The Damned Parking Spot… and other triggers…

I pulled into the parking lot at the pizza place. I had just under 20 mins to get my pizza and get back to work – half hour break does not give me much time to clear my head.

I looked down at the parking space. It had one of those concrete barriers in front of the store-front protecting the walkway and the pizza store.

I could faintly read the letters “Video Update Parking Only”

Oh fuck I gotta tell Mark this….

Oh wait.  I can’t.

Sadness washed over me.  Not the deep, broken, painful grief storm that hits me when a trigger gets me, but the sadness of “oh yeah… that’s gone” and the reminder that for a moment, I forgot and I wanted to tell him something.

Something he’d think was funny.  Something he could relate to but no one else in my life could.

A Video Update store I’d never been to but I knew where it was now. It was on the cusp of his territory as District Manager.  He managed from Williams Lake to Prince Rupert and I’d never been to the Williams Lake store.

And I saw it… the faint markings of the remnants of a business that died out in 2010… well actually before that. 2010 was when the company that bought out Video Update finally went bankrupt.

It was the faint markings of a life gone by.

I let the sadness wash over me, then I picked up my pizza and headed back to work.

At work, I was dressing the wound of a patient who was from my home town. We talked about the places we knew. We talked about how much it changed. We talked about how it was not our home anymore.

And then he started talking about his medical history.  About how he used to be diabetic but he wasn’t.  How he had had a pancreas transplant. How this had happened at Vancouver General Hospital 20 years ago.

And all I could think about was how 6 year ago, I was told it wasn’t a possibility. That maybe somewhere, some one had done it, but it wasn’t really possible.

And in the middle of wound care, my most favourite thing in the world to do in nursing…

I fell apart and had to leave the room.

I lost my mind and started crying.

Because 6 years ago I was told that it wasn’t possible and what if it had been and it would have saved his life?

It’s all a moot point now.  But at that moment, on that day, my heart broke again.

And instead of the wave of sadness like at the pizza joint… I was hit with the deep ugly sobs that always result in me looking like I’ve smoked a lot of pot.  Bloodshot eyes and blotchy face and cannot hide that from anyone.

I’m happy for the gentleman who is living his best happiest.

Life is full of triggers.  Some will be a gentle reminder….  some will be a brick wall I run into full force.

I’m grateful that I loved well enough to still grieve that hard.

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6 Years

I’ve reached a point in my grief where I feel as though I don’t have the … right? to grieve anymore.

At least not publicly.

Or even in my home in front of other people.

Especially not my Sexxy Chef.

Except I still grieve.  And I try to hide it.

6 years ago, Mark went into the hospital.  At this point, 6 years ago, we had come through a surgery that was his only hope.  He survived it.  He was stable, but still incredibly fragile, medically speaking.

At 6 years… the grief is still there.  I still hurt.  I still miss him. I still think life is INCREDIBLY unfair that he is not here to be a part of everything that goes on. I still wonder what he would think, how he would feel with all the changes in our lives.

Luke is now Leah.

Andrew has had 2 girlfriends.

Katie has a son.

Kyle has 2 boys.

I’ve become a nurse.

And we live in the place I swore I’d never move to.

But after 6 years, I wonder what words to use to describe the things that hurt. How many ways can I say I miss him? How many ways can I say it’s not fair? How many ways can I say I hurt because he’s not here?

3 years ago, someone asked me why I was still grieving so hard over him.

3 years ago.

Which makes me wonder – how many people look at my life, my new love, my ability to move forward and walk through and would see me grieving hard and ask me WTF? Why are there still tears? Why are you still sad? Why are you still grieving so hard?

My only answer is that I grieve as hard as I love.

I loved him enormously.  I died when he did. But I’m still here, breathing, living, growing, moving forward in my life.

So after 6 years, I don’t know if I have many new words to describe how I feel because he’s not here. But the ones I have are still very important.

I love him.

I miss him.

Mark in Fruitvale

 

 

Never Forgotten

It’s been a softer year this year.

The pain hasn’t been as intense.

The longing hasn’t been as intense.

And most importantly, I haven’t spent the past month or so fighting my brain.  Suicide hasn’t been an option.

For the past 4 years, my brain has been telling me that suicide is an option around this time of year.  This year? That hasn’t happened.

I’ve looked towards those further out in this journey than me to see how I might react as days and months go by.  2nd year was harder than the first just like they said.  Things got harder and easier, just like they said.

But around 5 years, it seems that widows and widowers start to diverge.  There’s those who are still grieving hard and then there’s those for whom it gets softer.

That’s not to say that those who are grieving hard haven’t moved forward, some of them are remarried and some are still alone.  And for the ones who it’s gotten softer, they are either still alone or remarried.  There is no hard and fast rules.  It just comes down to a matter of there being some who are grieving hard still and some for whom the grief has softened somewhat.

And for me, things have softened.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still have days of ugly cries.  I have moments of tears leaking down my face while I’m almost unaware of it. I have days where the pain is still so intense I can’t breathe.

But those days are further apart.  Those moments happen less often.  And the pain doesn’t last as long as it used to.

So here I am. June 26.  The day he died 5 years ago. Getting ready for work.

And this is what I mean by softer.

Every other year I have been unable to function.  This year… I’m going to work with people who will trigger memories and tweak the pain.  This year, I did not take the day off like I normally do.

This year… I’m living.

He is never far from my mind.  His name is said on a fairly regular basis. He will never be forgotten as long as I live, as long as my children live.

He died. It devastated me. I almost died with him (there’s an actual study on that.  People DO die of a broken heart!)

But this year I’m living.

This year I’m going to go care for people who may or may not have the chance to go  home. (Some do, some don’t)

This year, I’m going to love the hell out of anyone who needs it.

This year, I’m going to lean into the man who has embraced ALL of me, and offered me a future.

This year, I’m going to say his name, watch the memorial video and then roll over to snuggle my Sexxy Chef and get some sleep because I have to go back to work tomorrow.

I miss him, terribly.

Mark W. Smith
May 18, 1963 – June 26, 2012
Forever Loved
Forever Missed
Forever Remembered

 

I Said YES!!

Sometimes, the world conspires to make you incredibly, irrevokably happy.

On November 5, in the early hours of the morning, my Sexxy Chef proposed to me.

Of course I said YES!!

 

 

 

The ring is being sized. I can’t wear it for a couple weeks – and that’s ok.

The date has been chosen.  Location is 95% sure – I just need to see it again and confirm that YES, I can set up the wedding the way I want in the space that’s available.

Plans… plans… and more plans.

Love happens again.  Happiness happens again.

It’s the weirdest thing, being so incredibly, amazingly happy – with that thread of sorrow going through it all.

The guilt of “how can I be this happy when he’s still dead?”

Going through so many things that I did for the first wedding.  Making plans.

I don’t even know how to explain it.

I’m ridiculously HAPPY and I want to shout it to the world.  I can’t wait to start my life with my Sexxy Chef.  I can’t wait to be Mrs. Sexxy Chef.

But I’ve been Mrs. Smith for the majority of my adult life.  It will be 19 years of being Mrs. Smith when I become Mrs. Sexxy Chef.

That’s weird to me.  Never mind the fact that I’m trying to wrap my head around what will be my new name.

New Beginnings

I’ve got an amazing new beginning ahead of me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But man… did I have to lose so much to get what’s ahead of me?

I’m happy. I’m in love.  I’m looking forward to a long, happy, healthy future with my Sexxy Chef.

But I want to tell my Mark all about how happy I am.  He’d be happy for me.  He’d celebrate with me.

Long live love.

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)