I ask myself again and again - What do I do? I whisper these words to myself as I walk out into the world and go about my life - without him. I've been asking this question for nearly two damn years... I am tired of this question. I want to fill my mind with other thoughts. But, since he died, I'm different than most women my age. The things that consume me are much more profound than they used to be. I don't give a shit about the changing seasons, or that pumpkin spice lattes are back. I care about things that live deeper in my heart. I care about my children's happiness, our life, and my life that is connected and also separate from my boys. I care. I care deeply. But, not about the shallow stuff that many people my age care about.
Mike's death changed me, a lot. I'm a very different person than I used to be. And, truth be told, I like the new me. I am becoming a woman I like to spend time with. And, this is a good thing because I spend a whole lot of time alone now. It is advantageous that I enjoy my own company - in a way I never have before.
In quiet solitude I think about the direction of my life. I ponder everything. The life we planned together died with him. This is a fact, whether I like it or not. And, now, I have to figure out what the hell to do with the life I have left. So, I think. And, I think. I endlessly question what it is that I want. I contemplate what to do with this alternate life. I must figure this out myself because no one can "fix" this or plan my life for me. It's up to me to decide what to do with the life I have left. I know all the decisions ultimately rest with me; therefore, the things I think about are heavy and profound. And, I realize that the answers will not just magically come because I ask the questions. Throughout this process, I am generally impatient with myself and my progress. I need to work on this.
My mind does not rest easy. I'm exhausted by my thoughts. But, at least I am engaged in life enough to be thinking and asking questions. At least I am curious. I think this counts for something. It has to because it is all I've got for the moment. And, this is okay - it has to be. At this point I don't know a whole lot, but I do KNOW the answers to all my questions live inside me. They are there for the finding.
There is so much I wonder about since Mike died. Big things and small things consume me and I wish like hell I could talk to him about this stuff like I used to. Since he died, I continually contemplate what I should do. What do I want to do with the rest of my life? I blogged about having a Makeshift Plan a few weeks ago. And, I am glad that I have created a "plan"; but, still, I am anxious about the life I am living without him. I know full well, that life does not always go according to plan. I am somewhat prepared for the curveballs that life will undoubtably throw at me. And, in some weird way, all of this change is kind of exciting. Going forward there is so much potential before me. My life can take any direction. And, so can yours.
Still, living solo doesn't feel comfortable to me, yet.
The life Mike and I imagined is the life I want, but it is not to be.
I have to adapt.
I have to go with the flow even if it is not the life I had planned. And, so do you.
Soon, Mike will be dead for 2 years and I would be lying if I said I know what to do with that. I have not accepted his death. I don't want to. And, part of me may never come to terms with it. I am okay with this. A part of me will always want him to be alive and I accept this. It is what it is.
I remain conscious of how long Mike has physically been gone from me; yet, I feel the need to make more forward progress without him. And, here is the tricky thing, I feel like I am going nowhere fast. I do not know where I am heading... I have a rough idea of what I want to accomplish in my life, but it still feels somewhat lack lustre without him beside me. Will this ever change? I think it will. In fact, I know it will. I just have to be patient. Mike has only been dead for 1 year, 10 months and 23 days... (I had to google this on an app.) As time has gone on, I have stopped knowing the numbers. And, really, it doesn't matter anymore. Maybe it never did. He is gone. He isn't coming back. The days keep coming. And, I am still here. I had better start acting alive. I need to live. We all do, because we did not die.
Since early on, I have had the desire to live life well. I have draped myself in hope. But, even with all the optimism in the world, when night falls, I am always alone. And, I feel the missingness and the emptiness. There is a profound sense of loss. Being lost fills me. My Soul aches for him with every breathe I take; yet, I take each breath as it comes and I keep going. I have to. For myself, for my children and for Mike. I did not die. I can not let his death define my life. The way Mike lived and loved me must be what I cling to as I move toward life again. Day by day I fight forward. And, I know that you do the same.
I do not have it figured out yet. But, day by day I am getting closer to finding my way back to life. I have created a makeshift plan that I’m getting excited about. And, being even mildly excited is reason to celebrate because for nearly two years I’ve been completely underwhelmed by my life.
I know that my new life will be very different from the one I imagined sharing with him. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it is. The life of have now is completely unrecognizable compared to the life I shared with Mike. But, this is the life I have. I can not go back to what was because it’s gone. Our life together died with him.
Whether I like it or not, I have to live without him. It’s up to me to make something out of my own life. So, I’m attempting to do just that. And, the plan I’ve come up with is solid. But, it requires me to be patient because I have children under my roof. I can’t launch into big changes immediately, but I am preparing for what I’ve decided is inevitiable. Finally, I have a plan for my future; and, this plan and my desire to dig back into life makes me very happy.
For the first year, I simply survived his death. And, this took everything I had. I discovered that I was built strong; but, my grief broke me in places too. Now, I understand that breaking is a natural part of the process. It is necessary and unavoidable. When you fall to your knees - you will get bruised. And, when you are forced to crawl in the ruins of your shattered life, you bleed from the shards of what was. This is also necessary and unavoidable.
It’s an understatement to say that the first year was compiled of the hardest days,
and long nights of my life.
It was beyond awful.
But, with time, the bruising has healed.
And, see that my tears serve to cleansed me and ready me for what is ahead.
Somehow, I have survived his death.
And, now I am ready to do more than just survive.
I’ve grown restless.
I am no longer comfortable where I am.
I can no longer exist in this holding pattern.
I’ve outgrown this waiting place.
I need to move towards the future.
I’m thirsty for life again!
I think we all feel “lost” in some way, and sometimes in all ways.
But, understand, feeling lost after the person you love dies doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself forever.
I know that outliving the person you love isn’t easy. In truth, it’s easily the hardest thing I’ve ever been forced to do.
I remember many nights I stood in front of the stove and unconsciously rocked myself, in an effort to become ‘present’, as I half-heartedly cooked dinner for my kids -all the while hoping I wouldn’t die from the aching in my Soul.
The good news is that I didn’t die from Mike’s death. However, from his death, I’ve learned that nothing in life is constant. When he died everything about my life changed - quite literally overnight. I remember feeling completely and utterly disorientated. The days following his death are a blur. I remember feeling like I was having an out of body experience. I stood for hours surveying the mess that was left of my life. All our hopes and dreams were shattered into a million pieces - scattered all around me. I wanted to “fix” my brokenness, but I didn’t know where to begin. I had no clue how to move forward; but, instinctively I knew I couldn’t stay still forever...
Death forces change.
And, these changes are usually unexpected and always unwelcomed - at least initially.
For most of us, accepting change is hard at the best of times; and while grieving change is especially challenging
- albeit unavoidable.
In the early days, grief suspends you in a type of paralysis where your mind becomes frozen; and, all decisions, both big and small, feel overwhelming. I think this happens because death shatters everything we believe about the assumptive world; and, it takes a significant amount of time for the mind to recover from this.
However, I assure you, with time, and hard work you can and will steady yourself. And, once you reestablish your bearings it is possible to slowly regain your sense of self; and, with that, your self confidence...
Its sixteen months into this new life and like all others on this journey I’ve taken many steps forward and many steps back. A couple of months ago making the decision that I would prepare myself to put John’s clothes away. I decided to give myself a timeline of two months to do this.
During this two month timeline there were days that I felt so confidant to do it and then there were days that I broke into tears at just the thought of it.
But I made this plan and I bought in my closest friends to help me go through with it.
The day I had dreaded arrived and I pretended as though I’d forgotten what I had planned to do this day. I allowed my phone to ring out, the first time that my friend began to call. I knew why she was calling and what was instore for the evening, but I wanted to ignore the idea of it. When she called for the second time I answered and exclaimed with sarcastic excitement “it’s a wine night, I’m excited”. By 8pm we had enjoyed a candle lit dinner on my balcony and each of us were on our 3rd glass of cheap wine. I sat with a smile on my face at 10pm with the thought, the girls have forgotten about the plan I had made. Though they hadn’t.Read more
I vividly remember logging onto Facebook and staring at his messenger icon hoping he would come online. That it was all a misunderstanding and it wasn’t real. Last active… The hours ticked over into days, then into weeks. Now it has almost been 11 months. Remembering it as though it were yesterday. Today I still feel the longing, waiting and wishing just as before although it’s no longer as intense.
Time has moved so quickly. Hours, to weeks, to months, soon it will be a year. Disbelief at how quickly time has passed, the last 327 days of my life are mostly a blur. But the fog with time is lifting and no longer as heavy as before.
There are days that it feels as though my breath has been ripped from my chest, I struggle to breathe without him, days I don’t want to breathe without him. But those days are becoming less frequent and I cannot help but feel guilty about that.
Every thought and emotion I have now, whether it be happy, sad or guilty stems from my grief. I believe it always will, forever all-consuming but differently than before.Read more
For the past month it has been difficult to ignore the father's day cards that existed on stands in shopping centres almost everywhere I looked. Mentally trying to prepare for the day “it’s just another day, no different from any other”.
When the day arrived I woke with that mindset, it’s just another day. I called my dad to wish him a great day and with that the memories from last father’s day flooded in.
Leaving the house to visit family, tears flowed and my mood became dark. Families were out and about riding their bikes together down the street, having breakfast in the park and living out their lives.
It hurt! Seeing smiling faces everywhere, I felt angry that I no longer have what they have.
My complete family.
I wondered do they even know how lucky they are.
This has been a week during which my world has been dominated by Biology 101. I have to smile as I type that, because I never, ever imagined I would be excited about studying biology, of all things. You have to know, my mom was a biologist and spent most of her career as a college level teacher. She’s retired now, but she was always telling me about how people “of a certain age” would come through her doors preparing for a new career, and that it was never too late for me. I always shooed her and her science aside, me of the right brain-dominated world. So I think she’s a little surprised herself that I’ve taken this leap towards a healthcare field. And something feels right about it for me, that maybe I’m finally taking a little of my mom’s advice. And it’s nice to parley with her in that very specific lingo.
Moving went as smoothly as possible, I culled a lot of old belongings like toys, baby clothes and little knickknacks. The new apartment is fresh and has a positive ambiance about it. My positive mindset however took its time to catch up.
I was undecided on whether or not I would hang John’s clothes in the wardrobe of the new house. As I happily listened to music and hung my clothes in their new space, I then came to John’s clothes. With no hesitation I hung them side by side with my clothes, as though it were an automatic reaction. Once they were all unpacked I stood and stared and cried.Read more
I sat in the car alone, across the street from the vacant house we once called home. The house was the only one in the street without lights on. I hoped none of the neighbours would notice me parked and no one did. I sat in silence reminiscing on sweet memories of us taking evening walks under the stars. I imagined we were teenagers again, lying on the trampoline in the back yard while the rest of the street was asleep.
That evening the rest of the homes were all awake with life. Families cooking dinner and reading bedtime stories to their children. But our home sat lifeless and empty. I wondered where John and I would be living if he were here, what adventures we would be planning. I envied the families who were living out their happy lives. It isn’t fair! I cried as I sat alone grieving the happy life we lived so completely.Read more
I enjoy road trips. Given the time, I would happily drive across the country and back just because I can. This past weekend, Shelby, Sarah, and I drove 7 hours or so from Ohio to upstate New York to visit Sarah’s sister and her family. Being an odd person, a 400 mile drive through fairly boring terrain excited me in and of itself.
We talked the entire drive. Shelby was in the back seat reading, napping, and occasionally piping up with one of her “Shelbyisms” or a random fact that she learned in school. I had a playlist of all different types of music playing, and had the cruise control set just so. There was no traffic or weather, and the roads were smooth.
Somewhere between Erie and Buffalo, my playlist brought up “Let her Go” by Passenger. It is a beautiful song, and ultimately, one of my favorites, but it is also a HUGE trigger song. My finger almost immediately moved towards the skip button, but I caught myself. We had just been talking about Sarah’s forthcoming post (found here), so we were both already in a little deeper thoughts, and I decided to let it play.