Sunday, March 25, 2018

Crazy situations...

It seems that any time I try and write on this blog, my kids decide at that moment they are going to argue ad fight, or come and find me to tell me about some awful explosion that took place in the kitchen and needs my attention this moment. Meanwhile in my head all I want to do is write and create and get out these thoughts and feelings that overwhelming my body and my brain.  Why does it seem to go that way?

Its like when moms used to get on the phone to actually talk to each other, the kid then needed their constant attention because it wasn't on the child.  either way its maddening. I am sure i did it to my mom but in the small space we live in, it feels like the walls are closing in on me.  I feel like there is no where in this house that I can just be for a few minutes to breathe and think in silence. I used to go and sit in my closet or only write at night. But even now that isn't an option. The closet has become overrun with everything that doesn't fit in the drawers, since my dresser is broken, but we don't have any space to build the new one we bought, and the weather wont cooperate and just be spring already so we can build it.  Plus the kids know where to find me if I'm not in the bedroom. So its no long a spot of solitude.   I feel that my nerves are on the outside of my body today. Just everything that isn't said and is said feels like it actually touches me. I am weepy, irate, sad, happy, creative, and agitated. Even now, we have one tv in the living room the walls are so thin I might as well be sitting on the couch with them watching tv. It didn't used to bother me before. Now it does. my house didn't feel like I was living in a shoe, now it does. I used to find comfort here, and now all I feel is madness.  Its time to go. And yet this house feels like the ONLY home I have ever known. I was a young married woman here, I raised my babies here, I grieved Pete here, and I raised myself here.  This house hugged me when I cried, delighted when I was happy, and helped me create my inspiration and business. I learned, I changed, I grieved, and I gained a new perspective.  Sometimes I feel so mad that I have be trapped in this tiny space. I want to shout to other families who make raising a family look so easy. I want to yell to these innocent people "Your spouse didn't Die when you were at the ripe old age of 30. You never had to bring your tiny new born baby home from the hospital across the threshold of your house without your spouse to greet you with a hug and a kiss. You got to have your spouse hold you when you felt big and fat from pregnancy, change diapers, make bottles, clean house, mow the grass, fight with, love with, create with, grow with, parent with. Its not their fault they don't get it. But it doesn't stop the hurt, it doesn't stop the guilt I feel for being mad at the "prefect" family. It doesn't stop the annoyance I have when people look at my kids and wonder why they are such a mess. Why are they a mess? because I didn't teach them to do chores, and I didn't teach them not to make messes, I was too busy keeping us alive, and surviving. I was too busy loving on them, playing with them, crying with them, and growing up with them. And now its time that I wish for the love of God they would just put stuff away.  I have no one to blame but myself. And its just so hard.

Today I don't have the patience to teach them, today I want the house to be clean, and today I don't want to talk to them about what they should be doing. Why? because it takes more patience than I have today and I can't stop crying. I'm mad at Pete, I'm mad at myself for being mad at him. I feel guilty that I don't miss him, guilty that I do miss him, guilty for talking about him, guilty for not talking about him. Its so hard to explain. I feel God has blessed me with my husband now because he understands my "crazy" better than anyone even Pete ever did. That is not Pete's fault, its just who he was, and who I was.  Some would say I look to the past more than the present. I take things hard, I feel them hard, and change feels like Pete's passing. I try so damn hard to look at every aspect, and then feel bad when I cry, and sad when Im mad, and ungrateful for feeling everything at the same time. I feel that when I get mad at my "situation" or the feelings within myself that for some reason I am being ungrateful. That I should feel so lucky that things turned out as well as they did, and I should be so lucky that someone loves someone like me and someone in my "situation." As if I did something to make Pete go away. Are these things logical or rational? NO, but I feel them in myself, I have felt them from other people, people who said they loved me, who would support me, care for me when I couldn't see how I was going to make it through, and then turn around and tell me how lucky I was to be moving forward. For so long I have felt like a "situation" and when I get mad, and when I get happy, and when I get too tired, and when the anxiety takes over, and the anger takes over, I remember these feelings, the thoughts, that I should be so lucky. 

So then, I feel bad for wanting more. I want the "perfect" family. I was the success,I want a bigger space,  I want to help, and heal those around me who feel so much pain, who have experienced so much trauma, and when I can't help them, I have failed. Or when I sit at shows and none of my products sell, or I only sold four. I feel that I have failed, along with the expectation that I should be grateful that I had the opportunity to come to the shows, to set up my products, to buy the supplies, to create the experience, to thank all the people, considering my "crazy situation." 



When I am there at shows and  I don't move very much product. But when I am not there and my husband is, he sells my product. It makes me want to yell. What am I am doing wrong? He is at a show today, I am not. Why can't I be there, because I don't have enough help with my kids and its so expensive to get a sitter for 10 hours. Is it my attitude? is it my energy? I made it, I love my products, I did the research, I sang to them, prayed over them, and yet he sells my product better than I do. but again, there is the guilt and the anger, since in all rationality, I know that it takes time to build a business for yourself, to get your name out there, to get the people to try your product and keep coming back. Again the feeling that I should be grateful that I found a sitter, was able to pay the sitter,  to go to a show, to spend time away from my kids, and push for something more, something better.  When I have setbacks or the guilt or the anger, I try and stand back from it, and ask where is my lesson, what did I gain from this, I know there is a better way to do it. I tell myself to think positive, to change my words in my mind, to let go of the outcome. And I work extremely hard and pushing myself and telling myself that the next show will be better, that people who need me will find me. I put mantras in my head and shove out my disappointment. I know I am too hard on myself and have unrealistic expectations, but its so hard when I go to these shows and look around and see that my table looks like glitter threw up on it compared to the massage tables, and the Celtic patterns, and the "typical" things you think of when going to a new age fair.  Sometimes even among my people I feel like the odd one out. What is that saying about "Why be like everyone else when you were born to stand out?" I get it, but on days like today, with perspective and change swirling around me, combined with not enough sleep, too much guilt, and high expectations, my emotions are too much. They weight me down and tiny rivers run down my face. 

But hey, tomorrow is a new day to gain a new perspective, to create a new plan, to meditate, and to try again. I have learned that in the challenge and the mess its worth it. Its worth it to prove to myself, my children, my unrealistic expectations, and lets not forget the guilt, that I continue to push forward. I didn't give up, I didn't let fear win, I didn't let all those shitty things I tell myself or things that others have told me. I listened to my own drive, my own passion, my own heart and I pushed on. It may have started with grieving, but through change, growth, a magical bear, a family of squirrels, and a Crazy lady at the helm that we became more than just a crazy situation.



Friday, January 12, 2018

Another Crazy Birthday!

I've had it with my children today. I had high expectations and maybe that was the real issue is that I had expectations at all. Chase Leo is 8 years old today. 8? how can that be? For some reason this birthday just feels like a bigger milestone than the other ones. He has grown a lot in just the past year and suddenly he looks more like a little boy and less like a toddler. I wonder things like.. Am I sad because he is my baby and my baby is no longer a baby? Am I sad because I can no longer ignore the fact that he is growing up? Or am i sad that its the real reality that its been 8 years since Pete has been gone.    My tears have hit hard this evening. It has taken me all day, of shoving down old feelings and memories. I probably get the most frustrated when I can't remember things about Chase Leo's life. I remember his birth and I remember parts of being in the hospital and I know I will never forget bringing him home with out Pete here. 
  I think my high expectations started with school being canceled. Due to the snow and the ice I was glad that I wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn and get everyone off to school. However, I was looking forward to having time with Just Chase Leo. I had planned to surprise him and take him out to lunch during his lunch time at school. It seems that I don't get much one on one time with each of them. But knowing that his birthday is always so bitter sweet for me, I was looking forward to Mommy and me time. He had been wanting to see the new Paddington Bear movie. He had been so excited that this movie was coming out on HIS birthday!  So off we went to the movies.  But, it wasn't that easy.  Most of the morning was full of constant bickering and arguing. Chase Leo would get his feelings hurt because the other two would take something that he wanted. Chase Leo would do something to retaliate and then the other two would yell at him. He would yell back and then since he wouldn't want to get into trouble Chase Leo would then cry because he wasn't getting his way. This cycle went round and round.  it seemed that no amount of helping them work it out helped. Eventually I let them sort it out, which ended in everyone yelling over each other. So much for that idea. Finally it was time to go to the movie. But in usual squirrel fashion I didn't plan enough time for starting Ruby. Lately Ruby hates cold weather and is starting to break down.  She isn't going to last much longer, but like Chase Leo and growing up, I'm not going to be able to ignore her "troubles" much longer. We have already looked into buying a new one. I am getting off course. It wasn't so much that starting Ruby was the issue, No it had more to do with scraping off the layers of snow and ice.  Due to the crazy weather, the doors were frozen shut and everyone had to get into the old girl via the drivers side. Nothing like plopping down on the torn seat that has puddles of melted snow on it.  With the defrost set on high and the kids in their seats I began the tedious task of scraping the ice off the cracked windshield.  The problem is that if I spend too much time outside of the car Chase Leo's worry kicks into over drive. Even though he can see me, I am not physically in his presence, he can't reach out and touch my body.  Chase Leo being Chase Leo took matters into his own hands, unbuckled his 5 point harness (since I have micro size children they have to stay in their 5 point car seats longer than say the average child), climbed back into the drivers  seat and opened the door. In doing so the snow that was falling and swirling around blew into the warm car getting himself and the drivers seat all wet.
  "When are we leaving?"  he said.
 I yell over the howling wind through my frozen lips "Shut the door Chase Leo the defrost wont defrost if you let out all the heat!" 
  He shut the door but remained in the driver seat watching me.  I continued to chip away at the ice with the scrapper. Thankfully the defrost on the wind shield started heating up the inside of the windshield and the ice started melting. Within minutes Chase Leo opened the door again with it more snow came funneling into the car on him and the seat.
 "Mommy, we need to go, we are going to miss the movie!"
 "Chase Leo close the door, we aren't going to miss the movie!" He shut the door but not all the way. Continuing my fast pace of scraping and fighting the wind, my hands now numb from the ice melting on my gloves, I moved to the passenger side window, then to the back seat window, and on around to the other side of the car. Chase Leo opened the door again because now he can't actually see me since I am behind him " Mommy!"
 Losing my patience with the whole process and the fact that my face is frozen and so are my hands I shout "Chase Leo! Get back into your seat! Put your buckles on! Do not open the door again, for any reason!"  Chase Leo's worried expression droops as he shuts the door and climbed over the seat.  Enter Mom guilt.  Quickly I move back to the windshield scrape a giant piece of ice that had fallen loose off the windshield, open the door, and sit down on a melted puddle.   Wonderful!
   Finally we arrive at the movie theater. Everyone out and into the cold. The three of them are still bickering. However this time its about who is going to sit where. Th est thing about the movie was that everyone got along. So for an hour an a half everyone was entertained and happy. Then the movie was over and it started all over again.   Normally this might not have irritated me to the extremeness that it did, but today was different. Today was Chase Leo's birthday.  Today the thoughts were hard to talk back to and today I had new thoughts and questions I had't had asked in awhile. How could he already be 8 years old? Where did the time go? had Pete really been gone 8 years?
 How could Chase Leo have never met his dad? Does Chase Leo feel that he is missing out because the term "Daddy" hasn't ever been part of his vocabulary?
  Questions that don't ever have answers, so why are they there? Maybe the real question is why are they there still?
   Once back home everyone seemed fine until it wasn't. It was the same scenario. this person was mad because that one took his seat. This one was mad because that one wouldn't get out of the other persons room. Someone was yelling over a stool. I couldn't take it one more minute. into my room I went and the tears came. Tears for the kids who wouldn't stop fighting. Tears that they day wasn't as fun as I had hoped. Tears that all I wanted to do was go to bed. Tears for feeling bad that the weather had made us cancel his party, tears for feeling helpless when the kids just kept arguing of the most asinine stuff and finally tears that Chase Leo was 8.  Is it rational? No. But at this point I didn't think it mattered.
  If I look back at my day I know I have much to be grateful for. I am sure I am not the only parents whose children constantly bicker.  The correlation between Chase Leo and the car makes sense. Its hard to let go. It was hard to let go of Pete. Its hard to let go of the miraculous but so hard birth of Chase Leo. And maybe that's where the guilt comes in. I can't remember lots of those days. People came to see me, visit me in the hospital, bring me meals after the baby was born and I don' remember it. I ran in to someone that apparently visited me at home after Chase Leo and I had come home from the hospital. No recollection of that at all. Some would say its a gift, but do you have any idea how hard it is to not know your own memories?  Chase Leo was the last of Pete, and like my car, it was the first car without Pete. But in both situations Pete wasn't physically present for either one. That crazy change is a hard one. Each day is a blessing, each birthday is a milestone. Its one more year without Pete, but its also another year to be grateful that Chase Leo was born a strong, chubby, resilient child. Even though the four of us all have trauma from Pete's passing, we also have an unyielding love and courage as well. Change is inevitable as everyone says but its what you do with it that matters.  I will thank Ruby for being a good car and getting us places safely. I will thank God and the Angels for helping to drive Ruby all those times when I couldn't remember how I got from point A to point B. I will thank the family and friends who would sit beside me in silence because I had no words for the grief.  And I will gratefully hold Chase Leo in my lap with his legs dangling way over. Grateful for another year of watching him grow and change. Grateful for the joy in his heart, the smile on his face, and for the way he cares for people. 

 Although this day was full of a multitude of irritations, I know that Pete was close by. We were kept safe while driving on the icy roads, we had money to go and see a movie, we laughed and we celebrated Chase Leo and the gift that he is. 
 



Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Crazy Cabin in the Woods

Sometimes I feel that as life has moved forward, I am standing still. Or that I am looking in at myself and how my world is now. I was thinking about a family that I recently heard about they live in my town and have recently and unexpectedly lost their dad and husband. I think of this young woman and how she must be feeling now that the rug has been ripped out from under her.  A friend of mine posted her story to her facebook page. I contacted my friend and asked her t pass along my info to her. Knowing full well that this new widow may not be ready to talk about her experience but that she would at least have my number.    Thinking of her as she stands in her living room wondering what she is going to do now. Although most likely she isn't thinking at all.
   Her story got me thinking about grief and grieving and how it doesn't really stop. Granted I am no longer a walking zombie with a gaping wound and crying everywhere I go. But the milestones of life don't stop. The kids still change and grow and I still have to face each one of them. Which in turn brings new grieving.  I am not who I was when Pete died, I believe she died with him. From time to time though I do catch glimpses of her. But overall I have changed and so has the grief.

My oldest just turned 12 this month. I would say that this birthday was harder than other ones. Mostly because I can't believe she is 12. I look at her and wonder where has time gone? But it feels deeper than that, it feels almost like it is a blur. I remember her turning 5 but since Pete's passing I haven't remembered much. I sat down on my bedroom floor and sobbed. I had the same wish I always had since his passing. I wished he would jump out of her birthday cake. Knowing that he couldn't stay but more that I could watch as she saw him and he saw her. And they both delighted in each other. Him because he saw how much she is like him and how beautiful she is.  I couldn't give her that, and I cried. I cried for her, for me, and for Pete.  it's in these moments I see how grief has changed. I can be overwhelmed by it, but it doesn't consume me.  Its because of grief and grieving that I have changed.

A friend sent me a blog post from a fellow widow who wrote about a comedian who had previously lost his wife and had recently gotten engaged. What I loved about her post was how she put all of his rude fans in their place about their asinine comments that he is engaged too soon after his late wife's passing. Because one should live their life in grief for ever (Insert sarcasm) but what I loved most about her post was the way she compared the heart and how it accepts new love. the heart doesn't just grow a new heart, no, it expands to let new love in.  My view has always been that the heart heals with a giant jagged scar. I have often also thought that part of my heart lives in heaven and the other part here. Its in the half of the heart that remains that while once was small and broken and has now healed, it has also expanded. which makes perfect sense. For I never thought I would ever marry again and while it ended and we have parted ways, the heart still expanded. I do believe though that my heart did shrink as I learned to grieve again and deal with all the emotional abuse but in doing so it has healed and in turn expanded again.

It is in this whole shrink and expand process that grieving still takes place for I am embarking upon another milestone journey.  I am excited to be a part of it but also completely scared as well. I am getting ready to take my family across the country on a 17 hour trip to Minnesota.  This was my last family vacation with Pete before he died. I have been going to this cabin since I was about three years old. I haven't been back since Pete died.  It has taken me almost 8 years to finally feel ready to go back and vacation again.  This cabin is like a little slice of heaven in the woods. While my parents, sisters and their families, along with my aunt and uncle and their families have continued to go, I have always stayed behind.  I just couldn't bear to go.

Last time I was there aryanna was 4 and Peter was 2 and chase leo was kicking and growing in my rather large belly. It was the last time they were there. The older two kids have pictures in their daddy books of themselves with Pete. Pictures of them picking flowers, pictures on daddy's shoulders, and pictures of them in the water while Pete held them close. .  As I sit here writing this I remember it like it was yesterday and yet its like watching a movie of another family that I used to know.  What there aren't pictures of is the way Pete held my hand or the way he laid his hand on my belly to feel Chase Leo kick. So many memories swirl around me, I can feel them, I just can't see them.

I have heard from other family members that this will be such a positive experience. I told someone once that I had a fear of walking into the cabin and then falling into a puddle of tears. This person said to me, Well I think it is up to YOU how you respond. The way she looked at me with such disbelief that I would intentionally make it a dramatic and bad experience left me with rage. I could do nothing but sit in silence. What I wanted to say was clearly you have not lost your spouse. Its not like I can control the grief in my body. There is a very real possibility that when I walk into that cabin my knees just might give out and I will fall to the floor. This was the last place I saw myself young and happy. The past place before my dream evaporated. Four months after we got home from Minnesota, Pete was gone. Gone! He didn't run away, he didn't leave me for another woman he was gone from my whole existence. My whole world, he was gone never ever to be seen, or touched, or hugged, or kissed, or held again. This place with so many memories. This place that was once awful and anxiety provoking for me as a child. I hated going, i didn't mind once I got there. But the nights were awful. The anxiety that gripped at me and made everyone in that tiny cabin want to put me on a boat and float me out to the middle of the lake just so they didn't have to deal with my stress. This place that turned from being emotionally hard to joyful was because of Pete. It wasn't until I went to this cabin at the ripe old age of 23 and newly engaged to Pete did I feel safe and happy. I finally learned to see the beauty and magic of this cabin that so many had seen before. I felt this place with completely new energy because of him. I healed my past with him. And together we brought our children here. I washed aryanna's tiny baby feet in the cold water of the lake. It was here that I also washed Peteys tiny baby feet in the cold West Bearskin Lake. And I have waited 7 years to wash Chase Leo's small school aged feet in this water only this time I have to do it without him. How can that be, and how is that ok? I don't want to do it without him. This place was mine and his and he is gone. His breath, his laugh, his smile, the way he held our babies is gone. So  to those friends and family that think they mean well clearly don't know the extent of this journey. And what it means to walk into this cabin of so many memories and have them wash over me, in this moment, the thought of it makes me think that I might just drown. There aren't enough words to express the angst and yet excitement I feel to have the courage and the strength to go back to this magical place.

I have watched and I have waited until my heart felt ready. But in all honesty I will never be ready. Its like waiting until the perfect moment to have a baby.  You can never save enough money, or have the perfect job and stability to have a baby. It everyone waited until they were ready there wouldn't be as many people on the planet as their are now. you can never be prepared enough. I will never be prepared enough to go back. So, I could sit by and continue to wait and watch my family and their extended family come and go from there. to listen to stories and memories made as my children listen to their cousins talk about how much fun they had. And I could watch the sadness in aryanna's eyes as she listened to the adventures they had. Because she too remembers the magic she felt when she was there. While young, Aryanna has the memory of an elephant and she remembers being there with her daddy.  So I could wait but I don't want to wait anymore. I am ready. I have the need so deep in my body this beautiful place in minnesota runs through my veins. The invigorating water taught me to swim , taught me to swim faster and it would get better. The trees speak to me and the wind whispers to me that it is time to come home.

I have my lists made, and my stacks of sheets and towels, ziploc bags, totes and duffle bags. After all one has to pack clothes for all four season for one week but I wouldn't trade it. I have been told the cabin is different. I am sad about that. No more bags of empty cottage cheese containers behind the fridge, no more slop bucket to take to the top of the hill all the while singing loudly while stomping through the woods up a steep hill so bears wouldn't come and check out my bucket first hand. No more squeegee in the shower to wipe down the walls so the water doesn't rust the tiny shower. There's now a garbage disposal and an actual shower. But probably one of the hardest things is that, there is no more green couch. This couch was hard as a rock and the most uncomfortable couch to sleep on let alone just sitting on, is gone. It was something that was always there. I was looking forward to seeing it there. I wanted to sit on it in that cabin and hold the hard plastic and nylon cushion to my chest. Granted the cushion was so dense it would be impossible to squeeze it but it would be there. For it is this couch that I have a picture of. A picture of tiny Petey sitting in blue footie pajamas with his daddy. They both have sketch pads in their laps. Pete is looking down at whatever Petey is drawing. Petey has a charcoal pencil in his right hand just like his daddy did. I saw this couch sitting not where it should have been.  They got a new soft couch that is more functional with its queen hideabed tucked inside. I cried when I saw it sitting in my dads dusty garage. And while they didn't see my tears, they kept saying what a positive trip this was going to be, and it will be, but not without its moments.

Grieving. It never stops or slows down and it never ends. Its always changing, and in it so does the person experiencing it. While in these moments I feel that I might just drown in my tears and memories as I cross the threshold of that tiny cabin, there is one thing that keeps me going, one thing that keeps me packing and checking things off my list,  the one thing is, that I don't have to do it alone. I will have my amazing and beautiful children, along with strong arms with a gentle heart who understands my crazy better than I do at times, holding my hand and my heart should I fall. I will have Pete with his smile and glorious angel wings, but most importantly I will have myself and my scarred expanded heart. I have overcome many moments that seemed impossible, however I have always found my courage and now my voice to do so. My hope for this trip that is so badly needed, not just for me but for my little yet strong family is to feel the loss and the tears, but also to feel the joy as it bubbles up inside me and laughter spills out that we made it back. I hope to feel my grandmother and grandpa's spirit around me for they built this cabin together, but mostly, I hope to hear Pete's laughter on the breeze as it floats out across the lake, for this too was his happy place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHQ0FmUtS0E

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Crazy Fork in the Road..

"Hello it's me I was wondering if after all this time you'd like to meet, to go over everything.."
        That song really does work for all occasions. Much has happened since we last spoke. Its seems that it was last Christmas that I was had gone Crazy at the holidays. They seem to bring out my extra Craziness and my words.  Hopefully this Christmas my words will hang around and I can write more often. These past four months have been an new eye opener on this crazy journey. In a good way, in a hard way and in a heartbreaking way, but mainly in a new beginning kind of way. I feel that I am growing and changing in who I was and who I am becoming.  Along with a new perspective and courage I didn't know I had. . It's been seven years since Pete passed. Hard to believe that it's been that long and yet it feels like only moments ago. This will be the 7th Christmas without him, the 7th   Christmas eve of celebrating his birthday and blowing out his candles, hoping that next year won't hurt as much. This christmas seems more significant than Christmases in the past.  Mostly because we were only married for 6 years. I have come to that point in my widowhood where he has been gone longer than we were actually married.  I remember that first Christmas like it was yesterday. At that time I couldn't see past how the day would go, let alone what, how, or where I would be in 7 years.  It's definitely been interesting to say the least.

I found that my sadness didn't come in full force this holiday season like it usually does. It was more in small increments. It started with walking into Targeting and getting an eyeful of the Christmas decore that had vomited all over the store. I was suddenly struck  with an overwhelming urge to punch Christmas in the face. Along with a few choice words to the sales manage as to why the hell  they deemed it necessary to decorate for Christmas on November 1!  I revisited my need to compose the Crazy Widow Carol. "Deck your spouse because their dead, fa la la la la, la la la lahhhh.."
 Eventually my rage turned from anger into sadness when I saw the  sparkle of the christmas lights being hung in my neighborhood, and then on my house.  New tears of grief and hurt slid down my cheeks along with new levels of letting go. Not just in letting go of Pete but in letting go of a man who couldn't hold up to the challenges that life threw at him. Moments of kindness and love were replaced with animosity and loneliness. The more I held on the worse it  became. The joy and wonder was no more and nothing we did made it any better.  The only conclusion was to bless him, love him, and let him go. It was like leaving one of my lungs behind but in the end I could not  force two opposite magnets together.   It was in this letting go that I found myself once again in my driveway looking to the heavens while shouting in my mind "what the hell is going on here?" But like everything else God with his silent and tender ways, knew what He was doing.

With the weeks that passed I eventually stopped again and looked around my empty closet. Dread and a new sense of brokenness crept into my being and brought me to my knees. It was in these moments I found it hard to not only breathe but to separate the feelings of what once was death and  what was now the consequences to choices made.  It was in this new brokenness I remembered how God lit my path with a giant globe of love. Love from people that I knew and love from people that didn't know me but heard my story and were moved to help light my path.  This time there wasn't an outpouring of love, but a flicker of light from a single candle that God carried shining it on this new Crazy fork in the road.    It was in this fork in the road that held unexpected surprises and love that shockingly captured the hearts of not only myself but my children as well. Like many new journeys there is always speculation from the crowd deeming us failures before we even make it 100 yards. But, again I find myself still trying to conquer and let go of what the crowd thinks of me.  Yet it never ceases to amaze me whether it be in death, or  in forks of the road, how quick  the crowd is to lash out at me with their sharp tongues and jagged edges. For it is in these lashings that I still find myself cut and bleeding.  Being cursed and blessed as an empath I have moments where I want to succumb to their judgement, but I know this serves no purpose. It is with great strength and craziness that I ready myself with my shield of Grace and Love.

While this 7th Christmas season has brought about new revelations it has also bought new blessings as well. My younger brother, the youngest of 7 marred the girl of his dreams this weekend. I felt honored to witness such a beautiful event. I couldn't help but feel bittersweet in wishing that Pete could have been there in the flesh. Although I did feel his presence with me and noticed the way the candles seemed to glow more intently than usual.   I know Pete is proud of him and the boy that has transformed into this amazing, kind, and loving man.

The holidays hit us all in a multitude of ways whether it is remembering love lost, love that is now surrounded in angel wings or love that is only beginning, remember the sparkle and remember the magic. I am working on this as well. This 7th Christmas is different, not only do I stand surrounded in angel wings, I also stand with a new sparkle in my heart. One that isn't afraid to face the challenges that lie ahead. I stand with new courage, with new hope of magic around every corner, and I stand with new perspectives that I have gained had I not been wounded and forced to find my voice and speak my truth. So, with my own candle in hand along with my children and the candle lit by God leading our way. I hope all who read this find magic, joy, and craziness in unexpected forks in the road.  


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Crazy Truck..

I was pulling out of the gas station near my house this afternoon when I saw Pete's truck driving down the road.  I thought to myself, "Oh look, that truck looks like Pete's." I kept staring at it, as I took inventory of the teal color and the one black panel.  Knowing the crazy color scheme was a true sign that it was in fact, his truck.   I gaped as it drove in front of me, unable to rip my eyes from it.  I sat at the stop sign knowing that it was my turn to go, but I didn't know what to do.  Keep sitting there? Keep driving? Turn around?  I didn't know what I wanted to do. Putting my foot on the gas I turned to the left as I thought about my options.  I could turn around and go and see it. Or I could continue on to the store.  I still couldn't decide. So I turned into my neighborhood, pulled off to the side of the road and sat next to a fire hydrant while I figured it out.  
   I was consumed with so many emotions at one time. Mostly just complete kick to the gut. I knew that when I gave his truck to my cousin that it would be in good hands, I just hadn't prepared myself for it to be driving around me.    A part of me wanted to hunt my cousin down and ask for it back. Thinking that I had made a mistake and that I really could keep it at my house. I thought of all the scenarios. But I knew that the conclusion would be the same. I took a deep breath. What did I want to do?   Did I want to go and see it back at the gas station? I did. But I didn't.  I mostly couldn't get over my reaction to seeing it.   I sat in my car, parked in front of a stranger's house as the sun beat down on me through the windshield.   I felt grateful to my cousin for taking on such a project, and grateful that he said I could come and visit it sometime at his house.  But, I felt sad too.  Sad that I didn't have it anymore, sad that it wasn't a happy sight anymore as it rounded the corner, and sad that Pete wasn't here to drive it around.  
   His truck was always a conversation starter. What with its three toned color scheme of teal, black, and rust and only one racing seat on the drivers side.  He used to let Aryanna play in the bed of it, when he got home from work, but he  always stood close by to catch her in case she didn't accidentally put her foot through a well rusted spot behind the driver's side seat. The clutch would stick and was old, and on more than one occasion he would have to put the truck in neutral, give it a good push, then jump in it as it was rolling in order to get it started. It was a good thing our driveway was on an incline.    My dad used to always joke with Pete about his truck. Saying that no one would know he was such a smart guy since he drove that little POS around.  Pete would just laugh and nod his head.  I think Pete kept it just for spite. That, and he had big plans for it. He even started some of those plans.  He lowered it, which I always thought was especially funny since it was already a mini truck, I apparently didn't know it was cool, as he so often told me.   He wanted to paint it purple, which was perfect since it was our favorite color.  He also wanted to make his own decals for the odometers. He even made some temporary ones out of tracing paper. He bought new racing seats to put in the cab. Apparently the seat was a real pain in the ass to put in, but maybe it had more to do with the fact that he picked an insanely cold Martin Luther King Day to up and decide he wanted his bench seat out and the racing seats in.  He was mostly frozen through, but by the end of the day he had his racing seat in, he planned to wait until spring to put in the other one.  However, one less seat in the cab did come in handy for taking home a couple of  teenage boys from wrestling practice.  He did put an old outdoor folding chair on the passenger side.   It was just about the right height too, so that when the person sat down they could still use the functioning seat belt to stay safe.  
      Pete had always said that when Aryanna was old enough to learn to drive he would  teach her to drive, in his truck. He wanted to teach her how to take care of it, everything from an oil change to how to rebuild the engine if need be.  I remember after his funeral I looked at my brother in law and said,  "I can't go home and see his truck in our driveway. I can't look at it."  He looked at me and said "I'll take care of it."  By the time I got home that evening it was gone.   It sat in an airplane hanger for six years, thanks to a family friend.     I think I thought it would just live there forever, or at least until I decided what to do with it.    It was my brother in law who called to tell me that our friend was selling his airplane hanger, so we needed to figure out what to do with the truck.   Who knew that after six year I was still just as baffled as to  what to do with it, as  I was the day of his funeral.   I didn't know what I wanted to do?  I wanted to keep it. It was Pete's. It was his truck. The truck he drove every day. The one that made us laugh, the one that he tinkered with in the garage, the one that he would teach our kids to drive on.  I had to figure out what to do with it?  How does one decide something like that?
   The same old questions went around and around in my head. What would Pete want me to do with it? Could I really bear to look at it every day? Sitting there in the driveway, expectantly waiting for someone to drive it. That same someone that no longer walked the earth?  I knew in my heart and in my soul that I couldn't bear that. And most of all I couldn't do that to Aryanna and Petey. We have all come so far in our healing that seeing it every day just waiting there would not be something that would be helpful.  The only answer, was to let it go.  It was maddening. Every scenario came back to the same conclusion.  I didn't have the funds that it needed to be fixed enough to get it running, and I still couldn't look at it.   So, what would  Pete have wanted me to do with his truck? He would have wanted someone who could use it. Someone who needed it for transportation. Someone who enjoyed fixing things and making them new.  And what did I want? I wanted someone to love it. Like I did.   I picked up my phone and sent my brother in law a text that I had decided to let it go. And he said That was great and that our cousin wanted it.  I was relieved on one level that if I had to let it go, at least it would be staying in the family.  I asked if I would have a chance to say goodbye to it, and he said I could but that it had to be moved the next day. Well, of course due to everyone at my house being sick I wasn't going to be able to see it.  I asked if I could visit it at, its new home and he said he was sure that would be no problem.   However, I really did want to see it before it left. So, J took me over to the parking lot it was in.   Just as we were about to come around the corner J told me that it would be on my right and to be prepared.      Slowly it came into view. And like a punch to the gut, I literally gasped.  My face felt numb and my hands began to shake.  He parked the car next to it and I hesitantly pushed the car door open.  Unable to keep my hands in my pocket I reached for the cold metal as uncontrollable sobs escaped my lips.  I wanted to lie face down on the hood of it, wrap my arms around it, and hold it close to my body.  It was just a truck, but it was so, so, much more than that.  I walked slowly around it and gripped the door handle of the drivers side as I peered in through the dirty window.  Everything was just as he left it. scattered papers, a blanket, wrestling shoes, and one seat.  I don't know how long I stood there, it felt like an instant and a lifetime combined.  Part of me never wanted to leave or be away from it, while the other part knew I couldn't stay.   Remembering what my brother in law had said, I held onto the fact that when it arrived at its new home I could go and give it a proper send off, one where I could actually get inside of it.  I slowly turned away from it, walked back to my ruby, and got inside. Where my family was waiting for me.   J slowly backed out of the parking space saying nothing as he took my hand in his.   I watched tearfully as we drove away from it.  
   Who knew that one truck could cause so much havoc on one crazy lady's heart.  I thought about my cousin at that gas station, and I thought about going to see him. But, thought I would wait for another time.  As I think of Pete's truck I know it's exactly where it's supposed to be.  Its with someone who loves to fix things up, who needed the transportation and someone who has the gift to bring life back into it.  Kind of like us.  When Pete passed we were broken, completely shattered into a zillion little pieces. But with time, Faith, Courage, and God's love we began to heal. God, friends, and family tinkered with our hearts, our minds and our souls. Putting the right people and events into place to breathe life, and love into us once again.  Thanks to an angel with a big dream and a crazy ol' truck. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Crazy Christmas Carols and Widow Rage.

I want to know where are the Christmas carols for Widows?   Instead of singing about snuggling up to the fire with that special someone. Where is the Christmas song for the Crazy and insane?   I want a song that is upbeat to keep me going with a deep bass and possibly some heavy metal undertones.  I want a song that talks about trying to hang Christmas lights on a tree by yourself, It's not like one could ask your 5 year old to hold the strand of lights and the ladder for you.   How about the constant chaos that ensues while trying to figure out what christmas decorations to hang,. like should you hang your late husband's stocking up or not. Or should you just go and buy all new ones so you don't have to be filled with "Remember the time when..." . The  memories that break your already breaking heart.  I want a christmas song that lets me cry my eyes out all the while screaming at the top of my lungs with some laughter thrown in. Because at some  point I just crack and eventually everything is funny.
  Honestly where is that Christmas song?  Who is going to write it?  I can sing it, if you can write it. 

  I  have tried numerous times to be "Jolly."  After all, it's been six freaking years! You wouldn't think I would still want to punch someone in the face if I have to hear "Walking in a winter wonderland", again.    To be honest this is the first Christmas that I have actually been  really angry.  I have so much to be grateful for, so many blessings and new beginnings around me and yet I am still filled with the Bah humbugs or better yet Widow Rage.  I think mostly I am mad that I am not Jolly. I so badly want to be. Its just not there. And It may never be there again.  This of course makes me feel sad and weepy. How could I not be happy at Christmas? So many great memories and so many wonderful ones to create.  We have made it 6 years!  We have created those new traditions. But its the old ones that still get to me. I miss putting on the Harry Connick Jr. Christmas album, and dancing around while happily getting out the ornaments and remembering each memory. From our first christmas together to baby's first christmas. Instead I pull out ornaments and I am filled with flashbacks of the very first christmas without Pete.   With my big pregnant belly trying to keep tears from drowning me as I watched the kids decorate the tree.  Or the year after when I tried to put christmas lights on the tree by myself. Or even this year when I opened the box of my favorite snowmen decorations only to find that a snowglobe had broken and now all of them are molded and ruined.  Dread filled me, and Widow Rage kicked in.  I'm still here, sifting through the memories like wading through a muddy barn lot after a huge thunderstorm.  Those memories that stare me in the face reminding me of being so young and innocent. The memories that I keep trying desperately to shove to the bottom of the box buried with my old Christmas stocking. You know, the cutesy ones, where everyone's matches and they all have a theme.
     
     There was something about the snowman box that just pushed me over the limit. I think it is because it's the only box that had memories that I made, memories of learning to find my own way. These crazy snowmen gave me a reason to smile, with their chubby round bodies and scarves around their necks. I have snowmen holding holding buckets of snowballs. Snowmen, riding a sled, Tall snowmen, short snowmen, snowmen with big round bases, and snowmen with earmuffs holding a red heart that says Jesus warms my heart.   But, my absolutely favorite one is soft and fuzzy with his stick arms holding a sparkly star and has a piece of holly tucked into the band around his top hat.   These were the first decorations that made me laugh at Christmas, the first smile, the first thing I looked forward to for christmas decorations were these jolly snowmen.   they just looked at me with happy innocent faces.  While they are inanimate objects, but to me they represented more.  They were my friends and they were just mine. Not Pete's, not the kids and Pete's. not even just for the kids. They were my Christmas memories that helped me to find some Christmas spirit on my own.
   
     One of the hardest things about widowhood is trying to figure out what makes you happy, and brings you joy and a smile to your face.  Since the tragic crash of your whole world crumbling down around you, one has to learn who they are now, without their other half physically present.   The only thing I knew those first few years without him was that I was a widow and an only parent. How was I going to bring jolly Christmas joy back into this house and in myself? I didn't know, but there was something about the snowmen them made me feel something, other than lost. They didn't look at me with that pitiful "oh you poor dear" expression. They didn't tell me sorry for your loss.  They didn't even have an overwhelming amount of christmas colors or sayings all over them. They just had a happy smile, and a scarf.    On one side it shouldn't matter that these snowmen are ruined, it's just some stuffed and wooden snowmen.  I mean,  I have a new husband, a new last name, I don't have to stand on the ladder by myself, or try and put the ribbon on the tree alone.  But even with all of that, it's still there.  The reminder and the pain of  heartbreak, loss, and  sadness.   Damn snowglobe and  snowmen, with their molded bottoms, and mildew aroma.   Stupid loss.  Stupid Christmas decorations.  

 Now, I have to figure out what to do with them.  They are ruined. Some of them are black with mold, some of them are squished, my favorite snowman snow globe has no water in it since it is the culprit for all the mess.   A part of me does not want to throw them away. I can't keep them, but I don't want to just put them back in their box and throw them away in the trashcan. Where they will sit in the cold waiting for the trash person to pick them up  and take them to a landfill where they will spend the rest of their existence.    
The thing is, those snowmen don't know they are molded, and smell bad.. They just keep smiling. They don't know it's been hard to get into this christmas spirit. They don't know that I have decorated and undecorated the christmas tree three times, they don't know that I have hated the Christmas season and buying presents and trying to run around and get everything done. They just know to smile and wait for me to bring them out of the box and place them on the mantle, or on the light switch, or on the speakers.  They sit and smile, and do what they do. They bring joy to whomever enjoys them. 

 It's kind of like being a recovering widow.  For me, I keep moving forward with a smile in hopes that one day I won't open the box of Christmas ornaments and instantly want to put the box back in the attic. It's the hope, that I will once again enjoy the holiday season without being plagued by the fact that it's the 6th Christmas without him, and the 6th Christmas eve that he won't blow out his candles on his birthday cake.    

If I put my jolly self on and gain some perspective I can see that they will be fine. They aren't living and breathing, and they don't have a pulse.  I can pick out the ones that are the worst. Hug them, thank them for their service, and wrap them in a plastic bag. Then put them back into their molded box, close the lid  and set them on the curb.  The ones that aren't black and molded, I could febreeze and hope for the best. Because after all isn't that what we Crazy widows do?   We scream and yell and get mad, and in my case break something, slam something, or even hit a wall with my wrist. But in the end, I take a deep breath, and know that I have to keep moving forward.  Like these snowmen, I will smile and share my story, in Hopes that someone will enjoy knowing they aren't alone.  I will find a songwriter to help me write a real Christmas carol that's true and funny about surviving the holidays, It could be called the Crazy redhaired Christmas,  or a "Widow carol."  But most importantly, I will hug my children and hold hands with two husbands. A physical one on my right and an angelic one on my left.  For it was baby Jesus who grew to be a man, who created a beautiful angelic place for me to meet my Christmas angel, again someday.  
       

        
  
    
  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Crazy Recovering Widow.



      Grieving is a strange beast.  When tragedy struck,  I never thought I would  be able to live or breathe again.  But like everything else, time went on.  I eventually learned to live again.  The most unexpected thing happened... I learned to even love again.  A couple months ago and even bigger life event took place, I got married.  I got. married!   I am a wife again.  Let me tell you how surreal it was.  I walked down the aisle with my boys on either side of me holding my hands, my body trembled as I held my breath.  I gazed down end of the aisle to my handsome groom.  I swear I was floating. Was this really happening?    A moment flashed in my mind.  It was a cold cloudy day in November.  I wore a long grey coat over my large pregnant belly. The cold wind blew across my face but I didn't feel its bite of winter.  I looked out across the cemetery at my brother in law and my step sister placed in different spots around the grounds as I tried to figure out the best place to lay my late husband to rest.   The baby moved in my belly and I thought to myself, "Well, that was fun. and I guess that's it."  I thought I lived my life.  I looked at my brother in law, walked over to him and decided the spot he was standing in was the one I wanted.  My lifeless eyes looked at him as I asked him if the plot next to that one was available.  He looked me in the eye and said "Kathryn, you're 30 years old. You don't need the one next to him."
  "I don't want some random person next to him. "
 "We can put it on hold, and if you still want it in 6 weeks then we will buy it."  I looked down at the trampled down brown grass at my feet then back up into his eyes and sighed "Ok."
  Needless to say when that 6 weeks was up we bought it anyway.   I blinked back into reality. Here I was in a beautiful beaded wedding dress. The sun beat down on the top of my head. Smiling faces and beautiful music filled the open air.  I licked my lips and took a deep breath.  The boys left my side, taking their place as groomsmen next to my future husband. I turned and handed my flowers to my daughter who stood beside me.  I turned back around and looked into Jason's smiling face. Holding my hands in his he gently squeezed as he said his vows. The sun warmed my body as I took my turn saying my vows.  The minister announced us Husband and Wife.  We did it.  I did it.  With God's help we had learned to live again, and love deeply.  
 Then why the heartache?  I don't know.  I  will always miss him. I will always wish to see his face, and I will always want to step into his hug.    I woke up this morning missing Pete. Just him. His smile, his hug.   I stared out the window at the rain beating on the window pane and the kids muffled voices.   I am happy and sad too.  I guess Bittersweet is a better word for it.   My eyes filled with tears as I wished for a phone to call Heaven.  If he has to live there, at least let me talk to him occasionally.  Or maybe we could face time.  Maybe God, could just let me see his work in Heaven.  Pete was always a man of God, as I have said in the past he knew he would leave this earth before me. He always said "What's there to be sad about, We will be with Jesus."   So is it selfish to miss him?  
  My aunt and I were talking yesterday about my Grandmother who recently passed.  We talked about the little signs that she left for us.  Grandmother was always saving twisty ties, bread sacks, and rubber bands.  Her little quirks are what we all have in our own homes.  Twisty ties really do work for almost anything that's broken.   My aunt told me about how she kept finding twisty ties in random places. It was like her way of saying she was still here with us.   I told her about how Pete used to knock paper off the refrigerator.   I would come out in the morning and there would be the kids artwork all over the floor. I would smile and know it was him.     I know my grandmother is happy, I know Pete is happy, It's us left behind that misses them.   So what does a Crazy Recovering Widow do with these emotions of being happy and grateful wrapped up in moments of sadness and missing an Angel husband doing God's work?    I keep walking.  I keep dreaming, I keep working at this crazy journey.  But, I don't have to go it alone.  I have three crazy kids, a loving husband, A guardian angel and the love and strength of God.    So I will embrace the tears as the come, I will let the overwhelming emotions spill from my eyes as I remember. But then I will take a deep breath grab the hand of a strong man who loves me the woman, me the widow, and me the Crazy Red Haired Lady.