Numbers and Changing Lives~

Chuck and I sold our home in NJ in May 2009 to go out on the road and travel our country together. 

No more rat race for us. 

Just time together.

We had just shy of 4 years on the road together.

He died April 21, 2013.

11:21 pm is when he took his last breath.

In so many ways, I did too.

Take my last breath, I mean.

My breathing hasn't been the same since the hands of the clock ticked to 11:21 and froze.

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Heads or Tails

It is easy enough for most of us to identify with our own, “widowed” side of the story.  We’re the ones left behind when our partner dies. We are all suddenly single parents, sole breadwinners, alone, scared, and confused.  It doesn’t matter if we’ve had years to accept the impending death, or minutes.

But, what if we were on the other side of that coin?  What if we knew we were the ones leaving others behind?  If we knew that our children, partner, friends and family were going to have to be without us?  What if we had to trust...REALLY trust that when we were gone, it would be horrible for our loved ones, but everything would be alright?  

Even more risky, what if the riskiest thing we had to do was the one thing that kept us around longer?

This is what I’m thinking about this morning, after talking with an old friend yesterday.

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Facade 2

Most of the people in my life see me working, raising kids, and socializing. 

They believe, that after this length of time, I'm "getting on with my life". 

They think I've got this. 

And, maybe, in many ways,  I do.                                   

However, what I feel like inside

Does not match what they see on the outside. 

Things are not exactly as they appear to be.

The truth is, I am still out of sorts.

I am still constantly carrying on conversations with my dead fiancé 

in my heart and in my head.

And, after nearly 2.5 years,

I am still trying to process

what has become of my life.

~S.

 

I understand that those around me believe that I'm okay because I'm functioning the way most mothers do.  I make breakfast. I go to work.  I pay the mortgage.  I raise my kids.  I cook dinner.  And, in the last year, I am attempting to live again.  

But, there is way more to my life than one sees at first glance. My situation is complicated.  I'm not 'only' a previously divorced mom raising kids alone.  I am also a widowed mom who is grieving.  My scenario is beyond anything I ever imagined.  And, I understand that most people around me can not comprehend my life.  How could they?  Honestly, most days, I can't even get my head around it myself. 

 

An accurate description of my existence involves the bold type:

I make breakfast -and drink my morning coffee by myself, in silence, because Mike is dead.

I go to work - with only a few hours sleep because every night grief keeps me awake.

I pay the mortgage - but my income is now  reduced to 1/4 of what it was when Mike was alive.

I raise the kids - feeling guilty because I feel like a failed Mom who lacks enthusiasm and joy because of grief.

I cook dinner- with invisible tears streaming down my face so that my kids don't know how sad I really am.

I socialize with friends - but while in their company I still feel alone and empty inside.

#thisismyreality

 

Widowed people's lives are often misread, because, unless you have outlived the person you are in love with, you can not possibly comprehend the emotional devastation and range of feelings that make up our tears.  The depth and breadth of my loss is beyond anything I could have previously imagined.  Widowhood must be lived to be understood. 

Naturally, those in our lives want us to be better.  They need us to return to who we were.  They don't understand that this is not possible.  Those outside of our community want to believe that the death of a spouse is manageable with time.  But, time itself has no real bearing on our grief.  Our spouse continues to be missing from our future forever; and this is why our grief continues - in some capacity- over the course of our lifetime.

 

 

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The Guessing Game

Sometimes I get tired of playing the guessing game. 

The guessing game of what really happens after we die. 

Knowing there is never an answer to the thousands of questions I have,

and the only way to actually know for sure, 

is to die myself. 

And even then, there is no guarantee I will know what happens after death,

because if the answer is "nothing happens", then I wont be aware

of anything happening or not happening. I will just be nothing. Gone. Void. 

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Time and Wishing~

I'm coming up on 6 years since Chuck died.

April 21.

It's weird how my brain works with time regarding his death.

For the first 5 years I counted in days and weeks and months.

In the last few weeks, I've found myself saying almost 6 years.

Once April 21 comes...which is my New Year, by the way, instead of January 1, I know I'll say it's been over 6 years now.

I'll know exactly, because I have a counter on my phone and I track those smaller moments of time...months, weeks, days, minutes, seconds.

I'm not quite sure why. I just do.

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Coasting

January is when Megan was first diagnosed with chronic organ transplant rejection.  February is Shelby’s birthday. May is Mother’s Day, June is when she was admitted to the hospital, never to come home again, July is her birthday, August is our anniversary, September is when the next year of school starts for Shelby, October is my birthday, November is when she died, and December, is well, the “holidays”.

March and April though have no special “milestones”.  I can’t really think of any specific memories or significant happenings that have or will occur as it relates to Megan and her death.  I get to “coast” through these months, in a sense, fairly comfortable with believing that I shouldn’t have any “predetermined” triggers.

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Everything but the Kitchen Sink

As widowed people we do not talk about this enough.  When they died, our sex lives died with them.  There I said it. 

Sexual bereavement is a thing.  It is very real and it profoundly affects us as we live on without the one we love.  Daily, we miss the intimacy of being a couple.  And, nothing, not one thing can replace this.  The daily nuances that exist between two lovers.  Your unspoken language.  The secret words you whispered to one another.  The tone he reserved for just you. The dialect of love.   

As surviving spouses we miss the stolen glances.  The way his adoring eyes watched me prepare a meal.  The winks he sent me across the room during a dinner party.  Tenderly placing my hand on his leg as he drove us some place.  Walking side by side and casually reaching for his familiar hand; and, then interlocking my fingers with the man I love. Their hands.  Their kiss.  That place on the small of my back that only he knew.  The way he gently brushed the hair out of my eyes before his lips met mine.  The way I fell into his chest as he pulled me to him.  All of this.  Every last thing.  This is the stuff we ache for.  This is the stuff that I quietly grieve.

~S.

 

I miss your hands on me.

I miss your touch against my skin.

 

I desperately miss having you beside me on an ordinary Sunday night.

 

I wish I could turn my head and see you here in front of me.

 

I want my dinner companion back. 

I miss him.

 

Eating alone while I talk to my dead lover is killing my appetite.

It is not food I crave, it is your physical presence that I hunger for.

 

I long to taste your kiss.

I want to run my fingers across your shoulders as I set your plate down.

I want to drink up your smile as I swallow my wine.

 

As I sit here alone, 

I close my eyes,

And, I feel you come up behind me and wrap your arms tightly around me 

- like you always did.

 

I remember how you’d slowly turn me around to face you.

We’d stop and briefly look at one another.

If I could go back, 

I’d stay there locked in that moment.

 

I remember feeling something magical happening inside those fleeting seconds when we looked into each other’s Souls.

We stood still, but within this space we held for each other, we travelled someplace else. 

A place without a name. 

A place that is gently suspended outside of time and space. 

 

Maybe this is the place where you exist now.

- I don’t know.

 

Nowadays, I slip far into the depths of my heart space remembering how this type of intimacy felt. 

To say I miss this connection to another human being is an understatement.

I’m starving for you.

And, tonight, I long for you to take my hand and lead me away from the sink full of dirty dishes because they can wait, but you can not.

 

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How I Do Birthdays

So this is how his birthday went this year…

I woke up, and actually did not even remember it was his birthday for maybe an hour or two. After I’d dropped the kiddo off at school, I ran to the grocery store for a few things. And that’s when I remembered. Only it didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks. It didn’t stop me in my tracks. It was actually more of a gentle, and even exciting feeling.

A lot of you know I lost my mom when I was a kid. My family didn’t really do grief all that well, and mostly our tactic was to just pretend feelings and dead people didn’t exist. So I grew up with the feeling that, when people die, you don’t get to celebrate them anymore. Sorry, it’s done. You aren’t allowed that anymore.

In my mid twenties, I started to question the way my family did grief though. I began desiring a connection to my mom. At some point, I decided that I was the only one who got to decide what my relationship with her was going to be. And I decided that just because she died, it did NOT mean that I don’t HAVE a mom. It did not mean that I no longer get to celebrate her or share my life with her. So I began creating rituals of my own to build that connection.

Little did I know I would be using those same sort of rituals to honor my fiance in just a few more short years from that time.

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The Changing of the Guards

I did it. Maybe I didn’t outwardly realize I was doing it but I did it. I ignored the rising flood.

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Happy? What Does It Mean To Be Happy?

I know what it means to be sad, afraid and angry, but what does it mean to be truly, truly happy?  Lately, I find myself feeling more and more bored with life—and it’s not the kind of boredom that comes from depression.  It is a very different kind of boredom because it is SO much lighter!  It is hard to explain, but it just feels lighter.  Depression boredom is heavy and is based on a bunch of fearful thoughts that lead nowhere good. 

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