December brings a lot of ups and downs. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like the cold and how early it gets dark. I’m not sure I ever realized how much I hate it. Motivation is low and I just don’t have the energy I normally do. I’m spending more time sleeping than ever. I have been sick and my headaches have been rough so I guess that makes sense anyway. Every day, I look at the date and wonder what was going on on this date last year. I had no idea how my world was about to change. What was going on in his head that I was missing? What should I have been doing differently. Were we going through a winter depression? The holidays are hard and compounded by the idea that the one year is creeping up on me. What will it feel like to get past that dreadful date? Will I feel relief? Will I relive last year? I really can’t say. I am trying to get through everything associated with Christmas. I’m trying to get excited for Alexa. I don’t think I have it in me to send Christmas cards and I haven’t been able to put up our stockings. I’m struggling with the idea that he won’t come home with a cute Christmas gift that he can’t wait until Christmas to give me. Though I hate the snow, I’m looking forward to taking Alexa sledding for the first time. I’m crazy excited for my next tattoo appointment. It’s just the therapy I need. I’m half looking forward to vacation. I want to go, but I know that dreadful date will arrive when I am there. And still… I will have no one to kiss at midnight like I had for 6 New Years. That’s if I’m awake anyway. Clearly last year, that was the last thing on my mind on that date. I’m exited for the next two weekends with my friends, who are not going to leave me to be alone on some rough weekends. Still… I’m looking forward to spring.
To the TV show “Dads” – joking about suicide and calling it “the easy way out” is not funny and very disrespectful.
I hate being sick and not having Alex here to take care of me.
I loved having Santa come by on the fire truck for Alexa… But for me, I didn’t like the sirens and flashing lights in front of my house. I was able to hold back the tears and smile for Alexa.
I hate that last year Alex was outside with us to see Santa.
I hate that I take Alexa to check ups and she doesn’t have a dad with her… Or I can’t text him about it.
I’m going through the motions of Christmas. I can’t hide from it. I think I’m looking forward to doing some baking… Ok it’s not baking it’s Oreo ball making.
I love Oreo balls… But it reminds me of the funeral because that night was the first time I had them.
I hate the winter. I really do. I have no desire for snow. I hate being cold. I’ll be a happier person in the spring.
I have let go of my anger. And I still truly believe that he didn’t do this and “mind monsters” did, but I still can’t help but wonder how you can leave a baby behind and do it on a holiday.
It bothers me that the guy on jeopardy tonight looks like Alex.
I miss everything about being married. I miss having another half. I miss having someone to talk to. I miss the sweet text messages. I miss sleeping next to someone. I miss having someone to run to with any thought I have. I miss being a family. I miss date nights. I miss fighting and making up. I miss the way he looked at me.
Yesterday, I found myself in a conversation about the difference between loving someone and being in love with them. I was told that I am no longer in love with Alex. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that statement but quickly came to the realization that it is true. After 11 months of no tangible relationship with him, how could I be? I can’t see him, hear him, feel him etc. He’s gone. Eventually that love needs to change, and it has. I love the memories and I love the person he was, but he’s just a memory now. Seems strange to think that I have been in love with someone since I was 22, and now at 29, the feeling is gone. If this never changed, no one would ever move on. Though this change in feelings was clearly not a conscious decision, the realization feels pretty good and pretty terrible at the same time. I will always love him, but someday maybe I will be “in love” again.
Here’s the list of what I’m thankful for…
1. My beautiful daughter. Alexa is the miracle I have always wanted. She makes me smile and laugh everyday. I am in awe of everything she does. She is the biggest joy in my life and is getting me through the hardest year of my life. I couldn’t do it without her.
2. The wonderful people in my life. For those that have been a shoulder to cry on, checked in on me, supported me through this journey, I am so thankful. I can’t say enough that I have some amazing people in my life.
3. The amazing memories I have of my life with Alex. No, it’s not all good, but it was worth it. I’m thankful for the time I had with him.
4. The progress I’ve made this year. You never really know how strong you can be and I’m so thankful to have survived this experience.
5. Dunkin donuts coffee- enough said
6. My crazy pets.
7. My job(s)
8. The people that take the time to read what I write.
9. Everything I have. My house. Car, clothes in my closet… Everything I need, I have.
Some days it just seems like the world is out to upset you. Yesterday was one of those days. I hadn’t slept well and it was cold, as if setting me up for a rough day. The winter is going to be long. For some reason, I feel worse in the cold. I’m tired and cranky. Things bother me more. I hate how it is always dark. The daylight just makes things better. On my lunch break, I ran to do some grocery shopping. A song from my wedding was playing. Clearly this has happened before but this time it bothered me. I honestly felt like vomiting in the store. I moved on and went back to work. I had my yearly review in which it was noted that numerous reviewers commented how well I do at work with “personal issues” going on. That should make me feel good. But instead reminded me that it’s just a part of who I am. Later, in the same few minute window, I had a patient named “shooter” and repeatedly overheard another department say “he has a bullet in his head.” I couldn’t control myself anymore and said “yeah, that doesn’t sound weird.” A friend asked if it was a rough day. It was at that point that I realized, ya know, it is. Everything is reminding me and bothering me. Driving home, I heard this song. I don’t know that I ever really HEARD it before. “How the hell did we wind up like this? Why weren’t we able to see the signs that we missed and try to turn the tables. Now the story plays out like this, just like a paperback novel. Let’s rewrite an ending that fits instead of a Hollywood horror.”
“It was December 31, 2012 and Heather’s husband had suddenly taken his own life. Her life drastically changed, in that one short moment, forever. On Thursday, January 24, 2013, Heather created a blog. She needed to heal and also wanted to help others navigate through the grieving process. ‘My name is Heather and this is a journal of my life after losing the love of my life to mental illness and suicide. My hope is to help others out there who may be travelling a similar path as I am.’ Right away, she decided that this experience and major life change would not kill her and it hasn’t! Heather is determined to create something positive from a terrible, preventable tragedy in her life, and the lives of others affected. Since she was unable to shve him, she hopes to save another life, and prevent someone from the heartache she has experienced. She is working hard to help end the silence about mental illness and suicide, she has become certified in grief recovery, and has gone back to college for a degree in grief counseling and bereavement. Heather has donated to and participated in multiple fundraisers for suicide prevention and other organizations. Not only is she rising above her grief and building a new life for her and her young daughter, she is determined to help anyone she can along the way.”
I stood at the entrance to the stage, listening to these words and almost could not even breathe. It was me they were describing to a room full of people. My trauma was being exposed over the loudspeaker to a bunch of unsuspecting strangers. I write about my life for the world to see, but here I was, vulnerable and being stared at as everyone heard these words. What were people thinking? I made it across the stage without tripping and with a few breaths involved. I was so surprised at how uneasy it was to literally put a face to my story.
Later in the evening, I began to dig through the gifts accompanied by the award. Free gun classes at Shooters Choice (the gun range of Alex’s choice.) All I could really say was “gee, the irony is not lost on me.” Really, I was more bothered by two tickets to the Harrington Casino Buffet. Boy did he love that place. I keep thinking, who will I go with now?
It was a nice night with family and friends. I’m still amazed that I was considered a “Delmarvalous women.”
For the majority of grievers, this time of year brings about the undeniable “elephant in the room.” The holidays are coming and reminders are everywhere. Halloween hadn’t even gotten here yet and Christmas music was playing in the mall, and Christmas trees were going up in stores. Facing one day is difficult enough, but really you face it every day from October to January. What is the proper etiquette? Do you acknowledge the holidays and ignore that they bother you? Or do you hide? For me, I have decided to go with a happy medium. Thanksgiving is not an issue as I usually work, and will this year too. Then comes the rest… Originally I discussed “boycotting” Christmas. But, wouldn’t it be harder to spend the day trying to ignore what it is, rather than just sucking it up and dealing with it. Not only is it a major family holiday without him, last Christmas was the last week I had with him. In my situation, I have a child, and though she really is not old enough to understand, I want to attempt to enjoy her second Christmas. We went to see Santa already.. That did not go so well, but worked out somewhat in the end. I do not ever put up a tree, as it just does not mesh well with 7 cats, so nothing will change there. Part of me says I will put up stockings, the other part says I don’t want to see just two. With everyone talking about Christmas shopping, I am saddened that I won’t have that special someone to shop for. I already found so many things he would like. Why did I used to think he was difficult to buy for? I can say “it’s just a day..” But really, it is an entire season to deal with. After that comes NYE. My 1 year “sadiversary.” Thankfully, I will be escaping to the beautiful OBX for the week, but still… that’s just geography. Not only will I have no one to kiss at midnight, I fear re-living the feelings of one year earlier. As usual.. I’ll get through it, I always do, but I am looking forward to the arrival of spring!
Music has always been something that can really touch me. Alex and I used to “argue” about the important part of a song. He always felt that the melody was all that mattered, while I argued that it was the lyrics. Lyrics have touched me more now than ever. It seems like the times that I cry now, are usually unexpectedly from songs. Months back, a good friend told me to listen to this song. I heard it again recently… She said it reminded her of Alex.. When I first started listening, I was horrified.
“Story of a man,Who decided not to breathe.Turned red, purple, then blue.
Colorful indeed No matter how his friends begged, Well, he would not concede,And now he’s dead.”
I did not go any further and questioned why she would send this to me. Her response was that she hadn’t even realized what the other lyrics were, except this..
“But, oh God, Under the weight of life, Things seem brighter on the other side…”
Now I get it.. I still think this is a terrible song. And I certainly did not need the visual from the first line, but it’s true. Under the weight of life, things can seem brighter on the other side…
For those of you who follow my Facebook, you will have seen this already. I found that it really is a look into my world, and figured I would post it here too.
8 things you may not know about me:
1. My daughter is my world. It is tough sometimes being a single mom while grieving but I would not change it for the world. She is everything I’ve ever wanted and more.. And is getting me through the hardest time of my life.
2. I really am 4’7… Now I know what you are thinking, everyone knows I am short. Most people are shocked when they hear HOW short. No.. I do not have dwarfism. There is a difference
3. Even through tragedy, I am feeling really good about myself. I am healthier and more active. I am trying to be the best mom I can be. I am helping people wherever I can. I am back in school. I’m doing it…and I’m proud of what I have overcome.
4. My world was crushed 10 months ago. Alex was the love of my life, my world and my partner in life. I will always miss him. More than anything, I want to keep his memory alive and remind everyone what an amazing man he was. He made a mistake that hurt a lot of people, but it was a mistake in a dark moment. It does not undermine the good he did in his life. I’ve been through hell and back, and I’m ready to face the world.
5. I am so very grateful for the amazing friends I have. I could not do what I do without the emotional support you have given me. I know that I am so lucky, as many do not have the friendships I do. The same goes for my family, I have some amazing family members that support me all the way.
6. I have some weird quirks. Certain sounds drive me batty. Styrofoam, tapping sounds, the sound of video game controllers tapping, coughing.. the list goes on. It really gives me such extreme anxiety and anger and I cannot control it.
7. This is really difficult. My life is pretty open and public, so what is there that people do not know about me?
8. In 7 weeks, I will have survived a year as a widow. It is then that I will write my book…
I met someone yesterday who lost a family member recently. She repeatedly mentioned it and described it as “sudden,” “a tragedy,” and “unexpected” almost as if trying to get me to ask “how?” I won’t ask. A death is sad regardless and really does it matter how it happened? Finally, she blurted out (without my asking,) “he shot himself,” and proceeded to act as if she needed to explain every detail of what the family was dealing with. Now, I’m sure she was looking to get it off her chest, but I need to be professional and take care of her dog, not reminisce about more memories I do not want. At that point, I stated “my husband did the same thing. I know there is a lot of stress right now.” Of course, I got the “pity face,” as I usually do. But, I moved the conversation back to the situation at hand.
At the end of the visit, she started telling me everything… It was then that I realized, she really just needed someone to talk to and I’ve been there. I listened and gave small tokens of reassurance and she was so grateful. Again, my tragic experience helped someone with theirs. It didn’t matter how upsetting the conversation was to me. I made her feel just a little bit better.