Odd Triggers

I spent this afternoon/evening organizing and decluttering my dining room.  Part of this involved cleaning out the china cabinet and buffet, so they could be moved downstairs for storage until spring when I take them to my mother’s house.

I was cleaning out the buffet, and discovered a candle in the drawer that we’d been saving:

 

It was supposed to be for his 50th birthday.

The running joke in our household was that he was going to be 50 before I turned 40.  I’ll be 40 in just over a year – he never got to turn 50.    He died at 49, and the candle never got used.

Next May, we’re going to have a party for him.  Make a cake, celebrate what would have been his 50th birthday.

Seeing the candle made me sad… realizing that he’s never going to be 50.  And I’m still getting older.

Missing him, so much.  I’m finally getting the house to a state that would have been perfect for him to maneuver around in, and I don’t get to share it with him.

It was an odd bit of trigger, but the room is clean, organized and SOOOOOOO peaceful.

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Memories Sliding Down my Cheek

I frequently post this picture in this blog:

 

 

Because ALL my memories cause that to happen.

Today it was just one.

Today – I’m on the phone with my Mom, we’re talking about the concert I’m going to with my friend Kathy tomorrow at Rogers Arena, and where we’ll park.  I explain to my Mom that there’s a  place where I know to park because I parked there last time I was at Rogers Arena when I went to the Canucks game last April/May (I don’t remember exactly when).

And then the memory snuck out of my eye and rolled down my cheeks.

After the game, I let my friend out to catch the skytrain and I raced up to VGH to see Mark.  He was in the step-down unit at that point (first time) and they have a 10pm cutoff time for visiting hours.   I called ahead and asked if I could come in to see him – that I was just coming from the Canucks game and would be there right around 10.

The nurses let me come.

I rushed in, very quietly so as to not disturb the other patients, went over to his bedside and kissed him silly.

He was so happy to see me.  I got his big grin, his smile, the light in his eyes and the pure joy at being able to see me – when I startled him.  I was only there to say good night, it was a very short visit to kiss him and tell him how much I loved him.   But the joy in his face made it worth it.  It made the extra drive (it was out of my way) and extra time worth the effort.

He lit up.  And I was so freaking happy to see that. He was able to talk at that point… and so the memory of hearing him say he loves me… the joy in that moment…

Today the memory escaped… but it also brings me joy to remember that, even though the sadness is there that I will never see that smile again… I will never see his eyes light up like that again… to know that I brought that kind of joy to him, even at his sickest… so for today the memory is bittersweet… but I’m grateful for it.

He had the greatest smile…

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.

 

 

My Friends are Mean

Ok not really.

But when my grief drags me down, tries to keep me indoors, hiding in my room, my friends can get mean.

This weekend, I casually mentioned to a friend that I wanted to check out the Gran Fondo as it passed by Mamquam School.

She said … Ok, let’s go. I’ll get dressed.

I didn’t *really* want to get out of the house, I just thought it might be interesting.

But she got me out of the house.

Then my kid took me to the city.

Then there were the other friends who were holding the bbq who wanted me to come by.

Sunday my friend who got me out of the house in the morning on Saturday, showed up with stuff for baking, and we baked all day.

And THEN she made me take her to the derby recruitment night.

I did not have one single chance to wallow in my grief this weekend.

I did not get a chance to be depressed.

My friends (and family) are mean.

Overall – it was a very good weekend. Aside from the busy-ness of it – I took the time to sit in the dark with candles and soft music playing and just “be” with my thoughts on Saturday and Sunday nights.

I’m feeling stronger today. I’m feeling good. I miss him, but I feel like I can face today, with whatever it might bring.

 

I’m learning to dance….

I’m Wearing the Shirt

His favourite shirt of mine.   The one that caused the breakdown a few weeks ago.

I’m wearing it for the first time tonight… I feel slightly closer to him… I miss him so much.

Social gatherings are hard – most people are coupled up.   I get anxious and stressed after a couple hours… and need to get home.

Today, especially has been a busy day – lots of outings, lots of activity.  The busyness added to my stress and anxiety and I’m glad to be home now.

I feel like this post is stilted and all odd – but that’s kinda how I feel tonight.

Going to clean the kitchen so I wake up to peace 🙂

I’m glad I’m wearing the shirt.   I know how much he liked me in it 🙂

 

To Work or Not To Work…

That is the question.

I’m on long term disability for mental health issues.

To put it bluntly… I lost my mind when my husband got sick, and now it’s so far gone I don’t know that I would recognize it if it came back.

Signs and symptoms of depression:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or recurrent thoughts of death
  • Sleep disturbances (sleeping more or sleeping less
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of energy and fatigue

Out of those 8 symptoms… I have 7.   At least 5 of them are severe.

On the long weekend, I decided I was going to stave off the grief and spend the entire weekend mostly inebriated.

As a side note – I’ve been told that alcohol is a depressant, and that it will only exasberate the depression.

So anyhow… I spent the majority of the weekend in a constant state of buzz.   Started my morning with Bailey’s and coffee, switched to Palm Bay or wine in the evening.

By Monday morning  I was done with drinking.   Monday evening resulted in headaches… water & tylenol took care of that.

Tuesday morning I had trouble getting out of bed.  I forced myself to take the kids to the river Tuesday afternoon, but I think we were all relieved when it was time to go home.   At 2.30 Tuesday afternoon – I was done.  I crashed.  I could no longer get off the couch.  I slept for almost 4 hours.

The thoughts I had were frightening.  I was scared for my mental health.  I was scared for the depth of my depression.  I was frightened for my children and frightened for myself.

By Wednesday night, I managed to get in to see my doctor, and had a conversation about my depression & grief.  Between that and a conversation I had with another widow… I started to realize that I was ok.  I would be ok.

So back to the original question… to work, or not to work…

I’m driven. I’m ambitious.  I can see how this may be hindering my career goals & plans.   With that in mind, I have an internal pressure to go back to work.  Get things going again.  I’ve been off the job for 8 months now.  That’s a long time.

But if I go back too soon – I may relapse.  I may put myself in that deep dark place I was on Tuesday.

A friend of mine wrote this blog about depression. On Tuesday – I was at what she described as “Agony Attack”  Usually I bounce between “The Cave” and “Lost in Quicksand”

While I have moments where I feel normal, where I feel good, where I feel productive… I invariably end up back in the Cave or the Quicksand.    Those good moments are fleeting.  They last an hour or so.  And then I’m down again.

So could I go back to work?  Probably.  I could probably force myself, much like the weekend, to disassociate from the grief and from the pain while I’m there.  It may mean that I bawl on my drive home… it may mean that I end up in the Quicksand moving towards the Agony each night when I get home.

Or it may be exactly what I need to get myself together.

I’m not willing to risk myself or my family to find out, just yet.    Maybe in another month.  But not yet.

I miss my job though.  I miss my clients and I miss my co-workers.  I miss my professional life.

I want to be awesome at it when I go back.   I want to be able to put behind me the depression and grief and focus on my family and my career when it’s time to go back.

But I’m torn.  I’m unfocused at home.  I can’t concentrate for more than 5 minutes.  I go start something, and then forget I was doing it. This has caused more than one burnt dinner.   This morning I turned on the oven to make cookies, and realized it was still on when the kids got home and they asked if the cookies were ready.

I’m not sure I should be trying to protect people’s financial futures with that lack of brain power…

Damn ambition.  Damn needing to take care of me.  *sigh*

I’m grateful for being able to stay home right now.   This gives me the time I need to heal.