Monthly Archives: April 2015

Back ……

…… in my happy place …… New York City.
The weather here is absolutely beautiful.  I have the windows open and am enjoying the street sounds as well as the “fresh” air.
I use quotation marks around the word fresh because …… well, because “fresh” may be a relative state.
I love being able to open the windows in the spring and fall.  In Houston that would be approximately 2.5 days of the year.
I get a lot more days here in NY, but the more I keep my windows open, the more I have to dust.
And dust a lot.
Like …… every day.
And sometimes it seems/looks heavier than regular dust.
But I try to not think about that as I feel the cool air and listen to the sirens, honking, and music that drifts in through my windows.
Or maybe, slams in through my windows.
You get used to the noise.
I can sleep with my windows open and the noise doesn’t bother me at all. I wonder if I should make one of those sleep machines that has the ambient noises on it, like the sound of rain, a babbling brook, the ocean waves, etc. and add NYC noise?
I bet one or two people would like it.
Besides me.

I’m currently sitting on my sofa with a worn out puppy laid out next to me.
I know how she feels.
As much as I love this city, sometimes I think it’s trying to kill me.

This morning I went to the MET to take a “class” with some other women from the Manhattan Women’s Club. It’s called MET 101 and it’s 4 sessions. I missed the first two, but made it for today and plan to go next week.
Today we talked about painters from post-something to pre-modern. Or something like that.
Don’t judge me …… my brain holds only so much information now. To learn something new, something old has to fall out.

Anyway, we followed our lecturer (very nice and interesting man) through that museum for 2 hours.
Of museum-walking.
Which is TOTALLY different from walking on a street, in a park or around a track.
It’s walk a lot-stop-walk a bit-stop-walk a bit more-stop-walk a lot-stop, etc.
It’s a back-killer.
Or maybe that’s just me.

But it was a very interesting morning, in spite of my screaming back and feet, which I totally ignored as I walked 2 miles back through the park, to the grocery store and then home.
The park was so lovely with tulips and pink budding trees all over the place. A bride and groom were doing their pictures in one spot. Behind them was a group of about 5 young people who were singing/selling their cd’s.
Further down was a group of young men who entertain people all over the city. Either that or they all have clones who do.
They do a lot of gymnastic stuff, including lining up about 7 men from the crowd and having one guy run and flip over them. Kind of like Evil Knievel. If you don’t know who that is, you should be on Instagram now.

There was a guy who was using a stick and string to make those huge bubbles, there were people painting/drawing scenes or caricatures of tourists (because people who live here don’t pay anyone for that).

All in all, it was a great walk on a fabulous day.
In spite of my back.

After I got home from the grocery store I did a work out …… still in spite of my screaming back.
And now I’m paying for it.
Well, not if I don’t move off of the couch.
But I’m not sure how long I can sit here without having to get up to do something useful, like finding the TV remote or going to the bathroom.

Gracie got to go on a walk this morning, too. Daughter #3 and the little boy she nannies for took her out. She was less than thrilled that I left her with them, but hopefully she behaved herself soon after.

By the way, I learned how difficult it is to do a workout in a room where your puppy is.
She kept trying to get me to throw her toys, pick her up, jump on my feet, back, legs, etc. and just plain give her my attention.
She was a pain.
And now she’s snoozing.
Like messing up my workout was a huge workout for her.

So, yesterday before my flight up here, I picked up a People magazine. I didn’t pay much attention to the front of it until right before my flight.
That’s when my heart started slamming into my chest and I think I may have hyperventilated a little.
Because of this:

I have every intention of becoming a serious stalker.
I knew that he had been up here doing something, but I had no idea they were living here.
How did I know that he was up here?
Daughter #3’s BF sent me these, the day after I left last time:

He added, “So … George is here shooting a movie… Just saw him. Thought you should know.”
I wanted to kick him.
The BF, not George.
I mean, how dare he see George?!!!
Yet, I liked the pictures.

So now I’m on the search for George. I’m not sure what the first step should be, but hopefully it doesn’t involve me getting off of this couch.


P.S. Here’s a picture of Miss Gracie, being excited to find herself back in the city!

Life is Full of Seasons ……

…… good, bad, fun, boring, happy, content and downright horrendous.

The thing about seasons is …… they come around again and again, though you never know when to expect them.
Or …… what special effects they’ll bring along with them.
And most times …… you don’t know how long they’ll last.

But, I think I can tell you, with some authority, that the bad seasons …… you know, the tear and snot-filled, cold and black, grief-filled seasons …… get shorter and shorter.
Just so you know.

I’ve been in one of those negative seasons for a few months now, though I only admitted it yesterday. The further out I get from Jim’s death, the more it feels like I’m not allowed to have a bad season. “Holy cow, it’s been over 7 years now …… and you’re STILL grieving?!” “Good grief, aren’t you over this yet?!”
“Why aren’t you dating anyone?” “Why aren’t you doing anything to get yourself out there and dating.”

I really have no answers to questions like these. Not nice, polite answers anyway.

Overall, my life is good. Often great.
But there’s always a caveat there, and most people don’t understand that.

My life is great …… as great as it can be without Jim.
That’s a fact.
Or, as I used to tell my kids, “It is what it is”.
I don’t choose to have that missing piece of my joy.
And I can’t replace it. With anything or anyone.
We all know people who’ve tried …… and failed.

Thankfully, for me, I also have God.
Not that He’s always been one of my favorite people (I’m sure He could say the same of me!), but He’s always been there.
Even when I didn’t feel Him.

Most days I can praise and thank Him.
Even when I don’t feel like it.
There’s always something in my life to be thankful about.
Just as there’s always the missing of Jim.

But I had to learn how to choose to be thankful, and choose to praise Him.
It didn’t come back naturally after Jim’s death. And it took me a while.
But I finally reached the point where I could choose to just sit in my grief and let it stunt and rob me of the rest of my life …… or I could choose to start seeing the things/people in my life that I’m thankful for.

The funny thing is …… once you start feeling thankful for a few things, it kind of snowballs. Your eyes open to more and more good things in your life, in spite of …… so much.

So this is what I’ve learned: when the seasons come …… and they DO come …… I need to just sit in them for a bit, let myself feel them, and see if there’s anything new in them. Once I let myself feel them and just “be”, they slowly start to fade. And that’s when I can choose joy.
Not 100% of the time, though ……. I’m no angel and I’m about as far from perfection as one can be. But I’m a work in progress. Sometimes the progress is painstakingly slow, sometimes I catch on quickly.

I am who I am.
And it is what it is.
Grief. It’s not just for anybody.

There Are Things I Whisper ……

…… only to myself.

There are some pains that can’t be said aloud. Well, technically they could, but societally, they can’t. If I were to say why I feel sad …… why I’ve felt sad for weeks now, there would be angry comments. And I can’t say that I’d blame the commenters.

Yes, I’m a widow.
Yes, Jim was wise and planned ahead for an event we never thought would really happen.
No, I don’t have to work to make ends meet.
Yes, I am blessed.

But financial security doesn’t cure loneliness.
Money can’t help me fill my house with anything but things.
I can’t buy someone to hold me while I sleep and still love me when he sees me in the morning.
(Yes, I’m aware that money certainly can “buy” someone to keep me company …… but that, also, doesn’t cure the loneliness in my heart).

The security I have didn’t help me this morning as I sat in a meeting with my accountant and another guy who helps me …… biting my lip the entire hour to keep the tears from spilling over.
I hate those meetings. I end up depressed for at least a day because they bring back the memories of those first days and all of the meetings I had to attend in the wake of Jim’s death.
And I usually don’t understand much that’s said, which makes me feel sad …… and stupid.
As soon as I get back to my car, the dam breaks and the tears pour forth …… all the way home.

But if I were to tell a group of people how lost I sometimes feel, how “afloat” I am …… how purposeless I feel, I know that the common reaction/thought would be, “Oh, poor you!”, (in a snarky tone.)
I don’t expect or want anyone to feel sorry for me.
I don’t feel sorry for myself …… I just …… miss him.
I miss what we had, what we were …… who I was.

I can only imagine how much more difficult and painful my life would be if I had to struggle financially. I didn’t do anything to deserve this, anymore than I deserved his love.
He just gave it.

I wish that someone had told me about the guilt that comes with each check that’s deposited. It’s difficult to enjoy “death money”. Especially when you’d much rather have that person than a check.

I wonder if I would still feel purposeless if he were alive?
Is this a part of the “empty nest syndrome”? Once our children don’t really need us any longer, is this how we feel?
I think I’d probably still feel that way, though I’m sure it’s magnified by widowhood.

And while I am beyond blessed to be able to live in two wonderful cities, it’s difficult to feel connected in either one.
I know …… poor me, right?

As I’ve said before, and will continue to say, “I am blessed.”
I was “before” and I am in my “after”.
But blessings sometimes come with pain, and tears.
Like childbirth …… and parenting.

Maybe the more we are blessed …… the more susceptible we are to hurt.

Or maybe I just need to find a new “purpose” in my life.
And stop whining.
There, I said it for you.

I knew I should’ve just whispered it to myself.

Just Like The Iceman ……

…… the taxman cometh.

And at least once a year, but more like four, this causes me to hyperventilate, and even cry.
I hate this day.

For 25 years I never did anything but sign where indicated. I’d laughingly question Jim while I signed, asking, “This won’t put me in jail, right”. He’d just shake his head.

You see, that was our agreement. Before marriage. When we went to our very last pre-marital counseling class with his pastor (do they even have those anymore?!), we each took a quiz, asking who we saw doing different household tasks.
When it came to paying the bills, I had always seen my parents sitting at the dining room table, doing them together. And so I answered, “together”.
However, when the pastor read our answers out loud, Jim had answered, “me”.
What the what?!!!
Evidently my body language of crossing both arms across my chest, although saying nothing, spoke volumes to the pastor.
He stopped everything to address the question …… and my body language. He asked me why I evidently didn’t agree. I said that I just thought we’d both do it, and that I was just as qualified as Jim to do our bills.
(Did I mention that I was a bit offended by his answer?).
The pastor turned to Jim and asked him why he answered the way he did. Jim said, “Well, I just figured that I do the bills since I’m the accountant.”
To which I replied, “Fine. You’ve got ’em”.
And that was the last time we discussed the bills.

So you can probably imagine how beyond stressed I felt the first time I sat down with the bills in front of me.
Especially since, as Jim always said, we weren’t just a family …… we were a corporation.
Xanax, anyone?

I feel like such an imbecile when it comes to taxes. Thankfully I have a good CPA. And he, thankfully, has me.
But I still tend to hyperventilate when it comes time to find everything he needs, because I never get it right. Something is always missing.
And it slowly makes me resent the fact that I’m the one doing this. Just me. Alone.
This was NOT supposed to happen.
And then everything comes flooding back and there I am, sitting and crying over what was …… and what was supposed to be.
But that’s today.
Let me tell you about yesterday.

My CPA sent me three tax forms that needed to be sent in, and paid, today. He sent them by email. So I needed to print them off in order to send them in (all while truly hyperventilating at how much I feel like I’m being robbed).
I had used my printer a few days ago and everything was normal.
But this day? This day the printer decided to die a slow death. And a painful one. At least for me.
First, the pages were barely legible. I debated for a while just sending them in that way because why should I care if some IRS dude/dudette has to squint? But I’ve heard how testy they can be, so I investigated.
I added more ink cartridges. No better.
I cleaned the cartridge heads. No better.
And then, to top everything, I ran out of paper.
Of course this was at 5:00 p.m., when I knew that traffic would soon be at its peak here.
And there was a letter I needed to print off, sign, scan and send back.
God has such a sense of humor.
(I was not amused.)

So I put Gracie into her kennel, which is like giving her the death penalty, and headed to Target, where I bought a new printer, ink and paper.

Who, but me, would this happen to??!!!

I made it to the post office today, saw them stamp the envelopes and then breathed a sigh of relief.

I hung out with some friends today and of course the subject of taxes came up. There were many complaints, of course, but I just listened. And then one woman said, “I don’t mess with any of that stuff. My husband takes care of it.”
I should’ve told her how awesomely lucky she is.
And blessed.
And to not take it for granted.
But I just sat there, trying to control my breathing so that I wouldn’t cry.
Because that’s exactly what I used to say.
Used to.

The missing of that man will never, ever end.
It does ease, over time …… thank God.
But it will never end.

But then, neither will our love.