Changes… and more changes…

“Do me a favour?  Don’t pack anything that will make you emotional…”

I snorted at the person I was talking to who said that.

It doesn’t matter what I pack or don’t pack. It doesn’t matter if I’m sorting through pictures of my children’s earlier years. I doesn’t matter if I’m packing dishes.

It all hurts.

I have a limited time frame.   I can’t work for long. I reach a point and I’m done.  The triggers are too overwhelming. It hurts too much.

In the end – I know that it will all be ok.   I know that I will feel better for having delcuttered and downsized.

But for now… it hurts.

It hurts to pack things away. It hurts to let things go.

And it hurts to stay.

“We change when the pain to change is less than the pain to remain as we are.”

The pain of change is less than the pain of staying where I am.   The longer I’m here, the more I hurt, the more I fall into the hole of “I don’t want to, I don’t care, I just want to hide”

And so I’m changing.

So for tonight, I opted not to pack anything.  I don’t know if I’m going to stick with that plan – but for now, it seems reasonable.   I’m tired, it’s 1opm, and I may just go to bed.

Change happens.  It’s inevitable.  The only question is… will I be the one directing the change, or will the change be directing me?

Small doses though… at least for the next 2 1/2 months 😉

New Beginnings

The Keeper of Memories

My memory is shot.

This isn’t a new phenomenon.  I’ve experienced it for a long time.  I won’t recall recent events.   I don’t recall details, I don’t recall times or who or… most of it.

If I see a picture, I’ll think “Hey! I remember that… but… I don’t remember the details! ”

And then I’d invariably go ask Mark.. “Hey where was this? Who was this? How old were the kids?”

He’d have the answer.  Every time.  Especially if I showed him a picture.

Except…

Now he’s not here.  And I don’t have things scrap booked or organized or anything.

I have a big bin of pictures.

This summer – I’m going to try to put my memories into a cohesive order – chronologically as possible.

Usually a picture will trigger a memory… I won’t remember everything… but I’m hoping to remember enough.

Because now – I have no one to remind me who, when, what or where.

Because he was the keeper of memories.

And now he’s gone.

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Journey of 334 Days…. or It’s Been 11 Months Since He Died.

Today’s Daily Prompt is about the journey.

I look back on the past 334 days and see how far I’ve come, how much I’ve changed and where I’m headed now.

I almost don’t recognize myself.

January 19, 2012 is the day our lives changed forever.  He got sick, and spent 159 days fighting to get better.

June 26, 2012 is the day our world shifted on it’s axis and suddenly nothing made sense any more.

January 2012 Jane was very different than June 26 Jane.

June 26 Jane…. she’s so very different than May 26 Jane.

Today, I am a woman still grieving over the loss of my husband.  I am the parent of two children who have lost not one but two dads, and two boys whom I have to raise to adulthood without their father.

I figured out that grief is not something I can “get over” or “recover” from.  It’s not something that will *ever* go away.   Like a person who’s lost a limb, I’ve learned to function without Mark, but I am always aware of what’s missing.

The journey I have been on has been one of learning who I am without my husband, who I am as a parent, and how I want to live my life.

I get to start over.  I get to start fresh.  I get to create a life I want based on what’s important to me.

I reblogged this post yesterday.   My friend who posted this made sure she warned me that it may be a trigger for me… silly me,  I didn’t listen.  Instead I went to read it, and reached this paragraph, started crying, and had to stop reading for the moment:

When Mark died (yes, his name was Mark also), my friend suffered a new trauma, the pain of losing her husband forever, the grief was palpable from thousands of miles away. But, something else happened too. Something I personally think that Mark KNEW would happen. Something I think he believed would be EASIER, BETTER, HEALTHIER for his beloved. The permanency of him being gone in death, allowed her the freedom to resume life. She was no longer stuck in the stagnation zone that she had been in for 6 months waiting for him. His death gave her life back to her, in a very real and tangible way.

FFS – reading it now – having read this particular blog post several times since she posted it – I’m still welling up with tears.  It still makes me cry.

She pointed something out that I hadn’t considered.  Something that is so very much like my husband that I don’t know how I missed it.

HE GAVE ME MY LIFE BACK

The man, who would do anything in the world to make me happy, gave me a gift of life.

I highly recommend reading the entire post.

After 17 months… we’re adjusting fairly well to Mark not being with us.  We miss him, but we’ve found a routine that mostly works.   It still needs some tweaking, but it mostly works.  11 months after his death – we’re learning to move on.  We’re moving to a new town at the end of summer to make a fresh start without all the memories poking holes in our hearts in this house…

Mark will always be here – he will always be a part of me and the boys…. but he left us, and in leaving us… he gave us our lives back.

The journey hasn’t been easy – and its not a journey I’d choose to go on… but it is my life and I have changed and evolved for the better.  I am a stronger, more capable, more independent woman.

And I know that it’s not over… life is a journey… Mark’s path has diverged from mine, but I do believe we’ll find each other again some day…

Mark in Fruitvale

Moving on

Stability, Relationships, Separation, Moving on….

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In a couple weeks, it will be the anniversary of the date when my friend’s husband died. It’s interesting timing in my life, because separation from loved ones, temporary and permanent, has (go figure) been on my mind a great deal.

Before he died, my friend had roughly 6 months of caring for herself and their children alone, because her husband was hospitalized. I won’t go into detail here, because it’s not pertinent to my post. What is pertinent, is that he was unable to be her partner, lover, co-parent, etc. He was medically incapacitated and she was forced to be her own partner, lover and a single mom.
During that time, she suffered a great deal with worry, fear, concern for her husband. She also suffered a great deal with the stress of suddenly being fully responsible for every aspect of the life they had built-alone. The kids suffered…

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Best Birthday Reaction EVER

Today is my son’s 13th birthday.   He was born 9 months and 3 days after my wedding to his Dad.   So if ever I started wondering how long we were married for, I’d just think about how old my Andrew is and know. 

Back when Mark died, I had keepsake jewellry made for me, Andrew, and Katie.  Luke got a keepsake urn, and Kyle got a ring. 

I had them sealed so that they wouldn’t start “leaking” bits of Mark all over the place. 

Someone else told Andrew he had to take it off when he went in water to prevent it from coming undone. 

One day, when Andrew went swimming… late August… he took his off at the pool. 

When he got out of the pool, it was gone. 

Somewhere, in Squamish, someone is wandering around with a fish necklace and my husband’s ashes. 

For his 13th birthday, I got him another one… when he woke up this morning, there was a present beside his head on  his bed.  (hey I rhyme!!)

The card was “Happy Birthday Andrew – Love, Daddy”

So he opened the present… it was wrapped really well, packaged in a bigger box, and in it’s own case. 

He got to the case, opened it just slightly…. dropped it and hugged me and said in a quiet, slightly choked up voice… “Thank you Mom”

Best birthday reaction ever. 

I know that the loss of the fish had been bothering him.   I know that it compounded his grief.  And now he has a piece of his Dad with him again. 

Happy 13th Birthday, Andrew… 

Andrew Birthday

I Dreamed of Him

Last night. 

I had a dream about him. 

He was in the hospital. 

He was lost and confused and we were not at VGH – we were at a hospital somewhere else… on the 9th floor… and I kept trying to get the nurses that had looked after him in VGH to come and look after him where we were. 

I had the kids with me – we met up with other people and other kids and I was carrying on with my vacation there.. finally stopped to look for work there because I knew we’d be at the hospital a long time and I wasn’t willing to leave him there alone. 

But even though he couldn’t leave – even though he was stuck there – I was still carrying on with my life… I had to.  For our kids, for myself. 

I wonder if my brain is trying to tell me something… I wonder if he was trying to tell me something? 

I don’t know.

I just know that the dream, the memory of the dream which feels incredibly like a real memory, makes me sad, makes me want to cry, makes me realize how much I miss him – not that I ever *really* forget… 

Today we celebrate his 50th birthday.  I’ve baked a cake, we’ll sing happy birthday, and we’ll remember him for all that he was. 

BigBirthdayCakeCandles

 

Mark in Fruitvale

The Things People Say

Or… how to seriously hurt a widow…

I was having a conversation with someone last night about where I live.  I’ve lived in the house where I am for the past 8 years… my husband’s presence is embedded in every nook and cranny, every fibre of the house.  No matter what I paint or what furiture I bring in, or how I move things around… I still expect to see him in the kitchen, in our bedroom or in the living room.

I still expect to see him there.

It hurts.

I try to keep busy – I blog, I facebook, I visit other websites, I talk to people, I invite friends over, I furiously clean, I play video games. 

I do whatever it takes to keep my mind so busy that by the time I go to bed… I’m so exhuasted I pass out.

Sometimes I drink to forget.

Sometimes, though, I can’t.  My mind won’t stay occupied and I become *aware* of the lack.  Aware of what’s missing.  Aware of who’s missing.

And it hurts.  It’s like a knife, sliding into my heart, hot, sharp and painful… it takes my breath away, it leaves me doubled over in pain.  If I’m lucky, I’m able to cry and release some of the pain.

I can’t shunt those moments of awareness away.   They hurt too much.

They are always lurking.

So this person says to me something like: well, it will get better… it won’t hurt so much eventually.

I’m like: it’s not the same.  Your husband was not living with you when he died.  You didn’t expect him to come home.  He was never getting well enough to come home.  He had lived his life.

And her response?   “Well neither was yours, either.”

Even now, thinking about that, the pain hits, sharp, hot, and unreasonably painful.

No, my husband wasn’t living with me when he died.  But 2 days before he died – I was still being told that he would get better and come home.   The day he died, the surgeon tried to convince us that there was still something that could be done.   Until he actually took his last breath – I still held hope that he *would* get better and come home to  me.

I sat there, kissing his forehead, hoping  beyond hope that his breathing would get stronger, his heart beat would get stronger, that his blood pressure would go up and he’d get better and COME HOME to us.

Her husband, on the other hand… was 95 and not expected to come out of the nursing home he was in.   There wasn’t hope.  There wasn’t a possibility that a miracle would happen and he would come home and resume his life and his role in her life.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not, in any way minimizing her loss.  Her husband died.  For that, I have compassion.  For that, I have empathy.  I understand how much it hurts that her husband died.

But she expected him to.  When she moved him into the home, she knew he’d never be coming out.

I expected my husband to celebrate 50 years of marriage with me.    Wandering around my house late at night, I see everything that was lost.  I am mired in the sadness of what isn’t here anymore.  

Trying to compare grief, expecting someone to be over it, or at a certain level of “over it” is hurtful and unreasonable.

Everyone’s grief journey is different.  Everyone grieves differently, everyone heals differently, everyone comes to a place of acceptance differently.

We all need to realize that… and be kind and compassionate to one another… after all – you never know what journey another person is on.

Grief

Mark's Urn