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.       

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Crazy situations...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 12, 2018

Another Crazy Birthday!

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

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Crazy Cabin in the Woods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.