Why is 5 So Hard?

In the various widowed communities I belong to, there seems to be a common thread of “year 5 is hard, why is year 5 so hard after everything has been going so well?”

I have a theory, as I enter into year 5 and things are starting to get hard.

You see, things are going incredibly well in my life.

I’ve met my Chapter 2 (the Sexxy Chef).

We’re engaged.

His family loves me and vice versa.

I’m in my last semester of the Practical Nursing program.

I’m buying a house.

I’ve got good friends.

And I’m sad.  I’m weepy.  I’m leaky.

So why is 5 so hard?

My theory is that because not only do we have the dates as triggers, we have the DAYS.

Mark got sick on Thursday, January 19, 2012.  This year, after 5 years, January 19 falls on a Thursday.

So everything that happened… every change in health, every decision, every thing that affected the outcome… will trigger on the same DAY.

So on Thursday, January 19, 2017, I will remember that at 9pm-ish 5 years ago… I woke up from a nap on the couch to find him in the bathroom vomiting.  That about 10pm we’ll have called and had the ambulance there.  That on Friday, January 20… 5 years ago, the diagnosis will be given.  That on Saturday, January 21 it will have been 5 years since he went into ICU. And 5 years ago, on a Sunday, January 22, I will be sitting with the charge nurse and the surgeon being told that my husband had only 5-7% chance of survival.

Not only are the dates the same, but the days are as well.

That’s my theory as to why year 5 is so hard.

It may be bullshit.  But it is what it is.  And this is year 5.

Grief Is Like the Ocean

Sucker For Punishment

I read the Facebook and blog posts of many of my fellow widda’s.

They all have something in common that I don’t share with them:  they avoid the triggers.

I don’t think they go out of their way to avoid them, more of a matter of if they know a movie will make them cry, they’ll choose a different movie or wait until they’re alone to watch it.

I’m different.  I deliberately, on occasion, put myself in situations where I know I’ll be triggered.

I think I do it for two reasons:

  1. I want to see how much that particular thing still affects me – am I still grieving as hard? Am I sensitized yet? Am I ready to let go of that sadness yet?
  2. I truly believe that if I allow myself to FEEL, then I won’t be caught unawares, and I wont’ be stuck in a situation where I’m bawling because I thought I was OK.

And it’s interesting how it’s evolved.

Take Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt 2 for instance.  I blogged about this back in 2012, about 5 1/2 months after Mark died.

The theme song gets me. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It was sent to me by a friend shortly after Mark died.  He said it reminded him of me and Mark.  So this song is played at the end of the movie.  It’s on my iPod. I listen to it a lot.  When I’m in my car, driving, unless it’s a trigger day or something that hits me… I can listen to the song and enjoy it for what it is.

If I watch Breaking Dawn Pt 2, the song makes me bawl. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

So today, I’m hanging out, and Twilight comes on.  I decide..what the hell. Haven’t seen it in a few months, lets try this again. Cue happy family, cue disgruntled vampire who goes to the mean vampires to make a complaint, cue epic fight between mean vampires and good vampires, cue happy ending.

Cue theme song… and I start bawling.

I could feel it building. I could feel it coming.

The question became… let it build, let it out and cry?  Or shut it down and change the channel.

Well.. I don’t know how bad it will be.  So lets go through the process.

And here I am.  Hiding in my bedroom while my youngest son watches my grandson while I cry and listen to that damn song again.

Clearly I am not ready to watch Twilight: Breaking Dawn pt 2 without tears.  Even after 4 1/2 years, I still break down and bawl. It is one of the things that will make me cry.

I still miss him.  So very much.  Despite how happy I am. Despite how excited I am for my future.  There are days when I just want to curl up on my bed… and submerge myself in the “fuck I miss him” feelings that overwhelm me. Because they’re always there.

I miss you Mark.

End of Another Year…

Here I am, 6 hours away from the calendar flip over from one year to the next.

I am alone, sorta.  Hanging with my youngest son and his friend.

My Sexxy Chef is working, my older son is with his girlfriend.

While my Sexxy Chef will be off work in about 3 hours, I’ve volunteered to DD to help raise funds for my roller derby team.  We’ll spend maybe half hour, an hour together on our first New Year’s Eve together.

I will spend the evening with my daughter.  My oldest is in another town, and I’ll send him a text around midnight.

This is not the New Year’s Eve I anticipated.

I accept… that the Sexxy Chef has to work. I accept it. I understand it. I understand that the nature of his job means that he can’t join me in volunteering because of tomorrow’s work schedule.

I accept that.

I don’t like it.

I have spent too many New Year’s Eve’s alone in the past 5 years.

Before Mark went into the hospital, New Years was puzzles. Drinks.  And after I met Kathy it was a party.

It was surrounded by people.

This alone thing… feels weird.

New Year’s 2012 – Party at the Dunlops’
New Year’s 2013 – New relationship, don’t really remember New Years – was in a relationship that ultimately failed and posted *nothing* about what was going on on Dec 31, 2013
New Year’s 2014 – single, quiet evening.
New Year’s 2015 – single, went to a party. Won (?) mother of the year award by dragging my kids to said party (it was kid friendly) and let them have a couple drinks.  Sent them home, stayed and tried to make myself feel better about my life by hooking up with a random.

This year, I’m in a fantastic relationship with a man I love.  I am looking forward to our life together.

I’ve cried less over Mark.

I’ve cried more intensely over Mark.

I’ve found someone who will hold me and keep me together while I fall apart over Mark.

Christmas came and went… no tears shed, although it felt like I was going to on several occasions.

So another year has gone by.  Every year marks one more that I’ve been without him. Every year is one closer to longer without him than I was with him.  That frightens me.

It’s been almost 5 years since he got sick.  4 1/2 since he died. And while my future looks fucking amazing… I miss the future that isn’t.

But it’s a happy New Year.  Despite being mostly alone, I’m surrounded by people who love me… I am blessed with many friends and a whole ‘nother family.

I hope your New Year shows promise of joy and laughter.  If you’re reading this, fresh out from the loss of someone you love, know that it doesn’t get better, but it gets different. The pain you feel now will become a part of you, and you will feel joy again. It’s not the same as before…there’s always a thread of sadness and missing your person that will run through everything, but it becomes a part of who you are and the laughter and joy will be genuine.

You’re not alone, no matter how alone you feel right now. There’s a whole community you can reach out to – starting with me.  And I can help you find someone closer if you’re looking for someone in your time zone.

Happy New Year to all my widda peeps and to all the friends and family who have been there for me the last 5 years.

happy-new-year-wishes

4 and a half years

4 and a half years without him.

I’m at the end of an incredibly busy couple of days.

I’ve spent time with my fiance and his parents, my daughter, my sons, my brother and my mother.

I was surrounded by family and people who love me.

I barely got a moment without anyone around.

There has been no time to reflect on Mark, our life and how much I miss him.

There has been no time to get lost in memories.

Except one moment, when I looked over at the Christmas tree and was overwhelmed… just for that moment, with a few tears.

But now I’m at home, with my fiance, watching football, drinking wine.

And it’s quiet.  And I have time to reflect.  And I don’t know where to start.

I’m afraid… if I start… I’ll cry. He deserves the tears. He deserves the grief and the sadness and the missing him.

And my Sexxy Chef?  He deserves the smiles.  He deserves the love and the joy and the happiness I feel when I’m with him.

So I’m torn… do I take the time to reflect, knowing there will be tears? Or do I let it slip past…

It’s been exactly 4 and a half years since he took his last breath, since his heart beat for the last time, since I was his wife, not merely his widow.

For the past 4 and a half years, this has been a time of sadness and sorrow.

This weekend.. it has been full of joy.

Which is AWESOME.  But makes me feel guilty.

I miss him.  I wish he was here… but I don’t know how to accept that I don’t.  Because if he were… I wouldn’t have my Sexxy Chef. And I fucking love my Sexxy Chef. I am looking forward to my life with my Sexxy Chef. I don’t want that to change.

So I wish he were here… but I don’t.

It’s been an amazing Christmas… without him.

I’ve had an amazing couple days… without him.

And for that… I feel guilty.

It’s a fucked up thing, being a widow who’s in love with a new partner…

 

How are You Feeling?

Four years ago I wrote this post about how I was feeling, 2 days before Christmas, 6 months post-loss.

Yesterday, when the post popped up in my “On This Day” memories feed… I looked at it and thought how drastically my life has changed in the past four years.

Four years ago I was devastated, and trying to put on a “happy” face for my children.

Three years ago I was in a new relationship… it was our first (and only) together, and we had been fighting and it was MISERABLE.

Tree Decorating night  2013

Two years ago my boys and I made our Christmas together. We created happy-ish memories.

christmas-tree

Last year, I was in Edmonton, welcoming in a new life.  I was witness to my grandson’s birth, spent a Christmas with all my children (although missing one grandchild), and while there was some misery/crappy bits about it, being able to be there for my daughter and enjoy the time made it incredibly awesome.

This year?  This year I’m engaged. I have two days, one of which I’m spending with my lovely little grandson, to complete Christmas crafts, do my Christmas baking, finish decorating the tree (and house if I want to go there), and get things cleaned before my future in-laws arrive. There is SO much joy in my life right now.

It’s amazing how much life can change.

And yet… there’s still part of me that misses… that’s teary… that wants to succumb to the sadness.  I won’t.  Not this year.  But I may take a few minutes… just on my own. To remember.

That moment when…

… Christmas is coming and the stress of missing him is getting harder to handle.

… you’re focussed on everything Christmas and every single moment is blocked off between Christmas crafting and school stuff.

… you’re getting more and more on edge… snapping at those you love.

… your amazing fiance calls you on what is really bugging you… pokes the “Mark box” you’ve been trying to keep closed inside your heart and emotions.

… you fall apart… in his arms…

… he just lets you cry

… he spends time doing all the amazing things that make you feel incredibly safe and loved…

… he tells you he loves you and that it’s ok, the grief storms will always be there and he’ll be the shelter you need.

I finally told him about my nightmares. And the visitation.  And he held me while I cried.

I am so very grateful for the man who will weather my storms.  I am so incredibly lucky to have found a man who loves me to pieces…and picks me up and puts me back together when I fall apart.

20160807_145635

 

Dreams and Visits

He’s all around me lately.

I had several nightmares last week.  In one of them, I watched him die again.

Why can’t I have a dream about him where we’re happy? Why do I have to watch him die over and over and over and over?

I wanted to talk to my Sexxy Chef about it, but this is his crazy season and he’s distracted with work.  So I’ve left it… for now.

And then, last Saturday, I’m in bed.  By myself. I can hear the Sexxy Chef out in the living room. I know my boys are in bed at the other end of the house and that there’s no one else in the house.

I’m curled up under my covers… reading…and suddenly… someone sits on my bed. There’s *no one* else around. I’m not gonna lie. I was a little freaked out.  Because I’m not sure that it’s him. I mean… it must be. I don’t think I have any other spirits hanging around. So I closed my eyes… put my phone away… and said “Good night Mark.”

And went to sleep. Dreamless, peaceful sleep. First time in a week.

I see him, in the corner of my eye lately. I see him around me.  I’m hoping it’s him. I don’t know for sure…but I’m hoping. I don’t feel like it’s another presence…but I’m not 100% sure it’s him, either.

I miss him.  I miss his presence. I miss his smile, his laugh, his outlook on life. I miss the way he could calm me at a moment’s notice.

I appreciate that he’s come visiting… it makes me smile.

But could I have a happy dream please?

Mark in Fruitvale