Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Oh, How Things Have Changed

Today is the 11th anniversary of my husband's passing. And while I've spent some of the last week engaging a little bit in the angry cry (and always at the WORST possible time), today I've actually been thinking more about what has changed in 11 years.

Yes, there's the obvious answer - the kids. As I go to workshop after workshop about college funding and wondering how I got into this mess of doing it all myself, the passage of time is staring me directly in the face (and taunting me).

But lately I've been thinking about the actual things that have changed in 11 years and that makes me sad, too, because I keep envisioning how Brad would have embraced (or shunned) them. And here's what I've come up with.

1. The Smart Phone

Oh, how he would have loved it. He died using a flip phone and just before texting was really a big deal - fate is truly cruel. Considering how much he HATED talking on the phone, non-verbal communication would have been his dream come true. And what about the endless apps he would have downloaded??? This would have helped any communication issues we might have because he'd probably be too occupied to communicate.

2. Anything at Best Buy

But mainly TVs. We had one of the HUGE 60" box TVs when he died which I immediately got rid of in favor of a flat screen (although my first one was embarrassingly small). I have a feeling right now we'd have one of those curved 3D 205" TVs with a sound system that would blast you through the back wall. And we would be taking advantage of a lot of 0% financing.

3. Cars

Now, this one I don't know if he would have liked as much. Since he loved working on cars and cars these days really can't be worked on, I'm not sure he would have liked it. But I'm sure he would have LOVED all of the gadgets we have now. Sirius XM radio, touch screens, USB outlets for every seat...

...of course what would really piss him off is that I still like driving a minivan.

4. Top Golf.

The kids and I went to Top Golf today. It's funny how when we celebrate "Daddy Days" that's where they want to go because Brad was a fairly horrible golfer. However, he would have loved the whole thing and the technology behind it. So, in a weird way it's entirely appropriate that we remember him there...even though he's never been.

5. Politics

Lots of change. Enough said.

6. Video Games

Every once in a while, I let my son buy a video game at just random times. He is very sweet and says it's not necessary to which I always reply, "Your sisters have bought at least $60 worth of hair products in the last couple of months. And if your dad were here you'd have a LOT more video games than you do now. Go for it."

7. Mattresses

I bought a king-sized Temperpedic a few years ago which weren't around in 2007 (I don't think). I truly think that that would have saved us a lot of marital stress if we'd had one when he was still with us. He used to tell me that I was like Sid the Sloth in Ice Age when I tried to go to sleep - I flop around for about 2 hours until I get comfortable. A mattress that doesn't bounce would have been his dream come true.

8. iPads 

Considering how much he ignored me as he played computer solitaire, I would have been completely on my own had he ever discovered Angry Birds.

9. Uber

No more pesky arguments about who the designated driver will be!

10. Roomba

I don't have one, but I'm betting if Brad were here, that would have been my Christmas gift years ago. And it probably would have been modified for flight or something.

11. Netflix and Bingewatching

There are MANY shows on TV that I don't watch because I'm squeamish and can't imagine watching them alone. AND I live with three teenagers, so my TV is usually tuned into an episode of Riverdale or one of the Twilight, Divergent, or Hunger Games series. If their father were here, there'd be a lot more Game of Thrones and a lot less ridiculous drama.

12. GPS Systems

This ties into the phone thing, but we actually had a SEPARATE HAND-HELD GPS SYSTEM for when we went camping. That's right. None of this Google Maps business or car navigation. We were old school. And often fought because I can't read a map.

13. Anything space related

Without my rocket scientist here, I'm completely out of the loop. But I did get teary with the final farewell to the Cassini project - a program he worked on at Cape Canaveral when we were first married. Bet he would have liked to have seen that.

14. Amazon

I think it's safe to say that Prime would have ruined my marriage.

15. Keurig

For such a manly man, my husband liked really frou-frou coffee. The fact that he could have chosen from 5,000 flavors would have been awesome for him. However, he was also incredibly frugal in some he might have resisted it.

Friday, July 6, 2018

I'm on the Verge

I'm writing this on my back porch. I'm trying to make myself feel better, so I've got a glass of wine, candle lit, a little classical music on...

See? Not too bad, right? Of course, I realized what I REALLY wanted was some nice cheese and a few crackers to go with this and I had that craving just as I was pulling out of the grocery store parking lot. So, now I have some American cheese left over from the kids and a mix of crackers in a ziploc bag that I think is from a party I gave about 5 months ago.

Let's expand that view.

That's how I roll these days.

That's because right now I'm trying to anything and everything I can to make myself feel better. And if it's Kraft singles and stale be it.

This is such an ugly time of the year for me - and not just because I'm constantly sweaty and my hair is about twice its normal size. I'm in the middle of my month of anniversaries and this year, it's really sucking the life out of me.

Last night I was just about to fall asleep when I realized that this anniversary equals the same amount of years we were married; after this anniversary, I will be without him longer than we were husband and wife.

I couldn't catch my breath.

As I was leaving the grocery store tonight (after buying Gatorade and saltines for the THIRD sick kid), I just felt so defeated. This isn't a new feeling, but it's FRUSTRATING me more than ever this year. I can't explain to people that I feel sad, exhausted, and full of anger and adrenaline all at the same time.

There just aren't words for it, are there? I mean, Brad died 11 years ago this month and I can't think of any other way to describe it other than grief - but that's just so inadequate. It's like trying to describe childbirth to someone by saying, "It hurts."

I'm yawning constantly, but can't sleep. I'm cranky, but still expect people to be understanding. I want someone to hold me and still give me space.

SERIOUSLY. What is that??????


So, back to the car and the grocery store. I sat there and just felt so pent up, you know? Like I could just explode out of my car if I had the energy. And I thought, "I'm on the verge of..." and I couldn't finish the sentence.

Crying? Collapsing? Quitting? Wailing? Screaming? WHAT?????

I still don't know because I just want to do it all at once.

Grief - and especially old grief that's been with you for a long time - does more than drain your body when it comes back full force. It does more than deplete your mental resources. It's an exhaustion of the spirit - like I wish I could give my very soul a vacation. My spirit is tired. It's been through 11 years of this and knows it has a lifetime to go. It's worked so hard to keep us going, so I wish I could give it a little all-expenses paid trip to the Bahamas while we work to get over this hump and get on with life.

My therapist asked me the other day what I could do to make myself feel better, how I could do more self-care. And, yes, I need a break from work and even a little quiet time away from the kids. But honestly...I just didn't have an answer for her.

I couldn't come up with one thing that would make me feel better right now.

I know that sounds a little like depression, but it's not. Believe me - I know what depression feels like. This is like just coming to terms with the fact that the next few weeks are going to truly suck and no amount of massages, pedicures, or outings with friends will really make that go away - even if I had the time to do it.

And chances are I'm going through the really hard part right now. My grief is so weird...I feel much worse the weeks leading up to a milestone than I do the actual day.

I know I've made it through the other side when I have my feet soaking and my ass in a vibrating chair.

Monday, June 4, 2018

There's More to Miss

This isn't going to be one of those really well thought-out posts. I'm just going to type as I think.

Scary, I know. You really don't want to be in my head.

I've been having kind of a hard time the last few days. I'm coming up on all of my hard dates, but there's been this voice inside of me that says, "It's been 11 years. Get over it already."

Yes. Even as we widows talk about how that's unacceptable from everyone else, I'm actually saying it to myself.

It's really ridiculous. I mean, if a friend of mine told me that she was still mourning her husband after 11 years, I would say, "Of course you are! Be kind to yourself." And yet, I'm so impatient when it comes to ME. I don't like it when I'm so raw and sad and feeling on the brink of a meltdown. I DON'T WANT IT TO HAPPEN. So, I fight it until I can't anymore.

I had a pretty heavy therapy session today. I didn't see it coming, but it's so funny how, when you're in a safe space, just having the right person ask, "How are you?" can send you into flooding tears. I actually walked in feeling pretty good. But then the second I sat down I realized I wasn't as good as I was letting myself believe.

I told my therapist that I was fighting my grief because people wouldn't understand it - and that's partly true. It's hard to explain how one year I can get through this next month and then the next I feel like there's more gravity - like life is literally pulling me closer to the ground.

But that's only partially true. Again, I think the main problem is that I don't have the patience for it. I should be better than this. I should have my shit together by now. And many other lies I tell myself.

As always, we tried to figure out what the real problem was, what's triggering all of this. Fear came up. Sadness. And milestones.

Finally she said something that I think we ALL need to understand.

"Of course you miss him more. As time goes on, there's more to miss."

I've always thought that as time goes on, I'll get distance from the loss. But that one changed everything for me.

I miss him at every choir concert, awards ceremony, and sporting event. My daughter will be graduating next year and he will miss it. Eventually my kids will get older and maybe have their own families...and I will MISS HIM being there. As time goes on and milestones happen, there will be more to miss...because he's missing all of it and I'm missing him.

This has completely changed how I think about time and loss. It's validated something in me that I was scared to acknowledge. It's made me realize that it's okay to grieve right now just as much as I did the day I lost him. No one will ever understand the things we're missing together.

And understanding that is allowing me the freedom and forgiveness to...well...miss him.