Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009 Thank God.....

Tonight...I taught my kids to drink,

how to do stupid things, like try to fit into a fridge,


and the art of revalry,

and how to take bad photos. (But not naked ones!)




Tonight, we entered 2010 (Eatern Standard Time)

together, intact, a new family.

THANK GOD THIS YEAR IS OVER!!!!!!!!!!!
Happy Fucking New Year
(and I mean it)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 30, 2009 It's Working


All this blogging.

All this thinking and pondering

and screaming

and crying

and ranting
and joying

and blaming
and elating

and sorrow

It's all working.

I got some devastating financial news two days ago.

Just devastating.

And it knocked me off my feet. And I cried and screamed and got pissed off and thought of
how to seek revenge.

And then I got calm.

And then angry

And then grateful

And then I panicked

And then I laughed.

Cause now I am free to be exactly who I am.

The money would have made me feel beholden.

Now I see the truth.

I am beholden to no one.

I have survived his death.

I have survived his idiocy (or the insurance company's idiocy) of lack of life insurance.

I will survive this latest blow.

It will be scary.

It will be empowering.

It will make me rise.

It will make me fall to the floor wishing it to suck me up.

I'm still pissed.

Gonna be for awhile.

But this time, I know all of this stuff I am feeling

Will pass

And I will keep finding my light over and over again

And keep moving forward.

Big changes to the blog in 2010.

Big changes to my life in 2010.

I am grateful 2009 is ending.

What a fucking year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December 28, 2009 Family

much of his extended family gathered at the house tonight
all of his siblings
one set of aunt and uncle
two cousins
all of their children

there was a sense of ease, of kindness, of caring I had not felt when he was alive.

I don't know if it was them or if it was me or it was all of us.

what I do know is that I love his family.
what I was reminded of is they are my family too.

----
My mom is here
sitting late night talking with her
i realize that this grief will leave a mark on me
i am surprised i hadn't thought about that before

my brain has shifted, changed, morphed
it will never function the same way it had before he died

so stupid
but I'm really, really sad about that
somehow to me
it signifies
my
own
mortality

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26, 2009 Miracles


December 25, 2009

Shared tears in the morning with my mother-in-law.
Sudden tears at the table.
Lonely tears at night.

Joy and laughter in between.

Merry Christmas, Sweetheart.
You were here and we all missed you.

------
December 26, 2009

From a song from the movie, Prince Caspian. I have heard it many times before.
Tonight I HEARD it.

i've got the memories
always inside of me
but i can't go back
back to how it was

i will leave now
i've come too far
no I can't go back
back to how it was

oooooooooo
oooooooooo
oooooooooo
i'm moving forward

so every day starts
with a magic spark
i've got my hopes high
with a second start
we are miracles
every breath is magic

so you give yourself away
with your miracle heart
ya just to be alive
is a magic art
we are miracles
every breath is magic

relief over misery
i've seen the enemy
and I won't go back
back to how it was

and I got my heart set
on what happens next
i've got my eyes wide
it's not over yet
we are miracles
and we are not alone

so every day starts with a magic spark
i've got my hopes high with a second start
we are miracles
every breath is magic

----

every breath is magic
his was
but I can't go back
second chances arrive every day

I'm so looking forward to it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 24, 2009 Our Christmas Eve

We sat in church tonight, the kids scattered with relatives.

Ezra with Art's oldest cousin, Langston with his oldest cousins.

Pallas just two people away, sitting next to Nana.

As the church sang Silent Night, I cried. I missed hearing him sing next to me, the deep reverberations coming from his chest. I missed holding his hand.

I missed our family, the old family, the one where all our kids had to sit with us. I didn't have the energy to make them sit with me. I sensed they needed to find comfort in making it different than the last time we were in that church, together.

As soon as I finish this post, I will put the Christmas gifts out.

Last year we...well I did it, as he sat on the couch. The cancer already ravishing his body, making him weak. And to think, we didn't know it.

Our tradition was to put the gifts out over a bottle of wine, crackers and cheese and Christmas music.

We'd eat the cookies and he'd take a sip of the milk.

We'd laugh and giggle and he'd shush me, which made us laugh harder. We'd kiss.

I miss him, I miss what we were. All the good things we were together.

And in the next moment, I am ready to move on. Feeling well equipped to enter another relationship. Well equipped because of him.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 21 - 22, 2009 Daffodils and Phone Calls


I am like the daffodils that are blooming in my back yard (yes they bloom 2x a year in LA. I thankfully bloom more often.)

I crumble, letting the dirt and cold beat down on my brightness, making me floppy and weak, causing me to brown and shrivel. I go within too tired to care anymore. It is there I find the sustenance, the nutrients, all that I need to continue, to grow, to nourish me back into myself, brighter than before.

This is his gift to me. My transformation over and over and over again, until the pattern is so ingrained that I am not afraid of the floppy weakness but welcome it.
----

I managed to get us all on two different flights.
I have developed a healthy fear of flying. Perhaps it is because I have experience with the randomness of death.
We all arrived in Maine.
Our luggage did too.

That is all that matters.

----
December 22, 2009

Kids and snow. It's a great invention.

Snow pants, jackets and snow boots rank up there with the invention of the computer. Convenient, annoying sometimes, but worth the effort.

There is an old fashion phone at my in-laws. You know the kind that has a cord connecting the receiver to the phone.

"I should call Art." I think.

I reach for it and then withdrew my had as if the phone might burn me.

My longing for him is no longer uncomfortable or awkward, it's just present. It lasts for 3 moments then dissippates like my breath

outside

in the cold.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20, 2009 F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R.

False Evidence Appear Real

Fuck Everything And Run


Last night, FEAR came and sat by me. It said "Ya know. You can't do this all."

and

"You are gonna fuck up and forget something major."

and

"You are not organized enough."

And

"No one cares about you. No one has time for you."

And

"By the way....did I tell you you look fat and you can't write?"

Last night, I beleived F.E.A.R.

My shoulders knotted.

I felt shrunken, invisible, inept and hopeless.

So I

FEAWTB (Fucked Everthing And Went To Bed)

Fear can only lie next to me till I fall asleep.

Today

Next to me in bed, in place of FEAR, were Pallas and Ezra.

Snoring away. FEAR no where to be seen.

I got out of bed, looked at my list and.....

LAUGHED! (You were wrong fear)

And

Shook my head (Silly girl, you know FEAR lies)

And

Sighed (Functioning without him leads me farther and farther from him.)

And

Laughed again.

I think I'm gonna call a friend to see if they want to have a spot of tea and a muffin because

I'm NOT fat and

I CAN write!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19, 2009 I'm Sorry, What?

Tip Number Gazillion and 12

Offer to help the person prepare to travel. Now this said person may smile at you and say "No thanks. I think I will be ok." In which case smile back and tell this person:

"I am on call if you need me."

and also say

"Yes I am busy too, but I would like to help you for two hours."

Don't forget to call this person a day before they are to leave and say

"What can I do for you?"

Because this person is really stressed out and will forget what you said. She also will not call you because she knows you are busy with the holidays too.

This person will stupidly not reach out for help.

----

I am in over my head.

There is laundry to do.
Presents (for mykids only) to buy.
Present sorting to do -- finding the gifts I brought for them earlier this year, sort them into piles and see if someone has more than they need.
Food to buy for the trip.
A food plan before the trip -- neither the kids nor I can eat all our meals on the road. We've tried and the result is pissed off, cranky kids (and parents). Bringing our own food for just one meal averts this.
Travel toys to get.
Packing to do, which requires my that I use limited brain power to consider really cold weather, which means I have to remember what it feels like and then consider how one stays warm in that kind of weather.
MAKE A RESERVATION FOR A RIDE TO THE AIRPORT!
Lists. I have lists. And they include
take out the garbage
lock the windows
tell neighbors we will be out of town.
and
and


And then there is the no sleeping aspect. Been burning the candle at both ends. Problem is it's like a speed buring candle.

And now everything is confusing. I can't focus. Their normal kid noises, the stomping, the loudness, the repetition makes me feel like I am crazy. Like I'm an autistic child who finds lights and noise unbearable.

A low lit, quiet muffled room sounds divine. There I can sort through my thoughts and my lists and make sense of it all.

My reaction to the 127 "Mom, can I _____________?" questions I get asked is slow and wobbly, like I'm thinking in Jello.

I am.

So I'm gonna bag it all.

I'm going to bed and probably will arrive in Maine missing half our stuff.

Doing the best I can. Now if only I can accept that.

Friday, December 18, 2009

December 18, 2009 Party Party

First party tonight where I didn't feel:

like going home.

like I was like this woman who had some highly contractable disease.

weird because all of them were part of another and Iwas alone.

lonely when I got home.

It was a normal party. I had a normal time. It ended after a normal hour.

If this is what widowhood can feel like.......YA HOO!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17, 2009 A Toast

A peace settled around me this morning that muffled the noise of the day and left me smiling (except when I was trying to get the two kids out the door to pick up the third kid, so we could get the oldest kid to his concert on time) Photo above.
"It is all good." I kept thinking...and feeling. "I am exactly where I am supposed to be."
15 years ago, I was exactly where I was supposed to be too. I remember when the time came to get ready walk, I reached down for my flowers and was surprised that my hands were shaking. I remember walking down the stairs at the Blue Hill Farm Inn in Maine to the beat of an African jimbe (drum) played by a Japanese guy. My mother and father escorting me.
I remember the ceremony only from the photos. I remember my jaws hurting from smiling so much. I remember waltzing with him. I remember leaving too early, in my opinion. Let everyone go home, I wanted to stay at this party!
After I write this, I will take a glass of our favorite red wine and toast him.
I will toast to:
the deep respect we had for each other
to the crappy gifts and the pain that we caused each other.
I will toast to:
the three humans we stewarded into this life
all the bike rides and flats we changed.
I will toast to:
the fights we had
and to the growth we honored
I will toast to:
us and the day he asked me to marry him.
I will toast to:
him and the moment I watched him die.
I will toast to:
me, because it is exactly what he would want. And finally, now, I see why.
I will toast to:
his well-lived life that ended when it needed to, not when we wanted it to.
I will toast to:
my new life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16, 2009 My Truth

I had a drink tonight with someone who reminded me to speak my truth.

The truth is today was another day.

The truth is the 8 month anniversary is nothing but a date.

The truth is I once stopped counting days. I will now stop counting months.

The truth is he was an amazing man.

The truth is he loved me more than he loved life.

The truth is I am crying with gratitude and awe.

The truth is my life is marvelous and hard and shitty and sad and frustrating and obnoxious and disappointing and humorous and stupid and gay and fun and exciting and new and adventurous.

The truth is... his death was his greatest gift to me

for

without it

I may never

have discovered

that

joy and suffering do indeed go together.


Peace, love.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 14., 2009 Bad, Bad Mom

Wake up.
Pallas sick.
Too sick for school.
Have to leave her
Have client appointment.
A high paying client appointment.
No insurance = work when I can.
I tell her what I have to do.

After I am done
I try to call.
Phone does not pick up.
Neither does answering machine.
I give myself a dope punch.
Unplugged the phone so Langston could fax something
last night.
Forgot to plug it back in.
She can't call out .... at all!

Panic fills me.
I call a friend.
"Can you go over there and make sure she is OK?
I'm on my way."
Traffic on the highway makes me really, really tense.
I want to mow down the slow driving police car.
I arrive home, my friend's car is there.
I am shoving down the sobs.

Bad, bad mom.
Bad, bad mom.

My friend laughs!
"We can discuss many ways you can become a bad mom.
This is not one of them."
I still cry.

She is right.
Pallas never tried to call.
I am doing the best I can.

We are all growing up so fast.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 13, 2009 Tired Children


I stumbled upon this photo today. I was looking for a different one.

When I saw it, I cried.

They look so worried, so sure that the world was an uneven, unbalanced place.

It was then. (It still is but I am trying to ease myself into that fact.)

I had been in the hospital all day with Art.

The next day I would call friends who would gather them from school and bring them to the hospital where I would tell them one at a time, "Your father is dying."

When I look back on all this grief, there is one place that I never like to touch, one place where the rawness never seems to heal.

I could not protect them from loss. Nothing has made me, or still makes me feel so small or useless or powerless. Nothing has made me question the purpose of motherhood more.

At that moment, when I told them, when I accompanied each one in to say good-bye I knew I was doing the right thing, but the pain from doing that is something I had not visited till I saw this photo.

This photo was taken 4 days before Art died. The innocence is still in their eyes.

---
I stop crying and download this photo to my phone.

It is here I remember how resilient we all are.

December 12, 2009 Silence

I hung out with some member of my bereavement group tonight.

We laughed and ate and chided each other --

And then there was this moment, when we all stopped.

It was as if the ghosts of our dead partners all came into the room at once.

Sadness entered.

Silence

Words?

Nothing could have been said.

We simultaneously sighed.

And the conversation started up again.

That space was the best part of my day. We all held it for each other, knowing that there was nothing we could say, nothing we should say, no way to fix the loss. So we didn't.

I love my group.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11, 2009 Cake in the Face


I'm breathing.

Inhale
Exhale
Inhale
Exhale

Yesterday there was cake all over my face. Today....it's still there but the benefits are sweet!

It came together today. Right when I couldnt' take anymore. Right when I didn't know how I was gonna do the next minute, right when suicide was looking good. (Do NOT be alarmed. It is a common widow thougth!) Right when I felt I had nothing left, the breath arrived.

And instead of the loss of him, I look at the 15 years of marriage we had. We were headed, I believe, for divorce. But now that fact no longer fills me with shame. I think our relationship had run it's course and I am so fucking grateful for our marriage.

So today, instead of loss, I'm oozing gratitude. It dripped from me, like sweat and what I accomplished day was sweeter, better, rounder. It was in the damn air.

In the beginning, they said the waves would come and take me down. They said they would be big and overpowering. They said in time, the waves would still come, only there would be more time inbetween them. More space to catch my breath. They, thank God for they, were right.

So there is cake on my face, all over my damn face, it's sticky and gooey and makes me look weird. But I just discovered that I can lick my lips!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10, 2009 My Version of Bursting Out In Song

Every day I wake up with the assumption that it will be a bumpless day.

It’s a desperate assumption, one that I need, one that that allows me to put me feet on the floor (even if it is in the running position) and rise into this new day. It's an assumption that Buddhists’ know to be flawed….nothing is permanent but impermance. Everything is always changing.

When I arrive at school to drop of the kids, I go to the office to find Mindy’s desk full of gifts. (Mindy is a member of my Sit-Down-and-Cry PS#1 Support team).

The student gift exchange.

I have been sucker punched. I ask in a wobbly voice “They’re due today?”

Maggie (another member of member of my Sit-Down-and-Cry PS#1 Support team) senses the tears welling behind my sunglasses, puts her hand on my arm and says “You are doing the best you can.”

I nod.

I know I am but it just doesn’t seem to be best enough.

Two kids (not my own) are depending on me to pull my shit together so they can get gifts “made” by my two kids. There is no shirking that. Or saying I can’t.

And had I not gone up to the office, had I just used the drop off line, I would have completely forgotten those two kids.

I stand there, holding my sobs down like a person giving CPR, with force and meaning and hope. I am angry and disappointed in myself.

I remember between compressions…..I am not “over” his death.

I function with my chin just above the water line.

It is better than having my nose above the water line. But it is not far enough away for me to expect “functioning” to be normal thing.

And every day I get out of bed, I expect the water line to recede. It does, but slowly. Some days, like today, it rises.

And I forget that. I forget that it can rise, quickly with the simple provocation of something I forgot.

I remember.

He has only been gone for 234 days, only 5,616 hours. Not long enough for anything to be normal.

I leave the office and head to a store. This year those kids will get gifts made by me and not my children.

I exhale, I cry, I let go.

That is truly the BEST I can do.

I have nothing else to offer.

---

7:20 PM

I have been crying for the good part of the day.

Every time I stretch, attempt to function, to work, to think, I find myself gently sobbing. Kinda like others burst out in song.

I cannot figure out why. Nothing triggered me or was it all these things triggering me?

It doesn't really matter. Since his death, I no longer need to find a reason to cry.

I have to get in the car, with the other two and pick Langston up from his science partner's hours in Beverly Hills... the hills part, like near Mulholland Drive part Beverly Hills.

If I am lucky, I will be home in an hour.

I keep putting it off.

Hoping that somehow he will miraculously appear on the doorstep.

And if he did, I wouldn't have to burst out in tears in the car....again.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

December 9, 2009 Accosted by Them


This is a glass of ice tea my possible businss venture partner drank. We discussed my work.
It is was the only time I didn't feel a sense of forboding or panic in the last four days.




There are days I am not sure I should be a mother. Days I question my, what feels like, my lack of caring, lack of nurturing. There are days I wish them gone, so I could just do what I want to do....mourn Art. There are days I want them gone. Usually on the same day I want myself gone.





Daily I am accosted by them. Barraged for food (or the wrong food), for attention (or the wrong kind of attention), for toys (or the wrong kind of toys), play dates (or the wrong kind person for play dates). There is an endless list of things they want. There are lists of issues they want me to deal with. The list starts when they get up (How come he gets The Chair, I don't like this kind of cheese on my scrambled eggs. Hey mom, we're out of milk again, what should I use instead?). And they do not end (Mom, wake up I had a nightmare. Mom wake up I don't feel well. Mom wake up, I think we're late for school, oh wait, it's Saturday.)





And in those lists and requests and demands. I miss him. Just like did in the beginning, that shallow, panicky, shake my hands, don't get close to the edge of the cliff miss. The kind sends a blood clot of doubt to C3 on my spine so that I feel paralyzed from the neck down, only I'm in the water, over my head.





I spend my day trying to avoid this panic. So instead of coming out boldly, it oozes into my life so that when someone asks "Kim, how are you going?" with the smallest gesture of concern in their voice, I open my mouth and the words come out as tears. Hot, fresh and surprising.





I don't know how I can do kids and loss at the same time. I know I do it, but I don't know how and I need to know how

so
I
can
do
it
again,
tomorrow
and the day after
and the day after that.

I want to know so that every time I feel this, I will be without the panic, the uncertainty.

So the next time I will have confidence that I am not one decision away from some sort of disaster.

I want to know so that I can do it
without missing him.

I want

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

December 8, 2009 Forty Days

Behind me is Thanksgiving at the ranch.

The day and the place he made his first call to his doctor saying he wasn't feeling well.

In front of me is month 8 and our 15 year anniversary, and the moment on the 18th when I saw my fear in his eyes that he was sick again...not knowing what kind of sick it would be.

I am in my little hole...

The dark place that breeds depression and familiar internal turmoil. The hole where I wonder why I keep going, missing his voice, seeing no purpose in Langston, Pallas and Ezra.

And

SHAZAM!!!

I am out of the hole, breathing in the winter (LA style which means no flip-flops) and making smart aleck comments to my smart aleck kids. Belly laughing, enjoying and sad that he is missing this too. Even Mr. No-Sense-of-Humor Ezra is laughing.

I can't figure this out. I feel crazy, like I should be wearing house slippers out and skirt that matches my wild, out of control hair. And then like I am a well coifed woman, striding with confidence and diligence, no stopping me.

I need to write, so I will.

Forty Days

I will post every day for Forty Days

I need to get passed these holidays, and birth into the new year fresh and new and wholer and more fragile in my own strength. I need to see what this grieving really looks like. I need to tell you how you can help, not me but others who find themselves locked in this hell.

Forty days I will expose myself knowing that after the forty, I will rise like phoenix...again.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 The Cancer's Return



Today I am finding it hard to be grateful.

In my head, when I tell myself I am grateful for ....

the kids
the ranch
my cousin
the car rental
the ....

it feels shallow, insincere and like I'm just saying it. Ya know...to get it over with

So I stop.

And in that space, that space that I am often so afraid of, I find

a sob.

In the nothingness I have been feeling for days comes the truth.

365 days ago was the first time Art said he didn't feel well.

He called his doctor who said, "It's not cancer. Your tests from last month are clear."

And from the stop, the pause, the release from the force to feel grateful comes one giant

WHAT IF?

What if I had insisted the doctor see Art?

What if I hadn't gone to CT to help my mom move?

What if I just got strong and firm and said "I am bringing him in, you need to set up an appointment for a test. You will do it. This is my husband."

And the doctor would have too.

And I wonder, if I had, if we had caught it earlier,

before he lost 20 lbs.,

before the embolisms formed and found their way to his lungs,

before he was so sick and weak

would he

be here?

Would he be here to romp with us at the ranch?

Would he be here to ride with Ezra on the ATV, to watch Pallas on her first trail ride, or teach her to drive the ATV solo?

Would he be here to sip the good wine, reminisce about our first visit over 6 years ago.

And in my mind, I believe he would be. He was strong, a quiet force of nature. He would have made it if he hadn't been so sick when we first caught it.

I am not God. I cannot say for sure. But I was his wife. I watched closely as he fought the first battle and I saw the defeat the second time, before I knew what to call it.

I am not responsible I tell myself. But ya know what....a small piece of me doesn't believe that. I saw him through the first time and I believe that somehow I failed him the second.

This has nothing to do with logic. Nothing to do with facts. Or really to do with Art's part in his own health. Guilt is not logical. On this day, and the days leading up to the moment I choose to write this morning, it is what I believe.

I know this is part of the process of walking in the grief. Of making it to the other side that promises wisdom and peace and softness in knowing that fallacy is a just as much a gift as success.

My thoughts of failing him explain my fear of H1N1. If I failed him then, how can I possible trust myself to make any good decisions for the kids, now. My perceived failure in those earlier days before we knew it was cancer come alive in me every time I have to make a health decision for my kids.

So on this Thanksgiving, today. I am grateful for ...

I don't know.

I guess I am grateful that these thoughts will clear. And that maybe in the next breath, or the one after, I will be able to forgive myself, lessen my power in keeping him alive.

In the next breath, maybe, I will laugh at how Art missed Ezra trying to sneak up on a lamb, confident that the lamb nor its mother knew he was coming and then say to me "Mom, it's like they knew I was trying to catch them. Next time....pause....I will make them think I am just going for a walk near them."

"Next time" I say to myself. Next time...I am grateful that the next breath give me a "next time."

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20, 2009 Hound Dogs

Like hound dogs, sniffing out a sent

my friends come.

"I was thinking about you today. Are you ok?"

I shake my head. They open their hearts.

"I will follow you to the mechanics and the car rental place."

"Can I take Pallas this afternoon?"

I have a conversation with a fellow older widow.

"Jesus Kim! You are only 7 months into this!" she reminds me.

And I inhale the support, my cup spills its water.

And i can stand on the bottom again. No need to tread.

And as I replay the scenes of yesterday in my head, objectively, I am still amazed at how little, how very, very little it takes before I don't care to breath.

Grieving fucking sucks.



November 19th. Running Position

Who do I call if I have car problems?

Which mom said she’d be happy to get the kids?

I can’t remember. Panicked I start dialing familiar numbers. No one picks up.

Tuesday, I needed a man to talk to about my car so I found two standing on the school yard.

I said “What should I do?”

They said “Ask this.”

I smiled. I said thank you, feeling sheepishly stupid for not thinking of it myself. I went to our car mechanic, the one we’ve had for over 5 years, and asked…

“Can I drive this to the Sierra Foot Hills on Sunday for Thanksgiving week?”

He called later and said, “No.”

And

“In fact, it’s a good idea to think about getting a new car…soon.”

I smiled. I haven’t had a new car in 11 years. Our mechanic used phrases such as “radiator and slight crack,” “left rear cylinder head gasket appears to be leaking” and “need two new tires.”

Tuesday.

Thursday, the wheels (I think) took his comments seriously.

Today …. One mile from home, the car felt like it was running over those rut thingys…the kind they have on the side of highways to wake up sleeping (or talking) drivers.

½ mile from home the whole car was movin’ to its own awkward but deep beat.

The kids gripped the seats.

I pull into the drive, they opened the door…

“What’s that smell mom? said Langston

“Ew, mom! What stinks?” regurgitates Pallas.

“Mom, the car smells…I’m getting out of here!” says always concise boy, Ezra

Nothing to see.

And then I see the list of things that needed to happen tonight.

A run to the store that included bread for breakfast.

Ezra. Black pants. School play. Tomorrow.

Speaking engagement me…tonight.

Tomorrow: Ezra’s class play, therapy for me, class birthday party for Pallas. Groceries for the car trip on Sunday, a night out for me. A run to the movie store?

I get in the house and start to yell at them…the ones whose needs are part of the stress but who are as innocent of their effect as the rain.

I stop. Better words come out of my mouth. “The car thing is really stressing me because….”

“I am sorry I yelled. It is not your fault.”

“This is very hard without daddy. At times like this I can’t see how I will get it all done.”

“Yes. Thank you. Putting your clothes away would help.”

I breath and dial for…. kids.

Langston ride – check

Pallas and Ezra ride – check

Pizza is coming, quiche will have to wait.

Me ride to school? No. Car first. A school play will be missed. It’s the first one. It won’t be the last.

Can I get the car rental earlier than Sunday?

Who will pick up the kids from school?

I can’t remember who to call.

I can’t remember who said they’d help.

How will I get to the birthday celebration? I don’t know. I will ride my bicycle if I have to but how will I get them home?

I will think about it tomorrow.

The morning is planned out, I know how I will spend the first two hours. Those two hours managed to the best of my ability, to the best of my fucking ability. I sit down and contemplate ending it all right now.

This is so, so, so hard. And I’m cold. The house is cold and he used to warm me up in bed. I’d face into him, knees curled up, his arms still able to reach around me. He’d pull up his legs, his thighs warming my feet and ass. And I’d giggle and shiver and he’d laugh too. The heat would radiate off of him onto me. “How is it possible for you to get so cold?” He’d ask, shaking his head. Every winter this is what we did.

His death is isolating.

Didn’t she send me an email once offering to go to the store for me?

Didn’t he once offer to take the kids after school?

Have I called her too many times to ask yet again?

It’s month 7 and

I have forgotten who has offered.

And now that I need something like a car a ride, a grocery run, I can’t remember. I can’t fucking remember who said they’d be happy to……

I can’t ask anymore.

The vulnerability of asking wrings me ragged.

I sit here in this house wanting the stress, the pain and the planning, always planning (always, always, always planning) to go away. My mind, my grieving, widowed mind hung with its various levels of fog (or is it smoke) is useless.

I sit here in this house, cold, hoping tomorrow won’t come. If the sun refused to rise, I won’t have to get up and make sure my feet and legs are in running position before they touch the floor.

And all I really want to do is sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep. The world is passing me by and I’m good with that. Let it move on. My straw is to narrow and bent and kinked to suck life out of it anymore. It’s sucking me instead. I’d rather stay right here…in the nothingness.

I am fearful at how quickly I come to the edge. With just a few extra drops, my cup over flowth and I almost go under.

I will go to bed, cold, hoping that tomorrow will be better.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 17, 2009 Shot

I've been shot,


several times

and only now do I realize I'm bleeding.

I hold my hand as the blood flows into it. My insides are coming out. There is no stopping it this time, I am sure I will bleed to death. I stare curiously at the stuff oozing from me. It's familiar. My guts came out often in the beginning, days and weeks just after he died. So often that when I had "normal" days, I jittered in nervousness, my hand uncomfortable in its emptiness.

As I bleed, I retrace each wound, hoping (quiet silly actually) that if I know where they come from I will be able to duck it next time, to drop fast enough that the bullet will whiz overhead.

---

Wound #1 Fall Coming (Home Coming) at Windward.
In honor of Art, Langston is the guest team captain, flipping the coin, then jumping in the middle of the football team, the mascot for the moment. He as big as them, but his 12 year old grin giving away his delight at being with the "big guys." I'm laughing watching the man-child wallow in his man-childness.

Varsity Windward Coach Scott (the man responsible for putting Art's initials on the helmet)
Ezra with the Helmet of Honor
Langston getting riled up with the Windward Varity Team before the game....which they won!



---

Wound #2 The Art's Memorial Run
I greet friends at the Art Nagle table, humbled by their early morning presense just to run with him and me.

I run with, for and because of Art. I beat him too, competitiveness NOT going to the grave with him! I cross the finish line, and squat by the fence. Holding onto it as I cry and cry and cry.

some of our friends who ran with Art.
Art's dad at the finish line.
The Art Nagle Table
Marda writes the names of those who have lost their battle with cancer, her brother included


Julie Talbert, the kind, gentle and expansive soul behind the Talbert Family Foundation



---
Wound #3 Last Week at The 7th Flag Football Game
I remember Langston's 7th grade team winning. I remember cheering and laughing and jumping up and down. I remember hearing "Championship game is tomorrow." I remember sitting on the bleachers, at what used to Art's school and now is only Langston's school, looking every now and then waiting for Art to appear, entering the field with his distinct long gate, hands in pocket, to see his son play.


Langston with Nana and Grandpa.



---
Wound #4 The Championship Game
Windward 7th Grade flag football team wins the championship, I am jumping up and down (and peeing in my dress!), yelling and screaming. He runs fast, he catches two touch down passes, he intimidates their quarterback. I growl with his fiercenss, loving the way he has found his aggressiveness on the field, putting it inside his big size, making him intimidating.

At the end of the game, I swear that I hear Art say "Great job, kiddo!" to Langston with pride and awe at a child that shows talent in an area where his parents have none.

The Winning Team


-----

And then it's today. Before the tears come, I put my hand out, expecting to feel him in his spot. For one more second I wonder what time he got up to go for his run. And then I am crying before I'm fully awake.

A moan passes my lips, causing them to vibrate. It shakes my vocal chords. It is then that I know I am bleeding again. Loosing bits of myself in the realization (again and again and again) that he is no more. He's missed all of this. He will continue to miss all of this. It is so fundamentally sad that I am dumbfounded, mute, frozen, no words to adequately express this loss.

And yet....while the blood gushes from my body, it stops sooner than last time. I know quickly that, no, I won't bleed to death, it no longer takes me hours to realize that. The clean up takes less time, too. I am not as sore afterwards.

7 months was yesterday. I forgot till today. I have to get the car, pick up the kids and do our routine that we have established. The one that does not include him in any way.

And I smile at myself. I smile at them. We are doing this. This thing that I never thought I could do is being done. And this time I drop to my knees with gratitude and laughing.

It's a nice change.

Monday, November 09, 2009

November 9, Giving Up the Ring

Once, when I was really mad at Art, I took off my wedding rings and didn't wear them for a whole 23 days.

It was annoying. Like a really bad paper cut, or a splinter. Aware that something wasn't right. I wanted to see if the world would treat me differently. I wanted to prove to Art how in trouble our marriage was (my words not providing enough movement). I wanted to see if he'd notice.

He didn't.

I put them back on.

Last month, I took them off again. It was an unceremonious event. I removed my rings, opened my ring box and placed them in it. The fell and laid next to his wedding band.

This time, it's as if a chunk of me was missing. They are part of me, like the black beauty mark 6 inches right of my belly button or the scar on my right knee. The rings are a part of my body history.

When my finger didn't clink on a glass or the counter or tap on the steering wheel, my mind jolted. I wondered, "Where did I leave them?" then sucked in air and sighed, remembering. My finger ached, needed to be massaged constantly. I had phantom ring finger syndrome.

10 days of no ring, 643 where-did-I-leave-them?, countless inhales, sighs and stomach ache sadness, I replaced the rings with a different one. One that a friend gave me as a gift after he died. One that only fit that ring finger. One that says to me "weaning widow."

Weaning widow, not ready to say:

not married.

Not ready to say:

not in a committed relationship.

Not ready to say

heart completely mashed

to the rest of the world.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

November 3, 2009 A.N.

The football team honors Art
On the back of every helmet are his initials

A.N.

Art Nagle

My husband


Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 24, 2009 His Side

I removed the clock!

His side of the bed looks like the beds in home magazines. Books just so, clock perfectly situated (if they show one), lamp placed to emphasis the right, dust free books. All his stuff is perfect, neat and aligned.

I sigh, I crack up. His side of the bed orderly?! He is in death what he wasn't in life.

Good night, sweetheart. Wherever you are.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22, 2009 The 95th Day



The 95th Day
By Kim Hamer 


The 95th day after my husband died, my daughter walks into our bathroom where I am leaning, hunched over the sink trying to remember what comes after I wash my face. Moisturizer or that stingy stuff? 

My daughter’s eyes are ringed in red, her lids barely able to contain the pools of water.

"What are you doing up?" I say with barely tempered frustration. I have spent my energy today opening up more condolence cards and walking from room to room trying to remember what I keep forgetting, my own private circle of birds, fluttering around my head like the ones in cartoons. I have nothing left to give her.

I turn to her, not in softness but in a “this had better be quick” stance.

"I just realized…..sob…. Daddy's not gon….sob….na be here for my sob 10th bir…..sob…..thday." Her tears drop from eyes, as if their lives depended on them reaching the linoleum. "It's an important birthday." She looks up at me as if I do not know. "I'm turning double digits."

I watch her. I don't gather her to me. I don't change the subject or ask her to think about "happier times with Daddy." I hold myself still, giving her the space to grieve, giving me just one more moment in the anger.

What I want to do is to knock her aside and take on the grief. I want to attack it, rip it, and shove it into my mouth, tearing at it with my teeth as pieces drip from my chin. I want to ingest it. 

I want to swear and yell, “"Don't you dare touch her! You have no right to touch her with your loss and desolation and pain. She's nine!, she’s only 9!” I want to flail and punch and scream. I want to make the grief hurt back.

Instead I stare at my daughter as I stand with her in the inky, sticky, black grief and I watch her. I acknowledge her loss—which means I have to acknowledge my own, damn it. And I witness how the grief makes her shrink, how it bends her 98-pound body, making it look like it might snap. 

Finally, she swipes at her eyes, staring at the bathtub and says. "The kids in my group say it will get easier with time."

It is then that I embrace her. And from me pours the deep wonder at this person that Art and I have created and her strength. I think, I’m the lucky one. Hopefully, (cause clearly nothing is guaranteed anymore) I will get to see what kind of remarkable woman she will become.  I let out a small laugh of gratitude.




Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 19, 2009 Death Begets Life

And the day after...

I rise.

I make pancakes.

I make it to two parties and

AGAIN...manage to put dinner on the table, this time with fresh fruit! (Happy jig here)

After feeling overwhelmed, I work on my resume for 45 minutes with my mom, I am high on the potential.

I am so pleased with myself, like a toddler learning to walk. Get up wobble, step, wobble step and then ta da!! I'm at the wall or table.

And Ezra says to me "Mom, I miss Daddy. If Daddy hadn't died, you wouldn't be thinking about moving and we wouldn't be having so many babysitter to go out, what seems like every night." And he weeps. I know I will see him later in my bed, too, seeking reassurance by lying next to me.

And I say "I know.. It's hard. This is all new to you and to me."

But Ezra, I think to myself, "Change is exciting and exhilarating!"

I am the butterfly in the cocoon. Soon it will be time to try out my new wings, and I promise you kiddo, I will fly and you will see.

Out of death comes life.



October 17 , 2009 Coward!!!


Right now, I want to quit.

Quit writing.

Quit hoping.

Quit eating.

Quit being here for the kids.

Ya know what?

I'm tired of this shit.

Tired of being alone.

Tired of waiting to feel better.

Tired of catching glimpses of my new sun, only to have those blasted thick clouds move in with the swiftness and destruction of a great white shark.

Tired of functioning.

Tired of talking.

Tired of defending.

Tired of fucking breathing.

I'm tired of missing him in all these new ways.

I'm tired of wondering how good my life will be at some point.

I'm tired of telling people that he died or "Yes, that was my husband" to the umpteenth new 7th grade parent I meet at the school where he worked.

I'm tired of making myself focus on putting my left big toe in front of my right big toe so I can get through a day.

I'm tired of having happy moments that every magician craves...they vanish before your eyes!

But alas

I am a tired coward.

A mother (not a widow) once told me she stays alive for her kids. I didn't understand that.

I still don't. I don't stay alive for them.

THEY keep ME ALIVE and that is why tomorrow

I'll still be here.

In the kitchen, making pancakes.

Taking Langston to get his hair cut.

Sunscreening their faces and arms and legs before we go to the beach.

I don't have the courage to deny them me.

Huh, who'd a thought

cowardice was such a good trait.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 14, 2009 A New Good Day

I don't have good days anymore. Not like the ones before he got sick. Heavy is how I live my life now. My stomach doesn't ache with laughter. I'm slower and impatient.

There is a new good day and it consists of just making the day work. This new good day is about forgiveness for missed appointments, play dates, dirty toilets and dusty bedrooms, indecisiveness and anger. The new good day response is "I'm OK." usually followed with a shrug and silence.

The new good day means I managed to get out of bed, stretch, wake up the kids, prepare breakfast and get the kids to school, on time, and only raise my voice three times.

The new good day means I can focus on a project for 45 minutes.

The new good day means I wonder the house for only 30 minutes.

The new good day means I sigh only 175 times, not 253.

During this new good day, I can get three things off of my to-do list. I can put dinner on the table without the guilt of over weight or high blood pressure causing foods they digest.

The new good day has nothing to do with courage or beauty or dealing. The new good day has everything to do with getting by, past another Monday, through another kid argument, over another night of no sleep.

The new good day is redefined every day. Every moment I wake up is another new good day.

The new good day is about small, infinitesimal steps.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11, 2009 Dinner is Served!

I have successfully put dinner on the table for TWO WEEKS straight! Granted they came from bags and boxes, except for tonight when I made pesto. Granted they contained vegetables ....at least twice. Granted Ezra could have cooked it himself had he been allowed to work the stove and if he could tackle words like "microwave" and "combine."

BUT I put dinner on the table! I didn't panic when 5:00 rolled around. I breathed, opened both freezers and found items that could be cooked in 30 minutes. One time, I even defrosted something the NIGHT BEFORE!

I danced in the kitchen on nights 10, 11, 12, and 13 to the music of "I Can Take Care of Us All By Myself (almost)" On night 14, I opened a bottle of wine and did the happy-ya-for-me-triumph jig without spilling a drop. He danced and laughed with me. He knew I could do all this. He's glad that I now know too.

October 9, 2009 Grieving Child

Ezra and I went to Windward for a dinner tonight. (Pallas was at a friends house and Langston flat out refused. It was not a battle worth fighting.) Ezra disappeared only moments after we arrived, knowing the campus better than many sophomores, and"hanging" with the junior and senior boys he know from several summers of sports camp at this school.

At dinner, I found him on sitting on the lap of one of the boys, child among bigger children. He looked content to be one of them but aware of the special status his smallness gave him.

We came home and Ezra began to cry. "I hate Windward! It reminds me of Daddy."

I sold Art's car this week. Pallas insisted I drive them to school and pick them up in his car the day before. She cried when I told her the man had come to get it. "The car being sold means Daddy is really gone."

Their grief surprises me. I am so deep in my own. They are so into their daily lives, seemingly well adjusted to the single parent household that I forget they are grieving too. "Children grieve differently" I was told.

I see all the things Art will miss in their lives. They don't know what's ahead of them so they have no clue what he will miss. It is only in a moment that they feel his loss. It is not all consuming like it is for me. Those moments are intense and full of despair, though.

I witness it and marvel at their ability to lose so deeply and then 237 seconds later ask "What are we having for dinner tonight?"

Sunday, October 04, 2009

October 4, 2009 Pictures Of Grief

I took Ezra to the Annenberg Space for Photography where they had the photographs of the winners of the Picture of the Year Award International.

Ezra was fascinated by the photo of the child soldier, gun pointed at camera, smile on his face and who happened to be the same age as him. "If he has a gun, why is he smiling?" he asked, exposing the holes in our gun education philosophy. I only read the captions of the photos he asked me to knowing that allowing him to lead will give me insight into who he is.

He skipped over the photos depicting grief. It was at those that I stopped. I looked at them and felt neither empathy nor sympathy for the characters in them. The wall between us was mighty and fierce and strong and whole.

It wasn't until I was driving home that I realized those photos are the only photos that depict grief; the horror of the man clutching the body of his bloodied and dead brother, the photo of the mother wailing over the discovered body of her son. We don't see the photos taken 37 days after or 183 days or 1 year and 2 months and 3 days after the loss. We don't have a complete picture of grief. We think it is all devastation and sadness that pushes down continuously on the grieving. Those photos only begin the story.

Our pictures of grief are incomplete.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

October 1, 2009 Sick and....

Sick.

It finally came.

The illness. It's not surprising. But what is, is how good it feels to just be sick.

I have not been sick since Art was re-diagnosed in January. Mind over body, man!

I have not wanted to be sick, I would not tolerate illness. There was too much to do, to take care of, to work through to get sick.

And now, 5 1/2 months after his death, 9 1/2 months after his diagnosis I am letting my body win.

It's time to purge the stuff. With a blow of my nose I shed an old habit. With a cough I release a anxiety, with the fever I sweat out the staleness, the stuff that keeps me in fear. I release some of the grief within the entire cold.

And I am grateful to stay in my pjs today. I am grateful to not put on make-up or clothes. I am glad to soothe the kids with my confidence, for they are scared. "What happens to us when you get sick?" Langston asked, Pallas and Ezra turning to listen to my response. I smiled. "We have a ton of frozen food and friends who will bring us things if we need it. Don't worry too much, sweetheart. We are supported."

And they turn and go back to their new normal life, seemingly satisfied and reassured with my response.

I raise my water to you, sickness. To the freedom you are granting me today. To giving me time to just sit and nap and watch movies or to do nothing at all!

I too can be just like Scarlet O'Hara!

I will think about that tomorrow... or the day after!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

September 24, 2009 When Is He Coming Home?

I want to write away the pain. Sometimes I think that's why I write. I know that's why I talk to people, why I spend the energy to explain to them what this process is like. The more I talk the more distance I have from the process. The more distance I have from the process the less like mine it feels. Or the more sense I can try to make of it.


Sense. On a very primal level, his death makes no sense to me. I look at pictures of us in November, when we thought he was healthy, when the cancer was only the tiniest cell in his body and I get confused. How could he not be here? Why hasn't he come home yet? How is it possible I will never hear his voice or know the feeling of his hand on my back or hear him yell at the kids again. I don't understand how this can happen.

And God am I lonely. Admitting that in a country that is built on independence and do-it-yourselfness feels almost shameful. I don't want a companion, not a boy friend, not a relationship, but just someone to touch that female side of me.

Part of my power of being a woman was in being able to make Art laugh, turning him on, having someone sharing my insights, giving me input, turning me on, being held by him, kissed gently with no intention other than to touch his lips to my forehead or hair or hand or shoulder. To smile at him and have it returned as if we held some big secret. I miss all that.

I miss the arguments that were broken often with laughter. I miss hearing his foot steps in the bedroom hall, hearing his closet door open, the muted rustle of the plastic hangers as he hung up his clothes. I miss watching him parent, our tete-a-tetes on how to handle X situation with Z kid.

I miss being mad at him, in my righteousness and in my rightness too. I miss apologizing to him. I miss being swallowed into his chest, his arms completely wrapped around me. I miss sharing the green chair with him when we watched movies. I miss his smell. I miss his chemo smell too. It meant he was alive and he was fighting.

And I miss the wonder of him. His deep blue eyes, his way of bending a conversation to his will without you even noticing. His sincerity.

And the other side is I miss having a man in the house. The deepness that testosterone brings. I
I don't want someone to replace him. I just want like, an on-call guy. Someone I can call and say, "Come over and lie with me in bed till I fall asleep." or "Come watch a movie with me." Or touch my shoulder and say "You're beautiful, you're amazing." Someone to remind me that I am more than just a widow and a mom. that I am more than someone who has lost a spouse or whose life will never, ever, ever be the same. Someone to help pull me out of me.

This on-call guy has to feel the need to be needed, know that his masculinity is in the small moments and thoughts and touches. It would not be about sex (although...mmmm, no complaints if it goes partly in that direction.) It would be about helping each other through this difficult moment, his (whatever it is) and mine. There would be tentativeness and tenderness and hope and laughter and gratitude. It wouldn't last but it would serve its purpose, helping both of us to emerge on the other side more intact.

And in the end, it wouldn't take away the confusion. I still don't get it. I still don't understand. Why am I here and he's not? Why do I talk to the kids about him in past tense now, always. When is he coming home? When is he coming home?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22, 2009 Moths In the Pantry

The moths in the pantry are back. I check the flour, the beans, and the couscous. I check the box of forgotten rice crispies...waiting for the marshmallows and butter. Nothing there.

I check the cereals. Gorilla Munch. No. Koala Krisps. Nothing. Then I see it. The box of Optimum wedged into the corner. It was his cereal. I kept thinking I'd eat it ... but even my desire to be close to him could not make me put straight milk in my body. I open the box and the months flutter free.

Suddenly I am smashing the moths between my fingers, crushing them between the lining of the bag and box, content on my devastation of them, wanting to get them all. And I stop.

Composure. The kids are up. Besides I would have to clean up the mess. I'm too tired to do that. And then I think of the release of not caring, how wonderful it would be to let it all go.

Later I am reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and hiding my sobs from the kids. Harry has just returned, Voldermort has risen again, and he saw a friend die. And while Harry is recounting the story, I can feel Dumbldore and Sirius's sadness watching as this boy recounts what he saw. And then I think of Cedric's parents and I have to stop reading for a moment. And I suck in my breath in.

I recount my emotions. The terror I felt when I first saw him on Sunday morning, his eye unable to focus, he responding only sometimes to my voice, and not at all to anyone else's. How I thought he was crazy to tell me "I'm OK" when he had a moment of complete clarity, recognized me and the concern and fear I must have been wearing. My surprise seconds later, at his answer response to "Honey, do you know where you are?" He said "Yes, I'm climbing up, I'm going up." And how later, those words would sit on me and so would the anger at not telling him then and there that I loved him.

The go-ahead-I-can-take-it attitude to the on-call doctor on Sunday night who asked my briskly "What is his code?" "In English please" I had said. "What are his resuscitation orders." And I said, without hiccupping, as if I were the professional, "Keep him alive till my kids can say good-bye to him."

The next day, when our oncologist came in and said "He is going to die. He will probably go within the week." And the relief I felt. Finally, someone had said "die."

And then watching him go. The way his breathing changed, the way his color changed, the coolness of his hands.

And I can't believe this is my life. And I want to cry, and curl up and just wait for all this to pass. I want to stay in bed and function enough to use the bathroom and occassionally eat. I want this world to go AWAY.

But it won't. There is school to attend, meeting to get to and clients to see. There are trips to be planned, food to be made or accepted. I must function.

Some have said that I am brave, you have so much courage. And I want to laugh. It's not courage. My back is up against the wall. The only reason I'm standing is because it's supporting me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Art Nagle Memorial Run

The Art Nagle 5K Memorial Run is in November! Come run, walk/run or walk the 3.1 miles. Support the Talbert Family Foundation who supported us. Your entry fee is all they need to keep giving directly to families who are dealing with a double whammy...a major health catastrophes AND financial struggles. You CAN make a difference. You did for us.

I want to reiterate. This is a 3.1 mile race. You don't have to be a runner to participate! Walk it with some friends. It'll take 45 minutes and you'll feel great. Art loved this race, loved this organziation and boy did he love to run.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 17, 2009 Talking to Strangers

Peace comes tonight in the form of 8 strangers. Mexican and Jewish, white and other, one young with child on the way, one older with a young child, spiritual, long haired, out going and quiet, well dressed and unclipped toe nails.



We are strangers. We come together and shut the door, shut the unclear, confusing and sometimes mean world on the other side of the door. The latch releases in its hold and we exhale.



I miss her, he states. I am angry too! she says. I crave to be touched, says another. We all laugh, nodding our heads. We hear, nodding our heads. We cry nodding our heads. We all nod our heads, we all get it, we all understand.



And there is wonderment at the same emotions we strangers share. For now it’s our new Utopia, the closest we can come in this grief to it. This Utopia offers understanding and silence and space to raise our voices, stare out our hands, to sob, to swear, to joke and gafaw. No excuses necessary.



And when we open the door, our fellowship continues in a near-by restaurant, discussing our lives before we got here, what we are doing now that we are here. You have two dates? Smiles. This is a picture of my son, he said. And I look and my mama bear roars and I want to defend that child. I know that I love him. I know that I would defend him with my life and he’s not mine, but he is because he belongs to one of us.


And finally the world pushes in on the clock. We leave. I get in my car and I feel lighter, sweeter – less full of rage, more full of relief and calm and Okness. I drive home – knowing that they are driving home too and I feel safe. If my phone rings tonight, if I make someone else's phone ring tonight, it will be answered and there will be no should, no don’t worry, no you’ll get through this. There will be a space held for me (I for them) and I can cry or they can cry, or rage or laugh or whatever.


They know what it’s like, these strangers. They know my grief because it’s their grief and I love them for that. I love them in a place I have never been before.





They make this journey manageable when nothing or no one else can.

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 15, 2009 Judgement Day

There is something I want you all to understand.

This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Yes it is all about me because Art was my husband and one hell of a partner. If you have lost your job, it is the worst thing that has ever happened to you! I can only pray it is the worst thing that will ever happen to the kids.

Grief has no time line or rhythm or reason. You dip in and out, weave and sway, stop and go. There will be moments when I am grateful again and there will be moments again when I am full of rage.

Anger is one of the stages of this grief. One does not pass through a stage and then is done with it, one weaves in and out of them as well. Read Kubler-Ross’s book and you’ll see.

There is never a moment I don’t “get on with my life.” I do it every single moment of every single day, that’s how many times I think of him. I do it waking up in my bed and glancing over to see if maybe Art will be there. I do it in every breath I take, plan I make, decision I decide. It has gotten easier but easier in a sense that I am only caring one ton, instead of two. Every friggin’ day that I wake up and put my feet on the floor is a triumph because I am getting on with my life!

Right now, in this moment I am angry and herein lies the conundrum….if I lie and show gratitude when I don’t feel it, happiness when it is a far reach for me then I am not being true to my process. And believe it or not, it’s great that you read but I do this for myself. Art knew that, in fact he's the one who pointed it out to me. The writing and posting helps me with my process.

No one said it would be easy to read about or that you, the reader would like it. But this is MY blog and MY process. And you read partly, I suspect, because you want to see what this is all about. And yet when I show my honest feelings, however ugly, many of you are appalled and find them disgusting. Rage is part of it. There is no judgment on it, it just is. The rage is in my widow’s group and it is part of every widow I have spoken with from 90 year old and the 23 year old. They warned me about posting, said that others would not understand. They were right.

The comments kept telling me I should feel gratitude, as if I had never written about it. It makes me laugh because you and I have such short memories, that's what spin doctors bank on! Read back to my trip to Maine or to some of the earlier posts, there is gratitude there. This is not gratitude here right now, but that will change. When and where I don’t know but I know that nothing is permanent, not your life or mine, not gratitude or anger.

And exactly how am I to show this gratitude? What would you the reader have me do? What would make you think I am grateful enough? Is a thank you in person, a thank you note, or would you prefer I cry over what you have done for me. I have said thank and felt like many of you do when you say “I’m sorry,” to a grieving person, that it just isn’t enough, that I can’t possible express how much a small gesture means to me or to the kids. How do you know I haven't been grateful? You don't. I have written notes, sent texts and made phone calls. Many people squirm with the acknowledgment and the gratitude I show them. There is not a day that goes by that I do not say thank you to someone for their help, not a damn day! It may not be aimed at you, or perhaps you were not in a place to receive it?

Grieving alters the chemicals in a person's brain. To hold me to "normal" expectetations is like asking a ...well don't hold your breath! I am on drugs, my brain is a mess.

What I write is about my grief, that is all I know. Call it narcissistic, but it is MY GRIEF!!!! When and, if you are ever in my place your reaction may be different, it may be the same.

It is easy to look on, and I do mean on, someone else’s life and to say “you should….,” to pick out the holes and tell them what they can do to make it better. I know, I was a queen of You Shoulds. And now I know there is no should. It’s not up to me, the voyeur from the outside, to tell anyone how to do anything. It is completely 100% up to the person going through the process. I can only listen, ask for clarity and give feedbackWHEN I AM ASKED (still working on that last one) but that is all.

It's not easy to say “Wow, I don’t like the way that made me feel. I don’t get you. And I’d like to think I wouldn’t act in the same manner, but I cannot judge you cause I KNOW NOT!”

I cannot promise you I will be nicer in the future. I cannot promise you will never read anything here that you will make you uncomfortable. I cannot promise you I will even keep blogging. If you are looking for that, they I strongly suggest you look somewhere else.

I am not the first to write about widowhood, and I will not be the last. All of us have told our truths. And that is what you will find here, my truth. Call it want you want, narcissistic, selfish whatever, but it is my truth. If you don’t like it, please don’t read it anymore. Move on and tell yourself you are better off for it, you may be.

Your life is too short and precious to be bothered by my words.

Take this truth or leave it. But unless you have walked in my shoes, none of you has the right to judge me. Not a single one of you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 12, 2009 Layers of Rage

Kathleen, a commenter on the last post said, "Anger at others is undoubtedly a distraction from the great aching pain."


I wanted to say "You know nothing" and "You're wrong." I wanted to be righteous and look down on all those people who know nothing of this kind of grief.


Only she was right. The rage is a distraction.

Rage is not pretty, it makes me squirm to see it in others. It's unpredictable and over-powering which is what gives it its strength. The unpredictability of it is often terrifying. Choices are to run or defend. Rage kills. And when I rage, it feels good. I am breaking from that confining box that says "You can't. You should not, you are not allowed. People will not like it." And I bust out like Superman and feel the wind in my now long hair. I will not apologize for my rage. It is part of my grief process.

And rage is a cover.

I am too-nice-person. Our nanny walks out on us a week before she is supposed to and I write her a letter that forgives her young foolish behaviour and ends with something like "I hope that someday you see the amazing woman that I see in you." She left me and the kids stranded one month after Art died and I'm all like, you are such a great person?!


I put the needs of others ahead of my own, afraid that if I don't I will not be liked. (Yes my therapist and I are working on that.) In his death, after being here for almost five month in this grief, I still fill the need to take care of others. Heck, that's part of what the tips are all about. I let them cry about my loss on me. I soothed and comforted those who needed it. I explained my process, instead of feeling my process. The only people I ever want to do that for are my kids. I knew that in the beginning of this journey. But I still behaved differently.

Finally now that I am done taking care of others, when I am hurting and waiting and wanting them to comfort me, I see them waiting for me to tell them what to do. The rage comes from that place. From them wanting me to do what I always do which is comfort and guide and forgive. And I am infuriated....How dare you!!! How dare I!!!!


And I am rageful at a society that knows nothing on how to comfort, that places rules on what is proper behavior for the a grieved, that encourages independence but teaches nothing that the most powerful independence comes from feeling comforted and loved and understood. Everyone deserves to feel that way, comforted, loved and understood.

Deeper still, is a place where the sadness is so black that I can't see my fingers wiggle in front of my eyes. So low that I wonder why continue on, I believe that I just can't do this anymore. I can touch the despair. At first it's viscous, I can move in it but slowly and with effort. When I am fully in, and its around me, it hardens into the shiny, black glass and I believe that I cannot get out. And it drains me and I think, why bother.


That mournful, depressed place is a place I will do anything to avoid. I sense it is the place I need to go, to sit, but it is so ..... overbearingly lonely. And before I enter in cautiously, the only rope I have is faith that I will get through. The confidence from past grieving moments is no use here because the grief has changed yet again. I see why older couples die within months of each other. I get it.


I am afraid of that new grief, so I try to ignore it. And every time I do, it comes back again, bigger and darker, looming closer.


These last two weeks have been the most difficult since Art has died. In the beginning I had days to get through so I counted. Day 14, Day 27, Day 40. Now, 3 days from five months I see that life is going on. The kids grow, friendships shifts, I change too. And I am mad as hell about that. And it all removes him from me more. I don't know where I stand in this world without him. I haven't found my footing yet. And that floating feeling, not having a way to steer, command, or cajole myself into a direction terrifies me. Time will teach me how to steer in this new place. Easier said than done....no truer words exist.


I am a lost, homeless orphan, left to swim in cold, swift waters. I have help from those who loved him and love me, but ultimately I must do this alone, in rage, in fear, in love, I must do this alone. I was just hoping that someone could come with me.