-fiance’s birthday, I’ve decided to write him a letter, man to man.  It’s something I haven't done in awhile, and today, of all days, seems most appropriate.  

 

Hey man,

So, today’s your birthday.  It’s kinda hard to believe you would have been only 33 years old.  You had way too much left to do.  Hell, you were just getting started.

Anyway, enough with all the “far too young” and “taken too early” crap.  You know as well as I do it’s all cliches and fluff that people spout off when they don’t know anything else to say.  Point is, you got to experience some pretty damned cool things in your life, and with a damned good woman by your side for the last few years of it.  That’s more than a hell of a lot of people can ask for.

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Bulldogs

show.jpgSometimes when you lose someone you hold on to every Tangible item you can. 
Joey was raised with bulldogs and it was his dream to breed his own dogs and show them. He was great at anything he did and his dogs were no exception. He created his own bloodline of beautiful healthy bulldogs. When he was alive he would tell me if anything happen to him these dogs were how I would survive. 
As much as I loved our dogs I didn't share the same passion for breeding and showing them. But after he passed I was determined to continue his dream. I had three litters on my own and it turned out to be more than I could handle alone. Between the driving two hours to the vet and keeping up with the cleaning it was just too much. It took me a year and a half to realize I needed to do what was best for me and these dogs. I found great homes for them all and let go of his dream. It was painful, I felt like I let him down in so many ways. But deep down I was also so relieved to not have that responsibility anymore.

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Love On

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I had some bad news this past week that has really been on my mind and in my heart for days now. Something that brought back a lot of memories, and a lot of important lessons, for me.

It may be an odd thing to say, but at times there are things that I actually miss about those first few years after Drew’s death. As painful and horrible as that time was, I can’t deny that there were certain gifts that I suppose I always knew would be short-lived. The main one being a perspective shift.

I remember living so vividly those first few years. I remember being so without fear, and so without concern for all the mundane things in life. I was so raw, and essentially giving a big “fuck you” to life by decreeing to live more fully. So it was an odd time - a time of terrible gifts. A time of painful joys.

For someone who has spent a lifetime walling off from people and bogged down by the smallest fears and the biggest self doubts, it felt like a miracle to be leaping over those walls and reaching out to connect with other hearts going through what I was going through. Breaking is breaking open, as they say, and that was certainly true for me.

As I “re-enter” a more normal day to day life now, I can see my perspectives sliding back. I can see myself worrying once more about the small stuff. I can see my self doubt closing in around me more than before. But that perspective his death gave me hasn’t left entirely. It still resides in my heart. Even if often times being back in the day-to-day takes up more of me mind, I can still hear those lessons I learned about having no control, about letting go of fear and worry, about opening my heart more fully to the world.

This week gave me a swift kick into remembering all of those lessons when I got a text from an old friend back in Texas. She said that one of our other friends had died, the day before. While I don’t know for certain the details, it sounds as though he may have taken his own life. And just like that, with a simple text, everything felt different.

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Seaworthy

sea·wor·thy
ˈsēˌwərT͟Hē/
adjective
  1. (of a vessel) in a good enough condition to sail on the sea.
Sometimes, something unexpected happens, and it gives you a new look at something, or a new look at yourself maybe. Sometimes, everything just lines up in the way it is supposed to, so that the universe can deliver to you, exactly what it is that you need in that moment. I want to tell you all a story, where that happened.
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Grown Up Problems

Mike was never good at dealing with grown up problems. He truly did have a childlike spirit - that was sometimes fun, and sometimes frustrating. When it came to taxes, phone calls, fixing things, filling out forms, and bigger worries, he was often useless. I did most of all that. And when he died...well, widowed people understand all the bureaucracy and agonizing paperwork that must be completed. It never seems to end. One final time he had left me to sort it out alone.

 

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Getting my Footing. Not.

Groundhog Day.  Do you ever feel that widowhood is like Groundhog Day?

A wide and conflicting range of emotions exist in widowhood.  As many as you can name, from A-Z, and many more that can’t be named, only felt.  Emotions that veer wildly about in one’s mind and heart and body.

For most of us, over time, the hardest ones seemingly dissipate.  If I were new to this grief thing, that would lead me to think whew done with that tornado!  But I’m not new to this unwelcome game, so I know that because one emotion seems to be done and finished…well…no.  Not.  It lies dormant, waiting to express itself again, maybe and hopefully not as intensely, but fully realizing that it can come roaring back at the most unexpected moments, possibly disguised as emotion, or buried beneath another emotion, or as itself, with possibly less intensity but hey, you never know maybe with even more intensity than the original.

Jesus, tornado roller coaster hurricane tsunami cyclone twister earthquake!

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Flipping the Switch

Way back when I started writing here for Soaring Spirits, I had posited a statement that when “my switch flips from suffering to determination, it is simply not possible to feel more powerful”.  At the time, that was related precisely to losing Megan, and wading through the grief until I finally got up off of the couch, wiped the snot off of my face, and got to work.

I felt as if I could power through anything.  A workout.  A stressful day at work.  Chores at the home or a general busy day.  I quit feeling sorry for myself, effectively pulling my widow card as an excuse to be lazy, and breezed through anything with ruthless efficiency.

For the past year or so though, I felt as if I aged 10.  I’m sore, tired, slow, and gaining weight.  I’ve let the doldrums of everyday life evolve into a bad thing, and my determination, initiative, and drive has slowly waned.  

I was “suffering” from complacency, not loss or grief.  

The switch had flipped.

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Long Road Ahead

"The hardest walk you can make is alone, but it's the walk that will make you stronger." 
This is easier said than done. 
When you have a partner in life, someone who you know has your back no matter what. Someone who will shelter you during the storm. Someone who is willing to die for you before they let you suffer. 
Then all of a sudden you are alone without that someone. And you must figure life out for yourself. 
The plan was for Joey to be the money maker and I took care of the children. Once they were old enough then I would go back to school to pursue nursing. That plan went out the window after Joey died. Now I had to be the money maker and the caretaker. 

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Coffee Rituals and the Unknown

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Early this morning, I woke up to the bed being empty next to me. It's an ordinary Saturday, and I can hear Mike downstairs, tinkering around, packing up for a short backpacking trip. Eventually, I hear the stairs creak as he comes back up to the bedroom kiss me goodbye. These moments are always sensitive for me, since Drew left on a trip and never came back. But this isn't some 3 month long work trip like Drew's... Mike will be back tomorrow. Or will he? Because of course, now, I never really know that anymore. 

All morning now, the thought of him not coming back has been with me. I’ve not cried or even been upset over it… it’s just…. There. Haunting me at low volume. As I make my morning coffee, I have to go through three cups before I can drink it. The first is one of my favorite mugs, with skulls on it. I decide not to drink from a skull cup while he is out. “If he dies and you drank out of a skull cup that day, it will feel like a creepy omen”. So I pour my joe into his favorite coffee cup, one with a woodland scene that says “The Good Life” on it. I decide that one makes for an equally bad omen - as I never use his favorite coffee cup, and it’d be horribly ironic if he died while I was drinking from the "Good Life” cup. I finally settle on a random cup with no irony apparent and am able to let it go for a moment. 

There were half a dozen other situations just like this for the next hour. Putting on his hoodie - which I wear around the house almost daily... "What if he dies today and I am wearing his hoodie?!". The little surprise love note he tucked into my laptop, so that I would find it after he left "Oh my God, what if he dies today and this is the LAST LOVE NOTE I EVER GET?!" Worrying about ice on the roads, cars flipping, him slipping on ice with a heavy pack on his back in the woods alone... it goes on and on of course. Even writing these words, sends chillful thoughts of "What if he dies and THAT is what my post next week is about?!" It's scary. And tiring. All of this because of “the knowing”...

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