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.
 
       

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Crazy Trip...

 Today is the day I always go and get a flu shot. Since this day, five years ago, Pete went into the hospital.  There are always critics out there about the flu shot, claiming that it is toxic. For me, I will always be an advocate. After all there are many sicknesses that our parents had that we never experienced due to vaccines.   But, whose to say really, whether the flu shot would have saved his life.  Maybe it wouldn't have mattered.   My kids all get the flu shot super early, like in August.   I guess you could say we are a little gun shy when it comes to the flu. And not just any flu, the H1N1 virus.   I suppose I could go and give blood. But just thinking about that makes me want to throw up. Thanks PTSD, for that one. Giving blood is a great way to help so many people. I know I am grateful for all those who gave blood for Pete and in his honor.  I don't even know how many bags of blood transfusions he actually ended up having. Damn flu.  However, if you are so inclined go and give blood.  It really does help save a life. (rant over)

 I know we are more than what happened to us. But, sometimes I wish it would all go away. I dont want to remember anymore. I don't want these dates to be reminders of life gone too soon.  I think he always knew he was going to leave this earth early.  Even in the hospital one of our last conversations before he went into a coma, he said "Take care of yourself and the kids, this is going to be a long road." I never knew what he meant.  But, he did.  Damn flu,

 This morning I woke up and thought, what can I do for you today, Pete. And I heard "You can be happy."   At first I couldn't remember what was so happy about this day, and then it came to me.  21 years ago, a beautiful friend of ours, daughters birthday, is today.  A happy event for sure.  These beautiful souls took us into their lives and cared for us when the world around us seemed so bleak.  Its  their love, sturdy embrace, and kindness that we celebrate with them today. As these ideas settled into me, I realized that not only do we celebrate her, but we can celebrate their gift of friendship in our lives.   I recently told a friend that this whole experience gave me a courage I didn't know I had. And she said the most profound thing. "God knew you did. Think of it like this. Your courage is like a plane ticket. If God had given it to you three months before you left for your trip you would have lost it. But, because he waited until you were getting ready to board the plane you have used it to it's full potential."   I think of this analogy and realize that God also placed the perfect people along the way, like stops on our trip, where we could find a hug, a warm meal, and a kind smile.  These stops helped me feel rejuvenated and  while I didn't understand it before, I now see that these stops were God's love and blessings, that helped us get back on the plane and keep flying.

While I don't like to remember the pain, the chaos, and the heartbreak of losing him, there are aspects to it that I gained. A plane ticket of courage, friends that are now family, perspective, Faith and Hope. The Hope that it wouldn't always be this way, Hope that we would find love in unexpected places, and Faith that God never left our side. Technically Pete didn't either. He just changed forms. No longer an earthly being, but a heavenly one. Who stands by our side and hugs us with angel wings.  When people say it "takes a villiage." it really does.  These beautiful souls that we celebrate with today, are family even if they aren't a blood relative. As I have come to find through this crazy journey, the ones I thought loved us for who were, didn't. And the people that never knew us until this fateful event, filled in the cracks, of our heartbreak.  Granted we will always have a scar, but it's this scar, that taught us to fly.



Friday, July 25, 2014

Crazy Recovery.

How many times have I heard people say to me, "Oh, I understand." This makes me want to punch them. Because unless they have had a major life altering loss, you have no idea. . You can empathize with me and that's fine. But for God's sake don't tell me that you understand. Or my other favorite " I could not even imagine what I would do if that happened to me." Which makes me want to respond with. "Try."

   As many of you know my new saga is that I am dealing with PTSD.  And while I understand that this is part of my my "Crazy Journey." In this moment, I hate it.  The rational side of me realizes that this is how I deal with painful memories, and will be grateful for the perspective I will gain. The irrational and angry side wants to scream and yell "No, more." I don't want to keep revisiting these awful images. I don't want to keep coming around the corner and seeing him intubated. I don't want to experience those flashbacks that arise at the most inopportune time.  I just want to create new happy ones to drown out the tormented pain that comes forward.

 The most annoying thing is that no one can understand this kind of "crazy." These are my memories, my flashbacks, my pain. Sometimes I wish I could take my head off and just walk away from it for awhile.  I do take comfort in talking with a friend who has also experienced PTSD. However, this type of insanity feels very alienating. But, the most irritating part of it?  Is experiencing Pete's loss all over again.   The heart wrenching ache is back but in a new form.  As if I am finally sober, and the drunken grief haze, has worn off.  Luckily the difference from then to now is that  I have someone to lean on.  He gives me courage and pushes me forward when I stand in frozen fear.   I am in a new state of crazy, if that's even possible. Before it was that I didn't want anyone to help me, but when they all left I wanted them to come back. I would be starving and make dinner, then sit down and feel full.  I would call up friends for play dates then when they got here I wanted them to go home. The crazy that encircles me now is. Loving a man who lives in heaven and loving a man on earth. Wrapped up in missing him and yet not missing him. Understanding that his body was tired, and yet  mad at him for leaving me here.  I want my old life back, and yet I want nothing to do with it.  I want to move forward and leave these painful terrifying memories behind and take the good ones with me. The ones that are buried somewhere in my mind but only occasionally do I catch glimpses of.

  It's  like being trapped in two worlds. The past and the present. Each day that I listen to that audio recording, I experience the terror and the confusion all over again. Then after the session is done I go to  bed and have dreams of being in hospitals. One night I chased Pete around the whole hospital but never once saw his face.  My most recent one, I was shot in the heart. There was no blood just a big empty whole. I walked through the corridors of the hospital while nurses and doctors walked by as if it was nothing unusual. If I think it through in a rational manner I know its my brains way of sorting it out.  I feel grateful but angry at the process.   Its overwhelming to say the least. My brain gets stuck back there with images that make no sense. Then in the present, I am trying to parent, tackle my fears of driving, manage the finances, maintain the every day demands of keeping up the house. Filled with worry and guilt that I am not being a good mom and finance because the crazy keeps sneaking in. While desperately looking for ways to keep the anxiety at bay and searching for quiet moments to finish my book.  I stand and stare out the kitchen window wishing for a break. But wonder where would I go? I can't outrun the flashbacks, the memories, and the demands of every day.  There is one place I like to go but its not close by, and at this point in my driving homework I can't even drive myself there.

So it circles around. Healing is crazy, grieving is crazy, letting go is crazing, and moving forward with even an ounce of sanity is,crazy.   My new mantra "Thank you God for giving me the Courage and the Strength I need." keeps me going. The hidden joys of remembering something painful and being grateful for the missing puzzle piece falling into place.  I take comfort in strong loving arms that hold me while I cry and loving me even when I feel bat shit crazy.  Delighting in my children's laughter as they hug me tight combined with watching with awe as my children run into J's lap for extra snuggles and tickles.  It's in these moments of sanity I look around and see love where I never thought I would have it again.  I know that if as I continue to trust the process, the blank spots will be revealed and with their reveal I can finally let them go. Where they can no longer sneak up and take a hold of me bringing me to my knees.  I feel as if these memories, and missing pieces that have been wrapped up in a cocoon, will someday be set free into something more grandiose that I ever could have imagined. And for that I am grateful. Which sounds crazy I am sure, But I am a crazy kind of gal. Intense to a fault, yet hopeful that my radiant, strong, confident, wings are emerging. With butterfly wings on my back, God in my heart, an Angel by my side, a loving fiance holding my hand, and my arms full of kids I know love outweighs the doom. After all it was love that started it, love that heals us, but most of all, it is love that binds us together on this crazy recovering journey.