Thursday, November 9, 2023

Crazy Lady Dialogues and Signs from Heaven.

 I have recently stumbled upon a new song. If you have been following me for awhile now, you know my feelings about music. Especially songs that seem to say it all with just a few lyrics. 

This song feels like a sign from heaven. If you haven't heard it. Check it out. I feel Pete so much in this song. I feel him telling me he loves me. That he is still here.  Yet, he also feels so far away.   There are parts of this song that  literally makes me want to turn it off and never listen to it again! But the message of this song is so powerful that I push through those lyrics and keep going.  Its a lot like grief in that way.  Especially when you are in the thick of it. Those early days when each day was shitty but I kept pushing through because I knew there had to be something better. 

Today is November 9th. 11 days until "the" day.  I have a love hate relationship with November. Some days I love it and the next  I hate it. So many good memories, events, and new beginnings. Yet, so many devasting ones too. As with most angelversaries, some are harder than others. In past years I have known every second and every minute that counted down to that asinine day. I now take comfort in realizing that now I participate in the month of November. So much so that I lose track of the days and weeks that go by. It becomes just another month to live, to laugh. Mostly I only have a few days here and there where the countdown sneaks in.  Sometimes its just a whispering of the second hand going around. While other days, feel like the second hand has a microphone attached to it, and the amp is turned all the way up.  For whatever reason, today is one of those loud days. And this song plays on repeat in my head. Especially the lyrics "It was too soon, when that part of you was ripped away. A grip taking hold. Like a cancer that grows. Each piece of your body that it takes."  Over and over like a slow madness.

It makes me angry. It makes me what to scream, and yell, slam the door, then sink to the floor. In my tears, there is another very loud emotion. That I don't think many of us talk about. It's Embarrassment.  Embarrassed that I still have these moments while shouting to myself... Um Hello? Crazy Lady? yeah, its been 14 years. Get over it already. I have this back and forth inner dialog in my head. Like each emotion is having its own conversation. Ya know the ones,  Rational, Logical, and Emotional. That inner dialog goes something like this:

Get over it 
   -no, no, its called moving forward
Be happy look how far you have come. You are no longer in that space
  -be sad. Be angry. its ok to have grief moments. they are only moments.
You should go outside for a walk. Breathe in the fresh air.
   -I would really rather take a nap. 
great take a nap, listen to your body.
   -I can't I have shit to do. Those bills aren't going to write themselves.
 Enter loud song lyrics as if I am at a live Hozier concert  
        ** "I would do it again,  ah-ah, ah-ah, If I could hold you for a minute, darling I'd go through it again.."
Song fades away new thoughts come in.. what should I make for dinner. 
  -heart breaks again. pain in my gut. Sigh. look at the clock. and sigh some more.

This is madness. This is sanity. This is healing. This is grieving. This is life. I must be Crazy..

 "Francesca"  By Hozier 

 Do you think I'd give up
That this might've shook the love from me
Or that I was on the brink
How could you think darling I'd scare so easily?
Now that it's done
There's not one thing that I would change
My life was a storm
Since I was born
How could I fear any hurricane?

If someone asked me at the end

I'll tell them put me back in it
Darling, I would do it again
If I could hold you for a minute
Darling, I'd go through it again
I would still be surprised I could find you, darling
In any life
If I could hold you for a minute
Darling, I would do it again

For all that was said
Of where we'd end up at the end of it
When the heart would cease
Ours never knew peace
What good would it be on the far side of things?
But it was too soon
When that part of you was ripped away
A grip taking hold
Like a cancer that grows
Each piece of your body that it takes

Though I know my heart would break

I'll tell them put me back in it
Darling, I would do it again
If I could hold you for a minute
Darling, I'd go through it again
I would still be surprised I could find you, darling
In any life
If I could hold you for a minute
Darling, I would do it again

I would not change it each time
Heaven is not fit to house a love
Like you and I
I would not change it each time
Heaven is not fit to house a love
Like you and I
I would not change it each time
Heaven is not fit to house a love
Like you and I

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Crazy things you find in housewares

Saturday's are usually for hanging out together. But I have found that if I sit around too long my anxiety gets the best of me, and I have to find something to do. I mean, there are thousands of things I should be doing. Like laundry, or mow the grass. The backyard looks like I'm growing a jungle instead of just normal grass.  But Again its a million percent humidity and 97 degrees outside.  I think I will stick to procrastinating inside a little longer.  With my restlessness getting the best of me, I decided that if I was not going to mow the grass, and I really didn't want to do laundry, then that left cleaning the kitchen. Ugh!  This is another task on my "I hate to do list" pretty much all house work falls into this category. Probably because I know that the instant it is clean, someone will come along and mess it all up again. 
*Sigh* the joys of motherhood.  

I decided that the best way to attack this dreaded task was with music. Usually when I finally bite the bullet and do housework I blast music from my speaker, only to have a child come downstairs and ruin it by turning on the TV. I figured that if I was going to tune out the world with my earbuds in, the least I could do, was to let people know. That way there would be less attitude from my teens when they tried and get my attention. Ya know, like what we parents try to do when we need our kids attention?  But, we can't get their attention, because they have both earbuds in.  Which really annoys me to no end, because now, I have to stop what I was doing, take my irritated sass up the stairs, and into their rooms to find out why for the love of God, they cannot respond to me??  Yeah. I would know NOTHING about this frustration. 
So, back to the task at hand. Dishes. Grabbing the large towel that is by the sink I set it on the floor under the cabinet. No the towel is not to stand on. Its because every time I do the dishes water gets all over the floor. Why? because there is no lip on the counter and water goes trickling down the cabinet and onto the floor.  I usually step in said water and (I am so graceful) proceed to slip and slide on the tile. Just another reason why I LOVE to do the dishes. (Note the sarcasm)   
 Now that everything is set, I turn on the hot water, open the dishwasher and start dish tetris.   Picking up the bowl on top I proceed to scrub vigorously at the stain on the side of the bowl. As, I was scrubbing I thought to myself, why did I still have this bowl? That stain had been there the last time I tried to scrub it out. With a sigh I set it off to the side and picked up the steel colander instead. While rinsing it out my mind wandered to a conversation with my middle child about said item. My friend had gotten a new set of nesting colanders and asked me if I wanted the set she no longer needed. I said that yes, I would love them. Peter, (middle child) stood next to me during this conversation and asked me if I planned to get rid of the other set we had. At first I thought, of course I would. Then I thought, well... maybe.. 

When I first moved in with Pete, I didn't really have much in regards to kitchen ware.  I had a set of dishes but that was really about it.  He had a full kitchen, so we just used his. When we got married we got new everyday dishes, and china. Most people don't even use register for china anymore. Honestly I think we used  the china twice. It was more for display. Not that we displayed it well. Most people put in a glass cabinet with tiny spotlights.  We had a total of 5 place settings, but only displayed one, in a dark mahogany china cabinet. Granted the doors were glass, but with the wood being so dark, you couldn't really see it all that well.
 Pete was way more domestic than me. In fact I was more domestically challenged.  Pete was an engineer. Everything organized and in its place. Unlike me, I had a squirrel kitchen.  A little of this, a little of that, and nothing went together.  In his kitchen all of his mixing bowls came from Pampered Chef and they nested together for the most efficient use of space.  He had everything. All the silverware, mixing utensils, glasses, knife block, ceramic dishes with matching glass lid for cooking and potlucks. And of course those ceramic baking dishes all nested as well. He even had a tiny hot chocolate Wisk.  Not only did he have all of the kitchenware one could possibly need, but he also loved to cook.  In fact he once made this fabulous queso that he put in one of those ceramic dishes and took it to work for a company pitch in. He even put his name on the bottom of it, in permanent marker. That way wouldn't get lost.  If it was me, I would have forgotten about the dish. Therefore leaving it in the breakroom fridge until things inside turned blue. But, luckily Pete wasn't a squirrel when it came to cooking.  Sadly his name is no longer on the bottom of the baking dish.  Apparently permanent marker isn't permanent.   On a side note,  those ceramic baking dishes are practically indestructible. *Sigh* They just don't make things like they used to. (insert wistful grandma voice here) 

With my hands covered in dish soap I reached for the bowl with the stain and tried to scrub it again.  After too much scrubbing I realized that stain wasn't going to come out, I rinsed it off and put it in the dishwasher.  I looked at that bowl that was nested next to the one colander that I couldn't part with, and wondered why was it so hard to get rid of those things? They were scratched up, and some of the holes on the colander were cracked.  I thought maybe it was because I could remember him cooking with them.  I mulled it over some more as I continued to scrub another bowl with cheese stuck to it.  Then it dawned on me (and no, not dawn soap) It was proof. I kept them because it was proof that he was here. That at one point in my life, he and I had a life together.  But Why would my mind need proof? 
I stopped what I was doing and raced upstairs to write down my epiphany.  As I waited for my computer to turn on, I thought back to when I was deep in grief.  So much of being a widow is grieving the loss.  The loss of life. The loss of what could have been, the loss of man he was, the process of how he died. The struggle to get out of bed, the struggle to keep going. Everything is about trying to just move forward. Focus on going forward. Focus on how to make the best of it. There is nothing about the life and the living. Because in all actuality those memories are too hard to feel in those moments. Especially when I was drowning in so much sorrow that it choked me.    But in this moment, 20 years later, those crazy, stained, cracked, scratched, broken in places, bowls, and baking dishes, are proof that he lived.  Proof that he was more than just his death.
Pete taught me to cook. He taught me to wrap presents, he showed me the joy of family, of life. It wasn't the stuff. It was him. It was the life we created.
 We had joy, we had love, we had kids, we had laughter, we had fights over the dumbest stuff. We had sleepless nights, and worries about money, and bickering about those dang spots on the silverware. We had road trips, endless conversations, we had tears and misunderstandings. So often I have wondered if it really happened?  For many, many, years I have wanted so badly for those happier memories back.  The memories that trauma took due to self preservation. And in these moments some of them came forward. I remembered a piece of our life, and not just from a picture and a foggy memory, or half a story that someone once told me.   A piece that I didn't know I needed until that moment. Those housewares were a part of him and he was a part of me.  Most of my life up until that time with him, had been spent feeling like I didn't belong anywhere. But with him, I belonged. Just like those bowls that nested together. 
Technically I could give away those old bowls and get new ones, since I now have the memories. But for me, it wouldn't be the same. It wouldn't taste the same. I had to work through a lot of bad recipes to find the good ones. The recipes that were long forgotten.  Ingredients went into those bowls but joy and love came out of them.  This reminds me of one of Pete's favorite songs that I had forgotten about until just this moment.  Its a song by Harry Connick Jr. called Recipe for love. I remember the first time I heard that song. We were cooking dinner in his tiny kitchen of his apartment.  He sang along with the words and danced around like a goofball. He was always doing stuff like that..  Maybe that's why I like to sing when I cook. 

I went into this task hating it. But, I came out of it with a new perspective. Which is just like grieving. I hated it. But I became stronger because of it. I didn't know that part of my recipe for life would include such tragedy. However that made the recipe so much sweeter when I learned what it meant to find joy again.   I may not ever be a domestic goddess but I do know that sometimes it takes the right ingredients for the recipe to come together.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Crazy Living


I woke up this morning after hitting my alarm a handful of times I was having a dream that I had to explain a math equation about mean, median, and mode. Which is super odd since math and I are not friends. But maybe it was my way of trying to figure out things that didn't add up.  Like the fact that I had to get my calculator out to figure out how many years Pete and I would have been married today. 19 years?! Wait? That can't be right? I decided that maybe I should go off my age instead. I was 25 when we got married and now I am 43. 18 years.... huh. I guess that makes sense then. But, 19 years! How can that be?  I thought to myself as I was making coffee, 19 years, is like what ones parents talk about being married. Not me? Really? I'm old enough to have been married 19 years?   Which brings us back to math. Even with a calculator, some things just don't compute. 

After getting the kids to school, I pondered what I should do with my day. I realized a nap was what I needed first and then more coffee. After my nap, I went in search of my wedding album. Why I do this to myself? I don't know. But for whatever reason, it felt important. So, I took a picture of some pictures with my phone, put the wedding album back where it was, and proceeded to make coffee. While sitting in my chair I scrolled through those pictures from my phone. I stopped on one in particular and looked at how young I was. How young Pete was. And, I thought to myself. What would I tell her? What would I tell 25 year old me? Unfortunately, I didn't have a response. 

As I went about my day, I kept coming back to this question. I even asked my networking group "What would they tell their 25 year old self, if they could?" Someone said they would tell themselves to relax. Another person said they would tell themselves that it would be ok. That when a crisis happens it would be ok in the end. Mostly people just laughed about how that was such a long time ago and we all sighed at the memory. But, I was still no closer to figuring out what I would tell her.

After multiple errands, traffic, endless red lights, and picking up the kids from school, I decided I would sit down again to ask myself again. I kept putting myself in that day and wanting to look at it with new eyes. If I could do the day again what would I say? I decided that I should have had the reception recorded. I had the wedding recorded but decided against the reception, thinking that it wasn't really worth it. While now, I wish we did. It's more footage of his life. More moments that he lived and how much fun we had. I think I also would have eaten more cake. Because lets be honest, who doesn't love good wedding cake?! I was thinking that if I had pulled aside 25 year old me and told her to hold on a little tighter, would I have listened to myself? Maybe?

Would I tell myself that people aren't who they seem? Would I tell myself to speak my truth sooner? Would I tell myself to make him go to the dr sooner? Would I tell myself to be afraid of the future? No, I don't think I would. I think in the end all I would really tell myself is that "You did the best that you could and that was enough."  Even though I lost friendships, family, people who I thought cared for me, but mostly I lost my biggest companion, and eventually I lost a part of myself too. She is buried right beside him. But, I wouldn't tell her that part. 

However, I think anyone who goes through loss, tragedy, trauma, crisis, loses themselves in order to find themselves. Because really, why wouldn't I? Everything changed. Nothing stayed the same. Overnight I became an only parent. I was both mom and dad. I was no longer a unit. I worked and slept parenthood. I lost my identity, I lost my song, I lost my smile, I survived for my three shooting stars, since last piece of Pete lived in the three of them. I don't think that is something that 25 year old me could have even comprehended. She needed those years with Pete to pave the way for what was to come. She needed Pete's love to show her what a good marriage and what a good husband was. 25 year old me needed carefree living. Go to work, go to school. Learn to cook, learn to take care of a house. Become a mother, play with babies, lack of sleep, love her husband, plan family vacations, balance date night, I needed to live. And While a lot of that living is lost in trauma brain, I know it happened. Just like Pete. He happened. He lived. Its because of that blissful day 19 years ago today that he and I became a we. 

I guess if I could tell 25 year old me anything it would be that we lived. I might tell her to laugh a little more and not take herself so seriously. And also don't be afraid of her magical gifts. I would tell her that she is strong and courageous. That big things happen in her life but she does just fine. Her children are amazing and she definitely wont be bored. I would tell her that Pete changed her life for the better, that he would always have her back, he would hold her hand when it was hard, he would give quiet encouragement, and he will without a doubt always love her. Plus, I would tell her that by the time she reaches the ripe age of 43, her magical adventure is just beginning. 

Here's to you Roo Roo. Your earthly time will always feel too short but I am grateful you spent your time with me. We had a blast! Cheers!

                            April 26, 2003          April 26, 2022

Sunday, February 20, 2022

A Crazy Purple Bus...

 Grief is forever changing. Just when I think I have it figured out, Bam! Its back. I don't know if its a *healing* thing? or if its just the nature of grief. 

I was feeling overwhelmed as I was planning what the heck I was going to do with my day. I have a million things I should be doing. I should be organizing, and I should be laundering. And yet, I just wanted to sleep. Actually what I really wanted to do was go on a trip in my mind. I wanted to visit my old life. 

I pondered this question for a few moments. Being an intuitive, I figured ya know? I could probably really do this. So I closed my eyes and I pictured the living room of my old house. With the rug on the floor and the big couch with the fluffy cushions. This should have been an easy to do. Considering I lived in that house for almost 20 years. But... it wasn't.  I couldn't see the living room like it was when Pete was alive. I took a deep breath, and tried again. It was like being a part of one of those flip books with the pictures in the corners. I could see it for a second and then it flipped back to how it was after he died. I could hold onto the carpet and the toys all over the living room, then blink.. And I was back to the dark hardwood floor with the brown rug. What the hell? Thanks trauma brain. 

The memory I wanted was Pete and I sitting on the couch on a Sunday afternoon watching football. However, it wasn't just football he would watch. No, no. He would switch between football and auto racing. It used to drive me a little batty. (I know what you're thinking.. that I was already batty. Ha!)  I wanted to sit on that couch with him and lie my head in his lap as the white noise of the crowd from the game or race filled the background. I would usually fall asleep to that sound. But it was the best nap. No anxiety over what I should have been doing. No kids yet to drag me away, just the two of us, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.  But, I couldn't get my brain or my memory to pull it forward long enough to have a conversation with him. It was only a glimpse.  I can see it, and I can hear it, but its off a little bit. I see the couch but with the hardwood floors not carpet. I see the Tv cabinet and the Tv is on. But the coffee table isn't the same, and the color of the walls are different. 

This is the part of healing that makes me want to run around yelling. I have done the work. I have been terrified, I have been scared out of my mind, but I have held it together. I have done the prolonged exposure (PE therapy) I have put my timeline back together. I mean I have one blank spot but other than that, most of it is back together. I have some missing memories when it comes to my youngest and those first few months of his life, well and even some years of the other two as well. But that's besides the point. The point was, I did the stuff that was supposed to help move the memories to the part of the brain that could digest the information. I created the roads in the construction areas where there was no road. All in hopes that healing my brain, my memories of my life with him, would come back. But, they haven't. At least, not like I thought they would. I can remember, but I can't. I can see it clearly but not clear enough. I don't want a snippet I want the whole thing. I don't know, maybe I don't need the whole thing. But I want the whole thing. 

Its in these peeks from the past that I think to myself. What the heck was the point? I did all that work. I cried, I raged, (ya know, I don't do anything half way.)  I begged and I spent a lot of time being mad that Pete left me here. In all actuality its not like he could have taken me with him or that he could have made his body work. He had to go, and I had to stay. But that didn't make it any easier to get through. It was me that had to tell the kids, it was me that had to face the fear, it was me that had to do the internal work to come out on the other side.  Like everything else along the way, I have learned to take a step back and see the whole picture. And really that's a big, cloudy, mud splattered, tear streaked window, to look through.  In reality the glimpse of clarity is better than the big fuzzy blobs roaming around my memories.    

Yet, I still find myself asking my brain, what about the memory, the whole memory of us on the couch?  To which I answer I guess its like getting on the bus that takes you from the carport parking lot to the airplane terminal. its only a snippet of life. Which reminds me of the story about the cab driver who picks up an elderly woman to take her to hospice. She asks the cab driver to take the most scenic route to her destination. Along the way she talks to the driver while she points out the house she was born in, the school she graduated from, the restaurant her husband took her to on their first date. The church they got married in, the hospital where she had her children, and the cemetery where her husband was buried.  Its no wonder that being a widow at the ripe age of 30 I often felt like I was an old woman. And like her, I had lived my life. ( or so I thought) It was a good life, but so short too.  At the time I didn't know anyone my age who had dealt with this type of grief, except for my grandmother, and she was 87. I used to tell people I was 107 and that I looked pretty good for being 107. However my grandmother was the beginning of my journey of healing.  I will forever be grateful to her for the things she taught me. 

At the end of the day, I could choose to let my loss, trauma, and heartbreak, make me bitter. I could choose to be mad at the world for the crazy shit they said to me, for the way they treated me, and for some of the ways they were sure I would fail.  I could choose to stay angry at Pete and at God. Hell, I could choose to be irate at my brain for processing things the way it has. Or I could choose to be grateful for the life I had with him. the joy of watching him be a dad and the way he delighted in being a family together.  I can choose to thank my brain for the work that its done to heal. I can choose to thank my heart for the way it has sewn itself back together. Even though there is a jagged scar down the middle. I choose to be grateful for life that has come from that healing. For me, I choose to be joyful in the glimpse of that memory even if it has taken 10 years to remember it.

 So instead of waiting until I am an actual old woman riding in that cab. I choose to get in my own purple colored bus with red sparkles. (Because everyone needs one, and its my bus) I will walk to the giant plush chair onboard, sit down, grab a cup of coffee that's waiting for me and look out my window. As the driver starts the bus I will watch out my magical window and marvel at the glimpses that come in. Brief moments in time. bubbles in the air as we drove in that yellow mustang, a bite of cake.  Sidewalk chalk drawings that Pete drew for the kids, a two tone truck in the driveway, a ruby on my necklace, earrings that he made me, a sketch imprinted in rock. I sigh and hold onto Hope, that someday I will have more than just a moment. I will have the whole Crazy memories, of life.  

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Crazy Lady still Questions...

Pete and my 17th wedding anniversary is tomorrow. I have been wracking my brain trying to find something fun to do tomorrow.  I didn't want it to pass like just another day. Thankfully I belong to some of those widow support groups on Facebook and they have given me some good ideas. However, I still feel at a loss...

I find that the day before the "angelversary" of the event, is more sad than the day of. I think its the anxiety brain that is trying to prepare for it. So that when it comes, its not so much of a shock. I don't know... maybe its just me. But today has been more weepy than past years. Why this year? I ask myself, why not last year? Who knows. Either way, I feel sad, I feel empty, I feel raw.  Which makes me wonder to myself, why am I still sad? Or the better question to myself is, Why does it still hurt?  The rational side of me thinks, "well, of course you are sad."  However, I tend to have ridiculously high expectations of myself, and then feel bad when I can't accomplish them or that I "should" all over myself with things like.. "Its been 17 years already... you shouldn't be sad."  Or "Why aren't you using your gifts to talk to him?"  Yet, here I am asking the same old questions.. Why while admitting to myself that yes, it still hurts. 

Today I have been wanting to find videos of him. I take that to mean that I have healed to the point of wanting to see him in action. If you have been reading the "Crazy Lady" for awhile, you know that it took me awhile to look at his picture. For example the day of his funeral, one of his co-workers gave me a picture of Pete with his team and I wouldn't even touch it. Thankfully my sister was standing right there and she took it from him. But the thought of touching it, or looking at it up close, was as if his friend had handed me a photograph that was on fire with giant flames coming off of it! No way in hell was I touching that picture!! In those moments and situations, pictures of him were such a shock to my system. I literally felt a jolt of electricity. As if I had been struck by lightening.  He was so alive and intense in those photographs, it was like his eyes bore into my soul. But, since he was not longer physically alive and standing beside me, I just couldn't look at them. It was as if any remaining pieces of my heart that were still intact, shattered. 

My need today to find video of him is intense. I didn't really realize why until I was texting a friend about where the video might be. What came out in my text to her was that it wasn't enough to see his picture. I wanted to see him moving around and interacting. I wanted to see with my own eyeballs that he Lived. Not just that he died. I wanted to see those moments when he looked into my eyes and told me forever. I wanted to see myself walking towards him. To feel in my body, that this was once real. Not just a dream. Our wedding was beautiful. I had a fancy dress where I wore white cowboy boots underneath. My flowers were many shades of purples, yellows, pinks, and white.  My niece and nephew were adorable flower girl and ring bearer. A strategically placed ficus stood next to my older sister during the ceremony. She was in her first trimester of pregnancy with her first child. Luckily she made it through the ceremony without needing its services.  

I take comfort that I am in a place where I want to see him living. I want to see him enjoying his life. Which I am sure he does with us. Even though sometimes, I feel being a human on earth that he is missing it. When in actuality, he has the best seat in the house. He can be with us at school, in the car, at home, while we sleep, and when we go on vacation. He watches over us in more ways out of the body than he could in the body. Doesn't mean I don't still miss him. Doesn't mean I don't still wish things could have been different.  In the big picture I see him in everything along the way. I am grateful for the way my life has turned out so far. And I am excited about my future. I guess that's part of what makes me Crazy. I'm happy, I'm sad, I'm grieving, I'm healing. I miss his face, but I am happy for him too. 

   Given that our wedding day was 17 years ago, the technology was that video was still on VHS. I don't have a VHS player anymore.  I don't even know if those things still work. My fear would be, that I get a VHS player and put the video in it, what happens if the machine eats it? There goes my only video of our wedding. So, I could take a risk and watch it or I just let it sit in its box in pristine condition.  But, such is life. I can't sit on the sidelines of life and expect great things. No, I have to push through. As with Grieving and with healing.  

So where does that leave my day of wedding celebration?? I don't know. But, I will take the emotions as they come. Cry when I need to, laugh when I can, and smile because he lived. 

                                           April 26, 2003 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Crazy Whatever Wrapped up in a House.

People who say that moving is easy are even more crazy than me. Or maybe its just easy for people who haven't spent 16 years of their life in one home. Maybe that was my mistake I should have moved sooner. Unfortunately  it just wasn't possible at the time.  I was excited at first. A new home. A place that wasn't filled with grief and trauma. The house hunting was exhausting and at times I felt like I would never find the right place. Everyone kept saying, just find a place that feels right to you. My mind kept searching though because it wasn't just me it was my family too. I needed a space that felt good to them too. my kids are old enough that they will remember this part of their life. They will remember the move, the house, their rooms, the memories made. I know when I was 14 how important my room was to me. a space that was mine.  The other thing friends and family would say.. "You will just know." And in the end, I did know.  The only part that I really wasn't prepared for was the extreme sadness I would feel in leaving home.  I knew it would be hard. But, I didn't expect it to feel so much like Pete's death all over again.  

Maybe because it wasn't a normal closing. People sell their houses, pay off the debts, fix what the inspectors say needs to be fixed, then sign the papers, and receive a check. Mine didn't go that way at all.  two weeks before I was supposed to close the title company said my deed was invalid since the kids weren't listed as heirs. What the hell?! Since when do toddlers and unborn children get a 1/6 of property?  But, whatever.  So my amazing lawyer created a new document that added the kids. But that wasn't enough. Now I needed a protective order over my own children. And finally a hearing that appointed me as their guardian (apparently being their mother wasn't enough, I had to have the court tell the title company it was enough) So get the protective order, the new deed, send over new documents, attach Pete's obituary, (Where they got this vague obit from, is dumb, but again, whatever) Send them the right one, sign my name again, and get the go ahead to have a closing. 

Set the time of the closing, only to have it resceduled again, because paper work wasn't received during bank hours.  Finally the day arrives, I got stuck in traffic, and got to my closing 15 minutes late.  I walked into the office and the buyers realtor wasn't present and neither was the buyer. What the hell? come to find out, the buyer lives in Califonia and wont be there. But not only that, I found out the buyer was an investor. WTF. in one breath my hope that a family or empty-nester flies out the window. I wanted this house to be a home to someone who needed it, someone who could make it their home. I know I have no control over that. But its what I prayer for, it was my intention.  And yet again, I was met with "whatever."  

So, I sat down to sign my life away. When unbeknownst to my realtor we would be signing today but that I would not be receiving my check today. Umm what?  I was not about to sign anything without knowing where the final payment was coming from. Like Why would you sign a legal binding document and just "hope" that the final transactions would come through? That wasn't going to work for me. Needless to say I started to freak out. Everything that it took to get to that day was catching up and I was starting to hyperventilate. Of course I wasn't going to show that I was feeling that. So I told four people to leave the room while I talked to my realtor one on one. Once the doors closed, She said she had never had a closing go this way.  She told me that basically the only thing we were waiting on was the paperwork. the lender needed the paperwork to come in before they would disperse the profits where they needed to go.  We called the people back in, and the lender explained to me that everything would be signed then held in a locked area until they received the buyers documents. Once they had them in their hands they would file all the paperwork and wire the final checks.  Ok, I signed and went home to wait. 

 Friday morning after everyone was at school I went over again to the little house.  I had a few plants I wanted to split and take with me.  I searched the ground and tall grasses, the overgrown trees, and found a few of my favorite rocks. I dug up some roots, pulled a few bulbs, and left the rest.  Finally I sat down on the swing, and the tears started to fall.  I felt lost, empty, homeless, and heartbroken.  Pete wasn't in the plants, the yard, the house, he just wasn't there.  Even though I know he is anywhere I am. in those moments it didn't feel like it. Even though this little house didn't feel like home anymore.  I have a beautiful new house with lots of space that my husband and children love, it doesn't feel like home either.  I get it. You have to make it a home. I haven't had any time to make it a home. Its still filled with boxes, and the garage is so full you can't walk in it. My new house is fill of half projects with big ideas.  Even in the midst of it all, the rational side of me knows that this is just part of it, and that eventually it would all be fine. But to the emotional side grief, loss, and emptiness, sat in my lap, in my heart, and in my soul.  It felt very much like those last hours of his life. 

I never thought he would die. I never did. I thought he would be that miracle. But, he wasn't.  I knew it was coming, but I didn't know when. I knew the check was being wired, but, I didn't know when.  How long did I have to sit in this yard to cry? Seconds? minutes?  The day before, I sat alone in each room of my 1200 square foot house. I prayed God would restore my memories and I could recover the memories lost to trauma. I didn't want to just remember him being sick. I wanted to remember his laughter, his face, his smile. I wanted to remember the way he looked at the kids, I wanted to remember the way he looked at me. I wanted to remember our life together.      I sat down in my daughters room with the garden mural on the wall, leaned my head against the wall, closed my eyes, and tried to remember. It was like watching a movie. So many black screens, with colors and vibrancy thrown in. I remembered him in the rocking chair with aryanna, reading books to her while he was at work, I remembered joy, laughter, and sadness. Moments that I know where important but fuzzy, like I needed to just adjust the focus, but it wouldn't let me. I took a deep breath and thanked the room, the memories that did come through, then stood up and hugged each wall.  I walked into the boys room, marveled at the paint, sat down, and did it all over again. Then stood up, hugged the walls, thanked the room, and walked into the next room. I thanked each room for holding me close, for keeping my little family safe, for the joy, for the growth, for the beauty. But mostly as a whole, for raising me into the woman I have become.  I couldn't have done it without a safe space to call home.  

  I sat on those swings and remembered these moments then looked at the clock, I had to go to an appointment. I left my shovel in the yard, I left my broken trowel that snapped when I tried to dig deeper under one of the roots.  I went to my lesson, where I couldn't sing, just cry. Thanks so my amazing teacher she listened to me. She gave me encouragement, and told me that my feelings were valid, and that no, I wasn't Crazy.  I left her house feeling better. Until I got the call. The transfer was complete and my realtor would be by later in the afternoon to get the keys.   I raced back over to the little house, got my shovels, my plants, checked all the cabinets, then closed the door. 

I don't wish my life to be different. I have already done the "what if' game and it never ends up any better.I don't wish to live in the past, but the finality of it, knowing that it will never be the same, takes my breath. I can see the whole picture of then and now. I can see God's imprint everywhere. I see Pete just as present in our life. I have had so many amazing things come out of such heartbreak. And honestly I like who I have become. I don't think I would have arrived to the same conclusion had I not had all these experiences.  But, there is still pain, there is still loss, and there is still grief.  I keep hoping that it will get better. It does and it doesn't. I do know that I take comfort in knowing I am stronger now in this moment than I was then. I take comfort in knowing that saying goodbye to my home was not nearly as hard as saying goodbye to Pete. In the end its just house. Its just a yard.  

I know Pete isn't in the stuff. He is In my heart. In the kids. Not just in their energy but  really in them. He is in their laughter. He is in everyone who was ever touched by him.  I have learned its because of his love for me, for the kids, for our life, for the man he was and for the spirit he has become, that healing takes place. It's because of this love, that I can move forward, that I can love again. In every layer of letting go, he is in all of it.  Even in this new grief, this new layer of saying goodbye and letting go. I take these lessons, this grief, this goodbye,  like keys in my hand that I handed over to the realtor. After all Its those keys that gave me the courage  and the strength to do it.  These tears are gratitude mixed with bittersweet memories. I look down at the new keys in my hand. These keys are tarnished around the edges with a scar down the center, but they sparkle with magic and new beginnings. The wind blows lightly across my face as a single white feather floats down and rests in my hand.  I close my hand over it.  With bittersweet tears, a smile, love in my heart, that I open the door and cross the threshold into my new home.    

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bittersweet memories are Crazy!

I recently was told again that when things get hard in my life I seem to revert back to Pete's passing. And I am starting to really hate that analogy. Ya know maybe its because I know what loss feels like. Or that I am a walking nerve (another saying I have come to hate as well) because really whats wrong with being sensitive. Nothing. If anything more people could stand to be more sympathetic or even empathetic. I get it. I understand what its like to have the magic carpet ripped out from under you leaving a harsh reality in its place.  But I digress. 

My reason for responding as many have put it "in the past" maybe has to do with the present and past colliding. A close friend of mine just found out she is having a baby. I am over the moon happy for her. She and her husband will be amazing parents. Its like this bittersweet emotion washes over me. Maybe every other woman when they hear of another friend becoming pregnant has this same reaction. For me, I remember when I found I was pregnant with my first and nervous yet excitement I felt.  However in this moment I have sadness too. Another friend of mine said that its more like that  achy womb syndrome. The sadness that I can't have anymore children, and that I will never again get to feel the baby kick. Granted I am so glad that I don't have to deal with the nose bleeds, congestion, constant vomiting, sleeping sitting up, or making sure that I ate every two hours all night long to keep from throwing up at night. That awful anxiety, restless leg, and the worst nausea on the planet where nothing seemed to help. I don't miss that at all. But I do miss food that never tasted so good. I miss how everything was just hilarious, and the way Pete would look at me. Even though I was a beast, to him he said I was beautiful.  I miss the sparkle in his eye and his excitement in seeing the baby kick underneath his hands, or the ripple across my belly as baby would move and wiggle at the sound of his daddy's voice.   Maybe I have this achy womb feeling because Pete didn't get to experience it all. Or maybe that I didn't get to experience it with him.

Its hard not to forget. Again, I am grateful he got to experience it with the first two. I am glad I got to experience it with him. But, still I wonder.   If you have your spouse and they were there for the whole thing does one still have that feeling of "aww I remember when we were first pregnant?" Do you feel sad that you can no longer go back to that? Is it just an age thing? Realizing that you're getting older. That your kids are getting older? Do you feel sad that they don't snuggle like they used to? I mean they still snuggle but they don't just curl up like they did when they were babies. I don't know, maybe its just this Crazy Red Haired Lady. You know since I am after all, a walking nerve and I live in the past. However, I have come to realize how important raising kids and having a family is to me. I have come to realize how much I love being a mom and how much family time means to me.   For me, pregnancy was not nice. I was super sick with all three and my body never recovered from being stretched beyond stretched. You wont be seeing me in a bikini ever again. Can't say though that I am not jealous of the women who can. Yes, I know the body is an amazing thing and mine has been put through the ringer, and yes, I am grateful that it is still strong and that it looks as good as it does, unrealistic expectations rear their head and I think to myself If I just worked a little harder, if I just tried a little more... Oh well, thats a blog for another day. 

I think maybe its just that my memories get in the way.  I'm sad that Pete isn't here to see the awesome family that the kids and I have become. I am sad that I can't just look over at him and laughingly say "hey, remember that time, I made you eat your frozen dinner on the back porch in the snow, because the smell of it was so bad it literally made me throw up?"  I don't wish a different outcome. I am happy with my life and I am strong because of it.  I am empathetic, I am sympathetic, and I am a walking nerve because of it. This life has made me who I am.  There are just times that I wish I could just pick up the phone and call him. I know he knows, I know he see's, but its the little conversations, the moments that are long gone, and the feelings that remain.  In the end I am happy for this new family and so excited to see the foods that she craves and how her body will change as she nourishes new life.  For this Crazy Lady I sit with my bittersweet emotions and pat the empty seat beside me. I close my eyes and if I sit real still, I am sure I can feel the brush of angle wings against my shoulder and laughter in my ears.