Category Archives: Life After Loss

I Seem to Have a Love/Hate Relationship……

ManifestTitleScreen

…… with a freakin’ tv show.

Give me a break.

In case you haven’t seen this new series on NBC, it’s about a group of passengers whose plane disappeared for 5 1/2 years and then suddenly returned. Out of nowhere. But here’s the kicker: the passengers think they were gone 3 hours. They didn’t change, age, notice anything different (other than some crazy turbulence). They felt and thought that they were landing on time and in the right place. Back to their normal.
But what they came back to is a world that has aged 5 years. A twin who was 8 when he left and came back now has a twin who’s almost 14. Talk about weird.

So anyway, that’s all I’m going to give you.
Now on with my point.
Maybe.

This show reminds me of some dreams I’ve had over the past 10 years. Dreams where Jim comes back. Sometimes, most times, he acts like nothing’s happened. And I’m torn between screaming for joy, love, relief, etc. and screaming because I am beyond pissed at him. Kind of like those feelings you get when you find your lost child who had wandered away and hid.

I don’t enjoy those dreams. Of course I always get past the being pissed part.
But still.

Back to the show ……
I think I like it because it hits so close to home. The pain that that passengers feel when they realize that life has moved forward 5 years, without them.
The joy of their family and friends when they discover their loved one(s) has come back from the dead.
And the frustration, confusion and problems that follow.

I hate this show because I wish that it could be a true story. I hate that these people get to have their loved ones back.
And I don’t.
Even if it took over 5 years.
In spite of all of the problems that would follow.
Mostly.

This is the part I hate most ……
Part of me (a very small part, but still ……) wonders if I’d really want him to come back after all this time.
I’m crying as I’m writing this because it’s difficult to admit.

It’s not that I love someone else.
It’s not that I’ve become a terrible person.
It’s not that I don’t love him anymore.

I guess it’s mostly just that life has gone on.
And nothing would be the same.

Our world is different.
Our country is (too) different.
Our family is different. Hugely different.
I’m different.

I don’t write this flippantly.
I apologize to any of you who are in the club and can’t even fathom what I’m saying.
Those of you who’d want them back this instant.
I’m sorry if reading this causes you pain.

Of course I’d love to have him back.
Wouldn’t I?
Maybe my tears mean …… “mostly”.

Life Is Good ……

IMG_3769

….. right?

I mean, it’s mostly good.
And I try to focus on that.

So why am I sitting here, crying because I miss him?
Again.

I hate this.
I really, really hate this.

This shitty wave that comes out of the blue and smacks me upside the head, knocking me to my knees.
Again.

It’s been ten damn years.
There should be no more waves.
Right?

Ten. Freakin’. Years.

I just got back from a trip to Hawaii with Son #1, Daughter #2 and grandsons 1 and 2 (2 is a foster grandson but I love him all the same).
We had a great trip.
It was kind of exhausting, but it was good.

I have a great life.
But in the midst of this great life there is a shadow that seems to hang just behind me, over my right shoulder.
Where he should be, I guess.

That shadow is always there.
Always.
I don’t always acknowledge it.
Or actively look for it.
Or even see it …… sometimes.
But it’s there.

But every once in a while …… it comes over me …… and reminds me of the life I had.
And of the life I should be having.
And of the life I’m missing.
The man I’m missing.

Damnit to hell.

“So …… are you ……

single-and-happy-2
source

 

…… dating anyone?”

No. No, I am not.

“Are you dating at all?”

Nope. Not dating. At all.

“Why?!” (That’s the word that is spoken, but it sounds more like, “What’s wrong with you?!”)

There’s only one reason that I’m not dating: I don’t want to.

And no, that doesn’t mean that I’m stuck in my grief.
No, it doesn’t mean that I’m not living life fully.
No, it doesn’t mean that I’m afraid to put myself out there.
No, it doesn’t mean that I’m afraid to love again.
No, it doesn’t mean that I’m afraid of losing another love to death.

And no, it does NOT mean that I’m …… less than.

Of course no one says any of those things.
At least not to my face.
But hints are given.
Blogs are written.
Facebook posts are written …… even by widowed friends.

Sometimes those who have found love become “love pushers”.
They like to preach about how wonderful it is and how we (all us widowed people) should take that step. We should want to find love again. We shouldn’t be stuck in our past. We can’t really move forward and become whole until we take that step.

I know they don’t mean to say that. And I know that they’d deny putting that message out there.
But sometimes you don’t really get a message …… when you’re not its subject.
Sometimes your blissful happiness can cause you to want everyone you know to be blissful. And happy.
I get that.

But here’s the thing: I am happy. I am happily single. I am not looking for love. That’s because I don’t want a relationship.
I may not be blissful, but I’m really ok with that.
My life is full.
My life is good.
I had one hell of a terrific love.
And I’m good.

I didn’t have a perfect marriage.
Jim wasn’t a perfect man.
But it was a good marriage.
And he was a good man.
I always felt blessed beyond measure to have him.
And I still do.

Would it be nice to have that again?
Well, of course it would.
But do I need to have it again?
No. No, I don’t.
Again, I’m good.

I’m starting to feel a bit resentful for being put on the spot sometimes.
I don’t think I should have to explain myself.
I don’t think I should have to give any reasons for not wanting another relationship.
And I sure as hell don’t need people pointing out some false statistic that people who had good marriages will want to find love again.
I think that’s crap.

We can’t all be lumped together.
For anything.
“All millennials are like this …”
“All white women are like this …”
“All Christians are like this …”
“All liberals are like this …”
“All conservatives are like this …”

I’m sick to death of this crap.
I’m angry about the divisiveness that has clutched this country in the last year and a half.
And I’m fed up with feeling that I’m thought of as “not whole” if I don’t want a man in my life.

I’ve had two relationships since Jim died.
Neither worked out.
Thankfully.
I should’ve known that I wasn’t meant to be with someone when, upon learning that one of these men shoved wedding cake into his first bride’s face, I knew he was not the man for me. That was the beginning of the end.*
Some would say that’s a stupid reason to not want a man.
Maybe.
Maybe not.
I don’t think we can help what we feel.

But I digress.
I have dated.
I no longer do.
I haven’t had a date in several years.
And I’m happy with that.

The thought of being in a relationship makes my blood pressure go up.
I just don’t want it.
I like living alone.
For the most part.
I like traveling on a whim.
I like having all of the closet space.
Selfish?
Probably.
But true.

So, for all of you widowed peeps who are remarried, or in love …… I’m thrilled for you.
Truly.
I’m happy for your happiness.
I hope that you have very long relationships and that you’re the first to go.

And for all of you who aren’t widowed, but are happily in love …… I’m equally happy for you.
And I hope you go first.

But please know that, just as everyone is not meant to be an accountant, or an actor, or a teacher …… not all of us are meant to be with someone. And it’s possible to be happy …… and single.

I love my life.
Just as it is.
(I think it goes without saying that I would prefer Jim to be alive and here, but that’s not a choice.)
I have learned to never say never.

But right now …… in this part of my life …… I’m happy with all of the closet space.

*If you or your spouse shoved cake into each other’s face and are happy with that then yay for you.  I don’t think less of you.  It’s just not my thing.

I. Can’t. Even ……

I can’t.
I really, truly can’t.

I lost a dear friend yesterday.
Suddenly.
Shockingly.

Seventeen sets of parents lost their children yesterday. So far.
Suddenly.
Shockingly.
Horribly.

Two of my “wid friends” have daughters in that high school.
Fortunately, they’re ok.

I.
Can’t.
Even.

All it seems that I can do is cry.
The waves are back.
I have not missed them.

I had just talked to my friend.
Her birthday was Friday.
She was fine.
Or so we thought.

Some of my widowed friends will remember her.
She wasn’t widowed but she loved me so much that she volunteered at a Camp Widow just to see what this thing was that I love so much.

She was quick to laugh and even quicker to love.
She would’ve done anything for me.
I can’t believe that I’ll never hear that laugh again.
Or feel that love.

Her funeral will be this Sunday.
I don’t know if I can go.
I’ve told Daughter #2 that I’d watch the kids this weekend.
I know that I can get out of that.
But I’m not sure that I want to.

The thought of going to that service just brings the ugly cry.
The kind of cry that happened yesterday between flights at DFW in a chapel.
For an hour.
Thank God that that airport has chapels.

I feel bad about not wanting to go.
I feel guilty.
I feel weak.
And I feel panic.

I know I should go.
I know I should see her husband and sons.
And the beautiful little grand daughter who she loved beyond reason.

I.
Can’t.
Even.

I haven’t felt this depth of sorrow in a long time.
I haven’t felt this incapacitated.
This weak.

I.
Just.
Can’t.

Choosing ……

download

…… to not be sad.

Is that possible?  I used to think, “Of course it is!”
You know …… back in my “before”.
I had no idea that sometimes …… you just can’t choose.
Until I couldn’t.

It seemed to last forever …… the days that I couldn’t choose.
It felt like forever.
A long, dark, cold forever.

But gradually the days became lighter and warmer and I found that I could decide.
Sometimes.
Sometimes turned into most times and most times is where I reside now.

I am able to choose to not be sad.

Which brings me to today.
New Year’s Eve.
I’ve hated New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day for ten years.
For me, it’s worse than the dreaded Valentine’s Day that widowed people abhor so much.
It’s an evening/day when you can feel like such a loser because you’re alone.
It’s an evening/day when loneliness feels magnified.
And trust me …… something as sucky as loneliness shouldn’t be magnified.

Christmas was great.
The apartment was full …… of people and noise.
Lots and lots of noise.
And fun.

But like every year, my children have returned to their homes and their lives.
As they should.
The silence is deafening.
On this night.

I know that for many people, the silence and loneliness on Christmas is worse.
And I know that I’m blessed each year to have most of my children with me for that week.
So I try to be mindful of that.
And thankful.

This year feels no different.
It’s New Year’s Eve and it’s quiet.
And a bit lonely.
I still hate it.

I wish he were here.

In spite of all that, I’m choosing to not be sad.
I’m choosing to be thankful.
Thankful for my children.
And their children.
Thankful for the love in my life.
For the friendships and the family.

Thankful that even though he’s not here …… he was.

But most of all …… I’m thankful that I can choose to not be sad.

Most of the time.

13254161_10154208826496506_3375470008691200146_n
New Year’s Eve 2006 — our last one

Ten ……

10_hot
(source)

…… years.

120 months.

3,650 days.

And 86,400 hours.  Give or take.

However you count it …… it’s a long time.
And it’s not.
It’s the blink of an eye.
The lifetime of a teenager.
A graduate to a parent.
A mother to a grandmother.
The end of what was planned.
And the beginning of what wasn’t.

Ten.
It’s not the horrible number that you might expect.
Which is odd, since most of the first five or so were pretty rotten.
But ten.
Ten feels …… natural, I guess.

I mean, of course it’s ten.
Jim died ten years ago, almost to the hour.
Ten long years that have flown by.
Ironic, I know.

So much has happened.
In the lives of our children.
In mine.
Many things have changed.
Some things have not.

My life looks far different from the life I had ten years ago.
And though it goes without saying (so why do I always feel the need to say it?) …… I would far prefer the life and plans we all had ten years and two days ago.
Far.

But, that wasn’t my choice to make.
And so this life, this ten year construction, is the life I have learned to choose.
And have worked hard to make.
This past year has been pretty awful at times.
My father died.
My house flooded, as did the homes of many of my friends.
I had to foreclose on our family home and then sell it again, for less than I had hoped.
I am selling my “flooded” house for about half of what I paid for it.
But, through all of this, and more …… I’ve been good.

Nothing that happened has been worse than what happened ten years ago.
Nothing.
The death of half of you gives you perspective.

Our children are good.
Our grandson is amazing.
Life has moved forward.
Sometimes good.
Sometimes not.
But the good has mostly outweighed the bad.

And the best thing of all …… is the love Jim gave.
To me.
To our children.
To his family.
To his friends.
To our community.
To God.

God has multiplied that love.
In my life and in the lives of our children.
In more ways than one.

So yes, it’s been ten challenging years since I last kissed him goodbye.
Ten years where some dreams have died and others have been born.
Ten years of missing him.

But this year, on this day, I am celebrating his love.
That love has made me who I am.
The love that gave me our children.
That love will never be gone.
Even when I am.

Long live love.

222179_10150173873731506_6449286_n

224086_10150173873916506_7925658_n

221759_10150173874006506_672797_n

217094_10150173873576506_3242433_n222527_10150173874296506_243244_n

Thanks ……

download

…… for the memories.

I’m watching the “Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special” as I write this.
The memories come flooding back whenever I see this wonderful lady.
She was, and still is, my favorite comic actress.

Saturday nights.
With Mary Tyler Moore.
And Bob Newhart.
And Carol.

My mom putting my hair in curlers as I sat on the floor in front of her …… for church the next morning.
Every Saturday night.

One memory stands out the most: the Saturday night when Carol was doing a parody of “Gone With the Wind”.
I had to work that night (at Braum’s for all my Oklahoma friends) and was so depressed that I’d be missing that episode (“Gone With the Wind” was my favorite movie back then.)
Then a miracle happened. At 8:30 (Central time) the manager told me that I could leave early (I wasn’t supposed to get off until 11:00 p.m.). The Carol Burnett Show started at 9:00 p.m.
I was thrilled and raced home in time to watch the entire show.
I’m still grateful to that woman … especially because she had no idea that I wanted to be home, watching that show.

The scene of her walking down the stairs wearing the drapes, with the curtain rod attached, still cracks me up to this day.

There’s another reason that Carol floods my heart with warm memories.
Jim knew how much I loved her.
One year, not long before he died, he found out (before I did …… which was quite a feat) that Carol was coming to Houston to do a memory lane kind of program with clips from the show, questions from the audience and her thoughts and feelings about those years.
He surprised me with tickets.
And it was wonderful.
It was also a bit emotional.
She had a lot of clips that featured people who had died over the years since being on her show.
Bing Crosby
Edie Gormet
Bob Hope
Harvey Korman
Jimmy Stewart
Ken Berry
Sid Ceaser
Art Carney
Ella Fitzgerald
Mickey Rooney
Mel Torme
George Carlin
Kay Medford

I could go on and on listing people who most people don’t remember or have never heard of.
But, as those clips played …… I remember feeling a kind of sadness that my children would never know the world in which those people lived and entertained. And I shed several tears during those clips.
It still makes me feel a bit sad.
I’m more than grateful that I had no idea that Jim would soon be on that list.

I love Carol Burnett.
I admire her for all that she’s done …… in spite of where she came from.
And how difficult her childhood was.

But I love her more because Jim used her to show how much he loved me.
He spent a night enjoying being with me, loving her.
He wouldn’t have been there if it hadn’t been for his love of me.

As the tenth year slowly marches towards me …… I find myself thinking of him more and more.
Not because I choose to.
Not because I’m stuck.
Not because I have nothing else to think about.

The mind is a mysterious thing.
As is the heart.
They remember things …… all on their own.
Whether you want them to …… or not.
It just happens.

So tonight I remember my childhood on Saturday nights.
And I remember the man who loved me beyond reason.

And I am thankful.
For so very much.