Happy 6th Birthday

jacob2.jpgToday is my son Jacobs 6th birthday. Birthdays are always different now. I do my best to give the kids what they want and celebrate but there's a hole. Someone is missing. How can you celebrate the birth of your child without their daddy. I just don't know if it will ever be the same. 
Jacobs 4th birthday was the last one Joey was apart of. I don't know if it hits me harder because of that. But I can just see him standing next to him as he tries to blow his candles out. Jacob couldn't do it and started to get frustrated. And then Joey whispered something to him. And blew the candles out and Joey gave him a pat on the head and walked away. That is the birthday memory I have of Joey with Jacob. His first son and he only saw him to four years old. 
It makes no sense to me. I can't imagine only being four and then never having your dad with you anymore. 

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Talking to Mike

Whether or not there is a belief in God or an afterlife, I would bet that many widowed people talk to their lost loves. The first few months after Mike died I remember that horrific, heart-clenching, shattering new reality that he was not there to talk to anymore. But as time went on I just started talking to him anyway. Sometimes I yelled at him for leaving me. Sometimes now it’s a short I miss you, Mike. I say that a lot. Out loud. Other times I find myself having a longer conversation.

 

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Tu Me Manques...in Every Language~

What do I do with this 4-year mark?

This Friday will be 4 years since I leaned over and gently kissed the lips of my dead husband, after watching him suffocate.

After he died, I bathed him, with the aid of our 2 girls.  Then we dressed him in his street clothes.  I didn’t want his body going into the body bag by itself and I remembered that I had 2 very nice blankets in my car, so I sent the girls for them.  We wrapped his body in those blankets and stitched them together with colorful twine.  I remember gazing at his face for the last time right before I pulled the blanket over it.

Before they came into the room to take him away, I stepped outside to speak to them and tell them a little bit of who this man was, and that I was certain that they would handle his body with great respect.

I helped lift his body onto the gurney after they zipped him into the body bag.

A week later we went to witness his cremation and I opened the cardboard box in which his body reposed, and I covered him with colorful flowers.

And then I pressed the switch to open the doors of the crematorium so that his body could slide in.  I watched the door close.  And walked away a widow.

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Pre-survivor's Guilt

It’s Monday night.  After a long holiday weekend, and a single day of work, I’m off for a week.  Sarah and I are traveling to Texas tomorrow, to meet with her friends and family and celebrate the memory of Drew, as they’ve done yearly since his death.

The loose ends are tied up at work.  Our bags are packed and we’re into the impatient “waiting game” that comes before any longer trip getting started.  I wish we could just leave right now.  Visions of the beach, and lounging beside the pool seem like they’ll take forever to become reality.


Aaaaaand my chest is tight.  I’m uncomfortably nervous and anxious.  Something just feels...well…”off”.

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Dealing with Resentment

I think grief is an even trickier thing as time goes on. It becomes more infused with your new life and sometimes it’s hard to even know when struggles are related to your grief or to other things. I’ll be honest, I think I’m still holding on to some resentment that this other life I wanted to have will never happen. Even if 99% of me wants everything I have in this new life. Even if I had to choose between these two lives, I truly could not, there will always be that part of me that just wants to know how the other story was going to play out.

I know Mike has this feeling too. We both wish that we could see how those stories would have played out with our first person. Lately, I’ve started to wonder if maybe I’m feeling more resentment over that unfinished story than I knew.  

I think it’s part of the root of my struggle to adjust since moving to Ohio. I will never get to know what my wedding with Drew would have been like. Or if we would have had children. Or where we would have moved to for his flying jobs. I think moving and beginning a life somewhere so new and different with Mike has unknowingly made me even resent that I never got to move with Drew and do all of this.

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The Day You Died,

I recently read a well written piece called “On the day I die” I thought it was beautiful, it resonated with me and gave me inspiration for my own piece of writing.

The day you died,

I knew you were gone but I waited for you. In a haze of disbelief and shock I waited for you to walk up to me. Minutes and hours ticked over with family and friends moving about around me. Deepened looks of sorrow and pity shadowing their faces. But then it was as though I could no longer see them or maybe I just didn’t care. In my mind all I could see was you. Your face, your life, our life. Like photographs flickering before my eyes. Instantly paralysed, unable to move in any direction. Consumed in thoughts of its not real, I will fix it, I don’t know how but I will bring you back, this is not the end. So I waited.

I could smell you on our sheets, your scent lingered throughout our home. Your voice I could hear over and over again. Replaying the last words that your lips had spoken to me. I would turn my head in any direction and see you there, but I couldn’t touch you. You would be sitting on our bed or next to me in the car, your mannerisms, gestures and smile I could see clear as day. Every scar on your skin, each hair on your face, each freckle and imperfection of yours imprinted in my mind like a photograph.  

As though I were alone and lost in a dark place with images of our life playing out like a movie before my eyes. How could you be gone and be everywhere I was at the same time. Disbelief. Waiting for you didn’t work so I began to search for you. Longing to give my last breath to join you.

 

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The Duality of Widowhood

The definition of the word "duality" is as follows:

1. the quality or condition of being dual

2. an instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism. "the photographs capitalize on the dualities of lightness and dark, stillness and movement." 

 

I think it is more than safe to say that every widowed person understands the concept of duality. Maybe you didnt know the exact definition, or you weren't sure what to call it, or it was maybe more subconscious than conscious in your own mind - but at just about every moment in time, some more elevated than others, widowed people are living and existing in a dual reality. The above definitions describe it perfectly. After all, what is grief and loss and widowhood, if not the duality of stillness and movement? Joy and pain? This life, and that other life?

When I started my blog 4 years ago about this tsunami of grief (I still refuse to call it a "journey"- it's a tsunami, dammit!), there were many things I could have named it. My Husband Is Forever Dead came to mind. Or maybe Widowed at 39. Or lots of other things. But none of those fully encapsulated the concept and the very real truth that when your spouse or partner suddenly dies, you are not just losing and grieving a person. You haven't "only" lost your husband to death. The truth is, while all loss is impossibly hard, the death of a partner or spouse is the only kind of death that literally affects EVERY SINGLE aspect of your life. There is no piece of your life that this loss does not touch or affect. Where/how you eat. Where you shop. Your living situation. Your finances. Your job. Your parenting (if you have kids). Your loss of the dream of a family (if you didnt get to have kids). Your friendships. (Some grow stronger. Some grow weaker. Lots disappear altogether. ) Your dreams. Goals. Desires. Your sex life. Love. Your daily habits. On and on and on ... 

When my partner died, I not only lost my husband, but I lost my best friend. My biggest fan and supporter in life. My teammate. My car and computer and everything-else repair-man. My kitty-cat co-parent. My lover. My home nurse who took care of me always. My "run to Wal-Mart at 2am because my wife is out of printer ink and has a writing deadline in the morning" guy. My sounding board. My gentleman, who treated me with such kindness and respect. My helper. My resident dork who guaranteed that I laughed  at his silly humor at least once a day, and who guaranteed that I always knew how he felt, and who called me beautiful at least once a day.

When you lose the person you thought you would spend the rest of your life with and grow old with, it is not just the loss of a person. It's the loss of that life. Everything you planned. Your future that wont ever happen. Your past that now sits in only your memory bank. Memories that the two of you shared, and now there is noone to turn to and say: "Do you remember that time when we ...." Your day to day life, that was taken, stolen away by thieves. Everything. All of it. Gone, in one horrifying moment, when you know that his heart stopped beating, and that the life that you knew is no more. That is why my blog was appropriately titled: RIP The Life I Knew. 

 

 

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Mean Dreams

I had a dream about Mike last week. I hear some widowed people bemoan the fact that they never dream of their loved one...but these dreams are not always happy. I wish we could all visit with them in all our dreams every night, dancing happily through the fields of neverwhere together, able to talk to them and laugh with them. But not all dreams are like that. In fact I have yet to have one even remotely like that.

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It's Simple, Really~

I pause and think sometimes often as to the pressures put upon those who grieve.  Upon widow/ers, certainly, though I know it pertains to pretty much anyone who grieves.  The griefers, as I call them us.

What pressures? you might ask, though I know if you’re a widow/er, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

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Half-finished

Lately, it seems as if any and every project I have going on is halfway there, with no completion in sight.  There’s the half-finished garden path Sarah and I are installing, a fence we are putting in around the vegetable area, still half-built, a half-stained deck, a “mostly” painted bedroom, and one of three cars has been cleaned and waxed for spring.  At work, it’s much the same.  It is constantly busy, but nothing is completed other than minor computer problems that I fix on a day to day basis.  

 

I’ve taken a few weekend trips to the woods over the past few months, and half of those were cut short because, well, I just came home.  My big personal project, filming and producing videos with the intent of sharing useful knowledge and experience to those who would like to take their own trips to the woods has stalled, totally.  


I need to complete something.  Anything, really, that’s bigger than a five minute task.  Ultimately, my life has been a series of constant projects that get “almost there”, but not quite.  Including my marriage to Megan.  

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