I Feel Ugliness ……

…… raising its head from deep within my heart.
It came out of nowhere, like a sword cutting into me.                          
It came so quick, so deep, so painful that I feel overwhelmed.                   And so I do what I’ve learned to do when I’m overwhelmed, with tears flowing down my face.                                                                                                                                                  
I write.

I was minding my own business this morning.  I fixed myself a cup of coffee, settled down on the sofa and picked up my phone to check my emails, texts and FB thread.                  
And there it was.  
On Facebook.
Out of the blue.                                                                                  
A post by a friend whose husband died the week before Jim.  We haven’t kept up with each other, except through FB, but it was still a shock.  One that I didn’t see coming.  Nor, evidently did a lot of her FB friends. (Which is perfectly fine, in my opinion.)

She’s married.

That one small post took my breath away.  Literally.                          
It truly felt like a knife in the heart.
As I sat there, staring at my phone, trying to control my breathing, trying not to cry, I wondered, “Why?”.
Not why did she get married.
Why do I feel this way?
Where is this deep, stabbing pain coming from?
Why in the world does my heart feel like it’s turning green and then black?
What is going on??

I put my phone down and tried busying myself with other things …… but my brain kept going back to that post.
And my heart kept feeling ugly.

Don’t get me wrong (though that would be very easy to do because I, myself, feel very insane right now) …… I’m happy for her. Very happy.
I’m glad that she’s found love again. She had a wonderful husband who died way too young from a horrific disease, leaving her to raise their 5 children.
Of course, I felt a connection with her.

Where was this pain coming from?

So, here I am …… sitting at my computer, pouring my emotions out onto a keyboard like I have so many times before.
Only this feels a lot like the early days.
The days when all I could do is cry and write.
Write and cry.

I had decided that another marriage is not in the cards for me.
Well, most of me doesn’t want one.
After being in two relationships I didn’t want to be in another.
And really, it was the second one that did me in.
That’s the one that, to this day, makes me feel nauseous if I get a rare email from an online dating service.
I hate them with a passion and can’t delete them fast enough.
So yeah, there’s that.

I travel a lot.
I do a lot. Sometimes.
I do what I want. Most times.
I live in two cities.
I don’t see a man fitting into this life.

Could this life change …… for the right man?
But …… do I want it to?
Ahhh …… there’s the rub.

Do I want to be in another relationship?
Not an easy question to answer.
It’s not just a no.
It’s not just a yes.

If I thought that God would give me a man “like” Jim, I’d jump at that.
I think.
Not like Jim, exactly.
But like Jim in that he’s a Godly man, knows how to treat a woman, knows how a Christian man treats a woman and loves me in spite of myself.

Do I believe that God could do that?
Yes, of course.

But do I believe that God will do that?
No, not at all.
Another rub.

I feel like I had my love.
God gave him to me once and it’s all I get.
I don’t deserve another.
Hell, I didn’t deserve the first one.

So, maybe …… just maybe …… I’m trying to convince myself that I don’t want another love …… because I don’t believe I’ll get another one.
The ol’ “reverse psychology thing”, eh?

I guess most of the time I can convince myself that I’m good alone.
In fact, I’m great.
I can travel, see shows, play with my grandson …… all whenever I want with no one to answer to, consult with, check in with.

And then I read a Facebook post.

And I cry.

So there you go.
No answers really, but I do feel calmer.
And yes, I’m publishing this just as I’ve always published the not-so-pretty-side of widowhood.
Because maybe I’m not the only one out here.
Crying over a Facebook post.
Surprised once again how fast and strong those damn waves can be.
But I’m still standing.

Sick ……

…… and tired.

It’s been a rough couple of months.
And evidently, not just for me.

I know I don’t have much to complain about in my life, but sometimes I just get sick and tired.
Of crap.

I’ve had fluid in my ear for 2 weeks now.
This fluid prevented me from flying to California for our annual board retreat. My first one to miss.
And I hate that.

It’s also left me feeling a bit …… “off”. I can’t hear well in the one ear and I just feel out of sorts.
I’ve been to the ER (thankfully the infection/pain is gone), my doctor and a chiropractor (I have my third visit today). I think he’s helped a bit. The fluid is still there but I think there’s less. The pressure is better anyway.
Tomorrow I’m going to see an ENT.

Evidently I’m allergic to Waco.

The past couple of months have been hard on Daughter #2. She’s been fostering two boys, ages 12 and 9. They’re brothers and our hearts go out to them.
Their behavior started out ok but now it’s spiraling out of control.
And as someone who is an only parent, I know how incredibly hard it is to parent angry, disrespectful, grieving children all by yourself.
No one has your back.
And that sucks.

She knows that I have her back, but I don’t live in the same house with them.
I do what I can and yes, I’m only 15 minutes away …… but it’s just not the same.
Things have been beyond difficult.
And it’s starting to affect J-bear.

It’s so hard to see both sides of the foster system. Yes, the kids have been through alot and no, you definitely don’t want to add to their pile of hurts. But sometimes you can only take so much.
And then you break.
And you’re no good to anyone.

We keep hoping that things will get better.
And she hasn’t given up that hope.
But she’s starting to crack.
And I don’t want to stand by and watch her break.
Prayers are appreciated.

In other news of things I’m sick and tired of …… and you mostly likely share this with me …… politics.
I hate, abhor, am sick to death of this crap and how it’s affecting people.
It’s ugly …… pure and simple.

Facebook used to be a fun place to go catch up with friends far and wide, but for about 3 months now it’s been less than fun.
And I don’t get it.

I get the politics part. I get that politics (and religion) can get people heated.
I get that we will never all agree when it comes to that topic.
But this election and its aftermath have become more than that.

People who you’ve never had a harsh word with have suddenly become ex-friends.
Over a stupid election.
I’ve had one “friend” whom I thought I knew …… for more than 20 years …… attack me on MY Facebook page for posting MY opinion.
I was shocked.
And flabbergasted (I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before, but I like it. I may have to start using it regularly.).
Her words became hateful.
And so I did what I didn’t think I’d ever do over politics.
I unfriended her.
What a stupid world.
(I also had a distant relative (maybe) unfriend me because I came to the defense of my daughter on MY page. I’ve never met her and don’t know her so that didn’t surprise/bother me. I thought it was funny.)

I’m sick and tired of the fighting, name calling and hatred being poured out over this election.
From both sides.
I’m tired of friends making snide comments on my page when I post something that I like.
So I don’t spend much time there anymore.
I hope that this will all die down soon and people will become normal again.
Whatever that is.

Not that I want everyone to sit back and do nothing.
I think we should all be politically and socially active.
Or things will never change.
And we’ll be stuck with “alternative facts”.
I just hope that we can do this without the hatred.
Where has that come from?
What makes people think it’s ok to post hate on other people’s pages?
Why is it ok to let hatred spew from your fingertips?
It’s not …… in my book.

Now …… in other news of things I’m not sick and tired of …… last week, after a month of training, I was sworn in as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and on Friday I took on my first case.
If you’re not familiar with CASA you should definitely Google it and check it out. There’s probably an office near you and you might be a wonderful addition.
In a nutshell …… I’m the voice of a foster child/children in court. I investigate the life of that child, foster a relationship with them (over a period of 12-18 months, or more) and tell the judge what, in my opinion, is in the best interest of her/him.
I listen without judging, support as best I can, and try to keep the goal of the foster system in front of me: keeping families together.
No, that won’t always be the case, obviously. But it is the majority of the time.
Another goal is a CASA for every child in the system. I’m just a tiny drop in a very empty bucket.

So if you’re looking for something of great value to do with your time …… if you want to make a difference in the life of a child who’s hurting …… if this election has made you more aware of the needs of our country …… if you’re sick and tired of the divisiveness and would like to help get rid of it …… I highly recommend becoming a CASA.

And on that note …… I will end this rant post.

Happy Monday, y’all.


Nine ……

…… years.
One hundred and eight months.
Four hundred and sixty eight weeks.
Three thousand, two hundred and eighty five days.
Seventy eight thousand, eight hundred and fifty eight hours.

However you count it …… it’s been eons …… and it’s been an instant.

I know that to you, my first and only love, it’s been a blink of an eye.
And in that, I envy you.
Actually, I envy you a lot more in other ways, too.

I still …… and will always …… wish that it had been me.

I wish that you were still here to continue the good that you were doing.
I wish that you were still here to be with our sons and to continue to guide them.
I wish that you were here to give our daughters away, to love their partners, to be blessed by their children.
I wish that you were here to do a better job than I have, or will.

But I don’t wish you the pain.
I don’t wish you the loneliness.
I don’t wish you the missing of half of your heart.
I don’t wish you the cold, inky darkness that comes less often, but still comes.

I don’t wish you the loss of the expectations of “what was to be”.
I don’t wish you the loss of friendships.
I don’t wish you the loss of innocence.
I don’t wish you the loss of joy.

Joy is still here, though it took a while to make an appearance.
Or to be felt.
But it’s not the same joy as before.
How could it be?

Yet it is joy, nonetheless, and I don’t take it for granted.
I don’t take anything for granted.
And thankfully …… I can honestly say …… that I never took you for granted.
I felt thankful, almost every single day of our life together, that you were in mine.
I felt surprise, almost every single day of our life together, that God gave me you.
I have no expectations that He will give me another love.

You see, I never felt that I deserved you.
Which made me all the more grateful for you.

So now, nine years later, I can publicly admit that “what I deserved” …… caught up with me.
Nine years ago today.

Part of me would like to have love again.
Part of me feels exhausted at the thought.
And most of me knows that it’s not in the cards.
Lightning won’t strike twice in my life.
And that’s ok.

I have a good life.
I can’t complain.
Or …… I shouldn’t complain.
So I try not to.

All 6 kids are now amazing adults.
Daughter #2 has blessed us with a grandson.
Not in the usual way, but then she rarely did things in the “usual way”, did she?
Daughter #3 married this year.
She married a man who reminds me so much of you when we were that age that sometimes it catches my breath.
You’d love him, too.

Daughter #1 has had quite the life in the last 9 years, starting with Harvard, which you didn’t get to know about.
She’s had more of a struggle finding out where she belongs, but she has love.
It might not be the love that we expected, but it’s love and it’s a constant in her life.
She’s doing well and she’ll be ok.

Son #1 is doing pretty much what we thought he’d be doing …… working hard and living life on his own terms.
He’s happy …… and I’m proud.

Son #2 took the hard road, as we knew he would. I wish that you could see him now. Maybe you can? I’d love to think so. He continued to march to his own drum beat and is successful and living life to the fullest.
My heart nearly bursts when I think of him.

And Son #3.
Truthfully, he’s the one who makes me miss you most.
I miss you at Homecoming.
I miss you when I’m watching the games on TV.
I miss you so very much supporting him at our school.
He’s a Cowboy through and through.
The pride I feel for him and how hard he’s worked to be involved and yet maintain an excellent GPA is indescribable.

I love each of them fiercely.
Because I love them for both of us.

Yes, my life is good.
Different, but good.
I live in a town I never would’ve believed I’d EVER live.
I spend way more time with a two year old than I would’ve ever imagined.
And I have a tiny little dog that I never would’ve believed I’d love as much as I do.
Who’d of thunk?

It’s a different life.
One I didn’t plan.
One I wish I didn’t have to live without you.
But there you go.

I miss you.
I will never stop missing you.
And I will never not cry when I type those words.

I hope you can see me.
I hope you can feel my love.
And I hope, more than anything else, that you’re proud of me.
It’s been hard, Jim.
So very hard.

But I’m living.
For me …… and for you.
And I think that’s something.

I love you tons.
And I’ll see you soon.

Binging and Transporting ……


…… can sometimes happen at the same time.  Probably rarely.

Though all it takes is once.

I’ve been binge watching “The Gilmore Girls” for the past several weeks.  I finished the 7th, and final original season yesterday and started the new episodes on Netflix today. Yesterday was the day I was transported.            And then it happened again today.

Yesterday it was during Episode 13, Season 7.  The father/grandfather had a massive heart attack and then went into surgery.  While he was in there his daughter and granddaughter went to his house to pack a bag for his wife …… their mother/grandmother.

Jim didn’t have a heart attack, but he did go into major heart surgery.  And some of my children went back to the house to pack a bag for me.  Because I’d be staying in the hospital with him for the 6 to 7 days of recuperation the surgeon had told us to expect.

As I watched the scene of them wondering what to pack, my heart broke all over again for my children, who had to wonder what to pack for me.  I don’t know if they were as positive as I was that I’d be home with their dad in a week.  I don’t know if they tried hard to keep their minds occupied on the task at hand, rather than on their father in surgery.

Not knowing any of that didn’t make that episode easier to watch.  It was difficult.  I didn’t know the outcome of that episode …… I know that the actor who played that role (father/grandfather) died in 2014 …… but I didn’t know if they killed off his character before then.

It turns out they didn’t.  So the wife (mother/grandmother) got to use the lovingly packed suitcase.  She stayed at the hospital for the days that it took for him to recuperate and then get discharged.                                   She was lucky.
She got to use the suitcase.

My suitcase remained unused.  It was lovingly and hurriedly packed …… all to no avail.  Jim never made it out of surgery.
Not alive anyway.

I didn’t see the transporting coming.  It just happened.  One minute I was in my living room, watching a TV show, the next minute I was invisible in my former home, watching my daughters trying to figure out what to pack in a suitcase for me.
It was surreal, to say the least.

Then today I started the new episodes …… where the dad/grandfather has just died because the actor died.  The funeral, the grief …… it was all there.
And it was sad.  As it should’ve been.
Transported …… again.

It must be noted that yesterday was the 9th of December.  A full two weeks and a day past Thanksgiving.  For those who know the meaning of that, this is huge.  For those that don’t, the “death march” towards December 18th, the day Jim died, usually begins with Thanksgiving.  For the last 9 years it’s been a holiday I’ve mostly dreaded …… because I know what comes closely on its heels.  Most of the time it’s completely unconscious.  I know that those of you who haven’t experienced the death of a spouse or child can’t understand that, but trust me, it’s true.  The body remembers things that the mind tries to forget.

But this year, this year I looked forward to Thanksgiving.  And I happily decorated the house, by myself.  I realized what the days were/are leading to, but I felt ok.  And feeling ok feels pretty great compared to the usual.

So the fact that I made it to December 9th without feeling my body going through the “death march” is fantastic.  And even though I shed tears yesterday, and today, I still feel ok.  Don’t get me wrong …… that doesn’t mean I don’t think about Jim, don’t miss Jim, don’t long for Jim, don’t love Jim just as much …… I think it just means …… I’m happy.  And I can feel sadness in the midst of happiness.

I think it also helps that I get to spend significant time with a certain 2 year old (2 sleepovers in a row this weekend!).    And while he keeps me busy, and mostly makes me laugh …… it also breaks my heart that he “knows” who Grandpa is, but doesn’t know Grandpa.  Nor Grandpa him.  As far as I know, anyway.  I’d like to think that Grandpa sees him …… and knows him.

So, be careful while you’re binging.
You never know where you might end up.

So Thankful …… And Yet ……

…… Jim, and the missing of him, is never far from my mind. Most especially at 2:34 in the morning. Sleep has been elusive since 10 p.m. Its elusiveness leaves a gaping hole inside of me …… where the missing of Jim slides into, and runneth over. A lot.
I miss that man.

The missing of him no longer brings the acute pain it once did. It can, and usually does, bring some tears, but not the debilitating torrent it once brought.
But make no mistake …… I miss him. I love him. I crave him. My heart hurts from the missing of him.
Even in the midst of so much thankfulness.
And maybe especially in the midst.
Because he was, and always will be, the person I am most thankful for.
Always and forever.

There is so much for which I am thankful:
* Our children
* Our parents and siblings
* Our grandchild, who looks at pictures of Jim and gleefully calls out, “Gran pa pa!”
And as sweet and precious and wonderful as that is, it also saddens my heart. It will always be bittersweet, this raising of grandchildren. Because he should be here to experience the pure joy that is grandparenting.
Instead, this amazing experience was stolen from him.
Or that’s my take anyway.

I am so very thankful for him.
For what we had.
For all we did.
For all we said.
For how we loved.

Over the past few years I’ve come to the realization that there will be no other man.
And while that realization can cause me to feel sad at times, it also brings acceptance, contentment, and peace, because it’s exactly what I want.
Or don’t want.                                                                                                                                         Either way, I know that I don’t want to have another relationship.

I experienced life with my best friend. It wasn’t always perfect, but it was always right. We knew that God brought us together, that was never in doubt. Once in awhile we questioned His plan …… SIX kids, God?? SIX??? Are you sure??! …… but we knew it was His plan so we just went with it. Because …… what else could we do?!

I do believe that we were soulmates. And while I think you can have more than one, I don’t believe God has that in store for me.
And I’m good with that.                                                                                                                             It’s what I want.
There are times I feel sad at the thought of growing old alone, but my life is full and busy and satisfying right now.

I am thankful.
For so very much.
But especially for 27 years of knowing, and loving, that man. And for being on the receiving end of his love. Which was huge.

And now, it’s 3:08 a.m. Maybe now that I’ve expressed these feelings via a keyboard, sleep will come.

But if not, it just gives me four more hours of remembering. And loving the remembering.
Even when it hurts.

I Think Today Requires ……

…… more pictures than words.

I’m still a bit (or maybe a lot) stunned and really don’t have any words to write anyway.
Not yet.

So on to pictures.  This first group are all from the month of September.  I may or may not write a description.  We’ll see if I feel inspired when I upload them.  🙂

SOMEbody was put in time out for refusing to stop barking. She shall remain nameless but she has her own FB and Instagram accounts, so these could be used for blackmail some day. 😉

I walked into a store at the beginning of September and was not prepared to see this:

Or this (whatever):

I really thought this part of life was behind me.  Ha!

And now for October.

This kid.  So much love.
We went to the zoo.

And Angel …… we went to this exhibit just for you.  🙂

A day in Waco.  Note that in the bottom right picture they were BOTH getting ready to act upon a bad idea.

This took a while.

Excellent cookie placement.

Another trip to the zoo.  And a new friend was made.  A massive new friend.

This was an experiment to see if the hairstyle would work with ……

…… THIS!

(I’m hoping that you know he’s dressed up as Alexander Hamilton.  His awesome mom made the costume!)

I went to Oklahoma for our Homecoming and had dinner one night with my lovely, fun and loving “sisters”.  ❤

Here are pics from November (so far):

A play and a movie preview.

A beautiful day in the Park.  Most people had on hats and scarves.
I wore sandals.

Another play, starring Mary Louise Parker.  There was on stage seating, which was cool.  And her 12 year old son was being an usher.  So cute!

And then there was this musical, starring Josh Groban, whom Daughter #2 wants to marry. So I hung out at the stage door afterwards to record him saying hi to her and to get pics and his autograph.  Success!

An awesomely beautiful day for tennis.

A cup of tea after a long awaited massage at Lush Spa.  The kids gave me a gift certificate for Christmas …… last year.  I kept forgetting about it but last week remembered and decided to use it on Election Day.  I’m glad I did.  I still feel pretty relaxed.  🙂

And last but certainly not least …… a post-grooming Gracie.  The only dog I know that loves going to the groomer.  Seriously.

Enjoy your day and remember to breathe deeply every once in awhile.
Or drink a bottle of wine.
Whatever works for you.

Happy Wednesday!