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There Will Be a Day ……

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…… when the pain doesn’t cripple you.

There will be a day when his death won’t be the first thing you think of in the morning …… or the last thing you think of at night.

There will be a day when that day of the month doesn’t register with your brain.

There will be a day when you can look at pictures of him and smile instead of cry.

There will be a day when you realize how far you’ve come …… and that you’re much stronger than you thought you were.

There will be a day when you don’t feel bad for laughing.

There will be a day when you don’t cry.
At all.

There will be a day when you stop wishing that you would die.

There will be a day when memories will warm your heart.

There will be a day when you know that you will survive.
And thrive.

It may take a while, but it will come.
There’s no time schedule that you can follow.
It’s different for everyone.
But the day will come.
Eventually.
It can’t be rushed.
It can’t be forced.
It comes on its own.

But it will come.

There will be a day …… when life will be worth living.
And you’ll be an example for someone else on this path.
Someone who’s behind you …… and sees you as hope.
Hope that they, too, will survive.

There will be a day.

“So …… are you ……

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…… 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.

Ten ……

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…… 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.

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Thanks ……

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…… 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.

Thankful ……

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…… yes, I can say that I am thankful.
Beyond thankful, actually.

In spite of all of the crap that’s happened these last ten years.
And truthfully, because of all of the crap that’s happened these last ten years.

Ten years ago today I had no idea that my world was soon to be turned upside down and inside out.
I had no inkling that my heart would be ripped out of my chest and that my future, my dreams, my expectations would be ripped out right along with it.
When I think back to the “before me”, I am wistful.
I’d like to be her again, just for a moment.
Innocent.
Content.
Loved.
Secure.
Naive.
Happy.

It’s taken much time, but I am able to say that I’ve regained some of those things.
I’ve had most of them back for more than a few years.
I’m content with the life I have now.
I feel mostly secure. Not totally, but mostly is much better than not at all.
And I’m happy.
Again, not the same happy, but happy nonetheless.

It’s been quite a road.
A tough road.
A shitty road for the first few years.
If you don’t believe that, or can’t comprehend it, then I invite you to go back in time …… all the way back to 3 months before Jim died.
Back when I first started a blog to write about the humor of raising six kids.
That’s all it was.
At first.
It changed very quickly.
You can find it here: http://txmomx6.blogspot.com/2007/09/what-heck-am-i-doing.html

Thanksgiving is usually the time that the sadness/grief starts creeping back in. It’s the beginning of what some of us call, “the death march”. Thanksgiving was like the beginning of the end …… 10 years ago.

This year …… Thanksgiving has been a really nice day to hang with 5 of my 6 kids, and my parents. A day to be thankful for all that I have.
And all that I had.

My life looks nothing like it did 10 years ago, three weeks before Jim died.
But it’s a good life.

I couldn’t have said that 7, 8 or 9 years ago.
Again, the road to here was sometimes horrific, often times shitty, most times lonely.
In spite of that, I kept putting one foot in front of the other.
I didn’t always move forward. Sometimes I moved backwards several feet. Sometimes I just laid down in the middle of the road, bereft and without enough strength to even raise my head.
But …… slowly but surely …… I got from there to here.

Don’t get me wrong …… I’d still prefer that Jim were here along with my “before life”.
But that’s not an option.
And never will be.

So I keep moving forward, and am thankful for each day and each person in my life.
I’m thankful for the ways I’ve changed because Jim died.
I’m content with my life that I live without him.

My heart is full as my 3 year old grandson comes over, takes my laptop away and crawls into my lap …… making me take a break from writing this post.

I love my life.
It’s a life I wouldn’t have if Jim were here.
It’s a life I have because he isn’t here.

It’s not a life I would have chosen …… but it’s a life for which I am eternally grateful.

So on this Thanksgiving Day …… I thank God for my family, my friends …… my life.
And I thank Jim …… for my “before” and for my “after”.
Because he’s a huge part of both.

 

Apartment 8J ……

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…… it’s time for me to tell you, my first NY apartment, goodbye.
And while I feel a bit emotional …… there are no tears in this goodbye.

That’s because I have nothing but great memories with you.
You were my first NY home. And while you were small-ish, you’ve slept over 10 people at a time.

You turned out to be in a terrific building where I’ve made some great friends. You even welcomed one of my widow friends last month, making my life even fuller.
I didn’t think that was possible.

You were never just an apartment …… you were home.
You helped me fulfill a dream that Jim and I started talking about …… but never got to do. Together.

You made it easy for this “Texan” to make the leap and start her “Second Plan A” …… all on her own.

You been a home to two of my children, a couple of cats and a couple of dogs.
You’ve hosted Christmases and Thanksgivings. All very full and somewhat cramped, but joyful and memorable.

I only have one regret about leaving you.
And that’s because of your name.
I wish I could take your name with me.
You see, your name is more than a letter and a number.
To me.
And to our children.

Your name immediately told me that this was the apartment for me.
Your name took away any nervousness I felt about choosing you.
I will never forget you …… because of your name.

8J.
J for Janine.
And Jim.

8 for our family.
There were 8 of us.
I love the number 8.

So thank you, 8J.
Thank you for helping me to know, and feel, that New York is my home.

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