Coffee with Missing Pieces

4714101112_49b968b236_b.jpgThere I was, at a coffee shop downtown last Wednesday afternoon. I was sitting beside a large window enjoying the rain tapping against the glass as I did some work on my computer, when suddenly my awareness was completely shifted. In that instant, I felt a deep, emptiness that was both piercing and aching at the same time. A screaming hollowness inside me.

What had happened? I overheard a word from one of the two women who sat behind me enjoying lunch together. And that word, was “Mom”.

As I continued to listen in on their conversation, the hole in my heart grew bigger and bigger. The daughter looked to be my age, and here they were, just having an ordinary lunch together. Like this is a thing they do every week. She must have fired off the word “mom” twenty more times as I listened. There was such an ease in their voices. Such a comfortable knowingness of each other. Something I have never experienced as an adult. I teared up, and actually stopped working to grab my journal and write my emotions out….

“I feel it so acutely right now. This hole in me. This lack of security. I wonder if I should go back to counseling. I wonder if I will always have trouble with avoiding things. I wonder if I will always get in my own way, and if somehow all of it is because of this hole. Because of this lack of security deep down in me. I just miss my mom.”

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Nothing is Necessary

Depression is a tricky thing.

 

You never really know when it will happen. It just creeps up on you. At least, that’s what it did to me this week.

 

I miss my wife, but that wasn’t the catalyst this time. Or maybe it was. I’m not sure.

 

All I know is that I was down. For whatever reason. Unmotivated to do anything.

 

Existing monotonously to anyone and everyone around me, even myself.

 

I’ve made attempts to tame the beast, but the beast is me...and me is a person that I’ve never truly been able to control, at least not fully.

 

I sit in silence most days, hoping my thoughts will break the silence with something profound and inspiring. This week: nothing.

 

Sometimes, however, nothing is necessary.

 

It puts in perspective the somethings that exist in your life. That’s not even a profound thought. It’s just an observation.

 

Perhaps next week will be better.

 

We will see.

 

Stay tuned.

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Resentment and PTSD

There is so much going on in my head right now. Its hard to think straight. 

I forgot to write in here last week. 

Im a bad, bad widow. 

Im so sorry. 

I forgot to write because I was away in Maine, with my new love,

celebrating our 8 month anniversary, and Valentines Day. 

It was my first really good Valentines Day since Don died, 6 years ago.

And yes, because Im a widow to sudden death, Im now the type of person who likes to honor 

and celebrate my anniversary monthly. 

Because who the hell knows which one might be our last.

Who the hell knows when I might wake up one morning,

and he's just not here anymore. 

Or maybe Im the one who wont wake up. 

This is how my brain works now. 

I have these type of thoughts often. 

It sucks.

I resent it. 

I resent thinking that because Im in Maine and having an awesome time and forgetting for two seconds that Im a widow and that my husband and the life i knew died, that this means I am maybe now somehow OKAY and I dont need to write about my emotions anymore. Im fine. Im over this. Im happy now. 

Thats bullshit. 

And its dangerous thinking. 

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Why I Smile

I often get told, “you’re always smiling” or “you smile a lot.” It’s meant in a positive way of course but I can’t help but reflect on it. A year ago, I might have felt guilty for being told I’m smiling. I had questioned whether I was allowed to feel happy after such a loss and if I was happy, just how happy I was allowed to be. I wanted to look up in a rule book: how often is a “good” widow supposed to smile or feel happy? I didn’t want to be disrespectful to Mike or for others to think I wasn’t sad anymore. I was sad but there was room for happiness too.

I don’t feel that way anymore about smiling. Part of it is I really don’t care what others think of me and my happy/sad balance. The bigger part and more important realization is that it is only because I have been so incredibly sad that I can genuinely appreciate when I feel happy.  You see, when I smile and laugh I am so aware of it. I’m so conscious of feeling happy. I don’t think there has been a time since Mike died that I smiled or felt happy for a prolonged period of time without internally acknowledging that, “hey, I’m feeling happy right now and this is really nice.”

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I Must Write of This, Because~

I must write about Love, because I will go fucking insane if I write of the painful past, I will go fucking insane from..I don't know...rage? World stopping anxiety? Despair? 

It goes by many names, this feeling that is the experience I shared with Chuck in his hospice time. In the cancer time. In his death and dying time.

How I torture myself by reading the blogs I wrote on my private page, of those times. 

The horrifying morning where I drove Chuck to the ER because this man who had a massively high pain threshold could no longer absorb the pain of the cancer that returned and ate his ribs, and made it difficult to walk.

The determination of me, of our kids, to make his hospice time one of Love, not instead of fear, but as a cup for the fear.

The horror of realizing that my beloved husband was dying and I couldn't stop it.

And the sharp in breath I took when I recognized, somehow, that the breath he was taking at that moment, would be his last breath.

The...everything...as I put my hand on his heart and knew that he was gone.

And that my entire life was somehow, also...gone.

My god, the dread, the panic, the purity of that moment of sheer Hiroshima level shock...

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Number Eleven

Four years have come and gone since the last time Megan was present for Shelby’s birthday.  By February 17, 2014, Megan had already been diagnosed with rejection, although she hadn’t been admitted to the hospital as of yet.  Shelby was turning seven, and four days prior, Megan and I received the results from her bronchoscopy.

We rented out one of those “inflatable gym” spaces for Shelby, and invited all of her friends to join.  It was a madhouse, to say the least...screaming, jumping, running around, laughing, and smiles from ear to ear.  I distinctly remember the both of us having nervous thoughts in the back of our minds about Megan’s health, but suppressing all of them in order to give Shelby the birthday she wanted.  She would have no clue, no inkling of something amiss on this day.

Going through some old texts and emails last week, I came across a conversation that Megan and I had just a day or two before the party…

 

Megan: Should we talk to Shelby about it?

Mike: Yeah, but let’s do it together.  I don’t know how to start the convo with her, but we need to anyway.

Megan: Yeah.  I don’t like this.

Mike: Me either.

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Strong on Your Love

I am tired of trying to be - 'not sad'.

  I am exhausted from the aching in my heart. 

I am weary from recognizing Joy everywhere,

All around me,

And, still feeling hollow inside,

I am aware of all the good in my life,

My heart is grateful for what I have.

So, I ask myself again and again,

Why isn't it enough?

Why isn't my life enough - without him?

I don't have the answer to this question.

For now, all I can do is ask.

And, I will be strong on his love as I seek the answers... 

 

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Painting: Big Heart by Ivan Guaderrama

 

The truth is, I can write all my positive thoughts and affirmations onto this page;

But, I can not reverse all the ways that Mike's death has permanently changed me. 

 

I'm different now. 

Nothing can alter this. 

I can't be who I used to be - ever again.

As I am moving forward I am not just grieving Mike,

I am grieving the person I was when he was alive.

- I miss her too -

 

 

My eyes look dull and lifeless.  Sometimes...

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100% Chance of Rain

A few weeks ago, a milestone came that I have dreaded for a very long time. It’s odd to say that, considering it was my anniversary with someone I love very much. But it wasn’t just any anniversary. It was the third year since the day Mike and I met. The third anniversary was also the last I got to have with Drew… he died six days later, suddenly. This is almost unbelievable to me.. As my 3 years with Mike have felt like a whirlwind, and the same amount of time with Drew felt somehow like a decade.

It’s no surprise that I’ve had many mixed emotions the past few weeks. Emotions about the fact that, going forward from here, each new day with Mike is one more day than what I got to have with Drew. Emotions about Mike dying somehow suddenly a week after our third anniversary. I’ve even had some particularly difficult and confusing dreams as of late… dreams that seem like my mind trying to make sense of it all again, just like in the first year after he died.

I’ve struggled to find words about how all this feels. I haven’t really even journaled about it, which is my usual go-to. So I’m trying here to confront those feelings. I don’t want to. I don’t like these feelings. Because they are so complex. Because I don’t even fully understand them. Because they make me feel guilty for not being 100% joyful when milestones hit. Quite bluntly, I feel resentment. And It feels awful. And Ugly. And not at all like a feeling I want to have.

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Indifference

Do things ever really work out?
 
This Valentine’s Day put me at pause with that thought as I lay dying, staring at the neutral-colored walls of my bedroom while listening to the sounds of silence in an ever-enclosing prison of flu-ridden paralysis. 
 
Time stood still.  When it does so, my mind agonizes and over-analyzes.
 
The past.  The present.  The future. 
 
All of it.
 
I think about love often.  What it means.  What it means to me now.  How it should be expressed. How it should be approached and carried out.
 
I’ve never kept a woman.  I’ve only ever admired one for a fleeting moment before she disappeared from my life. Leaving me to deal with the damages, however great or small they may be, to either learn from or discard what was necessary and applicable to my development as a better man.
 
Linzi was the fairy tale romance. The only evidence I will ever need to know that love exists.  Fairy tales for me, however, tend to turn to either nightmares or tragedies of a foregone Shakespearean era.
 
It was tragic. It was beautiful. It was bittersweet.
 
It cannot be replicated, merely recited to the best of one’s abilities in a futile attempt to recapture what once made it stand as a classic to begin with.
 
Her existence was temporary. Her impact was permanent.
 

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The Me in the We

I introduced who I am now last week but that is just a piece of me and really, she’s still kind of new around here. The other part of me is the me before Mike died. She was around for a long time and was very comfortable in her skin. At the time, I truly thought that version of myself was very independent but after he died I quickly realized how much of my identity was closely tied to Mike. I’m not saying it was a bad thing; it was just kind of a surprise to me. It suited me then and I liked myself and who he helped me be. Today I’d like to introduce me from before Mike died and our story. In introducing me from before and our story you’ll get to know more about Mike too. I can’t and don’t want to separate the two. He was and still is a big part of me.

The Before me was young. She was a bit naive about the world. She smiled with her eyes and with her whole heart. Sometimes now I begrudge her a bit for that but she had no reason to be any different. She was happy in the most innocent, purest form. When I can take a step back to genuinely reflect, I am glad she had that time to be that way. The reality of life could wait.

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