Sublime and Surreal~

My brain and body...both are too tired to string together too many sentences.

I say too tired, but it isn't from tiredness really, as much as it is a whole lot of stimulation in the past few days. 

My mom used to say that stress happens with good and bad things both. That our body feels it as stress whatever it is.

This has been good stress in the last few days. Also, hugely emotional.

 

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Bah Humbug

I am trying to get festive. I really am. But little things tick me off.

Like Christmas decorations. Particularly the really garish ones. And the plastic snowmen. The ones in our house are okay. Right now, that’s the sum total of an undecorated Christmas tree. And fairy lights that never actually went down after Christmas 2017. Somehow they have stayed permanent, if not always lit.

Like Christmas greetings. Particularly the, “2020 will be better than 2019”. Well, I heard that at the end of 2018, the end of 2017, the end of 2016 and the end of 2015. I now hold my tongue as a response, and if I am feeling benevolent respond with a light, “gosh – I do hope so”.

Like Christmas chit chat. “You must be so happy to have Ben and Megan home”. Yes – I am. And their presence, while comforting and warm and noisy and large is not comforting or warm or noisy or large enough. Julia’s absence is ever-present. More than ever. I slept in her bed two nights ago, when both my big ones were home. I have barely been in her room since she died. I haven’t wanted to be there. But I wanted to be in her bed on Saturday night. I needed to be in her bed, just as I had got Ben & Megan home safe and sound.

Like Christmas letters. I can’t even go there. But one was particularly painful as it talked of a very exciting and special time that was slap bang the day before the letter writer joined me in my family in Geneva for my youngest child’s funeral. When I think what I was doing those days – visiting the morgue, finding clothes for my dead child, meeting the celebrant and arranging for Julia’s friends to come and talk, preparing a funeral speech, arranging for beds for visitors, talking to police, cooking meals galore. Cathy N – your Christmas letter remains a firm favourite – a type of Christmas letter that I have long wanted to emulate and haven’t managed to do yet. But I live in hope.

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White Christmas

The first year, Christmas came along 6 weeks after he died.  In many ways, this was a blessing because I was in such shock.  I have almost no recollection of that first Christmas without him.  And, I think this is the way it had to be.  I know that I cooked a complete turkey dinner, but I don't remember who sat around my table.  I can't recall a single conversation.  Not one.  I don't even know if I ate dinner. 

When I think back to that first Christmas, I can not close my eyes and envision my sons opening their gifts.  But, I know that they had gifts.  I just have no idea what they were.  And, I do not remember shopping for their gifts. Maybe I bought them online.  I don't know.  I just can't remember. (There is a theme here.)

I know that I got my tree up that first year. But, I have no idea if I was helped doing this or not.  I think I actually put up two tress, but I can't be sure.  Maybe the trees  were already up prior to Mike dying - who knows.  Like so many things, I wish I could talk to Mike about all this.  But, when your person dies you lose part of your shared history. *Sigh. Now, without Mike, I have to rely on my memories of the past.  The person who shared some of the best moments of my life is dead; and without him,  I am not able to confirm or deny events of our shared past.  This is a huge loss.  Secondary losses were something I had yet to comprehend that first year without him.

Beyond dinner and having a tree or two decorated I really can't remember anything about that first Christmas.  Looking back, part of my lack of memory is likely due to my white wine intake. That first holiday as a widow Riesling was not optional.  I was in survival mode.  And, no one was telling me what to do, because no one I knew had done this before.  My friends still had their husbands.  They had no experience to draw on. They were clueless about widowhood and so was I.  Without a manual for widowhood and with no one to mentor me, I put myself into a wine induced haze for all of December starting on my birthday which landed exactly two weeks after Mike died and one week after I stood at the cemetery and buried him.  After bearing witness to the horribly dramatic, sad and awful moment at the cemetery when Mike’s coffin was lowered as TAPS played no one was about to tell me not to ease up on the wine.  So, with no regrets, my first Christmas was definitely a White Christmas…

 

 

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A Christmas to Remember

You would think that becoming widowed just before the holiday season could make said holidays an overbearing mixture of grief, stress, and memories going forward.  That remembering that first Christmas without Megan, watching a seven-year-old Shelby bounding down the stairs to a room in which her father was already bawling, would not be the ideal nostalgic thought of the ghosts of Christmas past.  Family traditions, like ice-skating, making hot chocolate, decorating the house, or cutting our own tree to trim would always be stained with the term things we “did”, rather than things we “do”.

For the most part, I suppose those sentiments are true, but in the grand scheme of things, the holidays have been a stressful time for most of my adult life.  Megan’s death was just the cherry on top of a season already filled with anxiety, frustration, and a sense of being pulled in every which way but the one I wanted to.

Perhaps I’m a bit of a scrooge. 

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I Choose to Believe

A week ago I was given an opportunity at a big event to share with my essential oil community about inclusion, community and growth. It amazes me what has come into my life in the past year. Part of my oil journey is the loss of Tin. I share about him in every speech I give. I share about Soaring Spirits and I share about the widowed Facebook support group, A Widow’s Valor, that gives those in the Young Living oily community a place to be surrounded by other oilers. Talking about my loss isn’t easier, it’s just different. I’ll always be a work in progress and, as I practice reflection and present time, I can pull myself from the tough days to look at the big picture of my journey and rebuilding. When I stop and take time to look at my journey I can see that I have accomplished something amazing – I survived and now I’m beginning to thrive.

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What Was and What Is

Life is pretty good. 

Eight and a half years later. 

I have my struggles. 

I have my hard days. 

I have my really, really, really hard days. 

But I also have good days. 

And I have really, really good days. 

I have joy. 

There was a time I thought there would never be joy. 

I have love. 

Beautiful, wonderful, chaotic, messy, complicated, precious love. 

There were days when love was not something I was interested in. 

I have friends. 

Really amazing friends. 

And family. 

Incredible and supportive family. 

Life is pretty good. 

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I Will Always Wonder

I know it’s not healthy to think about what could have been. But sometimes I let my mind wander and take a peek of the life we could have had if you had never had your accident. I know this can’t ever exist, but I will always wonder. 

I will always wonder if we would have grown old together. If we truly would have decorated our wheelchairs together, like we wanted to. I wonder if we would have gone to Rome, New York, and Hawaii like we said we would. 

I wonder if we would buy our cabin up North. I wonder if we would have had more children together. I wonder how you would have grown as a man and as a father to our children. I would have liked to have seen your face, as our little girl continues to hit her milestones and experiences new things. I wonder if you would have held my hand throughout the years, as we would walk beside each other. 

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And So it Begins~

I've been sewing and gluing all day long.

Tomorrow will be more of the same.

On Thursday I'll run last minute errands and then hitch my rig, PinkMagic, to my pink car.

Very early Friday morning I'll meet my film team and we'll head first to Sedona AZ and then Zion Nat'l Park in Utah.

The time has come, as the walrus said...

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Self-Care, Help, and Letting in Comfort

I have been pondering comfort, self-care, and help – what each of them is, to me, and what makes one or other easier and/or more accessible than another. Here is where I am at. And no, I have done no Googling or other research into what each of them is. Just research in my own life and experience. They are oft-used terms in Griefland – wobbly yet somehow vital components in this messy puzzle called life. Components that I have been shining a bit of a light on this week, supported by my therapist Catherine, and my grief guru Tom Zuba. This piece of writing won’t be particularly deep, nor complete. Just reflections at a point in time. 

Self-Care, and more specifically, Extreme Self-Care. I pride myself on being excellent at “extreme self-care” – a concept I readily stole from Cheryl Richardson, having purchased her book with the same title, some 9 or so years ago. I’ve never done more than flick through her book but read enough to determine my own version of Extreme Self-Care, which has been about learning to trust what is good for me, how to monitor my health and energy, and how to restore energy when it was getting low. 

My ability to self-monitor is pretty damned good (she says), and my strategies for (re)filling my bucket are vast. More to the point, my strategies provide enjoyment and are readily accessible. I have long been a bit of a guru, mentor, or role-model for others (specifically professional working mums) when it comes to extreme self-care, and the same skills have served me well in the land of Grief. Nothing makes the loss go away. Nothing makes anything better. But knowing if I am moving towards more pain, or able to shift microscopically towards some ease is often the difference between an awful day and an okay day. My ability to provide myself extreme self-care is second to none. For that I am grateful. And I know it helps me live and function as well as I currently do.

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Present

This will be my fourth Christmas without him.  We only shared one Christmas together so, why does Mike's absence weigh so heavy on me when I have lived most of my life without him?   Well, there are many reasons outliving Mike is hard; there are just too many things to mention.  And, really, it is the intangible things that are hardest to live without.  What is really comes down to is that I love him deeply; and, living without the person you are so in love with is awfully difficult.

Simply put, I miss Mike and I want him back.  I want to finish living the life we thought we'd share together.  And, I know full well that I can't have this.  Sunday, I stood above his grave. Physically, I saw the markers of his deadness.  My hands touched his headstone.  My eyes read his name carved into the stone.  My lips kissed the cold stone.  As I stood to leave, I whispered I love you to my dead fiance.  He didn't answer back because he couldn't.  I get it.  I know that Mike is gone from here.  Still, despite what I understand, I continuously think about living a life that does not and can not exist.  This is the quandary of my widowhood.

I need to create these make believe thoughts less frequently.  My mind needs more space for the here and now stuff.  I need to remain grounded in the present, but I just don't know how to accomplish this.  I am in my fourth year of widowhood and I still have not found a way to keep my mind tethered in the moment I am experiencing. 

 

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