There have been big changes in my life recently.

I’ve got a new Love, he’s amazing, he’s incredible, we’re perfect on so many levels its scary.

He brings joy to my life.

I slow him down, he speeds me up, we complement and balance each other well.

Today… he moved in.  Fully. Completely.  All his stuff here.  And he’s here.

There’s a light sabre in my house.

A storm trooper helmet.

A whole lotta New England Patriots swag.

Clothes and stuff that aren’t mine.

It… feels weird and awesome at the same time.  Very much a “hey this is it. we’re TOGETHER” moment walking in the door and seeing his stuff.

Before, there was a transience to the relationship.  He was here, but essentially living out of a suitcase.  He was wearing the same clothes for 4 months.

It felt… however much we talked about a future, that there was an option to go back.

Now there’s not.

He’s here.  And I have a future with him.

He loves me, I love him, and he respects and honours the love I have for Mark.

I am amazed at how my life has changed…



Is it Okay?

Is it okay to have moments, hours, days where I am so incredibly happy that I don’t think about him?

Is it okay to enjoy my life so very much that I don’t have a moment of breathlessness because he’s not here to share it with?

Is it okay to have things in my life happen that I DON’T want to share with him?

Is it okay to miss him, but be okay with him not being here?

A year or two ago, someone dear to me asked me “Why are you grieving so hard?” and I was flabbergasted that he would even consider asking me that.  After all, I lost the love of my life!  I had everything I knew turned upside down!

Today, I ask myself, “Why are you not grieving as hard?” Does this mean I didn’t love him as much as I thought I did? Does it mean that I don’t miss him as much as I said I did?

How could I spend a day, being ridiculously happy, and not want to share it with him?  How could I have moments that don’t belong to him?

The guilt, that I should have a life that I don’t want him included in all the parts, it confuses me.

How could I not want him included in all the parts of my life? How could I have pieces of me that I want just for me?

I don’t understand it.

But I’m pretty fucking happy, even if the happy is tinged with guilt.  And the only thing I want to share with him is that I AM happy.

I didn’t die with him.

A piece of me did, but that piece?  The part that is growing back?  That’s mine.

Don't Cry

This is becoming more and more real for me.  It happened.  It was beautiful. It was amazing.  It was painful and awful at times.  We weren’t perfect but we were perfectly imperfect for each other. And I’m getting to the point where I can smile… because it happened.

New Beginnings

I Just Found Out…

4+ years.

And I get a message:  I’ve been thinking about Mark a lot lately and thought I’d look him up and just found out he’d passed….

4+ years.

Shouldn’t the times of having to tell people be over by now?

Shouldn’t the moments of having to console someone while I’m crying be over?

They aren’t.  And that’s ok.

I was given a gift this morning.  A gift of someone who wanted to talk about Mark. Who remembers Mark.  Who can tell me stories I didn’t know of Mark.

That, my fellow widows, is the most amazing gift of all.

Yes, I cried.

Yes, I was sad.

But OMG…. to be able to hear someone talk about Mark and tell me the stories they remember… that is a gift.

And then I was given another gift… the gift of unconditional love.  The gift of my Sexxy Chef loving me, holding me while I cried, kissing away my tears, then making me smile because he is *that* awesome.

I’m blessed in so many ways.

I love my life.  I love the life Before … and the life After…

But thank you to whatever part of the universe that blessed me with the gift of memories of Mark… even if they weren’t mine.

17 Years

As I write this, my new Love is in our bed, sleeping peacefully because he has to work in the morning.  I have no where to be; I have some stuff to do at home but for the most part, my next 3 weeks are my own.

I snuck out of the bedroom. I wanted a few minutes to myself to write this post and I haven’t managed to get them today.  It’s been a busy day.  My friend from Vancouver Island was up visiting this weekend.  My daughter was over printing pictures of my grandson. The drive to the airport was just over an hour and when I got home, there were extra people in the house.

It’s hard to just feel when there are people around.  My house was too people-y.

On the way back from the airport, I had a cry. I talked to him. I yelled at him.I raged against the unfairness of it all.

I was supposed to have 50 years with him and I got barely 14. Not quite 13 married.

There’s a part of me that still rages about that.  Because, yanno, I miss him.  I miss his smile. I miss his laugh.  I miss the look in his eyes when he thought I wasn’t noticing.

But there’s the part of me that doesn’t.

I have a beautiful life in so many ways.

I’m going  back to school – and able to make a difference in other people’s lives.

I’ve met people who are amazing and fun and make a HUGE difference in mine.

I’ve got a new love who loves me intensely.

I’ve got a good life.

And none of it.  NONE of it would have happened if he was still here.

I miss him. I miss my Mark with so much intensity that I don’t know how to breathe when I think of it.

I miss him.  And I’m grateful for every. single. day. I got with him. He taught me so much and allowed me to become more myself than I would have been able to without him.

I wish I could be celebrating the end of an amazing day with Mark. I wish he were here to see his grandsons.  I wish, with all my heart, that we had gotten those 50 years.

But as the saying goes… if wishes were horses…

I can’t change the past. I can honour him, honour our life together, do good for other people, but I can’t change the past.

Happy Anniversary my Love.  I will love you for the rest of my life. You left me with beautiful memories, four amazing children, and a lifetime of love. I was your happy ever after. I got the fairy tale of “until death” and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d love you and walk that journey with you again if I were asked – even knowing that our paths would diverge.

I love you.

2 Weddings and an Anniversary

This summer has been my summer of weddings.

My nephew got married.

My friend renewed her vows.

My wedding anniversary is in 3 days.

The vow renewal was bittersweet, joyous and painful, and oh so heart tugging.  I cried.

You see, my friends, who are beautiful together, who you can see the love and the joy in them, renewed their vows in their 15th year of marriage.

Mark and I were supposed to have renewed our vows on our 15th wedding anniversary.

We didn’t get that opportunity.

So I sit there, with the beautiful people, watching them do exactly what I wanted to do, and say words I would have said, and I am sad for me, but oh so happy for them.

That was 5 days ago.

And in 3 days I get to “celebrate” what would have been 17 years of marriage.  Together 18 1/2. And loved forever.

It was a bittersweet night for me to be there, watch them go through that, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Apparently I’ve been invited to another wedding in a couple weeks.

I’ll celebrate her and the beginning of her life together with her new husband.  I’ll cry, and everyone will think they’re happy tears.  And I”ll pretend they are.

Because they don’t need the big sad widow ruining the beauty of a new beginning with the reminder of how it can end.

Weddings are amazing, beautiful, wonderful and bittersweet for me.

I have a new love/hate relationship with them.

My_Bruised_Heart_by_murtada_king (1)

She Died

I have said from day one that I need my first death in nursing to be during clinical, so that I had a safe place to process it. I wanted the support of my classmates and instructor to help me go through it.

I’ve been in my 2nd clinical rotation for the past 4 weeks. It was in a long term care facility.  The clients there are residents for the rest of their lives. They are admitted… knowing they’ll never go home.  Most of them have MOST directives of M1.

This means do nothing.  If they are dying, they get comfort care only, no extraordinary measures to save their lives.

Over the weekend, before my last 3 days of clinical, one of the residents had a huge decline. She was put on palliative care. Her daughter flew in to be at her side. They didn’t expect her to last long.

I advised my instructor, and followed the LPN/care aides in her care.  She wasn’t my assigned client, she wasn’t in my assigned “family” of residents, but in the 3 weeks prior, she had been someone I had seen frequently because she sat at the same table as my assigned clients.

One of the first things I remember about her is that she was singing along to the music playing during lunch. She was so sweet.

Her daughter was incredible.  She had taught nursing for many years, and was ok with nursing students watching and learning from the experience.

Yesterday, it was clear that she wasn’t going to be long in this world. I knew that this was my opportunity – that I needed to *be* a nurse in this instance.  I started with a “safe” family member – the son-in-law – and asked him if there was anything I could do for him, and let him know that I was available if he needed anything.  He seemed surprised and grateful that I had asked.

At lunch, a quick conversation with my instructor and having to take baby steps in learning to deal with it, letting her know that I wasn’t hiding from what was happening, that I was taking as much time with the resident as I had before.

After lunch, after feeding one of my clients, I felt brave enough to go in and talk to the daughter.

It was an incredible conversation. We talked about her dying mother.  We talked about my goals in nursing.  We talked about her cousin who’s an ICU nurse. We talked about her cousin’s daughter who was in ICU for the same thing that Mark was. We talked about books.  We talked about the waiting game.  We talked about my experiences with Mark and what killed him.

And I stood there, talking to a woman who was about to lose her mother, and I didn’t lose my composure.

My biggest fear: I was scared to approach any of the family and burst out in tears. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to maintain any sort of professional demeanor.  I was afraid that all the emotions and feelings and memories would overwhelm me and I’d breakdown, again, at clinical. I was afraid I would be unable to maintain the professional buffer of emotions I needed to be an effective nurse.

I am that person that confronts my fears, steps into the chaos to find the pattern and doesn’t hide from potentially painful situations.  When I am ready to face them, I step into them full force.  My counselor has called me the most self-aware person she’s ever worked with.

I confronted them yesterday.

And today she died. I had said to a friend of mine that while death sucks, we knew she was dying and could she please do it in the morning when there was time for me to learn from it?

Then, she died.

I had checked on the daughter almost as soon as I came in. Let her know that I was there, and was there anything she needed?  There wasn’t.

15 minutes into my shift, one of the other care aides came out asking for a nurse to come pronounce. I immediately walked back to the room to comfort the daughter. I needed to put myself in that space. I needed to confront that fear of what would I do if a client died?

I was there for her. I spoke to her and offered comfort, and stepped out when I felt appropriate.

I went with the nurse to help prepare the body.

I went with the nurse when the funeral home showed up to pick her up.

I watched as they pulled her over from the bed to a stretcher and zipped the shroud around her.

I watched as they covered her in their blanket.

I watched as they covered her in the dignity blanket.

I watched as they wheeled her past… and I hugged the daughter briefly and told the story about how the first time I met her she was singing along to the music.

I was able to face the one thing that terrified me as a nurse, and I was able to do it in a way that helped me to care for the client, the client’s family and myself.

She died today.  And I was able to learn from that experience. I was able to face fears. I was able to watch, remember and move forward.

I will always remember the sweet woman who sung wordlessly to the music that was playing on the radio, while eating her lunch. She may have died, but I will always remember her. In her last moments, she made SUCH a huge difference in my life.  For that, I thank her. And while I will maintain her privacy and dignity by not naming names, I will keep her in my heart forever.

Grey's Anatomy

The First…

There’s not too many firsts left after 4 years gone.

This past weekend was two firsts.

The first wedding I’ve attended since he died.

The first “Smith” family gathering since he died.

This was the wedding of his nephew. It’s hard to believe that he’s missing out on so much.

Kids growing up, getting married, having kids…

The ceremony was beautiful.  The bride and groom were gorgeous. The setting was amazing…

And all throughout, there was a golden thread of sadness in my heart. What he’s missing out on.

I didn’t bring my Sexxy Chef with me.  I had RSVP’d before he was on the scene, didn’t think that was the best place to introduce him and ultimately, I needed to go through the wedding without Mark on my own.

I spent a lot of time with my grandson, dancing with him while he fell asleep. He gave me an excuse to be kind of anti-social and off on my own. He allowed me to just be… to feel and allow the emotions to wash over me without affecting anyone else’s good time.

It was a day of joy.  They don’t get the sorrow.  They don’t get how the sadness is always there like the sunburn that hasn’t yet healed and you go to scratch an itch and it suddenly flares up and HOLY FUCK THAT STILL HURTS.

That’s what the wedding did… it was the scratch on the burn. The joy of seeing Austin and Maddie get married scratched the pain of missing Mark.  And holy fuck does it still hurt.

Maddie and Austin

I’m so very happy for them. They are so beautifully in love, so incredibly happy. And I’m glad I was able to be there to share in their day.  I know Mark was there in spirit.