Mum’s Way – Book Review and Give-away.

I am surprised when I find out that people from around the world are reading my blog.   I’ve been engaged in email correspondence with a woman from Ireland, and a gentleman from the US, who’ve contacted me because of my blog.   They’ve gone through something similar and need to talk to someone who “gets it”

I keep being amazed that 107 people want to read about my struggles through widowhood.  I find myself shaking my head that these people read, they relate, and they find some comfort and understanding in my words and my feelings.

I suppose everyone has a story to be told – and everyone wants to be heard – I know I’ve started writing my story of 2012.  The book that has always been in my head now has more focus to come out.

I was recently contacted by a publisher in the UK about reading a book, doing a review and doing a give-away.

I’ve seen other bloggers do it – I thought “Hey cool!  I’ve made an impression in the blogging world!!”

I realized today that the intent is to have a Mother’s Day give-away – and I’d like the chance for as many people as possible to read the review and enter to win.

Mum’s Way is the story of childhood sweethearts.  It’s not very often that you meet someone, fall in love, stay in love (that’s the key!) and raise your children in the same town you grew up in.

I found my love later in life – I was 25 – but for Ian and Angie Milthorpe, they found each other at a very early age – they were both 14.   They were set up by friends of theirs, and from their first date – they were inseparable.

Ian and Angie came from similar backgrounds, had similar plans for the future and had similar goals.   Overall, they were a match designed to succeed – that “perfect couple” with the “perfect family” and the “perfect life.”

There was never any question about they life they wanted.   Angie wanted to be a Mum and raise her kids, and Ian was there to support that.   And that’s what they set out to do.

Life hit them in enormously painful ways.   Despite a diagnosis of terminal cancer at 48, Angie’s only focus was on ensuring that Ian would know all the little details, all the minutae of their children’s lives.   She did this with determined cheerfulness & a continued positive outlook on life.

This is an enormously heart-wrenching story of love, loss and the strength to carry on when the heart and glue of a family is suddenly gone.  Ian’s determination to carry on giving his children the life they knew, to keep things going when he wanted to fall apart, to keep the family together when everything has come unglued is inspiring.

Mum's Way

There are 3 ways to be entered to win a copy of Mum’s Way.

1. Comment on this post
2. Sign up to follow my blog.
3. Reblog this post on your blog.

For those followers who are already signed up, you’re automatically entered in the draw.

The winner will be drawn on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2013.

This is a book that will stay in my collection.  Ian’s strength is inspiring.

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Repairing the Cracks….

Mike came down on a random road trip this week.  He was bored, I suggested random road trip, he showed up 9 hours later.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the new grief I’m experiencing as I move forward in my relationship with Mike.  I wrote about how I recognized that moving forward towards joy and love meant moving away from Mark.   I don’t know if it does, really… but it feels like it at times.

My biggest fear with Mike was that he wouldn’t be able to truly handle my grief.  That when I broke down in front of him he wouldn’t be able to handle it and he’d walk away.  That he wouldn’t be emotionally *there* for me.

I was wrong.

I was so wrong.

I had a moment…. I went into my bedroom and lay down on my bed and started crying.  About 10 minutes into it, Mike came looking for me.  He curled up behind me, and kissed me, held me.  When my tears started subsiding he pulled me up into a hug.

I broke.  The dam broke.  I fell apart and my knees buckled and the sobs overcame me.

He didn’t run away.  He didn’t leave me.  He pulled me tighter and held me closer.

He let me cry.  He let me grieve my late husband.   He held me and loved me until I was able to get myself under control.

And he stayed.

Dating after losing my husband was somewhat terrifying.    I look around at my friends, at other women, at how they get no emotional support from their husbands, boyfriends, partners.  How they don’t have that emotional support that I was so very used to with Mark.  I didn’t know if I’d open myself up completely… and be rejected.   “George” was my happy place – no emotions involved… no vulnerability.

Mike stayed.   He let me cry.  He let me be vulnerable.  He held my heart in his hands, and gently, oh so gently, drew a line of gold along one of the cracks and healed it…

Kintsugi

Starting to Isolate

I’ve noticed, lately, that I bow out of things a lot.  I will make excuses, conveniently “forget” and just generally not do much.

I don’t blog as much, I’m not on websites as much, I’m not talking to my friends as much.

I don’t know what this means exactly… am I just retreating into a shell to heal and regroup?  Am I isolating?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’m supposed to be picking up friends in about 15 mins to go out to hear some music… and in my brain I’m making excuses why I can’t.

The boys need me.

I am tired.

I’ll do it later.

I don’t want to.

I have studying to do.

My house needs to be cleaned.

There’s a show on tonight.

My dog needs to go for a walk.

I forgot.

All of these are valid, and at the same time, none are.

The boys do need me, but I need to have a rich full life.

Later might not come.

I always have fun once I get there.

I always need to study but until it is the day before, I can enjoy myself for a few hours.

My house ALWAYS has something that needs to be cleaned.

Shows can be watched another time.

Dog always wants to go for a walk.

Rarely do I completely forget.

Truth is, I want to curl up on my couch and cover myself with a blanket and ignore the world.    I don’t know if its a matter of trying to heal, or if its a matter of isolation… but I worry about it.

I’m an extrovert, I like to get out and do stuff.   And I’m not right now.

So my friends…. if I say no… make sure I’m saying no for the right reasons.

I am OK

Children & Grief

At times I forget, in the enormousness of my own grief, that I’m not the only one who lost someone.

There are differences in grief – the difference of what type of loss it is – but that doesn’t change the fact that other people have lost someone important in their life, as well.

I was at my sister-in-law’s house on the weekend, spent some time with her, and when the boys wandered away, she asked me how they were doing.

“Fine” was my response.   They seem to be adapting well.  They seem to be accepting.

I forgot that children grieve differently.

I read somewhere that children will wait until they are sure the surviving parent is capable of handling their grief.

This morning, I found my youngest son sitting on his bed, holding his dad’s ashes, tears running down his face.

Grief hit him.  He misses his Dad.  He’s a mini-Mark.  He’s got a lot of Mark’s qualities… good and bad.   And grief hit him.

What can I do for my child other than hold him and let him cry?

It was 7.45am, I was in my bathrobe, and not ready to go.   (Yes, I get it.  I need to be ready for work before I play on the computer… *sigh*)

I know that at one point in my life, I would have been so very focused on my own life that I would have ignored my son’s distress and showered so I could get to work on time.

Instead, I sat down on his bed… and snuggled him while he cried.

I can’t take away his pain – I would if I could – but I can let him ride the wave of grief in the safety of my arms.

Knowing that my kids are getting to the point of being able to share their grief with me… I know that I am moving to a better place, a healing place, a stronger place.

I am capable of handling their grief and sadness.

January 2010 039

 

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.

 

 

Normal

I frequently question what is normal and what is not normal for my journey through grief.

It’s not that I want to be *normal* but more the fact that I want to NOT slide into clinical, chronic depression.  I want to continue to maintain functionality, to maintain my forward momentum.

So when I have days and moments like I did last week, I wonder… is what I’m going through *normal* for grief?  Or is it the slide into something not functional?

The answer, according to my doctor, is that I’m normal for an abnormal situation.

I go to work, I’m engaged in work, my mind is active, I’m functioning as well as possible… then I go home.

Home is where the real work begins.  Home is where I’m faced with the loss, where I’ve got to help the children with their grief, with their day to day functioning, where I’ve got to cope with hormones and anger and pushing boundaries.   I get home, and the ability to be “okay” is compromised.

My day truly begins when I get home and face everything that has changed.

So when I’m overwhelmed, when I’m losing my mind, when I’m sitting on my couch, wondering why I’m not doing the dishes or folding the laundry, or crafting… its because I’m grieving.   And that is normal.

It’s nice to know these things.  It’s nice to know that I should worry when I can’t pull myself out of the funk.  That the concern is not being able to see a future.  It’s not about the right now – its about the “is there going to be a tomorrow” that I need to worry about.

There’s always the promise of tomorrow. I have plans.  I have things I look forward to.  I have friends I can’t wait to see.

And then there’s Mike.

I’m “normal” in my grief, in how I’m grieving, in how I’m coping.  I’m learning coping skills that will pull me through this.  It may very well be that in a year, 5 years, 20 years, I’m blindsided by grief again…and that will be normal.

I loved Mark, with every fibre of my being. I loved him hard.  I loved him deep.  He was my best friend, my lover, my soul mate, the person I wanted to grow old with.   I will *always* love him.    I will *forever* miss him.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him, wish he was here, wish I could share something with him, wish I could show him, wish I could snuggle with him.  That desire is *always* there.  It always will be.

And that’s normal.

Grey's Anatomy

Gratitude and Blessings

Today I’m going to focus on the good things in my life.   Yes, I miss him.  Yes, life is somewhat diminished without him.  But these are the things that make my life brighter and worth living.

1. My children.  All of them.  Even when they piss me off.  Even when they’re telling me horrible awful truths at the wrong time. Possibley especially then.
2. My friends.  My friends make my life so much nicer.
3. My job.  I have a great job, an amazing company and fantastic benefits.
4. My animals that love me regardless.
5. My health.  I am, despite my weight, healthy.
6. My family.  My family that drives me crazy, that I miss horribly, that I’m grateful to have in my life
7. His family. Who are really my family, but I wouldn’t have them in my life without having him
8. My boss.  My direct supervisor is awesomely understanding and amazing.  He has been a godsend during the past year.
9. My hobbies.  They give me something to focus on other than my housework.
10. My home.  I am blessed to live where I do.
11. My doctor.  He understands me, he gives me clarity, and he’s highly amused by me.

I have a lot of really awesome things going on in my life.  It will be nice when the awesomeness of my life is not overwhelmed by the loss.

For now… I’m just going to be grateful for the incredible blessings in my life.

Today and tomorrow