Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Forever more ...

As I prepare for another evening
Skirt and nylons hung to rest
I can't help but think of new beginnings
Knowing I will always bring what is best.

I am tired by all the negotiating
Wanting only to share them with you
What will tomorrow bring
Knowing I am with and without you.

I just want to slip into blissful sleep
Knowing that tomorrow will keep
For tonight I miss you that much more
Not knowing what tomorrow has in store.

I do know that I miss you
Tomorrow will ever be forever more
With and without you my love
I don't know what is in store.

I miss your wisdom
I miss your calm in a storm.
I miss the challenge you gave me
I miss We and Me!

Some days I knew was We
Most days I knew it was Me
But you always brought Us back to We
Tonight, I feel it is Me.

Today I floated home
Not knowing what was in store.
Tonight I wish for home,
Knowing you were there for more.

I miss you Bill
I miss Us
I miss tomorrow
I miss you forever more.

I am tired.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Crazy Lady on Snowshoes ...

On Thursday evening, after cleaning up the kitchen, I looked out my back door and groaned.  The snow had not been cleared since late December and was blocking access.  I'm thinking I really must get that deck cleared for safety purposes.  Time was right, weather was the best and I get to go out and play in the snow, albeit with snowshoes!  Here I go, another half-baked hair brain idea! I am famous for this ... difference is, Bill used to be there to rescue me.

Slip on the snow pants, play jacket and pull the snowshoes from the garage.  As I'm strapping them on, I noticed that the strap that actually keeps the snowshoes strapped on your boots is too long ... would really need another hole in the strap to secure these better.  No time, I think with impatience, I want to get the deck done. 

I made my way to the backyard with some difficulty but it was well worth it!  It was gorgeous back there.  The snow was coming down dancing on a  gentle breeze and the trees were beautifully decorated by the day's worth of snow.  I stood in the moment, enjoying not only the scenery but the many beautiful memories with Bill in our backyard.  Memories of turning it into a Christmas winter wonderland with lights and Christmas ornaments, memories of being out there at midnight building a family of snowmen with the year's first sticky snow to surprise the boys in the morning, memories ... so many beautiful memories!

I finally get to work on the deck and enjoyed the physical exertion offered.  There was some ice buildup just in front of the screen door so I opened the door to call out to my niece.  She brought me a hammer and went back to her business.  After chipping away at the ice, I looked around one last time and turned the knob to open the door.  *Groan* ... she locked the door.  I rang the doorbell and waited ... rang again, this time a couple of times and waited ... now  over and over and over again ... arrrr ... where is she? 

Looking back, I noticed my snowshoes; a light suddenly spilling from the sky highlighting my way back home!  So I strapped them on again, knowing that the front door is not locked.  However, I did not choose the path of least resistance, the one I had used to come to the backyard initially, the one that I had plowed with my snowshoes.  No!  I decided to walk all the way around the other side of the house ... the longer way to the front, space void of solid footing because the snow had not been disturbed since the beginning of winter.  Shortly after starting my trek back to the front door, I started to think I made a mistake.  The slack in the strapping causing my snowshoes to slip sideways, planting me into the snow.  The second time I lost the blasted things, I ended up waist deep in snow.  For twenty minutes I wiggled and heaved and wiggled some more to bring all of me above the crust.  Just as my last foot was breaking free, so did my boot!  I had to brace myself on my trustworthy snowshoes to avoid planting headfirst into this lovely pit of snow.  Panic was starting to set in.  Breathing deep, I plunged my foot into my frozen boot and strapped the snowshoes back on.  I stood back up and a couple of steps forward I find myself again spread eagle in the snow.  I'm now thinking that initially I would have been mortified to have the neighbours seeing this crazy lady playing in the snow, but now I really hope someone sees me!  Just a little past the half-way mark I decide to change strategy.  Time to drag myself through the snow, physics telling me that laying flat on my belly would offer me a better success rate.  So here I am, casting my snowshoes forward as an anchor and dragging myself forward.  Toss, drag, toss, drag ... snow now collecting into my oversized snow pants and hands numb from a lack of coverage.  Toss, drag, toss, drag ... panic making my eyes large as saucers!  Breathe old girl, keep in the moment.  Toss, drag, toss, drag.  Looking back, I can see this large trench my exercise was creating.  Don't look back, look forward ... toss, drag, toss drag.  Coming around the corner, I see with great relief, just a few more yards to go.  Quick look around, still no neighbours watching!  Okay, I'm okay ... As I get to the last leg of my trek, there is one last obstacle ... the snow bank!  I tossed my snowshoes over the edge and heaved myself over the bank.  Too late, miscalculated the solidity of the obstacle and was heaved forward, rolling over and over down the other side landing on my back facing the front door.  I had arrived!

I picked myself up and moved quickly to the door, hoping no one had seen me!  I reached for the knob only to find that it too had been locked.  I started to ring the doorbell, over and over again.  Panic started to burn the back of my throat ... more banging, more ringing.  *Groan* ... guess I will have to get the neighbours involved.  I tried one last time.  My niece finally came to answer.  She had been upstairs watching Netflix wearing her earphones. 

So frustrated, I simply slipped out of my jacket and snow pants and made my way to my room.  A quick look at the clock informed me that the 2 minutes' walk around the house had taken me 40 minutes.  I threw myself on the bed and fell asleep.

I woke early the next morning and looked outside.  I could only stand there and laugh at myself while rubbing my sore muscles. 

Now, although this story in itself is funny enough ... there is a clincher!  Time to leave for work.  I start looking for my keys ... panic raised its ugly head as I remembered the last time I used them.  I had accessed my car trunk before setting out on my journey.  I desperately grabbed my jacket hoping that they were safe and sound in the pocket.  I was relieved to hear the tinkle of my keys!  I took them out, heard Bill's laughter in my mind as I just then realized that I could have used them at the back door last night to let myself in!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rambling ...

I'm often up before sunrise, sitting in the middle of my bed with my first cup of coffee, my computer and my thoughts.  Some days these thoughts turn into a posted blog, and on other days they remain in my draft bin.  Reconciling my documents the other day, I noticed that there are far more drafts than posts in my bins.

This morning is no different.  Here I sit wondering why it has become harder to post.  Could it be that I am feeling a little responsible for someone out there?  Let's face it.  When I started to blog, I was living in my own little world, thinking that there wasn't much out there for grieving widows.  I wanted to share my lived experience so that others like me could breathe easier knowing that they are not alone in what they are feeling.  Yes indeed dear Marla, there is another crazy person out there!

Pretty self-centred don't you think?  Not long after starting my blog, I discovered a whole world of grieving bloggers, some of which have become very dear to me.  On the self-centred part, I cut myself some slack because grieving does offer you the perception that  your world is so small.  For some time now, I have opened up my world to include others again.

I wonder if therein lies my predicament.  The focus of my blog has always been about stating it as it is; being open and honest with not only others, but more importantly with myself.  Somewhere along the way, I have become very aware that I am no longer a "newbie" (okay you vintage widows ... I am still a baby to you) and if I am always doomin' and gloomin' I may worry the "newbies" about what's in store for them.  Face it, we vintage widows have all been there ... done those days, when your mirror is plastered with post-its reminding you of the morning's routine ... #1.  Hair ... #2. Brush Teeth ... #3.  Deodorant ... We lived in fear that we would be living this forever!  (*Dang* I wish I had not gotten rid of all my post-its!  There are still some days when I know I forgot something.)

The flip side to this of course, is if there is too much sunshine in your words, people assume that you are "moving on" or when humour in your words is an indication that you are stepping out of grief ... and really, the hurt is still very much a big part of your day.

There is also a little thing called "life" to factor into this equation!  My career has been in full swing this year ... that means many late nights and early mornings and quite a bit of writing.  So, there is less time to write for the pure pleasure of writing and sharing.  While I have joined the world of the living, I am also rediscovering my life.

I don't apologize for the uncharacteristic rambling of this blog ... for I am returning to my focus ... to share the lived experience of widowhood ... from my perspective.  And this morning, it is a little disconnected - tomorrow who knows?  I may share the story of a crazy widow on snowshoes!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day ... Take Two!

Well, I won't be making the mistake of watching some love story today.  Been there done that last year!

I chuckled this morning, when I received an eMail from my friend John who knows only too well, what today represents for those who grieve the loss of their spouse.  He wrote ... "Thinking about you; hoping you are OK.  Valentine's Day sucks!"    My mind conjured up the visual of a greeting card for the widowed!

Yup, I just had to do it!  I Googled images and voila!

I guess I am not alone ... there it was!  There is some comfort in knowing this ...

I took the day off work today, refusing to expose myself to all the flowers and chocolates coming in from boyfriends and husbands.  I left early this morning with my trusted camera to chase the sunrise ... no luck, too much cloud coverage. 

I made my way home and still refusing to flop down in front of a sappy love story, I decided to write today's blog.  Words were not there and so I began to write Chapter Two of Our Story.  *Groan* ... caught in my own trap.  I did not have to watch on the screen someone else's love story, I relived my own through my words.

So to all of you who grieve ... remember that you are not alone and it is okay to say, "Valentine's Day Sucks!" 

Breathe gently my tender hearts.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Swells of grief ...

As I navigate through my second year of grief, I have come to realize that the swells of grief are much higher, more powerful and the current drags me deeper into myself when it curls around my mind and heart.  In the stillness of the moment, that moment when grief blocks out all sounds, all presence and all pain, there is clarity of thought.  This is for but a moment before the pain returns two-fold and all I want is to fight my way out.  I have learned to relax and trust that the wave will eventually bring me back to the surface for that first sweet breath.

One gentle breath after another, I am left with a deeper appreciation of my transforming relationship with Bill, a deeper understanding of myself.

The sun shines today, with only a gentle wind!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bill's gift to me ... foresigth ...

Driving home tonight *groan* another late night at the office, I was reminded of the wonderful gifts Bill brought to my life.  How often have I taken driving myself here and there for granted? 

Sometime in April of 1985, Bill announced that it was time for me to get my driver's license.  Coming home after a long stay in a larger city where the busing and metro system suited my needs, I did not see the long-term benefits of getting my driver's license.  I was left a little deflated!  What?  You mean you want me to drive myself around?  Being the meager mouse I was when I first met Bill, I could only interpret this as, he wants his independence.  Now I know better.  He wanted ME to have MY independence!   What a different widowhood I would be living today, if he had not insisted on my getting my driver's permit.

I still remember the day I was to take my driver's test.  He met me at the school I was working in with his 1979 Trans Am.  He was wearing his black pants, white shirt with red tie and his black leather jacket.  *YUM* 

We drove to the driver's bureau and he said that I should go in and get my test started.  As I walked out with the driving inspector, Bill smiled and gave me an encouraging nod towards the car.  I walked around the car to give the inspector the impression that I was inspecting the car before the test.  The inspector got into the car and I sat behind the steering wheel.  As I looked up to the rear view mirror, I noticed that Bill had taken the time to put all of the mirrors out of whack!  I smiled and knew he was with me.  I then took the time to set all of my mirrors right, flicked the left hand signal and started off on my quest to get my permit.
As we pulled up again to the driver's bureau, I could see Bill standing outside with his big grin.  During the test, the instructor had made me do a whole bunch of left hand turns and had me parallel park twice (something I could not do the night before if my life depended on), once on an incline then the second in front of someone's driveway which I had contested.  Once inside, I received my passing grade and knowing that if I had had to do it again, I would have been so much more nervous.

I walked out of the building *big toothy grin* and Bill insisted that I drive him back to work.  He was so very, very proud of ME!  I think that was the moment that I realized that he was not about himself but about me.

At the end of the day, we celebrated MY ... I mean OUR success.

Thank you Bill for having this foresigth! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Treasure the moments ...

There is something to say when you are left to be the only parent.  I remember my early days with grief and how I simply NEEDED to have my boys nearby ... within eye sight!  It was so very difficult to even believe it could be possible that I could lose them too!  I was living through the worst ... and realized that this could also be!

As time goes by, I continue to worry ... a little more since I have been widowed ... but that is easing ever so slightly. 

As I texted my baby this morning, I longed to see his beautiful eyes ... as I was hugged by my middle son this morning, I longed to spend more time with him ... as I remembered recent conversations with my oldest son, I am reminded that nothing is forever!

But for now ... I lose myself in the laughter my youngest son offers ... the warmth I feel when my middle son hugs me ... and the strength I feel when my oldest debates life with me ... for this is all I have ... the moment!  Otherwise, the fear of losing any of them is too great to conceive!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Priceless ...

I often joke about not sending the men with white coats and straitjackets to my place.  However, I must admit that there were times when I feel my grief is pushing me over the edge into insanity.  Actually, come to think of it, they don't come as often anymore, but they still come.

Case in point, last Sunday, I really did feel invisible.  The spirit was moving me to strap on my snowshoes and slip my camera packsack onto my back and to go out into the bush.  I had worked hard on Saturday to ensure time for myself with my camera and nature's healing power.  Other obligations came in and muffled the spirit's calling.
Some of it was from a friend who on two occasions made reference to Bill and me as two other people, then there was a call from another grieving friend to join him for a cup of coffee, only to find that while chatting with him, his eyes roamed the coffee shop and never really landed on me.  Then getting home, I noticed that what had not been completed on Saturday's cleaning spree, the pixies (a.k.a. kids) had not taken up the challenge to finish.  I started finishing up the task at hand, all the while listening to their laughter as they indulged in the planning for the super bowl and friends coming over.  Yup, you guessed it, I was having a great self-pity party!  But all the while, this self-pity party was different.  I truly felt invisible.  I didn't quite get that.
What did become apparent, is the familiar feeling that I often get in times of high stress, "If only I could slip away ... anything is better than this pain."  Of course, I know that this is not possible and it really is not meant for my journey with grief.  So I picked myself up and dusted myself off - yikes!  Was that my dust cloth full of Pledge?  Well there are far worst smells than lemon!
Moral of this story is to move where and when the spirit calls you ... and make sure you have a clean cloth in hand!
Again, I am reminded that my story is shared with the hope for others who are moving through this journey, to know they are not alone and that even if there continues to be moments like these ... we will be okay!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A little this and that ...

So much for my resolve to create quiet time for myself.  I spent the entire day yesterday cleaning.  Literally all day!  Aside from the few quick moments to check on the status of my iTunes, having inadvertently wiped it out while updating my iPad, I started reloading music.  Probably a good thing because it was an opportunity to clear the clutter in my iTunes and reloading only the music I really now enjoy in a more organized fashion.

Started the day with the bathroom, clearing out all the little stuff that had accumulated there, sent to the trash the empty bottles of body soap and shampoo that were piled up in the corner - amazing how the kids seem to think that the bottles finally sprout legs and march themselves to the trash can -  and then gave the fresh grout a first coat of sealer. With the kids finally up from their long night's nap, I was able to fire up the vacuum! I chuckle thinking of the look of indignation on both their faces as they realized - What?  I can't use the bathroom? As I made my way out into the hall, I realized that once again, by cleaning one room, I have added to the mess in another!  So I poured myself another cup of java, and went at it!  Grabbed the pile of towels and facecloths that had been tossed on the floor and ran downstairs with my loot to toss it into the washing machine ... then ran back up the stairs to re-fold the blankets that had been adorning the banister for a little while now - no one wanting to place them in the closet ... then ran back downstairs to get this ... up the stairs to finish that ... back downstairs to return this to its rightful place ... up the stairs to finish another that ... It was a little after 5:00 p.m. and it was now time to tackle the lower half of the house ... done with the 13 stairs to chase this and that, I only had four stairs to deal with.  By now the kids were off skating so it was an opportune time to vacuum and steam the floors!  By now, I had stopped the java and moved to Coke Zero!  More vacuuming, moving furniture and carpet transport.  Having inhaled dust and cleaner all day, I set my sites on the snow that had accumulated in the driveway during the day.  The fresh air felt great and the wind gave excuse for the tears that streamed down my face.

Around 9:00 p.m., I looked around and was quite proud of what I had accomplished, and it did not matter much that there was still more work to be done for I literally could not move anymore.  So off to bed I went, realizing that I had not brushed my teeth nor had I looked in the mirror all day to notice that my hair was standing up on ends!  *groan* ... and I had been outside shovelling ... *watch out ... mad woman armed with a shovel!*

I did a little bit of this and that to get ready for bed and literally let myself drop into the pile of pillows.  If anyone asks what I did yesterday ... I can honestly say, a little of this and a whole lot of that!  Sleep did not come immediately, but my body could not move much ... so I reached out for my iPad and listened to yet more noise. 

I had planned to have all the work done yesterday so that I could strap on my snowshoes and toss my camera on my back today - perfect picture conditions and the weather is mild, the trails are calling to me ... *groan* ... not going to happen, too much of that left to do!  Looking at the clock, I figure late enough, time to fire up the vacuum ... *moohhaaalaaa!*  Here I come, ready or not!

With that, hopefully the house will stay clean through the week and I can get out next weekend to enjoy nature's refreshing and healing powers!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Noise ...

There have been many occasions in these last nineteen months, when I have been invited to a social event and have declined.  Most understand, some accept and the others simply feel that I am alienating myself. 

I would like to offer that for me, it is finding the balance between socializing and being quietly alone.  When I feel that I have been socializing too much, I do a check and balance, asking myself, why.  Why am I being so busy?  Am I doing so to run away from my new reality, or am I sincerely wanting to join in with a group?  Many times, when I have declined, I have found that it is time to spend with my grief for I have always made room in my recent life for this.  Other times, I have declined because I would rather spend my time in the collective silence of my circle of widowed friends.

Where I struggle is to be completely still in silence.  I always have my iPad along with me to fill in the silence presented by being alone.  If not my iPad then my DVD player.  Noise!  I have come a long way from the early days when silence was filled only by my cries, by my tears.  I have found some comfortable time meditating and simply enjoying the sun penetrating our home.  Baby steps. 

I am working towards not fearing being still and to rejoice in silence.  I suspect when I am able to do so, Bill will finally, and truly join me then.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

One year anniversary ...

A year ago, I posted my first blog.  Since then, I have posted 281 times and have had 17,580 page views.  This has also been a great conduit for reaching out and developing some very wonderful relationships across the world.  I am both humbled and elated by the overwhelming response to my lived experiences.   I must admit that I had originally thought that this blog would only last a year ... to be in line with the "first year" concept.  Truth be told, the first year for me was mostly about grieving a loss of a lifestyle and about the uncertainty of tomorrow.  As I move forward through year two, I have come to realize that I can stand on my own two feet - don't much like it, but can - therefore, all there is left is to grieve is my beautiful husband, friend and lover - Bill.  I am learning to settle into our new relationship for he is always with me, always with us, of that I am certain. I will continue to share through year two of this journey with grief.

In the summer of 2010 sudden death knocked at my door to claim too early my best friend.  I continue to walk with this most profoundest of all human emotions - grief.  I realize that I have not only been on a journey with grief but at the same time learning to rebuild my life and redefining my relationship with Bill.  My days are not all filled with despair today, however, I know that there is much left to do.

There are a few things that I continue to need ... 

§  The second year is filled with many surprise attacks of sadness.  The build up to these moments is no longer apparent and sometimes leads to impatience as I struggle to find my footing.  I need for you to be patient with my agitation. My reality is that there continues to be many insecurities and frustrations.  It is not because I am no longer crying every day that I am "over this" or have "moved on".  If you happen to be the one who witnesses these moments of sadness and tears, do not despair.  I need for you to be as comfortable with my tears as you were when my journey first began.  I ask simply that you sit with me in silence and hold my hand.  There is no explaining this away!  It still sucks!

§  It's okay to give me a hug, or sit close to me ... my world continues to have many painful moments.  Don't worry, you can't catch my grief. I sometimes feel a little abandoned and isolated when it is a time when I most need to be cared about.

§  I continue to struggle with what I see in the mirror and what I'm feeling inside.  The difference is that there are times when the two feel good but generally I want to say, "Just because I look good does not mean that I feel good."   Ask me how I feel only if you really have time to find out and be prepared if I say, "Not so good today."  Again, don't run from me if that is all I can offer.

§  I need to hear his name.  I need to hear about how he influenced your life and to hear about what a great couple we are.  It has been far more comforting re-member him into my life than to pretend that he never existed. Do not turn away or change the subject if I need to talk about him.  There are many years filled with many wonderful experiences and I need to continue sharing these.

§  On the subject of "moving on" or "getting over this" ... that simply does not happen.  It is about transforming, it is about re-membering Bill into my life.  This does not make me strong ... it makes me human.  When you continue to state that I am strong, I feel that you don't see me.  There is no recovery, there is no getting over this.  Factor in the loss of the person I was when Bill was with me physically ... there were still people to see and places to go.  These are unfulfilled dreams with Bill here on Earth; now is my hope to live these through in our new relationship, all the while learning to be with and without him.

All this to say, that my grief is no longer so intense but that does not equal forgetting Bill.  It does not say that I am recovering, rather that I am working at re-membering Bill into my life.  He was, will always be such a big part of who I was, am and will be.  To re-member him brings about its own joys and tears and I am learning to be okay with both. 

For all of those who read this and have yet to experience this life altering experience, I can't help but feel that in the days or years ahead, I will be there for you.  I will understand like no other.

Before ending today, I would like to thank you for having the courage to write to me this past year.  Know that I acknowledge your grief, your pain and your heart always.  I am touched by your story.  I have cried with you, laughed and celebrated with you.  It has been a privilege. 

Breathe my tender hearts.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An investment ...

The man who removed mountains began by carrying away small stones.  ~ Chinese Proverb

In my case and for all those who have lost a love, it is not about moving mountains but filling a pit.  It started with a pebble at a time, replaced by a few stones then came the boulders.  Each occupying its space in the hole left behind and all weighted the same.  With each, I acknowledged my investment in life, not wanting to live a life of endless grief.  Things have come a long way since, where most days I simply carry a few pebbles to continue filling this pit, dealing with the occasional boulders as "life's firsts"  are found along my path.

A year ago today, I remember preparing for the launch of my blog, all the while I was still very much living in a foggy world.  I believe that this simple act of faith marked a beginning and was an investment in the world of the living.

Tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of my first post, and it was a deliberate step towards transforming my grief.  There were many times, as I sat in the middle of the night writing, that in my mind's eye I saw Bill smiling with encouragement.