Almost 2 Years

I’m in the home stretch.

2 years ago we were in the midst of a miraculous recovery from lactaid levels that were “not compatible with life” that came down to a healthy level again overnight.

I wish I’d known it was the beginning of the end.

I wish I’d known I would have just over 3 weeks left with him.

I wish I’d known.

I wouldn’t have done anything differently… maybe that last weekend I’d have visited instead of assuming that everything was going to be exactly as it had been for the past 5 months.

But I didn’t have the gift of foresight.  I did have the gift of 3 more weeks… but I didn’t know they would be the last 3 weeks.

It’s been almost 2 years.

I miss him as much now as I did the day he died.

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Overriding Memories

When my husband I got together – it wasn’t under the most ethical of circumstances.

He was my boss.

He was in a common-law relationship of 13 years.

I was… enjoying life and male companionship.

And then one day – I wandered into the store slightly inebriated and said to him (we’d been working together a long time at that point)  “Yanno what your problem is?  You need someone to rock your world.  When you’re ready to have your world rocked… you give me a call.”

He called me the next morning.   I went over to his house and… well…

About a 6 months later, we’re living together, and the sheets we had first had sex on (that he had shared with his ex) were still being used on our bed.

He wanted to get rid of them and I objected.  His reason?  They were the ones he and she had shared.   My reason? They were the start of our life together.

On January 19, 2012, he ended up in the hospital.  It was the beginning of the end.    It’s a day that is forever etched into my brain.

On January 19, 2014, I get to override the memory of what that date means.  Instead of the date he went into the hospital, I will see it as the day I passed my skills test.  The day I became a full fledged benchmarked skater.

It seems serendipitous that we’re retesting that day.  Seems like it’s meant to be.

Little signs… that he’s still with me, watching over me…. <3

Mark in Fruitvale

Dating and Grief

When I was involved in my tryst with “George”  there was no worries, no thoughts about the future together.

I knew what he wanted, what he planned.  He didn’t want a live-in girlfriend, he didn’t want to get married again, he didn’t want forever.

And he lived close enough that the “Walk of Shame” was short.  It didn’t bother me to date him because I knew I’d never be “married” to him, never merge our lives.   And that was ok.  Its not what I wanted out of that relationship.

And now there’s Mike.   Mike is a blast from my past.  He found me through POF.   But my POF profile had certain restrictions such as marital status, location in order to contact me.

After all – what’s the point in meeting someone who doesn’t live close enough for me to plan a future with?   I’m not moving, I love my life, my kids’ school, my friends, my job.   All my memories and my past is tied up in the house I’m in.  And on a purely practical note – I have really great rent.

Between all that – whomever I dated – I swore – would be either local, or willing to become local.  Not only that – the ones that weren’t local would have to come to me for the first date.

And now there’s Mike.

I’ve read somewhere that you never stop loving someone.  That you may be separated by time, distance, etc., but if there’s real love there – you never. stop. loving them.

And Mike showed up in my life recently.

I dated Mike 20 years ago.   I was young.  I loved him fiercely.  My memories of our relationship are disjointed and fractured, but aside from the colour of love that permeates what memories I do  have, I remember him doing and saying some things that hurt me deeply.  I loved him enough to accept them… and in the end we broke up anyhow.

So now Mike and I are back together.  Who would have thought?  I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d have ended up dating a man who I’d dated in the past; after all  – you’re ex’s for a reason.

The problem is… I have to rely on him for the reason.   When I’m with him, all I know is that I love him, still. I love being around him.  He makes me feel safe.  He makes me feel loved.  He makes me feel protected.

It’s a good thing we live far apart.  He lives 7 1/2 hours away from me.  His life has complications.  Him moving down to me would be WAY more complicated than me moving up to him.

It’s a really good thing that we live far apart.

I’m up visiting him this weekend – and I am looking at the town where we’d live if I moved.  I’m looking at the houses, the potential, the plans he has.   I’m looking at the family that would suddenly be close by, the change in lifestyle I’d go through.

And I’m grieving hard.

What should be a lovely weekend (and is for the most part) is an exercise in grieving over holding on to the past vs. embracing the future.

My home… is where I lived with my husband.  My bedroom I shared with my husband.  My garden he built for me.  The apple tree we planted in Kamloops then transplanted in Squamish when we moved back.  The pathway he built me by hand.   His Jeep.  His fishing gear.  My marriage, my husband, my loss, is all tied up in that place.   My job is a daily reminder of what I had and what I don’t have any longer. Everything reminds me of him.

I’m not ready to let go of that yet.  I’m not ready to go into the craft room where his stuff is, and sort through it.

I’m not ready to pack up his things into boxes.

Most of his stuff has been sorted through, but there are pockets of “Mark” all over my house.   I’m not ready to sort through those.

When I move forward with another relationship, I will have to, in order to be fair to that new relationship.   It would be unfair and inconsiderate for me to insist that someone new move into my home, with all the reminders of my husband, and expect that person to be comfortable in calling that place “home”

So dating, and getting serious about someone, is a new form of grief… there will be some letting go.  There will some be a moment of saying to myself, my children, my family, my friends… “Yes, Mark was and is still a very important part of me… but he’s part of my past and I’m looking towards the future”

I’m not quite there yet.  I have some grieving to do first.   And some honest assessments of how I want my life to look.

Courage

 

There is a part of me that feels guilty about wanting a future.  That feels that I’m betraying him in some way, even though I know that he’d want me to be happy.

It’s almost as if by choosing happiness, choosing life, that I am choosing to say goodbye.

Fuck.  That threw me.  I wrote that… let the words fall… and realized… I don’t want to.  I desperately want happiness and love and life and laughter… but I don’t want to accept that he’s not going to be a part of that.   I don’t want to acknowledge that he’s never coming back.

I know it logically. I just don’t seem to know it emotionally.

 

 

The Book

There’s a book sitting on the back of the toilet in the main bathroom in my house.

Every once in a while, when I have to use that bathroom, I pick up the book, flip through it, and put it back.

It’s a well loved book; read over and over and over.  The front cover is missing, the pages are taped together. 

It’s a fantasy book – Raymond Feist to be precise.

It’s been sitting there for 14 months.

It’s the last book he read.  More precisely – it was the book he was reading when he got sick.

Slowly, in my life, things have been moved around, shuffled around, space has been recreated and reclaimed.   

I think if he were to walk into the house right now, he wouldn’t recognize much – that much has changed.

But the book is still there.   I think it’s called Silverthorn… I’ll double check when I get home…

I picked it up this morning… read a few pages…and put it back….

With the exception of his fishing gear in my craft room – I think its the only thing that is still in the same spot it was when he went into the hospital.

The reality is that the book is at the point where it should be recycled and replaced.   It’s been read that many times.   I would like to get my youngest son into reading those books – he’s such a mini-Mark.

It’s a daily reminder of how he’s still very much a part of everything in this house.   I don’t know if he’ll ever be out of my house entirely… his stuff will always be there and he will always be there as well.

But the book taunts me.  Reminds me of how he wouldn’t use the ensuite because I kept the counter top so cluttered and it made it difficult for him to use that bathroom.  Reminds me of how he looked when he was engrossed in a book.  Reminds me of how I would always grab any new books first and read them first because I read so much faster than him.   Reminds me that I’ll never again be able to discuss with him the latest book with him.   Reminds me of his enthusiasm for the books we liked to read.  Reminds me how he got me involved with this genre in the first place – how the very first book I read that he introduced me to was written by J.V. Jones – her “The Book of Words” series, and I read them backwards… I read the last book in the trilogy first, then the 2nd, then the 1st…  and how he laughed at me because of it.

It reminds me of how much he loved to read.  It reminds me of how he was once tested as a part of an assessment and his reading/language skills were at the level of someone with 20 years education.

It reminds me of how intelligent he was, but because he never finished high school, because he was a stay at home Dad, most people simply dismissed him as the nice guy who raises his kids.

It reminds me of him.

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How Are you Feeling, Jane?

Facebook asks “How are you feeling, Jane” … the question I have… is does anyone actually want to know?  Or does everyone just want to hear that things are doing ok, I’m healing, kids are healing and life is moving on….?   Christmas is my favourite time of year, but in 4 days he will have been gone for 6 months and that is just WRONG…

So while Christmas is my favourite time of year.. it’s also the saddest and the most painful.

I had an awesome night last night… got home, spent some time with family that I love and miss terribly, then went shopping for final Christmas stuff.

At one point… Kathy says to me something along the lines of … You’re falling down… I was getting lost in the sadness, the pain of what is NOT THERE.

I came home, sad, frustrated, missing him and wanting my life back.

My daughter was waiting for me – I had told her that I wanted her home to do Christmas photos.  When looking for pictures of Mark, I couldn’t find very many of her with her Dad… so I wanted to make sure that she and I got lots of us taken.

Katie & Me

 

So how am I feeling?   Like I have a split personality.

Happy, it’s Christmas.   It’s my favourite time of year.  Lights are up and twinkly.  It’s snowing and promises to be a white Christmas. I get to give gifts to my favourite people.

Sad, grieving, lonely.   It’s Christmas.  It’s wrong on so many levels that I’m doing this without Mark.  I look at a picture of him and I can almost feel him here with me.   Last night, as I was heading out, in the corner of my eye, I saw him.  I feel like I’m going to cry at any moment, but I feel stuck again.

It’s been 6 months.  Is it ok to cry?  Is it ok to be sad?  I feel like I should be keeping up appearances and putting on a smiley face and just coasting through.

How am I feeling? I don’t know.  I can’t feel… I hurt.  I’m happy.  It’s all jumbled up inside me creating a knot of pain and ripping me apart.  I feel like someone’s got ahold of my emotions and slowly stretching them in all different directions until it’s a piece taffy ripping too far and the strings just…. snap.

I haven’t reached the … snap… just feeling stretched too thin…

Remember that blog post I made about cutting?   The feeling of wanting to focus the pain…. I won’t.  It won’t happen… it’s there though… a lot of the time, it’s there…

I don’t know how to soothe the pain…

But I’m still smiling… my kids are worth smiling over…

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I’d really like to get drunk though.  I just don’t have the energy… *sigh*

Happy Eve of Christmas Eve Eve….

2 Sides of the Coin

If you’re “stuck” in overwhelming sadness, consider the following thought put forth by C. JoyBell C.: “There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human – in not HAVING TO BE just happy or just sad – in the nature of being able to be BOTH broken and whole, at the same time.” 

Everything is dual in nature, and this allows you to better understand the world and your circumstances. For example, it’s a lot easier to see and appreciate the light, once you’ve known the dark. Happy and sad are two sides of the same coin. Find something today that will allow you to turn YOUR coin over and smile … even if it is for just a fleeting second. Do this often enough and you can jumpstart happier feelings. You’ve been out of practice, so let your mind/body/soul “remember” what it feels like to smile, to have a little light shine into your life.

This was on Hope for Widows facebook status this morning.

I have been feeling …guilty?? …inconsistent?? …disrespectful to Mark & his memory???  about finding happiness.  About finding light.   About finding joy again.

I’ve been should’ing all over myself.

I should be mired in grief still.
I should be miserable all the time.
I should feel like I’m cheating on him.
I should be appalled that I could even be interested in someone else.

Should’ing is an awful feeling. Should’ing makes me feel like there is something WRONG with me.

The truth is that my children want me to be happy.  They want me to feel joy.  They DESERVE to have a happy Mom who is engaged with the world, active in life and available emotionally.

It makes them sad when they see me sad.  It upsets them.

I can tap into the deep, raw, painful grief at any point.  I know how to trigger that.  I do deliberately trigger that at times.   Sometimes it catches me by surprise, like it did yesterday afternoon.

Most of the time, I just have a sense of pervading sadness that is woven into the fabric of my life… much like a fabric with gold threads run through it.  You can see it, you know it’s there, there’s a sparkle of it no matter which way you look at it, but sometimes, if the light shines on it the right way, the reflection shows you that it’s REALLY there.

I can’t appreciate the light if I never know the dark.

For a long time, I worried about what people thought of me…. in this time of my life, the thoughts have been… “What will they think of me, dating so soon?”  “What if people think I’m disrespecting Mark’s memory?”

An amazing thing has been happening.

I.  DON’T. CARE.

I don’t care if other people don’t understand why, when I’m so lonely I can barely breathe, that I would seek out someone else’s company.

I don’t care if other people who can snuggle up to their spouses every night judge me for finding comfort in snuggles with someone else.

I don’t care not because I don’t care about them, but because I do care about me.    I care about giving my family the *best* possible me I can give.  I care about my kids having a Mom who is fully present and engaged in their lives.

And so every one else’s opinion of me (which really, since no one has said anything to me, is all in my head), doesn’t matter, because the ones who do matter – my children, my friends, my family – have told me that they are happy I’m happy.   They love me, and want me to be happy.

The man I am dating is wonderfully clear on where his boundaries lay.  I know me, I get caught up in excitement and sometimes logic is slow to catch up and keep me in check.  Dating someone who is clear and not as easily caught up is helpful in keeping me in check, because I respect HIM and his need to go slow.

(For the record – I’ve never dated anyone before.  Mark and I were friends for a year before we got together… then 2 weeks after we got together, we moved in together… 14 years, 2 kids and an amazing life together later…)

I keep finding little signs from Mark that I’m on the right path.   That’s all that matters.

 

 

 

 

Guilt

I remember, a couple weeks before he died, having a conversation with a nurse about when to let go and let him pass, and how not to feel survivors guilt.

I remember it so clearly because it was the first of 2 major dips in his health before he finally decided that it was time.

I remember thinking “why would I have survivor’s guilt?” and even after he passed – I still didn’t feel guilty about surviving.  I didn’t feel guilty about decisions I made.

I had one regret – not visiting the few days before he decided – but if I had to make those decisions again – even knowing what I know now – I probably would make the same decisions.

But now I feel guilty.  Not about surviving, but because of the freedom I feel.  I am free, because of his death, to do things that previously were not possible.  They were not possible in my mind, in my thought processes because of how our life was set up.

Let me be clear.

I LOVED OUR LIFE TOGETHER.

I would happily go back to that in an instant.

I adored him.

But now… now the future is uncertain, unclear, and possibilities are limitless.

And for that, I feel guilty.  I feel guilty that I’m excited (in my better moments) about what can happen now.

I feel guilty because the future – which had a clear path, a clear plan, is uncertain and I can do whatever I want.   I can forge my own future.  I can pursue dreams that seemed impossible before.  Dreams that were shelved as unrealistic.  Dreams that I gave up on.

I feel guilty because I can live a life that is authentic.

I would go back to our life together in a heartbeat.

But I can choose a life that works for me.

I don’t know if it’s because he’s gone… or if it’s because now I realize how very fragile life is.

But I don’t want to just mindlessly live the life I was living before… I want to live it with purpose, with intent, with authenticity.

I want my life back with him.  But since that cannot, will not happen – I will choose a life that works.

And I feel guilty because I’m just realizing now what I should have done before.