Thursday, March 22, 2012

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

What an insanely emotional day!  My eyes sting from crying so much.  My life is beginning again and it is so fucking scary.

I had a job interview today.  While I was preparing this morning, I decided I had better eat something.  I started making a plain ol' tuna sandwich when the power flickered off and back on again.  All of a sudden, the stereo in the living room came on.  It was the most soothing piano music wafting from the speakers.  It was a little creepy that something that wasn't on before came on suddenly when the power supply returned to the house.  But, I kept it on.  So I sat by myself at the kitchen island, ate my sandwich, and listened.  When I finished I stared at my empty plate and my half full glass of water.  At that moment I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I burst into tears.  I asked TJ why why why was he gone?  I told him I didn't want to do this without him.  So many huge changes were happening all at once and I needed him.  Asked him to help me stay calm and confident for my day ahead. 

The interview went pretty well.  I had done my best and was completely honest with them.  I walked out feeling confident that my best was good enough.  When I got to my car, I thought back to when I was asked why I left my last job.  When I was asked, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and said "my husband died".  Emotions overwhelmed me and I had to breathe deeply to continue past the lump in my throat.  I explained that it was time for a change.  That everything else had changed in my life and that I was ready for something new.  Something that would help me work towards that greater good that I want to be a part of so badly.  I know it's just a cashier's position, but working for a company with such good values and such a drive to make the world a better place is so much more than I was doing in my last job.  Thinking about choking up in the interview caused me to totally lose it while I sat in my car in their parking lot.  My life is moving forward.  It's wonderful and terrifying.

Adding another heaping spoon full of big firsts, I went to the Tai Sophia open house to get information about getting a masters degree in acupuncture.  It just fits.  The professors I met were excellent people, and the methods and curriculum are fascinating.  The cost scares the piss out of me, but ultimately that won't matter.  This is something that I have even more of a desire to accomplish now, and accomplish it I will.  I spent a good 20 minutes after wards speaking with one of the acupuncture professors.  My story came up, and she listened with such compassion and intent.  She told me that she can sense that this is exactly my path, and that all roads have lead me here.  I couldn't agree more.  She told me that she could tell the love I have for him is infinite and what a gift he has given me of that love and that passion inside of me now.  I cried with her, and we hugged goodbye.

I wasn't ready to go home, so I drove to Guido's.  I needed to end this day with a stiff drink and what better place than that?  Seeing Casey behind the bar was the only reason I continued in.  I needed a familiar face so badly.  And to see that TJ's photo is still on their bulletin board was such a relief.  I had my drink (his drink, actually, whiskey and ginger ale) and leaned back; observed the other bar folk.  I thought about how we can never truly know what goes on around us.  What pain, what joy, churn inside those around us.  When I finished my drink, I asked for a napkin to write on.  I wrote another note for TJ, pinned it behind his photo.  Before I walked away, I kissed my finger tips and pressed them to TJ's picture.  I whispered "I love you, baby" and headed out.

I'm so fucking exhausted.  Today felt like the first day of the rest of my life.  Talk about heavy shit.  My future stretches out before me and I'm afraid, sad, and happy all at the same time.  If today is any indication, my new life is going to be intense.  Bring it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Taking a Break from the Drive

There are moments, after all of the pushing, all of the thinking, all of the doing, when I wonder why I bother trying so hard.  I try so hard to make a new life for myself.  Most of the time it isn't so bad.  Yes, it's hard, very hard, but I know it's the right thing.  Then some times, moments like this one, I am tired of trying.  I just want him back.  I'm so tired of pushing myself.  Sometimes it just seems like it would be so much easier to give up.  It seem easier, but I know it's not the way.

I want to share my life with him so badly.  It kills me to think that he won't ever know this new woman that I've become.  I want to show him how strong I am.  I want to show him how driven I am.  I want to share my joys with him, my excitement with him.  But how much joy and excitement can I really feel without him in my life?  The threshold has been altered.  My joys are no where near the level they were before TJ died.  Life was infinitely sweeter to have him to share it with.  To enjoy it with.  To savor it with.

Endless possibilities stretch out before me.  It's overwhelming to think that this is just the beginning of my life without him.  I feel empty when I think about it.  I don't want to have to just get by.  I want true happiness.  And as hard as I'm trying to find out how to achieve that goal, sometimes I'm just not sure how it'll work out.  I still can't believe he's gone.  I still can't believe that I'll have to do this without him.  Live without him for the rest of my life.  I want him to know me as I get older and wiser.  I want him to see my accomplishments and my empowerment.  I think he'd love me even more for what I've been able to do in the past year.  It's just so painful to know he can't see.  Won't know.  Can't know.

I want to zone out for the rest of the day.  I've been pushing myself harder than ever lately and I think it's catching up with me.  I want to try to clear my head and not think about the future just for a little while.  Right now, it's driving me crazy.  I need to rest.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Flash Back

I haven't written in a while.  I haven't had the energy.  I still don't.  TJ was buried a year ago today.  It's still so weird to think about it like that.  I sat on the sofa in the family room a bit ago and was lost in thought.  I was loved once.  I was so loved.  I miss that feeling, receiving love.  Being able to feel it hum from him, buzz through the air and make my senses hyper aware.  I can't remember it.  I want to feel it again.

Since I don't have any energy tonight, I'll close out this year with my first journal entry after TJ died.  For me, reading it both shows how far I have come, and yet how numb I still find myself...

"Night time and mornings are the worst.  I don't seem to care about anything at all.  Not a thing.  TV, nothing.  I just want to sit and zone out.  I can't believe it's been a week.  It feels like it's been a day.  Nothing feels real. 

I still feel like he's going to show up here.  Meet up for family dinner.  Or that I will go home and he'll be there waiting for me.  I keep feeling like I should be crushed.  It felt more real during the viewing and funeral but now that it's all over I am just numb.  I guess I'm numb.  I'm not sure what the hell is going on with me.  I don't cry much.  Just kinda float along.  I feel like I should cry more.  I often feel like I'm going to puke, but that 's only in the morning or night time.  Except today.  I've felt it all day today in waves.  I received word on TJ's life insurance today.  I really thought I was going to puke when I found out.  I don't want the money.  I know I need it badly, but I'd give anything to have TJ back.  I cried for a long time about that.  I miss him and yet I feel like I'm just on vacation or something.  I have no idea when this is all going to come crashing down on me.  But I do know that when it does, it ain't gonna be pretty. 

I've kinda been hiding out in the house.  I'm so not ready to venture out to do anything.  My husband is dead.  I am a widow.  It is so strange to even think those words.  I don't want to have to tell people anymore.  I hadn't talked to anyone for the first time since Monday really until my aunt actually wanted to talk to me today.  All of that pain came flooding back.  I cried and cried.  Hearing condolences from someone who I hadn't heard from yet sucked.  Really sucked.  And there are so many other people I'm going to hear from.  For years, probably.  That totally blows.  J was saying today that he was glad that no one at work was asking about it anymore.  I don't know when that will happen for me.  When people will stop asking.

I've been getting so many phone calls from my friends.  I know they want to check on me.  But it is getting a bit exhausting to have to be constantly attached to my phone.  I mean, I want to respond and yet I don't want to be bothered.  For the first time in my life I have been doing exactly what feels right and not really caring what others think.  It's refreshing to not feel guilt for telling someone that I don't want to hang out.  They know I love them, I just need my time.  It's freeing in a way.

I guess I should type out the story.  I wrote it in my diary and I recorded on the voice device, but I feel like I don't want to forget it.  I mean, how could I, right?  But I'm still afraid.  I want it to always be there.  Somewhere.  To remind me.

TJ came in to the bedroom in the dark wheezing and gasping for air.  I heard him fumbling on his night stand for his inhaler.  I flipped on the light so he  could see and he took a few puffs.  His breathing didnt slow down.  I said "Do you want me to take you to the hospital?" and he nodded yes.  I got up, pulled on my skirt and shirt and started rushing out of the room to get his pants.  He said to me when I hit the door way "call 911" so I grabbed my phone and called.  After I hung up I got his jeans and started throwing anything and everything into my purse.  His shoes, his wallet, a bra, the mastercard... he'd made it to the landing and was holding the banister and leaning forward.  He said he was  sorry and I told him not to be.  Then he said he loved me.  I told him "I love you too, baby.  They're comin".  When the ambulance arrived he walked down the front steps to meet them; he was so desperate to get help.  He fell into their arms at the foot of the stairs and they got him on a gurney and loaded him into the ambulance.  As I locked the front door behind me they shut the ambulance doors.  I walked up and banged on them with an open palm screaming "hey! hey!!" until they let me in.  They finally opened it up so I could see him and they started asking me questions.  They were talking to him and he was laboriously talking to them as best as he could.  Mostly one word answers.  He said at one point "Please don't let me die."  That was crushing, but something in his eyes seemed like he was saying it for me.  Like he didn't want to leave me.  Like he wasn't ready.  I know he wasn't ready to die.  One EMT said it was too cold to keep the doors opened and asked me to sit up front.   As soon as I got into the front seat, I leaned all the way around so I see TJ between the passenger and drivers seat.  He was wearing an oxygen mask and they were getting the nebulizer ready.  I saw his left arm flop off of the gurney and then his entire body slid to the left.  They started shouting at him and pulled up back up onto the gurney, while at the same time dropping him down to lie flat.  Then they finally started driving.  I didn't realize at the time that he had died in our driveway.  I heard at one point "you got a pulse?" from one EMT to the other.  I didn't freak out, though.  I knew that I had to stay calm for TJ, just in case they were wrong.  I didn't want to cause him any more distress by flipping out if he could miraculously still hear me.  When we got to the hospital and they unloaded him I asked if  he was breathing on his own yet.  They said "no."  I asked if I could go with them to the room and followed them through the doors.  I watched a team of 9 people jump into action, one of them cut off his sweater and another pulled the curtain in my face, keeping me out.  I remember thinking how upset he'd be since it was his favorite sweater.  Since I was forced to wait outside of the room, I listened as closely as possible.  My senses were very aware.  I knew he didn't have a pulse.  I saw the crash cart.  I could hear them yelling "switch!" during CPR.  I heard the swishing of the blood in his heart on their ultrasound monitor.  I had hoped that sound was his heart working on it's own, but it wasn't.  A nurse came out a couple of times to explain that they were using drugs to try and start his heart but that weren't sure how it would turn out.  After 20 minutes the doctor told me it wasn't looking good but because he was young they'd work on him for another 10 minutes.  That's when they finally allowed me to go in to the room.  I knelt on the floor by his side.  Scooped up his left hand and held it with both of mine.  I talked to him, I kissed each of his fingers, kissed his wedding ring.  At one point I put his hand onto my chest and held it there.  I will never forget how cold his hand already was when I got to him.  My touch warmed him, though.  They asked me if they could stop but I asked them not to stop until the Luck's arrived.  I couldn't bare the thought of them arriving after he was officially pronounced dead.  I'm glad I was of sound mind to make that decision.  I am proud of that.  He died at 7:35am.  I'd flipped on the light at 6:20am.  It all happened so fast.  They let me stay at the hospital with him until 11am.  The only time I left his side is when the medical examiner did his examination.  And even then it was only about 15 minutes.  I leaned on his gurney, ran my fingers through his hair, whispered in his ear, stroked his eyebrows.  I ran my fingers over his lips, his face, cupped his cheek with my hand.  They asked me if I wanted to take his wedding ring.  It was hard to get off of his finger.  And once I was able to get it off, the indentation it left was so visible.  I ran my fingers over that empty space where it should be.  There was no way I could leave voluntarily.  I told the hospital liaison that she was going to have to give me a time limit or else I would never be able to leave.  When I left I didn't know if my legs would work to walk me out of the doors.

Going home was awful.  Seeing his clothes draped over the chair, his half eaten bowl of peas from the night before.  When I got out of the shower I freaked when I saw his tooth brush, grabbed it and threw it in the trash. 

The next morning I had to go back to get his clothes to be buried in.  That was horrible.  I couldn't stop shaking.  I tried to just hurry and get it over with.  Pack some more clothes for myself as well.  At the funeral home picking out the casket was the worst part of that experience.  You just walk in a room with samples and open caskets.  My heart felt shattered. This is really happening.  This is really real.  The next stop was the cemetery.  Picking out a plot.  All I can really remember about that part was getting there first and standing in the sunshine.  Allowing it to hit my face and warm my skin.  How comforting it felt and how I could have stood there all day.  Lastly was St Katherine's to meet with Father Keith.  We planned the service, picked the readings and songs, chose pallbearers and other participants. 

The wake was unreal.  So many people.  The estimate is 750 attendees.  It was supposed to be from 2-4 and 7-9 but the first ran through into the second.  We arrived first.  It was pouring rain.  Cats and dogs.  We were going to wait for it to let up a bit but I decided I'd like to go in first.  I am so proud of myself for that and thankful for that extra time with him.  I had to make it count.  I pulled up a chair and sat with him.  Talked to him.  Rubbed his fingers and the groove where his ring had been.  I asked him for strength to deal with all of the people and all of the sadness.  I did really quite well considering.  At one point when it was evident that there would be no break in between wakes, Betsy stole me out of the room to get me some food and a mental break.  Josh, Courtney, Barrett, Kristen, Betsy, John, and Allison came with me.  Once I was there I didn't want to come back out.  But I managed.  I had no choice.  I wanted to respect those who had come to respect my husband.  After everyone left, my family stood by him, arms around each other, talking about things we loved about TJ.  Things we were thankful for.  Then they gave me some private time to say goodbye since this would be the very last time I would physically see him with my own eyes.  It took me forever to walk away from his casket.  I stood there, white knuckles grasping the side and kept saying to myself "you just need to turn around and walk away, you just need to turn around and walk away".  Finally, I was able to make myself move.  As I rounded the corner into the chapel I collapsed into the first pew totally crushed and sobbing.  My family surrounded me and held me until I could calm down.  By then it was 11pm.  I shook hands with, and thanked, the three gentlemen from the funeral home for staying with us so late and allowing us that time.

The funeral was epic.  That is the only word I can find to describe what transpired.  The church was packed; so full people stood all around along the sides.  The eulogies were amazing.  Made me shake with tears and with laughter.  I love my boys.  All of them.  I was able to address the congregation during the homily when Fr Keith asked the Luck's and I to stand and look around.  I blew kisses to each section of people.  I have never felt so overwhelmed in my life.  Walking behind his casket on the way out I was alone.  I kept trying to concentrate to make my legs work; to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I felt a strong arm around me and I fell into it as my legs gave way.  It was Uncle Spud to the rescue.  He held me and walked with me out of the church.  We walked to the cemetery and the sun felt good on my face.  The air felt clean and crisp in my lungs.  I was so thankful to be able to walk.  Get fresh air.  The burial was lovely.  I took flowers from the arrangement, wrapped my arms around the casket and kissed the lid to say goodbye.

I am so sad.  Sometimes the breath gets caught in my chest and I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me.

I am doing what I feel is right for me moment to moment.  This will be a very long process, I know.  I feel like there is something wrong with me when I am not crying.  Tomorrow I see the Luck's for the first time since the funeral.  It's going to be hard, I think.  They look so much like him.  But I love them so much and I can't wait to kiss them.  They are so good to me.  Good people surround me.  I know I can do this.  I am much stronger than I gave myself credit for in the past.  Now, I'm just waiting for the crash."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Too Little Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread

I spent all morning in turmoil.  I am so needy and desperate.  I shouldn't be ashamed of it, so I started getting angry that I was.  Of course I'm needy and desperate.  My fucking husband died and I feel more alone than ever as his one year anniversary approaches.

Brooding in my room was doing no fucking good, and it's a beautiful day outside.  I decided to go see TJ.  Being with him always seems to calm me down.  I went to the cemetery and laid next to him on my back.  I let my left hand rest on his grave (where his chest is) and closed my eyes.  At first I wasn't sure what to say.  So I just cried and cried.  I heard a car pull up, so I decided to sit up so whomever it was didn't think I was dead or something.  Thankfully, it was Mr Sprite.  His real name is Dave, but we call each other Mr Sprite and Mrs Wild Turkey, since those are the bottles and cans we have on our spouses graves.  He had come to share a beer with her because he said they always shared one in the early afternoon when he got home from work.  He hugged me for a long time and I burst into tears.  He just held me and I managed to choke out that Saturday is TJ's 1 year.  He started to cry a bit and said he had two more months before his wife's anniversary and he didn't envy me one bit.  We talked for a while and he kept telling me that he wanted to die.  Hoped he would be taken soon and prayed for death every day.  He said he's just done.  I told him I was done, too, but didn't want to die.  I meant to continue to explain why, but he interjected and said "I do!".  If I were older, maybe.  If I believed in heaven, maybe.  But I don't want to die because I'm afraid that even death won't allow me to be with TJ again.  I want so badly to be wrong, but I can't imagine dying and having him waiting for me.  As much as I wish for that, I can't get there.  I'd love to be wrong.  What a wonderful surprise it would be to die and to see him waiting for me!  But I just don't think that'll happen.  After Mr Sprite left, I laid back down and finally figured out what I wanted to talk to TJ about.

I asked him so many questions.  "Am I being selfish?" "Am I doing something wrong?" "What could I be doing differently?"  I wish more than anything he could have answered me.  He always had a way of knocking sense into me in a snap.  I told him I wished I was more like him.  To stay calm and let things roll.  I think too much.  I fucking hate that.  I hate being jealous.  I hate feeling needy and pathetic.  I want to feel normal again.  I practically demanded that he help me feel better.  I can never go back, but I want to find happiness again.  True and pure happiness.  It just seems so unattainable.  I am working my ass off all the time.  And yet, I feel like I haven't a thing to show for it.  And I want to know that others see how hard I'm working.  This shit isn't easy.

After I finished talking with him, I continued to lay there in the sun until it got too cold.  The breeze picked up; what a bummer.  I shared the last bit of coffee I had with him, and packed up to go.  I stopped by the liquor store to stock up on Wild Turkey 101 for Saturday.

I feel completely and totally wiped out from my emotions today.  If I had a nickle for every time I told myself not to care anymore...  I hate always feeling stretched far too thin.